SALT LAKE CITY — FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention added eight more stars to the roster for its fall event Wednesday during a costumed press conference at the state Capitol, as well as the creation of new volunteer and education initiatives.
FanX founder Dan Farr praised the group as the largest he has seen in the five years since the event was established, going on to thank fans of Utah's homegrown comic and pop culture convention for building a reputation "unmatched anywhere else in the industry."
"We have become kind of a gold standard, I have a lot of people tell us that our show is one that other shows are measured against in other events around the country," Farr said.
The event kicked off with a crowd of cosplayers descending the stone steps in the rotunda to John Williams' iconic "Superman" theme, a preview to the announcement that Tom Welling, who played Clark Kent in the CW hit "Smallville," will come to Salt Lake City this fall.
Other guests announced Wednesday included Chuck Norris, "Walker: Texas Ranger"; Tricia Helfer, "Battlestar Galactica"; John Wesley Shipp, "The Flash"; and the cast of the anime web series "RWBY", Lindsay Jones, Arryn Zech, Kara Eberle and Vic Mignogna.
Organizers anticipate announcing about 40 celebrity guests prior to the event, as well as more than 100 artists and 400 vendors.
FanX co-founder Bryan Brandenburg introduced the organization's newest community effort, the FanX S.T.E.A.M. Competition, offering a series of contests combining science, technology, engineering, art and math learning with science fiction and comic book stories. Finals in the contests will be held during FanX in September.
"Comic books not only teach kids to read, but they start tu understand the mechanics behind an Iron Man suit or the genetics behind Spider-Man," Brandenburg said. "We think it's going to get a lot of kids excited."
Brandenburg also announced the establishment of a new nonprofit organization, the League of Utah Volunteers, or LUV for short. The organization will connect FanX's volunteer staff with other volunteer opportunities, and will financially support other Utah organizations, he said.
Brandenburg went on to address the convention's name change in light of its recent legal battle, losing at trial in December in a trademark lawsuit filed by San Diego Comic-Con International. The iconic California-based convention claimed that the original name of the Utah event, Salt Lake Comic Con, violated trademark because it used the protected term "comic con."
Brandenburg said he is confident the name change to FanX — which the convention had used in the past for its smaller, springtime event — "isn't going to slow us down one bit." The organization is requesting a new trial in the case.
"Now, the good news is, we're much bigger than the name," Brandenburg said. "And after five years and 10 events, you're now family to us. We take that responsibility very seriously and playfully. And we want to assure you that in September the FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention 2018 is going to be our best one ever."
Other guests coming to FanX include Jennifer Morrison "Once Upon A Time"; Mark Sheppard, "Supernatural" and "Doctor Who"; Evangeline Lilly, "Lost" and "Ant-Man"; Paul Reubens, "The Pee-wee Herman Show"; Barry Bostwick, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show"; Tim Curry, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and "It"; and Karl Urban "The Lord of the Rings" and "Star Trek."
FanX runs Sept. 6-8 at the Salt Palace Convention Center. Tickets are on sale at fanxsaltlake.com.