I’ve been an avid comic book reader since the age of 4.
Well, I couldn’t read them; my grandmother read them to me along with the Sunday comics in the newspaper. I remember the larger-than-life characters (The Phantom being an early favorite), thrilling adventures and the overwhelming sense of doing the right thing to help others.
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Salt Lake FanX, a convention devoted to all things comic book and pop culture related.
I was amazed at how I felt like that 4-year-old kid all over again.
The Salt Palace Convention Center was nearly packed to capacity as fans from all over the region (some driving as far as eight hours away) came together to revel in the various comic book artists and celebrities that made themselves available for the weekend.
Fans, both adult and children alike, dressed as their favorite superheroes, heroines and pop culture icons. I myself even got into the fun of dressing up. I had always wanted to try costume play or “cosplay” at a convention, but never seemed to have the time, nor the foresight to put together a costume for the event. This year was different.
Well, not really. I still hadn’t put together a costume in time, but two things worked out in my favor for the weekend. First, there was a local thrift store only a few blocks from my hotel and the character I was impersonating wore a relatively simple “costume” of a hooded sweatshirt and jeans. So, “Marvel Comics’ Luke Cage” was headed to FanX.
Surrounded by so many like-minded fans, someone will almost always recognize your character at FanX. I didn’t think that wearing a hoodie and jeans would be considered much of a costume, but I did a pretty decent job of attaining the bullet-riddled-look for the hoodie.
In the convention center, grumblings of “Dude, look! Luke Cage!” started following me and became more frequent the farther I walked inside the convention. I was surprised that for such a simple costume, it seemed to resonate with my peers as being easily recognizable. Comic book cohorts stopped me to ask to pose for pictures with them, and I really felt a great sense of camaraderie between all of us “fanboys” and girls.
Of course, one of the main attractions to any comic book and pop culture convention is getting the opportunity to meet actors and celebrities from your favorite movies, television shows and comic book inspired stories. What makes these events so special is that you may run into a favorite celebrity at any moment.
Walking through the venue, I happened to stop and look up for a moment. I exclaimed “Holy (expletive)! It’s Candyman,” much to my embarrassment at nearly walking into the iconic actor Tony Todd, star of the “Candyman” horror movies, as well as several other movie and television roles.
After the initial shock of meeting him wore off, I got to sit with him and talk for a few minutes about various movie roles and other fanboy-related questions.
He’s promoting a comic book called “Focus” with creator Yvonne Wan. “Focus” is an adventure and horror comic book in which the protagonist is an autistic hero with super powers.
We talked for a while about topics ranging from autism in children to him teaching theater at my alma mater, Michigan State University.
I did confess that at even at my age, after having seen all of his “Candyman” films, I still don’t say the name in the mirror.
Near the end of my day, I walked to an area called Celebrity Row, where photos, autograph sessions and celebrity meet-and-greets were taking place.
As I mentioned earlier, I had given in and done a little cosplay as Luke Cage from the Netflix “Marvel Comics” series of the same name, and had gotten quite the warm reception from fellow fans.
I was feeling pretty good until I meet Mike Colter, the star of the Netflix “Marvel Comics” series “Luke Cage.” As I walked over for an autograph and a photo, he looked at me with a big grin and said, “You’ve got a moth problem with your hoodie, bro!”
The bullet-riddled hoodie went over pretty well. We both got a good laugh out of it and he complimented me on the accuracy of my costume and commended me on such a “fine choice for a cosplay.”
Nothing makes you feel like a kid again like meeting some of your television and movie heroes, and the Salt Lake FanX convention certainly delivers those nostalgic and fun feelings twice a year.
While I can’t attend in September, I’m looking forward to our family trip to Denver Comic Con. As comic book icon Stan Lee would say, “Excelsior!”
Kevin D. Brydie is the co-publisher of the Moab Sun News.
“What makes these events so special is that you may run into a favorite celebrity at any moment.”