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Salt Lake FanX Comic Convention Fall 2023

This was a very strange year for SL FanX Comic Convention. Despite it being the 10th anniversary of the event. Because of the writers’ and actors’ strikes nearly all of the celebrities were not permitted to discuss past, present, or future works. This made for some ridiculous and in some ways pointless panels. At the beginning of panels they announce you could not discuss specific works or franchises. In the main ballroom Chris Provost said “also this is kind of fun, you can’t ask them anything about their work.” It particularly seems bizarre that they can’t discuss previous roles, in some cases things that happened decades ago. 

The hours were also reduced this year, particularly on Saturday with the event ending at 7:00pm. The reduced hours meant a reduction in the number of panels. It showed as less rooms were dedicated for panels resulting in fewer options once you tired of the exhibit hall. 

Exhibit Hall

The exhibit halls and rooms were used to the max this year. Previously there would be some amount of space either at the front or back of the main hall that wasn’t fully utilized, that did not seem to be the case this year. 

Some things that stood out to me I hadn’t previous seen. There was a room dedicated to NASA and their recent and upcoming missions which actual NASA employees. There was a room dedicated to the Clark Planetarium just across from it. There was a room where you could learn and crew a star ship simulation with a group of people. There was a large hall dedicated to tabletop games (this has come and gone between the years). Saturday was the most crowded (naturally). Oddly there was no scanning as people entered the facility. Usually they track the number of people in the building, but I guess it wasn’t a concern this year. 

Rose Mclver Panel

This was the first panel I attended. The most notable thing is that Rose McLver is from New Zealand and has a New Zealand accent. The second most notable thing is how stupid the topic restrictions were. Question and Answer went like this. “In that Seattle show we can’t talk about I noticed you wore high heels a lot, was that a personal choice or a production choice?” “That show you are talking about I can’t really get into details but I don’t normally wear high heels.” And around and around they went. 

Mandalorian and Book of Boba Fett Panel

This panel, which featured Carey Jones, Katee Sackoff, Gina Carano, and Daniel Logan had the same franchise restrictions. This led to such questions as “what is the best part of being a fan of the franchise related to the name Solar Wars?” but most of the questions were things like “how do you get into character” or “what was the most difficult stunt you’ve performed.”

It takes a lot of the magic out of a Star Wars themed panel when you can’t discuss Star Wars.

Smallville Panel

This panel, which featured Tom Welling (Clark Kent), Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luthor) John Glover (Lionel Luther), Kristin Kreuk (Lana Lang), and Emmanuelle Vaugier (Dr… someone). This panel also had an added restriction of no media allows. People were not allowed to use their cell phones to take pictures or record any video. Despite this restriction I did observe at least a couple of people breaking these rules. 

Michael Rosenbaum took charge of the panel (basically letting the FanX appointed moderator just sit there the whole time). Maybe the media blackout was because this group was a lot more willing to skirt the restrictions of the strike. They were not afraid to say the word ‘Smallville’ and were willing to take questions related to the show. 

Don Bluth Panel

Don Bluth is known primarily as an animated film director. He directed The Secret of NIHM, An American Tail, The Land Before Time, All Dogs Go to Heaven, Anastasia, and Titan A.E. 

Interesting thing about his panel, because he is not a writer or actor, he was not bound to any limitations imposed by those groups. So this was a normal panel were fans got to ask for interesting tidbits about various productions. 

The most memorable thing about the panel to me was that he said originally the main character in An American Tail was named Mousee Mousekewitz. But then someone (I don’t recall exactly who maybe the producer) came in during production and said the name is now Fievel. Don asked who is Fievel and the person said it was the name of their grandfather who had migrated to the U.S. from Russia. 

Writers of the Future: So you want to be a writer?

This panel featured past winners and current judges of the L. Ron Hubbard competition Writers of the Future and Illustrators of the Future. The competition is a free and pays cash prizes of up to $5000 each year. The panelists discussed general writing tips and details about how to submit to the competition. If you are interested in the competition you may find information here

Hogwarts Legacy: Bringing the Castle to Life

This was a presentation of the design and process that Avalanche Software took to create the Hogwart’s Legacy video game released at the beginning of this year. They talked about the process of creating the castle, the characters, and game mechanics. A recurring discussion point was the size of the castle is so large that during development and play testing people would often get lost in the castle, unable to find their classes or complete the mini-quests. 

One of the people said they had very lofty original goals, including the desire to have 300 spells in the game. As time went on they had to make cuts (ultimately the game as 34 spells). 

And that was Salt Lake FanX Comic Convention 2023. Apparently the panel processed had changed this year and this was the first year I haven’t been a panelist in quite a few years. 


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