Con Report: FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention 2022

Sorry for the delay with this post — the spouse and I got home very late Sunday night, and the day job is trying to eat me alive this week. But I had an amazing time at FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention 2022, and I’m happy to share some memories with you.

Thursday

We left Baltimore bright and early Thursday morning, with a layover in Denver on the way to Salt Lake City. Our stop was long enough for a nice sit-down brunch, and I decided it’s okay to drink alcohol at 8:30 in the morning when it’s in an airport, and you’ve already been awake for over 6 hours. We arrived safely at our destination, collected our bags, and took the nifty train from the airport to downtown SLC.

Did you know there are more than half a dozen Marriott hotels in downtown Salt Lake City? I thought I picked the correct one next to the Salt Palace Convention Center, but the route and hotel itself didn’t look familiar, and they had no record of our reservation. I was more embarrassed than irritated, and let Erik direct us to the next hotel. It wasn’t the right one, either! But the third time was the charm, and we were already exhausted and over 10k steps in before the convention even started.

Luckily, checking into FanX and dropping my books off with my lovely host, local independent bookstore The Printed Garden, was much easier. Even better, I didn’t have anything on programming that day. We wandered a bit of the dealer’s room, enjoyed a panel on Our Flag Means Death, and had dinner with some new friends. Back at the (correct) hotel, we watched the first episode of Andor and passed out early.

This isn’t even half of the dealer’s hall.

Friday

After a good night’s sleep, it was time to get our shopping on! We made it through about half the main hall and did our bit to support the geek economy. One of my favorite things about FanX is the food trucks that set up outside the convention center, where we grabbed pizza for lunch. Then it was time for my first book signing with The Printed Garden, where I had as much fun chatting with the other authors as I did the people who stopped by to see my books.

Erik was kind enough to fetch me coffee, and we spent some time people-watching before another panel we were interested in. I had to keep my energy up because I still had to give my talk later in the evening! For a Friday night, the room was pleasantly full for my nerdy interactive presentation on alternate history storytelling. My usual moderator was already booked, but a local fan was kind enough to volunteer to run around with the microphone for me. The crowd-sourced ideas from FanX were “What if Queen Elizabeth died during World War Two?” and “What if our solar system had binary suns?” If you missed out, feel free to download my presentation here.

We grabbed food truck ramen and took it back to the hotel, for another episode of Andor and then some sleep.

Saturday

The final morning of the con, we wandered the bit of the dealer’s hall we hadn’t visited yet. It would probably have gone a lot faster if I didn’t get distracted by conversations with cool artists, but that’s the point of conventions! We had lunch at a brew pub with a good friend of mine from grad school, C.R. Langille (who also happens to be Air Force, like the spouse). My second book signing that afternoon was also successful.

My only two panels for the year were both Saturday evening (the last hours of the con), but I was pleased by how well attended they were! The spouse abandoned me to go to a comedy show with a local friend, which is why no pictures. First up was a delightful and ridiculous conversation and audience Q&A about writing fanfiction. It went a little off the rails at one point, but overall, I had fun talking about one of my passions with people who also value it.

During the hour break between the panels, I leveled up as an author! The lovely woman who volunteered to help out during my presentation brought me bread made by her daughter. I was surprised, amused, and touched.

FanX ended on a high note with a fun discussion about what life must be like for normal people who live in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We talked about urban versus rural perspectives, insurance issues, and theories about future films and television shows. I also make some snarky jokes about religion and living in Baltimore, and have no regrets.

No Andor that night, because we were both totally done by the time we met back up at the hotel.

After

Luckily, our direct flight back to Baltimore didn’t leave until the afternoon. We met up with local friends for a delicious brunch and then took the train back to the airport. All went well until we hit the ground back home, and then it took over an hour for everything from our plane to get to baggage claim!

I definitely dragged a bit at work on Monday, but the homemade churro bread for breakfast was DELICIOUS.

We already have the dates for next year’s FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention. Minor problem: We also need to go to a wedding in North Carolina that Saturday night. We’re definitely considering coming out for at least the first two days of the event, because it’s always one of the highlights of our year.

Final Haul

Doctor Who t-shirt (Salt & Society Apparel)
Dice coffee mug (Level 1 Gamers)
“Just One More Chapter” necklace and comfy galaxy pants (Rather Awesome)
Hufflepuff water bottle (Valkyrie Manufacturing)
Hufflepuff badger patch and Ravenclaw sticker pack (Mud In My Blood)
Sabine Wren sticker and lotus pin (Fulcrum Pins)
Gamer cat sticker (Cats & Cantrips)
RBG, TARDIS, Hamilton, and Dune artwork (BookPageArt)
TARDIS and Normandy metal bookmarks (KUBO)
Sabine Wren, Rocinante, and Luke’s lightsaber metal bookmarks (Herofied)

A convention volunteer was also passing out FanX 2020 (The Con That Never Was) pins to the exhibitors during one of my book signing slots. Some of that is for the spouse, who especially loves The Expanse, Dune, and all things Hufflepuff. But I couldn’t resist adding to my TARDIS and Sabine Wren collections, and the t-shirt and necklace were obviously made for me!

Published by J.L. Gribble

Author, Editor, Worldbuilder

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