How Many of You Attended the 2016 Salt Lake Comic Con Fan Xperience?
The event is the 2016 Salt Lake Comic Con Fan Xperience in Salt Lake City, Utah.
And the word of the day is “bug.”
Some convention-goers have the cosplay bug. Others have the zombie virus. And still others get the harrowing disease experienced con-goers speak of in fearful whispers: the dreaded “con crud.”
Let’s break it down, shall we? What are we really talking about here?
First, there’s cosplay. I’ll be honest: this reporter has yet to catch that bug. My idea of dressing up in public is wearing my slave Leia costume to the grocery store on Halloween night because I need more party supplies. Maybe someday…. But for now I live vicariously through others.
So, what do I think makes the cosplayer tick? Far be it from me to presume. I’ll just speculate. There’s the social angle, of course. We’re social creatures, and conventions have a knack of bringing even the most introverted souls out of their shells to mix and mingle with people who don’t judge and just want to share a magical moment.
I also think some like the challenge of putting together complex, creative costumes and props. And I get that. A large part of my job as a writer in advertising is puzzling out how things work and what to say about them—how to dress them up, as it were—to generate buzz. That’s my natural high, even if it doesn’t come with the appreciative smiles and camera clicks one gets at FanX. Making people look, laugh, exclaim, light up, all before your eyes and ears…. What a bonus that must be.
And then, of course, there’s the desire to transform. Be someone or something else–but also fundamentally who you are.
To show a side of yourself you keep locked away for much of the day, but that nevertheless has a lot to do with the person you are and the dreams that you have for your life. I get that, too. That’s what my fiction is for. Those are my dreams. We all have them, and we all have some way of sharing them with like minds. “Our truest dreams are when we are in life awake.” Thoreau said that. Maybe he liked convention-going, too.
Of course, we like to explore the darker side of human nature, too. That’s a theme prevalent in science fiction and fantasy, genres that let us explore the human condition at a distance. And that of course makes it that much easier to go to the dark places, ask the tough questions…. Why do we fight, harm, kill? What can make us lose part of our humanity? Who would we be if government collapsed and we were left to fend for ourselves? Are zombies still people? Do they still feel?
You know: the very questions Socrates and Plato struggled with so mightily.
All of that brings us to our second bug of this article: the zombie virus. This reporter encountered that at FanX, too, in the form of The Walking Dead Experience. Back behind the throng of fans waiting for autographs and photo ops…
…there was a trailer where convention-goers could choose to be zombies or survivors, transform into their characters with the help of makeup and wardrobe specialists, and be put through the paces of a day in a post-apocalyptic world full of monsters both zombie and human.
It was a little bit scary, a lot bit fun, and sadly way too short an experience. Because let’s be honest: if you could live in the world of The Walking Dead, who would ever want to leave? Am I right?
I suppose that might depend on whether your choice was to live in that world or live in this one with the con crud…. “Con crud,” you say? Yep, that’s bug #3. It’s when the make-believe gets real. Remember the story in Trekkies of the Q virus? So the legend goes, John de Lancie came to a convention sporting the flu, and after valiantly coughing his way through his appearance, left half a glass of water on the podium. Tongues firmly planted in cheeks, conventioneers auctioned off that glass. It sold for $60, and the happy, hapless victim drank the water and crowed triumphantly to the awestruck crowd, “I’ve got the Q virus!”
Yeah, well… you couldn’t pay me $60 to get con crud. Granted, I’ve gotten it for free more than once. But you know what I mean…. Put 100,000 people in a confined space and the medieval outing that started as tiaras, fancy gowns and lavish dances in the castle…
…gets downright dirty and barbaric: no refrigeration, no washing machines, clothes steeped in sweat and unwashed bodies and decorated with caked-on mud from the road…. It’s the seedy underbelly of convention going.
Take it from me, one who just recovered from it. You don’t want this. Wash your hands. Frequently. Try not to touch your face. And maybe try spinning in a circle three times and praying to the Lords of Kobol.
And that’s it for my experience with the many bugs at FanX. Thanks for listening, and happy, healthy convention going!
Hopefully, we’ll see you this September at Salt Lake Comic Con!
Check out our gallery of photos from the 2016 Salt Lake Comic Con Fan Xperience!