As people who know me personally could attest, I’m not the most social person in the world. Much to the chagrin of my peers, I’m a workaholic who can’t go one day without having been productive in some capacity. As such, I’m not the kind of person who usually goes to conventions.
I mention this because I want you to keep in mind that I was not approaching this with the mindset of someone who would be going to the convention as a fan and was instead treating it more like any other event a reporter would cover for the paper.
At first, it was a lot like entering a foreign country you’ve read about on the internet. You knew what you were getting into, but you can’t shake that omnipresent feeling that you don’t really belong there and are thus unsure of how to proceed.
After getting my bearings of the Salt Palace, most of my time was spent looking at the large lines for the events on the Main Stage as well as looking at the wide array of cosplayers ranging from Hollywood-level costumes with great attention to detail, to very simplistic, crafted-the-night-before costumes that only vaguely resemble the character in question, albeit some of them had a sense of humor about that in their design.
Once I began going to the panels, I felt more at home. Many of the panelists actually had some insightful things to say that made me think about how one approaches storytelling, visual or otherwise.
I had a similar feeling when sitting in on the celebrity Q&A sessions. It felt like I was able to narrow my focus instead of succumbing to my claustro-agoraphobia on the convention floor. While some guests came across as fatigued and weary, others like Lou Ferrigno and Ray Park carried an almost contagious sense of enthusiasm.
I was able to get into the swing of things more easily, riding said waves of enthusiasm as I took a look at the Vendor’s Room. While I wasn’t too happy about the overpriced food options, I was fascinated by what could be found in the Artist’s Alley as I saw a wide array of artwork, crafts and businesses showcasing their wares ranging from nerdy hats to local make-up artists with genuine skill.
While some of the vendors were simply companies looking to push products, other felt very genuine in what they were presenting, whether it was a cosplay kissing booth for charity or a live Pokemon battle against the regional champion.
As the convention came to a close, I was filled with a mixture of relief and melancholy. Relief because I could now resume my normal schedule of analyzing terribly flawed movies that somehow generate fan followings. Melancholy because of a lingering question at the back of my mind: Had I not been a member of the press and instead a general admission patron, would my experience have been the same?
I definitely had more fun at this convention than ones I’ve been to in the past.
The overall scope encompassed all facets of geekdom and thus lived up to the promise of having “something for everyone.” While the convention could have been better prepared for certain events, at the very least, they were able to keep things under control, something a few of the other conventions here in Utah aren’t too good at.
Will I go to next year’s convention, even if I’m not a member of the press? The short answer is “No,” but it’s hard to say for certain.