SALT LAKE CITY - Why argue about Democrats vs. Republicans when you can argue about Star Trek vs. Star Wars?
More than 120,000 people, including thousands of Davis County fans, did just that at last weekend’s Salt Lake Comic Con. The convention, which kicked off with a special panel by “Star Wars” star Mark Hamill at the Vivant Smart Home Arena, featured three days of fan favorite celebrities, movie premieres, and panel discussions on a variety of movies, books, video games, TV shoes and more.
“It’s an escape,” said Bountiful resident Dean Anderson. “You don’t have to worry about politics or what’s going on in the world. It’s just fun.”
The biggest event of the convention was the Mark Hamill panel, which marked the star’s only convention appearance for the entire year. The lower bowl of the arena was almost entirely filled, with some fans even taking seats in the upper bowl, and officially set the world record for the largest comic con panel.
“Thousands and thousands of my new best friends,” said Hamill during the panel. “It’s exactly like you’re sitting in my living room, except I won’t be serving snacks and no, you can’t use the bathroom.”
Hamill hinted at the end of the panel that he would like to return to Salt Lake Comic Con again. The fans seemed just as happy to have him here.
“Seeing his panel was amazing,” said Bountiful resident Sam Pierson.
Several other celebrity panels over the three-day period also drew big crowds, including those for professional wrestler and actor John Cena and “Arrow” star Stephen Amell.
“I got to see Stephen Amell, and it was amazing,” said Madison Worthington, from Sunset.
“He was humorous, relaxed and very fun,” added Cliff Worthington.
Celebrities weren’t the only attraction at the convention, however. There were hundreds of panels held throughout the three days, featuring authors, podcast hosts and more discussing topics such as urban legends, the 30th anniversary of “Aliens,” tips for action scenes in independent movies and the enduring legacy of “Calvin and Hobbes.”
“We’re the greatest fans on earth,” said Kaysville resident Christine Heyward, who was there with Princess Parties. “We’ve had so many comments from vendors and panelists saying that we’re the greatest crowds they’ve ever worked with.”
The fans were also pleased to see the vendors, who had everything from fandom t-shirts and Pop Life action figures to display knives and swords.
“I’m here buying more stuff, even though I shouldn’t,” said Bountiful resident Kathy Swanson with a laugh. “It’s just a nerd thing.”
Though being able to buy such merchandise is also possible online, others pointed out that the convention gave creators and fans a chance to connect that they can’t find in other circumstances.
“It was a blast to have people come through who appreciate my art,” said Bountiful artist Paul Mann, who was at the convention with art from movies such as “Suicide Squad” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.” “The feedback from the fans was great.”
The convention also gives fans the chance to connect with each other face-to-face.
“I love the atmosphere,” said Pierson. “I love being able to meet people who have the same sort of interests and passions that I do.”