Salt Lake Comic Con’s ‘Fan X’ to include ‘Walking Dead’ stars
By Matthew Piper
The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published Nov 14 2013 11:13AM
Time to start stitching your flesh-eating Easter Bunny.
Salt Lake Comic Con organizers announced Thursday that they’ll host a second 2014 event — Salt Lake Comic Con: The Fan Experience, or Fan X — on Easter weekend, and that it will be anchored by at least two stars from "The Walking Dead." September’s inaugural Salt Lake Comic Con brought more than 70,000 guests through the Salt Palace’s doors, and founder Dan Farr says he expects Fan X attendance to reach 100,000.
At the center of the hordes will be the Norman Reedus and Chandler Riggs, two main cast members in the AMC zombie hit whom Farr had hoped to book last September. In particular: Reedus, better known as crossbow dead shot Daryl Dixon.
"Of the ["Walking Dead"] guys that do the conventions, Norman is clearly the most popular one," Farr says. "You can almost build a convention around him."
Farr attended the Walker Stalker Con in Atlanta earlier this month, getting his picture taken with the cast and eating dinner with Riggs (Carl Grimes) and his parents. Unlike the September event — planned for Sept. 4-6 — Farr aims to brand Fan X as a sort of multiple version of Walker Stalker, bringing whole chunks of casts from popular productions. Thus far, he’s tabbed "Walking Dead" and "Star Trek: The Next Generation."
Two "TNG" stars were also announced Thursday: Brent Spiner, or Data, and Marina Sirtis, or Counselor Deanna Troi.
"The whole thing about a fan experience is we’re looking at doing a few different properties and going a lot deeper on them," he says.
Farr says he has more guests booked, but they’re going to roll out announcements slowly and allow fans to have a say — through Salt Lake Comic Con’s popular Facebook page — in the bookings.
They scrapped tentative plans for a January con because of concerns about timing and cold weather. Farr quoted The Tribune’s Sean Means, who wrote that "Unless you want everyone dressed as Chewbacca or a character from ‘Game of Thrones,’ that’s going to be a problem."
"We really wanted to see if we could pull something together," Farr says, "but we felt the fuse was ultimately short."
Other Fan X guests announced Thursday include Adam Baldwin, who was Jayne Cobb on "Firefly" and is also known from "Full Metal Jacket" and TV’s "Chuck," and Kelly Hu, who played Lady Deathstrike in "X2" and more recently appeared in TV’s "Arrow."
Reactions to Thursday’s announcements were a mixture of three parts excitement and one part confusion on the Salt Lake Comic Con Facebook page. Some thought the prices — $175 for a VIP pass, $60 for a three-day pass — were too steep. Another protested that two events is too much for one year, and that organizers are being greedy.
Crowd control was a problem this September, with lines spilling onto the street as visitors and vendors crammed into five halls at the Salt Palace. Organizers think they’ve remedied that for Fan X by renting almost double the space — nine of the Salt Palace’s 10 halls, up from five.
Fan X will run from Thursday through Saturday, April 17-19. Tickets go on sale today at Salt Lake Comic Con website. Those who purchased tickets for September’s event are eligible for a discount.
Farr said they’re still hashing out whether to add a Sunday to the schedule for the September con. He thinks a Sunday would have sold out last year, but it just might not have been as festive while celebrities readied for their flights and began to get "cranky."
"Saturday’s always going to be the biggest day," he says. "It seems almost like Sunday, the steam kind of goes out of the event."