Salt Lake City—In late October, Salt Lake Comic Con wasn’t planning on holding a spring Fan Xperience this year.
In early November, they changed their minds.
“Quite frankly, Team Salt Lake Comic Con didn’t want to wait until September,” said Bryan Brandenburg, Salt Lake Comic Con co-founder and chief marketing officer at a press conference Wednesday. “The stars came together—literally and figuratively—to put on this event.”
Fan Xperience 2017 will be held March 17 and 18 in the Salt Palace Convention Center.
The initial announcements that there would be no Fan Xperience—a springtime little sister to the Salt Lake Comic Con held annually in September—were based on an inability to reserve ideal dates at the convention center; the only dates available at one point coincided with a general conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brandenburg said.
“We thought there might be too many people on the street,” he said.
Later on, however, two days in March became available. Brandenburg said they reserved the dates, but were unsure if they could organize the event in a shorter amount of time.
“There were a lot of logistics and we had to talk to the team and say, ‘We’re late in the game to put this on.’ But everyone really wanted to do it,” Brandenburg said.
What followed was a “whirlwind” of touring the country by Salt Lake Comic Con Founder and Show Producer Dan Farr, and contacting various actors, artists and agents to assemble a lineup of well-known and liked guests to the event.
“When you’re moving quickly to put something together, it’s great that we have the support we had, and everything just seemed to fall into place. We see that time and time again with these events,” Farr said. “It’s just kind of serendipity, that things fall together. I think it’s because there’s so many people with great passion around us who want to make this happen.”
The passion of Salt Lake Comic Con’s fans was also a factor, said Brandenburg, and in light of the devoted following that made the convention one of the most popular events of its kind in the country virtually overnight, organizers have put forth a special effort to cater to them with this event. Because the event is condensed to two days, rather than three, ticket prices have dropped accordingly—roughly 65 percent of the usual cost. In addition, “fan experiences” available at the event, which is typically billed as being more intimate and focused on the “fan experience” than the larger comic con, will include Hollywood-style sword training by Highlander star Adrian Paul.
Along with Paul, organizers announced the Fan Xperience attendance of singer and comedian “Weird Al” Yankovich; Khary Payton of The Walking Dead and Teen Titans; Tara Strong, a voice actress known for her work in Powerpuff Girls and Teen Titans Go!; television star Judge Reinhold; The Princess Bride actors Cary Elwes and Chris Sarandon; and legendary comic book creator Stan Lee. Before Wednesday’s conference, organizers had previously announced Wallace Shawn, also known for his work in The Princess Bride, as well as the Toy Story franchise; Michael Cudlitz of The Walking Dead; and John Rhys-Davies of franchises including Indiana Jones and The Lord of the Rings.
Brandenburg said Lee’s appearance at Fan Xperience ’17 will be particularly meaningful because of Lee’s announcement last year that he would be rapidly winding down his appearances at comic cons around the world. Lee was also present at the very first Salt Lake Comic Con in 2013.
“We feel like what an honor it is to introduce this community to a comic book legend,” Brandenburg said.
The 2017 Fan Xperience will also have a special designation in its dedication to the memory of Carrie Fisher, who appeared at Fan Xperience 2015.
“Her life was a celebration, and we’re going to celebration of her life. Even though she’s no longer with us in a physical body, she’ll always be with us in our hearts,” Brandenburg said.