This year’s Salt Lake Comic Con opened in the Vivint Smart Home Arena with Mark Hamill. Traditionally celebrity panels are held in the Grand Ballroom of the Salt Lake Convention Center, which accomodates around 5,000 people. This year two events (Mark Hamill and William Shatner) were moved to the Arena because it allows for up to 20,000 attendees and is located just west of the convention center.
Nothing definitive yet for the ongoing lawsuit between San Diego Comic-Con and Salt Lake Comic Con. The latest news reported in May says they are working towards a settlement and that a decision is expected to be made by mid-October.
There weren’t 20,000 people in attendance, but the lower bowl and the floor around the stage were almost completely full, with some people bleeding into the upper bowl. I heard one estimate that 10,000 were in attendance for Mark Hamill. Had the event been on Saturday instead of Thursday at 11:00am I’m sure it would have completely filled up, but as it was Mark Hamill had only one day in Salt Lake City before leaving to attend Fan Expo Canada the same weekend.
Hamill spoke about recent projects (with the exception of Episode 8) and how projects he did a long time ago which he thought were over and done with keep coming back. He said he never expected there to be any more Star Wars films, until George Lucas told him in 2012 that he was selling the studio to Disney and they would probably want to make more. He talked about working on The Flash in the 90s and then his surprise to be asked to reprise his role as the Trickster for the new Flash on the CW.
About The Killing Joke, he said that when Batman The Animated Series first concluded, he had talked about doing an audio book for The Killing Joke, but that it was ultimately dropped. When they approached him again he said he had forgotten how dark and disturbing the story was compared to his regular portrayal of the Joker.
About returning to Star Wars, Hamill said he would only do it if they got all three (Fisher, Ford, and himself) and he had convinced himself that Ford wouldn’t do it. He said:
I figured they would never get Harrison. For one thing he is too rich, he’s too cynical, and he stopped caring decades ago.
When asked about his thirty seconds of fame in Episode VII, Hamill said he lobbied to exclude Luke from that film entirely, and that he should be introduced in Episode VIII. He felt, particularly with what was happening to Harrison’s character, that it would be more meaningful to have him come in the later film. He spoke that to bill the movie with the main three gave the audience a certain expectation which wasn’t delivered with his short scene.
John Eaves, long time conceptual artist and production illustrator for Star Trek (having worked on DS9, Voyager, Enterprise, and all Star Trek films since Star Trek V) hosted a small (but packed) panel titled Star Trek at 50: Fifty Years of Designing Trek.
He had many behind the scenes photos depicting models, other artists, and cast members. He talked about how in the old days most of the designs that he and other artists would submit would got through a little tweaking and then be approved (or not). He said now the main ships go through at least six months of design and redesign before approval.
About Deep Space Nine, he stated that originally the station was meant to be haunted, because of all the terrible things that had happened aboard it, and that element would have been a big part of the initial story telling. Eventually they dropped that idea, although you may see a hint of the concept in the DS9 episode “Empok Nor.”
After his panel I asked him what he thought about the design that came out of Star Trek: Discovery trailer. He said that CBS insisted on a trailer for San Diego Comic-Con, and gave two guys two days to complete it. He said the ship design wasn’t complete, and that even if they released the new design today (September 3rd) it still wouldn’t be ready.
James Arnold Taylor
James Arnold Taylor was the final event in the Grand Ballroom on Saturday. He is known for his exceptional voice work and is mostly famously known as Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and as Ratchet from Ratchet & Clank.
He performed his stand-up routine Talking To Myself, in which he describes how being a voice actor works and his entry into the industry. The show uses a lot of visual elements which Taylor is supplying a host of voices live. It is light, funny, and worth an hour of someone’s time if they want to watch it on YouTube or see it live.
His show talks about radio, phone automation, animation, and video game work. On video games, he said the work is a lot harder than anything else, because the scripts tend to be four to ten times larger than a normal movie or tv script. This is because in additional to all the dialogue for various decisions the player makes, there is all the sounds of reacting to being hit, recovered, saved, and anything else the player might encounter.
This year’s Salt Lake Comic Con occupied 100% of the available space in the convention center. Dan Farr mentioned that with the convention growing every year, the addition of using the Vivint Smart Home Arena was a natural way to expand for larger panels and give a little more breathing room for the main convention center. He expected they will continue to use the facility in future shows.
As always the convention floor is host to a multitude of local artists, regional vendors, and specialty groups. SLCC makes an effort to be family accessible, with every multi-day pass ticket it comes with two free 2-8 year-old passes. For $100 at Costco, you get two adult passes and up to four kids. One of the primary attractions for kids is the KidCon, which this year offered a Hogwarts themed castle with an obstacle course, princess story time, and fairy tea parties. Additional activities were available if parents were willing to pay.