Ever since sparks ignited between FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention and San Diego Comic-Con International over the use of the term “comic con,” there’s been a little turbulence below the surface for defensive and devoted fans of the Utah convention, which regularly provides its guests with a veritable pop culture paradise.
The upcoming FanX, however, set for April 18-19 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, is gearing up to be the path back to inner peace for justice-seeking fans of the convention.
In a recent press release for the virtual press conference held through Facebook Live Tuesday morning, the upcoming event was hyped to be “a return to fans’ desire for two events a year,” with the promise of a “no-holds barred event” offering those fans “a new level of pop culture nirvana.”
And who couldn’t use a little more of that?
The spring show will be the 11th successful event for FanX co-founders Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg, with a hearty helping of guests already announced to eager fans, including Irene Bedard (Pocahontas in Disney’s “Pocahontas”), Mike Colter (“Luke Cage,” “The Defenders”), Seth Gilliam (“The Walking Dead,” “Oz”), Val Kilmer (“Willow,” “Batman”), Linda Larkin (Jasmine in Disney’s “Aladdin”) and Scott Weinger (Aladdin in Disney’s “Aladdin”).
The press conference also brought with it a slew of new guest announcements including Warwick Davis (“Harry Potter,” “Willow”), Aimee Garcia (“Lucifer,” “Dexter”), Pom Klementieff (“Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2,” “Oldboy”), Brian Baumgartner (Kevin Malone of “The Office”), Tony Todd (“Candyman,” “The Man from Earth”), Casey Cott (Kevin Keller in “Riverdale”), David Bradley (“Harry Potter,” “Game of Thrones”) and Adelaide Kane (“Teen Wolf,” “Once Upon a Time”), more than doubling the guest list for April’s FanX.
“It’s always fun to get these people that have such a broad background behind them,” Farr said in a pre-conference interview with the Daily Herald. “So many actors have these fan group followings which aren’t always consistent with mainstream Hollywood – for some people, fans get really excited.”
That’s not to say the lineup isn’t already gearing up to be one of the best so far.
“It’s fun to kind of build into a show,” Farr said of the way FanX handles its guest announcements. “We aren’t one of the shows that just announces everything up front. We build toward convention. It’s dynamic, to see how people respond to things, and we continue to listen. Still, even after the press conference we’re probably close to only halfway done with our guest announcements. We probably still have double that before the event takes place.”
Despite the difficulties and challenges that come with coordinating such a large event usually twice a year, Farr said the benefits definitely outweigh the struggles.
“The thrill of doing this is unmatched,” he said. “When you witness people having a great time at the event and kind of see them have once-in-a-lifetime moments with celebrities they never thought they’d get the chance to meet or creators that are so unique at the event, that makes it so worthwhile. That reward is so amazing – that’s what I love.”
The weight of pending litigation and defending the Utah convention is a difficult burden as well, but one Farr says has yet to impact the convention itself.
“There’s a lot of stress that goes with it,” Farr said. “We’ve had a challenging year. We don’t want to dwell, but with the lawsuit, it made it really hard to stay as excited about business and things. It really is just the energy and power of the event that keeps us going.”
That energy continues to go as time passes and more events enter the radar.
“It’s been two years since we did our last spring event, so it’s given us a chance to kind of build up some anticipation and excitement for it,” Farr said. “Things are lining up really nicely, and we do expect it to be our best prepared and best run event that we’ve had.”
That includes the addition of new photo ops throughout the venue with fun places for guests to get pictures, work with production companies for special releases, adjustments to event functions such as photographs to help them run more smoothly and a stellar panel lineup and celebrity experiences. In the press conference, Bryan Brandenburg specifically mentioned 33 celebrity guests, 100 hours of panel programming, celebrity autographs and photo ops, 400 vendors, cosplay and preliminary sales that are ahead of FanX 2017.
“The support people are showing for this event is unprecedented, and it’s such a symbiotic relationship with the celebrities coming to the event and the way the fans receive them when they get here,” Farr said. “As I go around to different conventions, again, our reputation precedes us because the fans here are so good to the celebrities that people want to get in to the show. We turn away more people than we let in.”