By now, you’ve likely heard that Salt Lake Comic Con was so successful this year that the organizers have decided to split the con into two events—the Fan Xperience in April 2014, and a return of the Comic Con in September 2014—with very different flavors.
Some might scoff at the idea. Some already have. “How can they support two cons?” I’ve heard whispered, along with things like “It’s just a cash grab” and “No one will go to both.”
But I don’t think we, as a community of geeks, should be anywhere near that cynical.
As someone who’s been part of that community here in Salt Lake City for many years, I can tell you that I think we have the people and the capacity to have many more conventions than the ones we’ve had already. As anyone who attended the September 2013 Salt Lake Comic-Con can tell you, it wasn’t just hardcore fans and geeks in attendance; there was also a large number of mainstream people, more than at any other convention I’ve been to in the country.
Some have worried that this would dilute the power of the event, but I think it will have the opposite effect. Look to the movie box-office numbers for the past few years and you can see that being a geek has gone mainstream. The curiosity seekers who came to geek events this year are going to be full-fledged geeks in their own right next year.
Having a passion for things considered “geeky” is infectious. Not just infectious—it’s frightening how fast that bug strikes. How many times have you recommended Doctor Who to a friend, only to see them a few weeks later and find out that they’ve seen every available episode and suddenly have opinions on Matt Smith’s similarity to Patrick Troughton’s portrayal of the Doctor? Or how often have you handed a person the first graphic-novel collection of The Walking Dead, only to have them beg you for the next volume the very next morning?
We’re all like missionaries of geekdom, and we’re advancing not just the consumption of art, but the creation of it as well. That’s an important point to emphasize. At their press conference, Salt Lake Comic Con organizers announced that the 2014 event will feature an area to teach young people how to create comic books of their own. Art is a skill our culture needs to promote in order to maintain its health and creativity.
Salt Lake Comic Con certainly isn’t the leader locally on that front. There are plenty of entities in Salt Lake City working to support creative people—writers, artists, filmmakers—and proselytize for geekdom. The Geek Show Podcast, for just one example, has been working for more than five years to create a social scene through their monthly screenings at Brewvies, as well as co-sponsoring (with Big Shiny Robot) events like Lucky 13’s award-winning pub quiz. Each of the comic-book retailers in the area has done its best over the years to bring in top-level creative talent from the comics industry to enrich and educate the geek community in Salt Lake City.
Salt Lake Comic Con (and the new Fan Xperience) isn’t going to take any of that away. All it’s doing is giving us a new and larger platform to spread our wings and show them off.
And for that, I’m incredibly grateful.
Bryan Young is the editor-in-chief of BigShinyRobot.com.