The backstory of how the biggest comic book convention in the US started

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(DOUG JESSOP’S UTAH SUCCESS STORIES – ABC4 NEWS – SALT LAKE CITY, UT) What do you get when you combine Stan Lee, William Shatner, Lou Ferrigno, Dick Van Dyke and Dan Farr? The most attended convention in the state of Utah and the largest comic convention in North America per capita, called FAN X. It started with a chance meeting with the owner of a 3D software company, Dan Farr, at the National Association of Broadcasters convention.

PLEASE NOTE: I sat down with Dan for an extended twenty six minute “Jessop’s Journal” interview that you can see in it’s entirely by CLICKING HERE. This Utah Success Stories video is a two and a half minute taste to wet your appetite.

“I was there with a friend of mine. We’re looking around and we say, “That’s Dick Van Dyke”.  That was pretty cool. What’s he doing here? Let’s go over and say hi to him. So we meet him. Found out that he actually has a hobby. He’s really into the technology behind things. I think it started from Mary Poppins when he was dancing in front of a green screen. That was kind of the groundbreaking technology back then.”

Dan continued; “As a hobby, he had a room set up behind his house that he would render out 3D images. He was using some of the 3D software that was in our industry that we were familiar with. We talked with him and said Hey “why don’t we get you some 3D models to mess around with” he said, “sure I’d love it” So we sent him some. So that actually developed a relationship that later on we created a children’s book, that was a Christmas book, “Mr. Finnegan’s Giving Chest.” In the book, the character we created was Dick Van Dyke and we worked with him through the process. It was a book we published about sixteen years ago. That’s where that relationship started. Meeting at a convention. Finding out that he had a common interest in the 3D software. We rendered the 3D images in the book using our software.”

Dan’s 3D software led to more meetings with various celebs at comic book conventions including Lou Ferrigno and Kevin Sorbo. Dan thought Utah would support a comic book convention and Fan X was born. Attendance at the first event broke records.

I asked Dan how many people attended that first conference. He went into detail about how the original venue was supposed to be the South Towne Center. Advance ticket sales started taking off. The event got moved to downtown Salt Lake City. Some big names heard about the buzz and things really started happening. William Shatner agreed to be at the event and sales went into outer space.

Dan went on to tell me about getting a phone call while he was on the set of our ABC4 Good Things Utah from none other than Stan Lee. I was there when Dan got off the call and the mood in the room was Marvel…ous (you have to be a fan to get the bad dad joke there, I couldn’t resist).

Seventy thousand people ended up attended the first event.

What’s Dan favorite part of the conventions he started in Salt Lake City?

He told me about a couple of experiences (you’ll need to watch the extended interview to get the details) but summed it up this way; “The greatest gift you can give is the gift of happiness to other people. If I can give that. When I go to events, I love watching people have those fan experiences. I love to see them with their family, and they’re excited to be there. That’s what pulled me into it.  It was really the excitement of the other people. I enjoy all the pop culture stuff, but I have really become a fan of the fans and when I see them have those fan moments it’s like I’m living vicariously through them.

He has high hopes for the future. “I hope we can do this for years to come and basically help people explore their dreams and meet people they want to meet. There are so many inspiring things that happen at the event where the celebrity says something that really connects people in a certain way. That’s what I love seeing.”

Consider this your personal invitation to watch this entire episode of Jessop’s Journal and share it with someone that enjoys a powerful and positive story.

Everyone has a story. I strongly feel that “stories have power”. Chances are that if you are going through something, that someone else probably has as well. The shared experiences we humans have can help each other. That my friend makes the point that stories “help us understand each other.”

You don’t have to agree with everyone, but in my opinion, if people would take more time getting to knowing more about others and where they are coming from, we just might find out that we have more similarities than differences.

Jessop’s Journal is something special when it comes to broadcast news. I have the honor of being able to do longer in-depth interviews that you don’t normally see with people from all walks of life. A big shout out goes to my collaborator, Ed Wilets, who does a great job as my videographer/editor for all my stories. Your feedback is always welcome at DJessop@abc4.com

You can also see my positive business profiles called “Utah Success Stories” every Sunday in the ABC4 News at 10 p.m. or online at www.ABC4.com/Success

Everyone has a Story. Stories have Power. They help us Understand each other. With another Utah Success Story, I’m Doug Jessop, ABC4 News.

This story contains sponsored content.

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