SLC Comic Con, a celebration of all those nerdy things we secretly love
As Dan Farr winds his way through the massive convention floor at the Salt Palace, many people stop and stare or work up the courage to ask for a picture with him. Other people just say thank you or tell him how awesome it all is. Then there are those people who talk to him and have absolutely no idea who he is. It doesn’t matter. For this weekend, the Salt Palace is his living room and he has invited everyone to party and have a great time.
In 2013, Dan Farr and his business partner, Bryan Brandenburg, took a big risk by bringing pop culture to the valley, orchestrating the inception of Salt Lake Comic Con from Farr’s house in Draper. A seasoned entrepreneur, Farr had spent many years developing a software company called DAZ3D, which does 3D illustration and animation. In the last years he was affiliated with the company, he would go to many ComicCon conventions in the United States, selling the software to the artists and attendees. Farr was able to make many connections at Comic Cons, including celebrities like Kevin Sorbo and Lou Ferrigno.
“When I went to conventions I didn’t understand what they were, but then realized that it was fun. I got pulled into it. I realized the market for this kind of thing was bigger than just for a super fan.”
With personal connections to a few celebrities like Sorbo and Ferrigno and his clout as a successful business owner, Farr had the tools he needed to make Comic Con a reality. Sorbo and Ferrigno knew that he was legitimate and would be able to meet all promised financial obligations and run things properly. Farr and Brandenburg partnered with Utah Media Group, a seasoned company with the systems in place to logistically pull off a major convention.
When news of the first Comic Con went out, tickets started to sell fairly well. Lou Ferrigno and Kevin Sorbo were the first major stars who agreed to attend. Then a little while later, Farr was able to book Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner, putting a legit stamp on the entire thing.
An important aspect of running a Comic Con is networking and Farr is a master networker. He has a natural ability of forging friendships and opening unforeseen doors. As the SLC Comic Con was just days away from opening and with healthy ticket sales, Farr and Brandenburg were able to book Stan Lee, that guy who created Spiderman, the Hulk, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four and many other fictional comic book characters. In essence, Stan Lee is Comic Con. Farr made this connection through his friendship with Ferrigno. It was an incredible ‘get’ for a first time convention. In the end, the first Comic Con sold out with over 72,000 attendees. Since then, the numbers have only grown.
He also aims to set up opportunities for people in the industry without any expectations. For example, he introduced Kevin Sorbo to a production company, and from that introduction Sorbo made four films with them. Unlike the cutthroat world of Hollywood, the Comic Con world is much more fair. Managers, agents, producers and celebrities all work together to help each other, which often results in future projects. Farr ends up collecting a slew of business cards during the convention.
The majority of celebrities who appear at Comic Con are incredibly nice and approachable. They really take the time to talk to the fans who pay extra for an autograph or photo. Dan Farr has especially enjoyed working with Jess Harnell, Henry Winkler, Manu Bennett and Jason David Frank, all of whom are exceptionally nice and grounded. A difficult and egotistical celebrity at Comic Con is really a rare exception.
Farr has seen how living the Golden Rule in business has paid huge dividends. He has earned the respect and trust of the entertainment world. More importantly, Dan Farr treats everyone like a VIP, whether it is the security guard, the friendly volunteer, or Kate Beckinsale. His greatest desire is to make sure everyone feels at home and welcome. Every single person who walks through the doors is a VIP in his mind and he treats them that way. He knows how to work a room and even the most charismatic politician could take a few tips from him. He looks you in the eye, asks your name and welcomes you in with open arms.