Salt Lake Comic Con founder, Dan Farr, photo provided by Snapp Conner PR
After Dan Farr blew out his knee in his second year playing basketball for the Salt Lake Community College Bruins, and moving on to the University of Utah for a bachelors degree in business, he went from jock to geek and started a career in 3D imaging.
In 2000, he was the co-founder of DAZ 3D, which created images found on McDonald's cups, infomercials and even check out lanes at Wal Mart. The company was also involved in sci-fi and movies, and their booth turned a lot of heads at comic cons around the country.
"When I went to those shows, we found there's so much overlap with the people that attended comic cons and our customer base," he says. "Of course, I was very excited about offering our software to these customers, but what I realized is there's smuch much energy and so much excitement in the this industry that I wanted to be part of it."
So, he left the company and decided to start his own comic con in SLC. "I had a theory that Salt Lake, even among other cities, had more passionate fans per capita," he says. "There's no way for me to back that up, but I believed that was the case."
Farr attended comic cons like crazy, gathering ideas, operation info and contacts. Teaming up with the GEEX (Gaming and Electronics Expo), put on by MediaOne, was obvious. "They weren't sure if they were going to do it again, so I actually made good friend with them to try and partner, and that's been a real huge thing for us," he says.
Now, the dream has become a reality. Salt Lake Comic Con kicks off tomorrow morning, where Farr will give a press conference, along with celebrity guests. We chatted with Farr for a quick Q&A before the big event.
You've already changed venues, because this thing is so big. Did you expect that?
I feel like I was very optimistic, but it looks like my optimism is just getting blown out of the water. You always have those kind of things where you imagine something big and crazy, but we've already exceeded our optimal projection in ticket sales, and we still have a long way to go. We've heard things from other people that run shows they generally see that the tickets they sell beforehand are only equal to about a quarter or a third of what they sell at the venue. To me, that makes the numbers astronomical—it's crazy.
What are you most excited about for Salt Lake Comic Con?
Honestly, I'm excited to see the fans' reactions. I'm so excited to just people watch and see them meet their celebrities and their comic book artists. Also, cosplay people coming with their costumes. They've been working so hard to show those off. A cosplay person doesn't really get to watch the show. They will literally be stopped every 10 feet. They'll be walking, and then all of a sudden, someone stops them and wants to get pictures with them, and then they walk another 10 feet and a whole crowd will come and get pictures with them. And it's not like they go in costume and say they don't want anybody to take their picture; they're there to have their pictures taken, and I think that's their validation for what they've done. I was also looking at the panel list the other day, and it was put together by another team, and when I saw it, I was like "Wow, we've got so much content in these panels."
Was there anything you were hoping to get for Salt Lake Comic Con that didn't work out?
I was really trying to get some Walking Dead people, and we got some, we got Nick Gomez and Cerina Vincent—she's in the web series of The Walking Dead. But for the most part, most of them were already booked or filming. Norman Reedus was one we tried really hard to get. We won't be able to pull it off this year, but I think we'll be able to pull it off in the future. And there were some Doctor Who guests we tried to get who we weren't able to get.
Do you have any kids who are ecstatic by what you're doing?
I have three kids. My oldest is 17, and a I have a 14-year-old son and a 5-year-old little girl. My oldest son, he's kind of nonchalant about things. You kind of don't get a sense whether he's excited about something or not. But it was fun when Manu Bennett came out last week and stayed with us. My son got really excited—he's a huge Hobbit and Lord of the Rings fan. And to meet Manu Bennett was a big deal. He just asked me the other day, 'Can I assist Manu in his booth?'
Are you fanatic over anything?
I love science fiction. I love all the Marvel and DC movies and all that. Science fiction books—I love reading those, too. I think I have a fanatic personality. I got into home haunting and joined the Rocky Mountain Haunters. It's been maybe six years now, and I went from just a tent you set up and have a few people walk through to a full blown production at my house . . . It's a free neighborhood haunted house, but it's really extreme. It's not Jello and spaghetti—it's tons of professional animatronics stuff that I had built or built with some friends. I got a lot of excitement attending the trade shows in the Halloween industry, too, and it's something for me that I relate to, being fanatic about things.
Any messages you want to get out to people about Salt Lake Comic Con?
Comic con is really for everybody. Even if you just enjoy watching people. You don't have to be a super fan, you don't have to come in costume. But it's fun if you want a chance to do that—other than Halloween, this is your excuse to come in costume and basically show it off.