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FanX fans reflect on what makes their experiences so different

A participant of the FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention being held the Salt Palace Convention Center walks across Main Street in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. This weekend the city will play host to the Greek Festival, FanX, the Utah State Fair and the Vans Park Series World Championships.
A participant of the FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention being held the Salt Palace Convention Center walks across Main Street in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. This weekend the city will play host to the Greek Festival, FanX, the Utah State Fair and the Vans Park Series World Championships.
Laura Seitz

SALT LAKE CITY — Upon entering FanX, you are greeted by a variety of stands with all kinds of souvenirs, some fans in decked-out costumes and an overall feeling of excitement.

When one thinks of FanX, they might think of meeting celebrities, seeing crazy costumes or buying some one-of-a-kind souvenirs, but how much does FanX really cost? And does the amount you spend affect the experience you have?

Herriman natives Braden Smith, Jackson Taylor and Macoy Kennedy said that, for them, the regular pass is perfect because it’s cheaper and leaves more money for souvenirs they might want to purchase.

Kennedy added that they also just “love coming for the community” and it’s great to see how others dress up.

Across from them stood a group that seemed to be the cast of Nickelodeon show “Danny Phantom” come to life: students Justin (dressed as Danny Phantom) and Alecia Zohner (dressed as Tucker Foley), Jessica Bentley (dressed as the Box Ghost), Stephanie Grettenberger (dressed as Samantha Manson) and Katy Scott (dressed as the Lunch Lady Ghost).

The group explained that, since they’re “poor college students,” they try to go for the cheaper option and buy the multi-day pass since they know they’ll come for multiple days of the event. They also explained that in order to save money, they often alter clothing from other costumes or from things they find from Deseret Industries to fit their costumes for that year.

“Most of the costumes we have we’ve altered from other stuff,” Grettenberger said. “There are some things that we’ve bought online that were for different purposes, we altered those as well.”

Grettenberger said they plan their costumes months in advance in order to have time to save money to buy different pieces and put them together.

“One thing we also try to do with our costumes is make props that are practical to carry our stuff,” Justin Zohner said, opening his cardboard Fenton Thermos (a device used to catch ghosts in Danny Phantom) to show his wallet and keys.

While some people choose to buy most parts of their costumes, others — like Eric and Tristan Molina — like to make the whole thing themselves.

“I really like the artistic outlet it gives you,” Tristan Molina said. “It really pushes you to the limit, especially when you’re not doing a specific character.”

The pair told the Deseret News they had been working on their costumes — male Maleficent and female Hades — for about a year, and they had spent $1,000 to $1,500 dollars on each.

“We do gender bends, so it’s a lot of fun to get the idea together and have people actually recognize who you are,” Eric Molina said.

The couple also explained that they try to dress as animated characters for at least one day of the event so they can go to KidCon and take pictures.

Buddy Cartwright (dressed as Captain America) explained that, although it can be expensive, dressing up is his favorite part of FanX because it reminds him of when he was 8 years old and reading comic books.

On the back of his Captain America shield, Cartwright had signatures from all his friends who do cosplay and go to conventions with him. The top of the shield was labeled “FanX Fall 2019.” He explained that on the last day of this year’s convention he would label the bottom “FanX Spring 2019,” and have all his friends sign once again.

Cartwright explained that when someone is dressing up for FanX or any other comic convention, they can either have the confidence to do it alone, or they can have the support of a group.

Having both is best, he said.

“The joy I get from actually (dressing up) is just, sharing it with people, especially little kids who come up to me,” Cartwright said. “When little kids come up and want pictures, it’s like I’m seeing myself again, I’m (kneeling) with them and saying ‘Hey, keep doing it, keep doing you, keep coming, show what you love and don’t be ashamed of that.’”