Jill and John at Salt Lake Comic Con

By Jill Williamson

John W. Otte and I had never attended a comic con in our lives—let alone gone as panelists! But we managed to get ourselves on the panelists list for the second Salt Lake Comic Con, which in just two years, quickly became the third biggest con in the nation.
 
I’ve attended a lot of conventions, mostly homeschool or librarian ones, but this felt pretty much the same, booth-wise. We checked in, then lugged our stuff to the booth and set it up. We did this the day the event opened, so it wasn’t long after we finished setting up that the exhibition floor opened and people started coming in.
 
This is where things were different from the homeschool and librarian conventions I’d attended before. Over half the people who came to the con were dressed up in cosplay. I saw a lot of Doctor Who characters and a lot of superhero characters. The costumes sometimes made it easier to talk to people.
 
John’s friend Chris had a gift for handing out our free ebook cards. I was the worst at this. The introvert in me cringes at approaching someone who is clearly trying to pass by the booth quickly. When someone glances at me or the table, sure, I can talk to them then. But I’m not a gifted salesman, that’s for sure.
 
Besides the costumes and the content of the other booths, this was really no different from any other convention. It’s just that this place had a HUGE percentage of readers present. And that was awesome.
 
The other thing that set this event apart was that John and I got to sit on panels. That was pretty awesome. Here was our combined panel list:
 
-Geek Parenting: Raising the Next Generation of Geeks
-Go Teen Writers!
-The Writers Journey: 1001 Stories of Breaking In as a Published Author
-Magic, Myths, Legends, Archetypes and the Supernatural: What Writers of Speculative Fiction Have to Work With
-Comic Con Writer’s Retreat Part 2: Writing Your Novel
-How to Write Great Science Fiction and Fantasy
-Building a Move-In Ready World
 

Some panels went better than others. That mostly depended on the way the moderator handled the group. I was glad the Go Teen Writers panel was my first since it was an idea I had submitted and I was holding a copy of the Go Teen Writers book and a bunch of GTW postcards. That gave me extra confidence for my first comic con panel ever.
 

But really, I’d done this type of thing before at writer’s conferences, and it was no different here. The moderator asked questions, and we jumped in to answer. Simple as that. Sometimes it was hard to get a word in, though. I was pretty overwhelmed in a couple panels, as the other panelists were, well, famous. I was on a panel with Larry Correia and Kevin J. Anderson. And in that same panel I sat next to Eric James Stone, who, before the panel began, pulled his newly won Nebula Award out of his bag and set it on the table beside his name tag. I didn’t take a picture, but he did let me touch it, so that was cool.

My favorite panel was the Comic Con Writer’s Retreat Part 2. John and I were both on that panel. Lisa Magnum did an excellent job as moderator and the crowd seemed really excited to be there. (Check out the size of that crowd in the picture!) There were people waiting at our booth for us after that panel, which was awesome.

 
We had some great conversations with readers, handed out 1000 cards each, and I learned a lot. As long as I can do panels again, I will make Salt Lake Comic Con my home con and go again and again. And I might do it even if I can’t sit on panels. It was a great group of readers all in one place and a wonderful experience.
 
Have you ever attended a comic con? If so, which one? What are some things you love about them?
Salt Lake Comic Con

2 Responses to Jill and John at Salt Lake Comic Con

  1. Steve September 19, 2014 at 10:32 am #

    Being a New Yorker, I’ve grown to dislike cons in general. I’ve been to numerous comic cons over many years, and even a coffee/tea con, and here in the city they tend to be extremely overcrowded, and as a result, not very enjoyable.

    But recently, while visiting friends in Utah, my family and I went to the fantasy con in Salt Lake. Wow… what a completely different atmosphere. I was healthily attended, and not at all overcrowded, and everyone was nice, respectful, and even more rather modestly dressed. (One of my beefs about NY cons is the amount of skin shown. It’s just inappropriate at times.)

    I’d totally dig a comic con in the Salt Lake area. Who knows? Maybe someday.

  2. Jill Williamson October 1, 2014 at 8:21 pm #

    I heard that the Salt Lake Comic Con had a family friendly rating. They made sure exhibitors kept things clean. I suspect that helps some. This was my first and only con, so I didn’t have anything to compare it to.

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