Salt Lake City Comic Con written by Mike Baron

SALT LAKE CITY

Thanks to the good offices of my partner Steve Rude the Salt Lake City Con had me as a guest, but were unable to give me a hotel room. I stayed with my new publisher Lawrence White, for whom I am adapting my novel HELMET HEAD. Lawrence lives with his large, extended family in West Jordan, a suburb of Salt Lake. When Lawrence learned his neighbor was on dialysis and  circling the drain due to lack of a replacement organ, Lawrence gave him one of his kidneys. That’s the kind of guy Lawrence is. He works full time. His charming wife Lay works full time. And his son works full time. His anthology POINT BLANK has been up on the internet for awhile, but Lawrence has asked me to step in as editor for his new line of comics.

The Salt Palace was chock-a-block but the only publisher with a booth was Top Cow, even though attendance hit 150,000. I sense the big publishers pulling back in an effort to tighten their belts. There were also tons of new artists selling posters and prints and most of them were very good. I sat next to Tomy Knight from Toronto, who with his brother paints superheroes similar to Greg Horn. Tomy has no website. He’s not on Facebook. He goes to the cons, puts out his wares and rakes in cash from surprised but delighted attendees who have never heard of him. You will search in vain for his images on the internet. There were many other artists of similar quality.

I counted three double-wide baby trams. You’d think these people had never been to a con before. Friday night I supped with James Artemus Owen, a man who goes out of his way to help others. James drove from his home in Arizona so that he could bring the CHAIR. If you go to his Facebook page, you will see the CHAIR. James always wears slacks, a white shirt, and a nice vest. This is known as branding. Jim Steranko also brands, and never appears without a snappy three-piece suit. Saturday was crazy. Cosplayers set a Guinness World Record for the most cosplayers in one place. Dude and I met to discuss future Nexus stories. I ordered a martini. It arrived in a thimble. I asked the waiter if some had spilled and he said, “I’m sorry, sir. Utah state law requires that cocktails may not exceed 20 cc.”

And then suddenly it was all over! The Salt Lake City Con has come out of nowhere to become one of the largest comic conventions in the country. It seems there are more comic conventions than ever, often two or three on the same weekends. Yet the readership has not expanded. Why? I don’t know. But I do know that placing spinner racks in movie theater lobbies is a good idea. The only reason this doesn’t occur is because of the impossible knot of uncooperative theater owners, publishers and distributors who can’t agree.   

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