|This shirt may be my new favorite!|
Yes, Salt Lake City hosted three fantasy/sci-fi conventions in the last 9 months. (Not counting WesterCon or LTUE.)
The Comic-Con experiences were a lot of fun, even if you had to endure a LOT of people. I hate crowds, so it was a real downer for me. But it was a blast to be around the cosplayers, the vendors, and the celebrities. Plus, I grew up with one of the founders. So, I thought that this newcomer upstart, FantasyCon, had a lot to prove.
Turns out, IMHO, that they instead raised the bar for Comic-Con to meet.
Yep. I said that. Despite being on July 4th weekend, and despite not having the benefit of public transportation ON the 4th, there was a pretty good turnout. Around 50K is the last estimate I saw. While not Comic-Con numbers, it was a reasonable result for a holiday and a convention lacking the "Comic-Con" branding. Of course, the smaller numbers were a definite plus for me. I think the planning and mechanics were better than Comic-Con, as were the panels and the exhibits. (Although some of the volunteers were trumped-up little Nazis with delusions of grandeur. Also, I didn't like being searched upon entry. Comic-Con didn't bother to check for my concealed carry; FantasyCon almost made me surrender my grandfather's pocketknife. Guess where I felt safer?)
This guy sums it up pretty well. The LARPing was amazing. As were the displays and all the "extra-curricular" stuff. It was fun to walk through the Hall and feel the thumping of the kettle drums coming from the battle arena and, simultaneously, hearing the clangs of hammers on anvils from the on-site blacksmiths. Then to randomly hear the notes of a bagpipe echoing through the Hall above everything?
The guest list was pretty stunning, too, especially when comparing it to the guests that Salt Lake Comic-Con has announced. FantasyCon had a pretty hefty line-up of Lord of the Rings and Hobbit actors. Heck, they had Elijah Wood (yes, Frodo) DJ their opening night party. The day after that was announced, Salt Lake Comic-Con announced who? Oh, yeah. Smallville's Lex Luthor. Ho-hum.
As I said, FantasyCon really raised the bar.
Of course, getting to meet some childhood and longtime heroes of mine didn't hurt. I'll have to share my conversations with John Rhys-Davies, Sylvester McCoy, and Claudia Christian. But that's for another time. Suffice it to say that not only did I have a longer beard than Gimli, but Sallah (the finest digger in Cairo) told me I had a beautiful family and took the time to speak to each of my children (and forced the photographer to break the rules about the number of people in one paid picture and forced him to take another photo). The Seventh Doctor showed me on my Day of the Doctor shirt exactly where his TARDIS was parked. And Susan Ivanova was calling us "her family" by the end of the weekend.
While there, I increased my gaming inventory. A local game store--that has heretofore gone unnoticed by me--had a booth and were running a 20% off sale. I was tempted to pick up a couple of Pathfinder tomes, but even at that price, I would have quickly blown my budget. Instead, I picked up a couple sets of dice...they were pretty and hey, as you know, I can never have too many dice. Here they are, in all their polyhedral glory: they come from Chessex, of course. "Silver Volcano (speckled) and "Purple-Teal/Gold (gemini)" dice sets, shown in that order. These latter ones are the first ones I saw, from quite a distance away. They grabbed my eyes and held on for dear life. (Of course, it didn't hurt that They're also ones my wife fell in love with. I think she thinks I'm going to give them to her.
Because, hey, dice. Am I right?
No business cards. No flyers, No advertising materials of any kind.
My wife was shocked. I told her, "Hey, it never hurts to ask, right?"
WesterCon was a fun experience, although the panel selections weren't as varied or numerous as those at, say, LTUE. I had the chance to sit down and talk to author Larry Correia for a while as well.
All in all, despite hurting my knee the second day (which prompted me to buy a sweet cane topped by the "Hound of the Baskervilles" in bronze), it was a terrific vacation and money well-spent.