Fans take a photo Salt Lake Comic Con FanX at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Cartoon characters. Astronauts. Boy bands. Zombies.
When it comes to deciding how to differentiate their springtime FanX event from Salt Lake Comic Con in the fall, co-founders Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg are thinking further and further outside the box of pop culture conventions.
In addition to the celebrity ensemble the three-day event promises — Jeremy Renner of “The Avengers” and “The Bourne Legacy,” Matt Smith from the BBC cult series “Doctor Who,” and “X-Files” star Gillian Anderson — Farr and Brandenburg say they are on the lookout for whatever fans are passionate about.
“We’re looking for ways to focus on fandoms all together, and to think of people the general population would like to see and meet, and that’s why we came up with FanXperience,” Farr said. “(FanX and comic con) are still very close, but this is where we try to branch out.”
FanX will run March 24-26 at the Salt Palace Convention Center, offering a streamlined alternative to the regular Salt Lake Comic Con event, which drew more than 120,000 attendees in September.
It is also aiming to bring in a few guests that some might not expect.
Since the first Salt Lake Comic Con and FanX events, Brandenburg said there’s been one guest he especially hoped to bring to Utah one day: his real-life hero, Buzz Aldrin.
Brandenburg remembers watching Aldrin’s moonwalk on live TV, after his father, who worked with rockets, insisted they watch.
“I’m glad he did,” Brandenburg said.
Space and science fascinated Brandenburg for the rest of his life, including in the digital development phase of his career, he said.
“In one of my companies, I built a 3-D model of the Earth and moon, the solar system, astronauts, lunar rovers, lunar bases, the space shuttle and more,” Brandenburg said. “This was driven by witnessing Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon.”
Premium meet-and-greet and photo packages with Aldrin have sold out, but a limited number of low-price tickets to the astronaut’s “Mission to Mars” panel, happening Thursday, are still available. Organizers included $5 and $10 options for the event, keeping in mind families, teachers and students, they said.
Nostalgic ’90s pop fans can pay for pictures with Backstreet Boys Nick Carter and AJ McLean, and Joey Fatone of NSYNC. All grown up now, the trio will be promoting “Dead7,” a SyFy original movie that Farr called “an all boy-band zombie western.”
While it was the upcoming flick that brought the ’90s heartthrobs onto the convention circuit, FanX organizers have been happy to play up their boy-band fame for people who are fans of their music but may not love zombie lore.
“I don’t think anyone has been shy about leveraging the fact that these guys are rock stars,” Farr said. “We’re hoping to reach new fans with them.”
Those wanting a living — or an undead — look at AMC’s hit zombie series can immerse themselves in “The Walking Dead Experience,” taking on the roles of either human survivors or the flesh-hungry masses pursuing them.
The interactive theatrical attraction brings the first chapter of Robert Kirkman’s hit comic and TV show into reality. FanX will be the first convention stop this year for the experience, a product of director Michael Counts, and Walker Stalker, an all-zombie fan gathering.
Additionally, fans of the show will have a chance to see stars Danai Gurira, Chandler Riggs and Michael Traynor. Norman Reedus, who reprises the role of Daryl on the show, announced Wednesday he was canceling his appearance at the convention in lieu of filming obligations.
24 March 2016 | 11:40 am
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