I mentioned yesterday that we went to the Salt Lake Comic Con FanX 2017 over the weekend. We had a pretty good time, and here's my rundown of the experience. The first day, we had one scheduled event, a photo op with "Weird Al" Yankovic. Because there are five people in our family, and the photo op rules stated you could only have four people in a photo, our plan was to have my wife and the kids in the picture with Weird Al on Friday and me and the kids in the picture with Stan Lee on Saturday. The line for passes was very long, but some con worker came down the line and said people who ordered Gold or VIP passes could skip the line. We had Gold passes, so we walked past thousands of people and it took about 3 minutes to get our wristbands and get in the door. Good stuff. I'm glad we paid the extra for Gold passes, as you only get so much time before the kids get out of control.
One of the first booths we saw upon getting inside the convention hall was Agnes Garbowska. She's worked on quite a few things, but I know her for her work on the My Little Pony franchise. I'd seen her name on the list of attendees, but I figured she'd be overrun with Bronies and that I wouldn't be able to get a sketch from her. I was wrong on one point, as her line was short that early in the day, and she did this Fluttershy / Philomena sketch for me. She was also overrun with Bronies, though, as the guy in front of us definitely met the stereotype. As we walked by her booth throughout the weekend, we saw more of them gathered near her booth. This is my second Fluttershy / Philomena sketch by a My Little Pony cover artist, as Mary Bellamy did one for me a while back.
We also snagged a couple of her business cards, which have some artwork and all the details about her various social media accounts. I would have liked to get more sketch commissions while I was at the convention, but it just didn't happen. It was disappointing to just get the one sketch, but at least it was from my favorite artist on the guest list. She was really nice, too, talking to the fans and interacting with us while she worked on the sketch.
We looked around a little more, but then it was time to go and check out Celebrity Row and the lines for photo ops. That area was too small, as the lines to and from photo ops doubled as the access halls for celebrity autographs. It wound up being just a solid mass of people pushing forward in an attempt to get to their photo ops on time. Our kids hated it, especially the leftmost one in the photo. He has a hard time with noise and crowds, and we were surrounded by those things.
Just as I got the wife and kids into the line for the photo, a voice came over the P.A. system saying that Stan Lee had cancelled his appearance. That meant we wouldn't be getting our photo op with him. I tried to purchase an additional Weird Al pass online with my phone, but they were sold out online. Then I went to beg my case with the people at the service desk so that I could purchase a spot in the photo with my family, but they were cash-only and my wife had the cash. I went back through the crowd to get the money at an ATM, and just as I got back through the crowd to pay, my wife texted that they were probably too close for me to get there in time. I went back out through the crowd so I could meet them at the exit, and she texted that she had gotten out of line so that we could go together. Again, I pushed through the crowd and we went to buy an additional ticket. The people at the counter said that our kids looked like they were pretty big for being three years old (kids under three weren't charged), and that we could get by on the pass we already had. So we rushed to the line again, and got in just as they closed it off. We were the last Weird Al photo in that group. I should have stood closer to him in the picture, but I have personal space issues. I'm glad that we were able to get the family photo and meet Weird Al. His music was a big part of our childhoods, and my kids know him from appearances in kids' shows and music videos we've shown them.
Once we got through the photo op, the kids were about to go into full meltdown mode, so we walked to the mall next door for lunch. There is a creek that runs through the mall, so the kids were excited about that. They played in a big fountain and spent some time looking at fish in a pond. Once we got back to the convention we went to Kid-Con, which had some face-painting and craft stuff set up, as well as an obstacle course and a Harry Potter quidditch game. The quidditch game was geared for older kids, but the Wizard Training obstacle course was about right for our children. They went through that and got certificates and capes with the Subaru logo on them. Once we got through with Kid-Con, we decided that we should go back to the house as the kids just weren't going to last much longer and all the walking had worn us out, too.
