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Salt Lake City — If you find yourself in Downtown Salt Lake this weekend, be on the lookout for superheroes, cartoon characters, elves, wookiees, video game characters and other unexpected folks. The first ever Salt Lake Comic Con kicked off Thursday at the Salt Palace and will continue through Friday and Saturday
Salt Lake Comic Con is set to be the most well attended first-year comic convention ever, said Dan Farr, the event’s organizer. As of Thursday morning, more than 33,000 tickets had sold. That’s more than other highly successful conventions, including New York, which had 32,000 attendees its first year, and Denver, which had about 27,000. He expects at least 35,000 to attend overall.
“This comic con has gotten much larger than we could have anticipated,” Farr said.
Attendance was given a boost Wednesday, when Comic Con revealed a last-minute celebrity addition to the lineup: Stan Lee, the 90-year-old co-creator of many characters in the Marvel Comics universe, including Spider Man, Iron Man, The Hulk, the X-Men and others. Farr said he had tried for months to get Lee to attend, but it took another Salt Lake Comic Con guest to get Lee to finally agree. Lee presented an award Monday to Lou Ferrigno, who is best known for playing the Hulk on TV in the late ‘70s and ‘80s. Ferrigno, excited about the enthusiasm and high attendance expected at Salt Lake Comic Con, invited the legendary comic book creator in person, and he finally agreed.
Lee joins a list of other stars, including “Star Trek” star William Shatner, “Happy Days” star Henry Winkler, and “Batman” stars Adam West and Burt Ward. Also in attendance will be an array of other film and TV actors, and science fiction and fantasy artists and authors.
Farr said there’s definitely something about Utah that makes it a ripe market for a comic con, but he’s not sure what it is. He said the local media has played a large role in spreading the word, and the event has been huge on social media
It’s still unclear how much money the convention will contribute to the Salt Lake economy, but it will certainly serve as a financial boon for many of the roughly 200 vendors and 100 artists on hand to sell their wares.
Farr said the start of Salt Lake Comic Con represents the realization of a dream. He’d been a fan of comic conventions in other states, but always wanted to see one in Utah. “I live here, and I wanted to see one come here, and I didn’t want to wait for it.” So he did it himself.
For more information on Comic Con or to purchase tickets, visit saltlakecomiccon.com. It continues through Saturday night.