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Salt Lake Comic Con creates haven for creativity (+photos)

SALT LAKE CITY — Thousands of people waiting to attend the second day of Salt Lake City’s first Comic Con wrapped around the Salt Palace Convention Center Friday afternoon.

Storm troopers, Pokémon characters, members of the Avengers, Disney princesses and dozens of other characters roamed the halls. Fans wormed their way through hundreds of booths displaying art, games and merchandise.

Some joined new lines to receive autographs or pictures with their favorite celebrities, while others ran to and from dozens of available panels. A few simply sat back and enjoyed the ambiance.

For Kalley Hernandez of Layton, it was the event she had spent months waiting for, and she wasn't disappointed.

“Just look at the people,” Hernandez said. “Every single person here that I’ve seen is smiling and everybody looks like a little kid at Disneyland. It is wonderful.”

Derek Hunter, an artist for Cartoon Network’s “Adventure Time,” said the convention was long overdue in Salt Lake City. Hunter had been involved with the local "geek" community until he moved to Los Angeles last year. When he first heard about the creation of Salt Lake Comic Con, he said he was excited but upset it didn’t happen years ago.

“I was mad,” Hunter joked. "They didn’t have it when I lived out here. I had to fly out here to come.

“But it’s awesome. I’m so happy because there’s such a huge, enthusiastic geek subculture that’s thriving in Salt Lake City, which is obviously evident by the number of people who came to the show.”

Despite being called “Comic Con,” the convention showcases a diverse collection of artists, guests and vendors outside of the comic book genre.

While Hunter was selling and signing copies of his illustrations and comic, the vendor next to him was displaying intricate sculptures. In another area of the hall, booths showcased costumes, books and video games.

“That’s kind of what’s cool about these shows,” Hunter said. “Everyone can come out whether they’re making little crocheted dolls, art prints, comics, ceramics or whatever. It’s great.”

Hunter said he loved the interaction Comic Con encourages between everyone who attends. As an artist, he said he particularly loves being able to cheer on fans in their own pursuits.

“Being able to talk to (fans) and encourage their enthusiasm, especially if they’re an artist or someone who wants to make a living in animation. I get to say ‘keep it up’ or ‘keep drawing.’ It’s fun,” Hunter said.

Chris Bodily, an artist from Ogden, said the eclectic nature of the convention provides the opportunity for a wide variety of artists to display their work.

“My type of art, it’s got a certain niche and I was worried with all the competition that it might not be as popular. But we’ve been really well received,” Bodily said. “To have people come and see your art, that’s the biggest payoff. Whether I made any sales or not, having people come in and laugh out loud at one of my images or say that they related to something in one of the pieces I’ve done — that connection is what it’s all about."

Salt Lake Comic Con continues Saturday at the Salt Palace with events from William Shatner and Marvel creator Stan Lee. Schedule and ticketing information can be found at

Katie Harmer is a journalism graduate of Brigham Young University and writes for Mormon Times. Email: Twitter: harmerk