The Number One Way You’re Missing Out at Comic Con
by Ashley Hasna
Sure you can attend Comic Con for nothing more than the costumes and celebrities, but there are dozens of ways to indulge a fearless fandom or a mild interest: panels. Salt Lake Comic Con’s Program Directors Blake Casselman and Ryan Call have lined up a broad spectrum of topics for the FanXperience 2016 Panel Schedule. From book lovers to aspiring writers and filmmakers, there’s something to interest any attendee with topics covering pop culture, cosplay, writing, gaming, manga, anime, and more.
1. Deepen Your Fandom or Interest with Unique Information: If you’re a fan of a particular subject or person, panels are the place to learn first-hand details about your interest from the people involved. Panels are often very humorous in their presentation, and guests are strategically chosen to have the best insight and knowledge about their panel subjects. Call enthusiastically explains, “I can’t think of a panel where I’m a fan going in that I haven’t come out appreciating the fandom more and learning something about that topic I wouldn’t have known before.”
2. Breaking News or Surprise Guests: Panel guests recognize that dedicated fans attend. As such, they are sometimes rewarded with breaking news about a new project. Casselman also explains that even though there’s a guest list, it’s not always rigid. “At the ‘75th Anniversary of Superman panel in September 2013, we were able to arrange for Dean Cain, who played Superman on the ABC show Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, to join last minute.” Attendees were all too happy to accommodate the change. Because schedules are always changing, it’s not unheard of for a last-minute celebrity to be added or show up as a surprise.
3. Inspire Your Own Creativity: Comic Con revolves around a passion for characters and storytelling, so Call advises, “If you have any creative spark at all, this is a great place to get ready and do something about it.” From writing to drawing there are experts in every field to help inspire your own project. Casselman agrees saying, “A lot of panels feed the creative energy of the audience. It’s like getting your batteries recharged.”
Learn how to level-up this Comic Con by choosing a panel:
2 Ways to Choose a Panel: Panels are either informative or a celebration of a subject. Skills and interests vary, so it’s important to consult the full list to determine which panels pull at you like the ring to Frodo. From there, choose by topic or by guest.
1. By Topic: You’re a fan of something—superheroes, writing, pop culture, etc.—or Comic Con would not be the way you spend your weekend. Use this to your advantage when looking at the list. Call explains, “Panels aren’t like a classroom lecture because you’re already invested in the topic.” Choose wisely.
2. By Guest: While topics make narrowing easy, Casselman advises, “It’s not necessarily about the topic, but who’s on it.” Don’t rule out a panel based on topic if there’s someone interesting attending it. This is what Google was made for. Check to see if an actor you came for is doing a panel (Norman Reedus and Kate Beckinsale), or perhaps your favorite author.
Once you’ve selected the panel (or panels) you’d like to attend, be sure to learn the time and place:
1. Multiple panels run every hour: The subject matters are so plentiful because more than one panel is going on at a time. Be sure to know when and where your panel is. The rooms are spread out, but there will be a map and signage to direct people to each panel. Seeing as time-turners are one of the few items not available at the Comic Con, divide and conquer with a friend if there are multiple topics you’d like to attend in the same hour.
2. Seating is limited: Knowing where to go it important, but so is knowing the number of seats available. If the seats are filled, you will be turned away. The biggest panel room offers up to 4,000 places, and the smallest offers 110. Seeing a demand for more seating at September’s Comic Con, overall, there will be more seating at FanX.
3. Come early: That being said, even with more seating, Call advices, “If there’s a panel that your life is not going to continue if you don’t get into it, go early and get in line.” It may feel odd, but you won’t be alone. Comic Con attendees aren’t hesitant to show their passion, so it’s not uncommon to show up several hours early for popular panels such as one with a high-profile actor. Come bond with fellow fans.
4. Use ZipQ: If you are a VIP, Gold or Multipass holder, you have access to FanXperience 2016’s ZipQ system! Think of it like the “FastPass” system from Disneyland. You go to the kiosks, scan your RFID wristband (once per day for Multi, twice per day for Gold, unlimited for VIP), select which panel you’d like to reserve a spot for. There’s more detailed information here.
The FanXperience 2016 Panel Schedule is subject to change before FanX, but take a look and tell us which panels you’re most interested in seeing.