Review of Fantasy Con
July 3-5, 2014
Salt Lake City, Utah
Review By: John Fragglepuss Evans
Summary: Fantasy Con took place over the 4th of July weekend, but you would not know it once you stepped foot into the Salt Palace and was whisked away into a convention center full of fantasy and people. You could tell that they wanted to make you feel that you were not simply in a convention center by the way they added large backdrops to the walls, and statues throughout the space. The statues and fixtures were as simple as rock formations and as complex as a 30 foot dragon that blew smoke out of its nose. There was also a moving rock monster that growled at you, and a fountain of a dragon spewing water onto a warrior that was defending himself with a shield. There were a lot of items for photo opportunities which convention goers seemed to enjoy.
There was a battleground with several Live Action Role Play (LARP) groups going to battle throughout all three days. This was entertaining to watch for a little while, but ended up being a lot of the same as the days went on. There was a performance stage with magicians, jugglers, puppeteers, taiko drummers, and silk dancers. The performances were impressive, especially the silk dancers, but there was no schedule for the performances, so it was difficult to know when to find out about a performer going on stage. There was another area with blacksmiths, glass blowers, archery, and fire dancers. The problem with the fire dancers was the same as the other stage, there was no schedule of times in the convention booklet, making it difficult to know when they would be performing.
In regards to celebrities: DJ Elijah Wood, Summer Glau, Simon Pegg, Adrienne Wilkerson, Billy Boyd, Josepth Gatt, Renee O’ Conner, Sean Astin, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, Tinsel Korey, Mark Sheppard, Claudia Christian, Kristen Hughey, Sylvester McCoy, Doug Jones, John Rhys-Davies, Ken Stott, Riddle, Lindsay Elyse, Destiny Nickelsen, Monika Lee, Stella Chuu, and many others.
There were several Lord of the Rings related panels, as you can imagine with so many hobbits and dwarves all at the same convention. There was a cosplay competition with a large amount of prize money going to the winner. The competition involved several amazing cosplays, but was run somewhat poorly. The MCs and the judges were not on the same page and so there were several moments of confusion throughout the competition.
I ran a panel on Fantasy & Anime along with Brittany Evans and Lindsay Starke (fellow members of SLC Anime). We discussed how fantasy and anime go hand-in-hand since the vast majority of anime genres involve fantasy in one way or another. Studio Ghibli has been very influential in regards to fantasy and anime. The majority of Ghibli films involve fantasy and are some of the most popular anime out there. There are several fantasy movies that if you enjoy them, then you will likely enjoy certain anime that are similar to the movies. The best example is the Matrix. The directors of the Matrix, the Wachowski brothers, have said repeatedly that Ghost in the Shell was very influential in the creation of the Matrix.
Before I wrap this up, I must mention that DJ Elijah Wood kicked off Fantasy Con, and that was a nice touch to start off the convention.
As a whole, Fantasy Con was a pleasant experience. It was a nice change in pace from other conventions with all of the additional activities to do and to watch. The celebrities were enjoyable to listen to in their panels. However, I would describe Fantasy Con as more of a mixture between a Renaissance Faire and a convention. The vendors were somewhat lacking, and the schedule was difficult to interpret and lacking. Besides that, I would say that the convention was a success. I enjoyed my time at the convention and I plan on attending next year.