Hey, nerds! This weekend (Friday and Saturday, Nov. 10–11, 2023) Valley Fair Mall in West Valley City is the place to be if you love comic books, super heroes, gaming, pop art, collectible toys or any of that nerdy stuff. Wasatch Comic Con is put on by some of the nerdiest guys in town, who own and operate the longtime local comic shop The Nerd Store (it’s literally in the name).
If you’re having a hard time getting over the idea of a comic convention held in a shopping mall, I kindly suggest you let that go and open your mind to the possibility of meeting some cool comic book creators and then tearing into a hot mall pretzel. Lean into the mall-culture nostalgia of the ‘80s and ‘90s and slurp an Orange Julius while perusing the comics spinner rack.
Creators at Wasatch Comic Con
There’s a reason Wasatch Comic Con bills itself as a “Con For Creators.” Wasatch Comic Con has the flavor of a homegrown show, with a solid swath of local talent featured as special guests, but don’t let the hometown-vibes fool you. There is some top-tier industry talent right here at home, and they will be joined by some big name creators from outside of the state as well. Some of them are also open for art commissions, so it’s a chance to get your hands on some original art.
Matt Wilson is one of the best comic colorists in the business, with acclaimed work at large publishers like DC and Marvel as well as multiple Eisner Awards for Best Coloring, for his work on Black Cloud, Paper Girls (Image), The Wicked + The Divine (Image); The Mighty Thor, Runaways (Marvel) in 2019 and, most recently, Undiscovered Country (Image); Fire Power (Image Skybound); Eternals, Thor, Wolverine (Marvel); Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters (Oni) in 2022.
Drew Zucker is the co-creator and artist of Canto, an acclaimed all-ages fantasy series that has all-new volumes coming to Dark Horse, as well as The House (with Phillip Sevy) and Skybreaker. Zucker recently reunited with Canto co-creator David Booher for a new horror comic, The Feeding.
The creators behind the popular Image horror comic series Stray Dogs (told from the perspective of dogs) are also coming to Wasatch Comic Con—writer Tony Fleecs and artists Trish Forstner and Tone Rodriguez.
Comic and horror writer Ryan Cady is known for his work on DC Comic’s Green Lantern and Batman: Urban Legends, as well as his creator-owned series with artist Andrea Mutti, Infinite Dark and Haunt You to the End.
Among the locals, comic book artist Chad Hardin will be there—he’s most well-known as the artist for DC Comics’ Harley Quinn.
Doug Wagner writes comic books that bend toward the horror and dark comedy genres, notably Image Comics’ Plush, Vinyl and Plastic. He’s also the author of Klik Klik Boom, Beware the Eye of Odin, Legends of the Dark Knight, World of Warcraft: Bloodsworn and so much more.
Phillip Sevy is a Utah-based comic creator known for his work on The House (with Drew Zucker), Kepler (with David Duchovney) and Dark Horse’s Tomb Raider. Most recently, he’s worked on multiple titles on Marvel Unlimited, including X-Men Unlimited, as well Deadpool: Seven Slaughters for Marvel and The Headless Horseman for Dark Horse. (Editor’s note: Phillip Sevy is also an occasional contributor for Salt Lake Magazine.)
Mel Milton is a Utah-based artist and illustrator who works in comics and animation, for publishers like Disney, Marvel, DC, Image and Nickelodeon, and produces amazing character designs.
Jess Smart Smiley is a local cartoonist and bestselling creator of more than 20 books, including Let’s Make Comics and the What Happens Next, series of interactive graphic novels. (Read Salt Lake Magazine’s profile of Smiley in our March/April 2023 issue.)
Also at Wasatch Comic Con, a handful of Utah creators who use the Beehive State and its culture for inspiration in their work. Travis Romney is the creator of “Utah’s Superman,” The Mighty Utahn, which spun out of a That titular character spun out of long-running web comic, Salt City Comics. Evan Black is the creator of The Wasatch Wonders, who keep Utahns safe from local monsters like giant mutated brine shrimp. Matt Page is the author and illustrator of the Future Day Saints graphic novel series. Chris Hoffman and Andrew Malin are local comics publishers (Velleity Studios) and creators of the comic Salt City Strangers.
There are many more guests, and I’ve not included a lot of people I probably should have. Check out the complete list of guests at Wasatch Comic Con 2023.
And More Creators
While it’s about the comics and the art and the creators, like any con, it’s also about the culture and the fans. And the perfect expression of nerd culture and fandom is cosplay, in my humble opinion. On Saturday, Nov. 11 at 5 p.m., Wasatch Con is hosting a cosplay contest, and attendees will also have the chance to meet cosplayer Joanie Brosas, whose cosplays have graced the covers of many comic books.
For those looking to show their commitment to a particular nerdy obsession—permanently, on their bodies—there will also be a couple of local tattoo artists at Wasatch Con this year. Atticus Warner and Jeremy Thompson will be on hand doing flash tattoos at the con. And, according to the Nerd Store’s Instagram, “If you want to show your love for The Nerd Store, the store will pay for your tattoo of their signature logo!”
There will also be two days packed full of panel programming with the above creators and more. Find more information on wasatchcon.com about panels, guests, admission, registration and VIP packages.
(Author’s note: Full disclosure, the author of this article is also a guest at Wasatch Comic Con, having written stories in a few comic anthologies, and some of the creators listed above are dear friends. That does not make them any less deserving of recognition and support for their work. But don’t take my word for it, meet them for yourself this weekend.)