Where else but FanX could Utah’s governor stand in front of the bridge of the USS Enterprise 1701-D and talk about what a big geek he is?
“We need heroes in life, and it’s nice to see so many superheroes here today,” said Gov. Gary Herbert, on hand at the Salt Palace Convention Center to officially declare the Geek Games — er, uh, Salt Lake Comic Con’s FanX — open for business.
Just seven months after the first Salt Lake Comic Con broke records, Dan Farr and his team are back for Round Two. And this is no downsized edition — FanX will occupy twice the floor space, and more than 100,000 people are expected to attend.
It’s one big love-in. Fans are there to see (and fawn over) the stars; the stars are there to be seen.
And they don’t mind being fawned over.
“It’s an extraordinary experience,” said actor/comedian Charles Fleischer, whose long list of credits ranges from being the voice of Roger Rabbit to a role in “Nightmare on Elm Street.” “It’s extraordinary because you get to meet people that have been affected by your work in a way that is advantageous to you, not only on a sociological level and cellular level but, you know, they give you money.
“You mean I get to meet people that like me and they want to give me money? OK.”
Cassandra Peterson, better known as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, said fans “give me so much love and so many compliments that it’s an ego boost that lasts me for months.”
The list of guests ranges from 14-year-old Chandler Riggs, who plays young Carl Grimes in the hit series “The Walking Dead,” to 69-year-old Micky Dolenz, who was one of The Monkees on TV from 1966-68.
And neither one of them expected to be doing conventions and meeting adoring fans when those shows began.
“No,” Riggs said with a laugh. “Not at all. I never thought [‘The Walking Dead’] would get to be so big. I never thought anyone would be interested in meeting me. It’s insane.”
Insane in a good way, that is.
“It’s awesome coming to see the fans,” Riggs said.
Even the fans who have trouble distinguishing between Riggs and the character he plays.
“That’s a little weird,” he conceded.
Dolenz has been dealing with that for almost five decades, in no small part because he played Micky Dolenz — a version of himself — on the TV show. But he’s more than happy to reminisce with the fans at FanX.
“It’s part of many people’s lives,” he said. “When you grow up with something, it brings back good memories. It’s the same reason people come to concerts and listen to the same music over and over again. It becomes a part of their life.”
Sometimes in ways that the people on these shows never imagined. Peterson will tell you that what she hears most often from fans is how watching sexy vamp Elvira was something they shared with their families.
“It’s so funny, and it really touches me every time,” she said. “A lot of people say, ‘It was the only time my dad and I really spent time together.’ And it’s really kind of — wow, I didn’t think of myself as family viewing but, there you go.”
Which is not to say that some fans can’t be a little, um, different.
Peterson long ago became accustomed to seeing herself tattooed on various parts of their bodies — that number has passed 1,000.
“And one of the silliest ones was signing the top of somebody’s bald head,” she said. “I signed the top of his head and he went and got it tattooed in.”
FanX continues Friday and Saturday at the Salt Palace.
P Salt Lake Comic Con, in its second iteration after a wildly successful debut last September, includes dozens of celebrities — William Shatner, Karl Urban, Karen Gillan, Adam Baldwin and Edward James Olmos among them.
FanX also will host more than 70 panels, ranging from tips on becoming a voice actor for film, television and games to the history of Batman’s sidekick, Robin. See saltlakecomiccon.com for full details.
When • Through Saturday
Where • Salt Palace Convention Center, Salt Lake City
Tickets • From $10 for Thursday-only youth pass to $175 VIP pass; available at saltlakecomiccon.com.