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Big Shiny Robot!

SLC Comic-Con?

Individual nerd conventions unite!

By Bryan Young
Posted // July 2,2012 -

I just got back from Denver, our cooler big brother of a city in the Rocky Mountains, where it held its first-ever Comic-Con. I won’t even talk about how easy it was to get an adult beverage (even in the convention center’s exhibition hall); we’ll just assume it’s a given that Salt Lake City should lobby the state Legislature more than it does to treat our citizens like adults. I’ll focus instead on other things that our region can learn from the event.

First off, Denver Comic-Con wasn’t some rinky-dink convention with one important guest and attendance ranging from less than a thousand to a few thousand. This was a full-blown convention with an entire array of well-known guests and attendance in the tens of thousands. They pulled it off right, and I’ve never had a better time at a convention. I was there selling my new book and did very, very well in that regard, too; they really know how to treat their guests.

Salt Lake City is thirsty for an event of equal size and splendor. Some say we can’t pull together a geek crowd that big from our area, but I don’t think that’s a problem we have. If you build it right, they will come.

Our problem is that we have a dozen smaller events, and none of them seem to have the bold ambition to do it right. Or, they insist on staying up in Davis County, beyond all reason. We have GEEX, which is cool if you like to watch an exhibition hall full of kids play video games. And CONduit is great, as long as you’re willing to put up with attendance in the hundreds and every standard nerd stereotype. Anime Banzai would be a perfect launching pad if it expanded its focus and were willing to come to a city worth being in. But we don’t have anything truly comics centric, and nothing that combines everything.

Denver set its sights high and did it all. The first thing organizers did right: They coalesced around a nonprofit organization, in this case The Comic Book Classroom ( Using that as a launching pad, they put together a guest list that would be the envy of any convention. As far as comic-book superstars, they brought in Mike and Laura Allred, Gail Simone, Neal Adams, J. Scott Campbell and dozens of others. For television and film talent, they booked Wil Wheaton (who cruelly canceled at the last minute), Aaron Douglas from Battlestar Galactica, Billy West from Futurama, half the cast of Phineas & Ferb, Tom Kane (who voices Yoda on The Clone Wars) and even more than that. They even reached out to local and regional talent and brought them in. Then they put together a program schedule full of interesting panels, kid-oriented programming and stuff people wanted to see. They also made it affordable.

There’s a lesson Salt Lake City can learn from this. Maybe we can get all of the disparate events that happen around town and through the year to find a nonprofit to come in and put together one massive, epic event that would attract comic-book, science-fiction, anime and animation fans from the entire region. Between Big Shiny Robot!, Geek Show Podcast, the rest of the local geek media and all of these other convention-style events, why don’t we have something like this in the works?

Next year, Denver is bringing in the godfather of modern comics, Stan Lee. The city is already two steps ahead of us. If Salt Lake City is going to make it happen, we’ve got some catching up to do.

Bryan Young is editor-in-chief of

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Post a comment
Posted // August 4,2013 at 22:57

Who do you think we are a "broke city". Fuck you guys for complaining that our city isn't capable for not having a comic con, this is our maybe first or second time they had us here. How about you put your stupid and selfish little comments to yourself? You don't know Utah as well as I do. And stop being little 10 or 6 year olds who complain for no goddamn reason about Utah.


Posted // May 8,2013 at 15:02

Pull Denver's nut sack from your mouth for a minute and have a little faith in your hometown. Douche 


Posted // August 5,2013 at 14:11 - Really?


Posted // April 28,2013 at 22:06

Anime Banzai started in SLC then moved to Davis for a larger venue. Now they are under contract, but say they need a bigger spot soon. They probably will end up in Salt Lake again. What's great is that I can go to both! And my cosplay will get to be worn to two events! Sweet.


Posted // September 11,2013 at 05:04 - yes, REALLY !!


Posted // April 26,2013 at 16:33

"Or, they insist on staying up in Davis County, beyond all reason"

You, Bryan Young, are an ego-centric ill-educated spud sniffer.  Why you insist on insulting so many people througout your article is beyond me.  I for one applaud any convention willing to get out of the strangle hold of the SLC convention locales.  There are numerous reasons for doing so, of which you obviously know of none, except for the fact that for some reason you cannot be bothered to drive as far as it takes to get to Layton (same distance to go to South Towne from SLC).

Try to broaden your world view just a smidgen.


Posted // August 5,2013 at 14:14 - Ego-centric? For the objective observation that Davis Conference Center is out of the way and has a smaller population? And no. I hate that drive. And, by the looks of it, it seems as though Anime Banzai is self-destructing anyway.


Posted // May 2,2013 at 15:01 - you're a cry baby that SLC is just starting to care less for. Your lame cry baby rants got old so long ago. Thanks for being the reason I use city weekly less for my geek info. this was the post I am replying on.


Posted // April 7,2013 at 15:51

I agree with most of what you say. It would be great to get a comicbook convention here. We are getting some really great stuff here. Nerdtacular is a lot of fun and if you haven't been there you should check it out. It's sad that you start off your article bitching about beer or the lack thereof, though. Otherwise, great article and I support you 100%.


Posted // May 2,2013 at 15:00 - I agree with James. Bryan you're a cry baby that SLC is just starting to care less for. Your lame cry baby rants got old so long ago. Thanks for being the reason I use city weekly less for my geek info.