The Greatest Comic Con in the World!

Stan Lee himself said it and I couldn’t agree more: Salt Lake Comic Con was “the greatest Comic Con in the world”! I’ve been participating in conventions, symposiums, festivals and fairs related to books and comics for the last four or five years and this year’s Comic Con was the best event I’ve participated in.

When the announcement came that “Comic Con is now closed” I just about started crying. I miss it.

The End and the Beginning

Last week was amazing! I’ve been working 80-hour weeks* for the last month and a half and I decided to end the madness with the Salt Lake Comic Con. I can’t think of a better way to close that chapter of my life and transition into the next.

(*Actual 80-hour workweeks pictured below)


I Had What the Droids Were Looking For
R2D2 bought 10 copies of my monster look-n-find book, Rumpus on the Run, so that was cool.


Comic Jam

On Thursday I hosted a comic jam for a group mainly made up of children, almost all in costume. We ended up with comics about ghosts stealing money, Iron Man flying to get groceries, scribble Batman, and fingers with faces on them. Good times!

(Bonus: Come to the next comic jam at Dragons Keep in Provo, Utah, on September 17, 6-7:30pm)



Hey, look! It’s Sam and Suzie from Moonrise Kingdom!


Archie Artist Bill Galvan

Oh my gosh! Is that Bill Galvan? Illustrator for Archie Comics, Marvel Comics, Bongo Comics, Universal Studios Monsters and Diary of a Girl Next Door? IT IS!

I was fortunate enough to table next to Bill and I’m so glad we got three days to goof around together and geek out about making comics. Bill is also here in Utah and I highly recommend you get yourself to Dragons Keep in Lehi for their Halloween event, where Bill will be doodling and making millions of dollars selling his Archie issues.



What’s Dave Scheidt doing here? SPOOKY!

DSC01836Smaug! This giant animatronic head from WETA made everyone stop and stare. Cooooool.







I knew you wouldn’t believe I ran into the Aquabats, so here’s a photo of me with the MC Bat Commander and Jimmy the Robot. TAKE THIS, YOU UNBELIEVERS!



Tabling at Comic Con

Here I am on day 1, trying to figure out my table setup. I lucked out and got a spot next to Bill Galvan and the main entrance. That means over 120,000 people poured into the convention center just behind me!



Day 3 and running low on Upside Down and Rumpus on the Run. My Aw Yeah Comics! issue with Dave Scheidt was a big hit with the kids, as was my ultra tiny and super cute $1 Ghosties comic (–see ’em ontop of that black box, next to the Rumpus?).

People seemed genuinely pleased to find good comics for children and it was cool to see children and adults flipping through my books and taking my comics home.


Mine is a small setup, but the colored price signs were a step in the right direction, I think. One day I’ll have a big setup with holograms and a DJ. Until then, this is a cozy little display and I’m happy with it.



The Rare Upside-Down Upside Down Book!

So, get this: a guy comes up to my table on Saturday and comments about how it’s funny that my book is called Upside Down: A Vampire Tale and that the book is printed upside-down. I laughed and told him to turn the book right-side up.

It turns out that the book was printed upside-down! Crazy! I breathed a sigh of relief that no one had bought the printer’s error copy and went to put it away, when he asked to purchase it. I realized that this could be a one-of-a-kind book and was happy to sign it for him. He even let me take a photo of him with the book!





Polar Cycle Attacks Comic Con!

This was cool. Blaine Taggart was setup just two tables down and he picked up a copy of Aw Yeah Comics! #8, in which I illustrated a four-page comic written by Dave Scheidt. Saturday morning Blaine whipped up this awesome drawing of Polar Cycle, the villain from our story. So cool!






This Girl Made My Comic Con

This girl is 8 years old and has great taste in books! Okay, so maybe I’m a little biased, but this little Maleficent picked up Upside Down: A Vampire Tale on Saturday morning, then stopped by later that afternoon to tell me she had read the whole thing and that she liked it. How cool is that?! And what a cutie!




Later Saturday night, she picked up Upside Down: A Vampire Tale again for the second time!


120,000 People Can’t Be Wrong

Here’s the view from my tale on Friday in Artist Alley. So many great artists and so many attendees! Comic Book Movie reported more than 120,000 attendees to my home town Comic Con.

It wasn’t that long ago that the books I read and the media I consumed defined me as a “nerd” or a “geek”. Now they define me as just another face in the crowd.



Panel Discussion Outside!

I participated in a total of 5 panels/presentations at Comic Con, covering a Comic Jam, How To Make a Graphic Novel, Dealing With Rejection: An Artist’s Survival Guide and Digital vs Print. My final panel was at 6pm on Saturday: Artist’s Tools.

It was my role to moderate the panel and, after delving into introductions and a brief overview of how the panelists started working with their current tools, the fire alarm sounded and the entire room was evacuated.

At first I was feeling discouraged, thinking that the last hours of the con were to be spoiled by the evacuation, but we quickly realized that the entire room had stayed together and that we had all shown up to talk about tools together. I jumped up on a cement platform and continued the discussion with the other panelists and it turned out to be my favorite panel of the weekend.



Thank You, Undiscovered Dreams!

Major thanks to my good friends Mitch, Melena and Matt at the Undiscovered Dreams table, who were kind enough to help me load and unload all my books and comics, and get me to and from the con without Stan Lee bugging me too much.



Thank You

I’d also like to thank the following individuals (in no particular order) for taking the time to talk with me, to share their work, to join me on panels and include me in their own Comic Con experience:

Matt and Melena Johnson, Mitch Parker, Chris Hoffman, Mark Avo, Brandi Blair, Joshua Butterfield, The Salt City Strangers table, Ronald and Valerie Wright, Bill Galvan, Big Shiny Robot, Jason Warren, Liz Lord, Jemma Young and Rachel Oaks,  John and Sloth Herzog, DawnRay Ammon, Heather and Lucas Ackley, Blake Casselman, JJ Harrison, Dave Doering, Rachael Moody, Janix Moon, James A. Owen, Lisa and Tracy Mangum, Devourax, Mitch and Elizabeth Breitweiser, Tom Lyle, Brent Hill, Trevor Robertson, Rob James, Bryan O’Daly, James Poai, Kyle Wiggins, Josh Talbot, Dennis Lundstrom, Dean Larsen, Bryan Beus, Adrienne Monson, R.J. Craddock, Eilonwy Kimball, Michael and Michaelbrent Collings,




I’d Do It Again – Right Now

Such a great con! You can plan on seeing me again next year, for sure. 

Did you go to the Salt Lake Comic Con? What did you see? Share your photos and comments below!



5 Responses to “SALT LAKE COMIC CON 2014 RECAP”
  1. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez says:

    This was awesome! Y’all looked like you had such great fun. 🙂

  2. Drea Hatch says:

    I’m so bummed I didn’t see you, Jess! I made it to the Con on Saturday and I’m so dang inspired I’m going to work my tail off so I can have my very own table next year with tons of goodies/comics! Thanks for being such an inspiration and all around cool guy. You’ve always been willing to offer advice, answer my questions and all that other “cool guy” stuff. I won’t forget, Jess Smart Smiley. I WILL NOT FORGET. 😉

    • Jess Smart Smiley says:

      I’m sorry I missed you, too, but it sounds like you got what you needed! You should come down to the Comic Jam at Dragons Keep next week. Wednesday night from 6-7:30. It would be so great to see you before you take over next year’s con!

  3. Such an awesome weekend! Love the polar bear.

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