As expected, Salt Lake Comic Con 2015 was a major hit with both celebrities and fans.
From the celebrity panels to the cosplay, geeks of all levels were out in full force for the pop culture phenomenon.
“It’s geek central. It’s where no matter your level of geekness, it’s fully acceptable here,” says graphic designer and former SLCC student Zach Lorenc. “Where else will you get all these professionals, artists, authors and actors?”
With the breakouts of screeches, squeals from the crowd seeing their favorite character or appreciating a well-crafted costume, everyone was a super-star grand marshal of their own parade — with people-watching encouraged and diversity welcomed.
As part of the experience, convention guests dress in inventive and creative comic book, sci-fi and fantasy costumes.
“We come every year. We love being able to dress up,” says Ayla Stone, dressed in a handmade mythological satyr costume.
She and Eliot Land, a game coder who attended SLCC, wore them convincingly.
Convention guests appreciate each other’s style and attire, often striking up conversations and taking quick pictures of and with each other.
“We can be ourselves. We can be as nerdy and geeky as we want. There’s no judgement,” says recent SLCC grad Ashley Cabbi Simon.
Comic Con is a place for many families to share a memory.
“Every year it’s a family affair. We do cosplay every time, but with a different costume every year,” says former Bruin and Ashley’s husband, Derek.
The Simons chose a “Star Wars” theme for their costumes this year; Ashley dressed like Padme, Derek dressed like Boba Fett and baby Olivia joined the fun in Princess Lea wig.
The couple’s older boys were also dressed as Superman and Captain America, which were popular costumes this year.
Cosplayers also made a little history at the Salt Palace Convention Center.
On day two, more than 1,700 people dressed as comic characters, which broke a Guinness World Record.
Utah’s largest convention — considered in the top three of such events nationally — also hit the mark with strong celebrity lineups, engaging guest panels, global games and vendors, and gifted artisans.
Comic Con guests get to see, feel and experience their heroes in a totally different way.
“Why aren’t you all at work?” asks Marina Sirtis (Commander Deanna Troi, “Star Trek”).
She jokes with attendees of her celebrity panel in the Grand Ballroom. Like a stand-up comedian, Sirtis wows the crowd with her wit and fun Star Trek set stories.
She lets a few foul words fly, then gets serious.
Near to tears, Sirtis tells the fans how much she appreciates them.
“We are blessed; those of us who have a series because you guys turned on your sets,” says Sirtis. “I owe it all to you. You are the most loyal family in the history of TV.”
Chris Evans (“Captain America”) was the key event draw and was greeted by an overwhelming crowd of fans who just couldn’t seem to stop screaming.
When he could get a word in edgewise, he told the crowd he’d like to try fry sauce and thought it sounded so delicious that he’d like to chug it. The screams swelled to another thunder.
When seven-year-old Utah actor Connor Moore asked his hero to give him advice on an upcoming fight scene he was rehearsing, Evans says, “You get out what you put in. It’s a workout to do fight scenes. So just go for it.”
Moore said he liked his advice and was going to use it in his leading role in an upcoming web series titled “We All Fall Down.”
Other celebrity panelists included Anthony Mackie (The Falcon, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Ant Man”), Linda Blair (Regan, “The Exorcist”) and Chris Doohan (“Star Trek”).
“I got my start here in Utah. I am a Utopian!” says Mackie.
While Mackie appreciates his place in film as an African-American superhero — jokingly saying he could be a “Super Brother” — he states the Falcon could be any color.
Blair brought a message of activism to her panel and encouraged people to get involved and to “do something — anything.”
She spoke of her international charity, along with the animal rescue work she describes as being close to her heart. She feels that animals are angels here on earth and people have a duty to care for them.
Blair says there is always some small way that people can make a difference.
Doohan described the epiphany he had years after he grew up on the “Star Trek” set with his father, the late James Doohan.
“I wasn’t really a fan until my late teens until I got the message,” says Doohan. “[The show is about] diversity and just having good stories. They always end with a positive message about the future and morality.”
The diversity of Salt Lake Comic Con 2015, and its meteoric rise to one of the top conventions in the country, ensures that it will continue to serve as a place where everyone can share their passion for years to come.
Additional photos by Tamara Brune-Wharton