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(Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo) The band Shrink the Giant performs in the hallway at 2013 Salt Lake Comic Con in Salt Lake City. This year's Comic Con runs through Saturday.
Salt Lake Comic Con pencils in an encore for a week before Sundance
Early stages » Founder says he will let demand drive the size of the yet-unnamed convention in January.
First Published Sep 19 2013 03:41 pm • Last Updated Feb 14 2014 11:34 pm

Yes, they’re aware of the Sundance Film Festival, and no, their sheer numbers probably won’t rival their blockbuster debut. So what exactly is Salt Lake Comic Con planning for early 2014 at the Salt Palace Convention Center? That’s up to you.

Salt Lake Comic Con founder Dan Farr said he’s still in the early stages of organizing an event for Jan. 9-11 — so early, in fact, that they don’t have a name yet. They’re not even entirely sure how it will be branded: It could be another traditional comic book convention, drawing mostly from the pool of geek icons that brought between 70,000 and 80,000 fans to the Salt Palace earlier this month, or it might be something a little different, featuring international celebrities who are willing to fly in a few days early for Park City’s pageantry. Comic book purists might cry blasphemy, but Farr says he’ll make no apologies.

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"‘Comic Con’ is a misnomer, because they really are this fan experience of pop culture convention," said Farr, who booked the likes of Marvel legend Stan Lee for Salt Lake Comic Con, but also inked comic con regulars from sci-fi, action and children’s genres. Farr says the celebrities had no complaints and were universally pleased with their earnings at the show — where a snapshot with William Shatner, for instance, ran $75.

As with Salt Lake Comic Con, Farr said he’s going to let demand drive the size of the event. But it will likely be smaller.

"It’s not going to be Comic Con 2.0," Farr said. "Trying to do a full-scale comic con with that short a fuse is almost crazy."

But having done it once now is an advantage, Farr said. Tribune movie columnist Sean Means’ worried earlier Thursday that "slave girl Princess Leias would freeze in their tights" waiting for tickets outside in the height of winter. But this time, lines that once stretched the sidewalks of 200 South and West Temple to capacity will be contained inside the Salt Palace itself. Chewbacca cosplayers will again work up a sweat.

As for Sundance, Farr said he wanted to book his event the very same week, but the Salt Palace couldn’t accommodate him. He thinks filmmakers may be interested in further promoting their work, and that the two entities could work together in a symbiotic way. "It is different enough that I don’t think it will overlap."

Other, more geek-certified celebrity targets will be available simply because they won’t be filming new TV series — as some who Farr coveted were during Salt Lake Comic Con — and a post-con trip to the slopes is another potential lure for out-of-towners.

But all of this is still preliminary, he cautions. And fear not: No matter what happens in January, Comic Con 2014 is in the works for next summer.


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Twitter: @matthew_piper

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