We took the trains to and from the convention, as parking costs about as much as train passes anyway, and taking the train is convenient and acts as an adventure. The train station we went to is in the middle of the street, so you only go partway across and turn to go up onto the platform. Once we got up there I did a headcount and one of the twins was missing. We started looking around for him and told the police officer standing there that we were missing a kid. While we were doing that a train rushed past, which is pretty much the worst thing to see when you've lost a kid at the train station. Luckily, we spotted him after the train passed, crying and running around on the far side of the street. We are usually very good about keeping track of everyone in parking lots and public areas, but in that split second we turned into the train station and he continued across the rest of the crosswalk. I'm glad he stayed off of the train tracks.
Late in the day on Saturday, I wanted to get Weird Al's autograph and say hello. The line was pretty short when we walked by, so we were able to pick our items and head into the booth. He looked pretty tired and frazzled after being run ragged for two days by the convention folks, but he was friendly enough. He signed a copy of his latest record for us, and we also got him to sign one for my wife's brother, who let us stay at his house over the weekend. We also left the kids home on Saturday, so we picked up some Dr. Who prints for my wife's mom, who watched all the kids on Saturday. I haven't listened to the record yet (no record player), but it does include a free download, so I'll have to get that going soon.
While the Agnes Garbowska sketch was the only original art I picked up, I did get some other things. These Leia prints from C Wilson Art are too big for my scanner, so I borrowed images from the artist's website. These are pretty cool. I might have to find frames for them and put them up in my office. He had a lot of neat stuff. The original for the older Leia was hanging in his booth. I was afraid to ask if it was for sale. I might still ask him, though. That would be a cool piece to hang on the wall. My wife made several purchases from his booth (and life) partner, artist Holly Randall of Flying Frog Illustration. I thought her work was pretty cool, but I was more drawn to his side of the booth.
Matt Loveridge had a booth set up nearby, and I was drawn in by his art style and specifically these playing card illustrations he had hanging up. Very cool stuff, and he is also a pretty nice guy. I purchased a deck of the cards, which feature superheroes on the Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Aces, as well as Deadpool on all of the eights and Joker and Harley Quinn on Joker cards. He also has the jester frog on a Joker to act as his business card. I may have to see if he will do a commission or two through the mail.
We saw an artist going by the name Xinophin working on a Leia sketch in between C Wilson Art/Flying Frog and Matt Loveridge, and my wife noticed she was doing quick sketches for $5. My wife is pretty reluctant to spend money on art, but she wanted to get a Nightcrawler sketch done at the convention in honor of the baby we lost a couple of weeks ago. I think it turned out nicely.
The other main event of Saturday was to get Verne Troyer's autograph. Part of the draw for buying the Gold passes was that you got autograph vouchers that could be exchanged for autographs from a list of several celebrities. You could also exchange an autograph voucher for $10 off on a photo op, which we used on my wife's pass to save a little on the Weird Al photo op. Troyer was the only celebrity on the exchange list that I was really interested in meeting, so I picked up my official photo and got in line for the signature. It took a while for him to come out and he looked pretty worn out by all of the running around, but when it was our turn to go up to the table he was super friendly, talked with us for a few seconds, and gave us fist bumps after he signed the picture. I definitely left the autograph line as a bigger Verne Troyer fan than I was previously.
And that about does it for my Salt Lake Comic Con FanX report for 2017. Supposedly the FanX in the spring is smaller and focuses more on pop culture in general, while the larger Comic Con in the fall is larger and more comic-focused. I would like to attend either convention again, but I would like it if the convention staff would put out artist alley information more in advance of the event so that I could line up commissions online beforehand. That usually works better for me with my social anxiety issues. This convention likes to roll out the guest list in waves, like it's all a big secret. Some people get off on the anticipation and excitement of all that, but I want all of the information as early as possible so I have time to plan. I had a pretty good time at this convention. There were plenty of cool cosplays to gawk at, lots of neat artists and merchandise to browse, and I got to meet a couple of famous people. We also got to ride the train, go out for ice cream, and see my wife's family. The kids especially enjoyed playing with their cousins.