Tracy Mangum- FanX Panelist

 

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Good morning Geeks!

It’s finally here – Salt Lake Comic Con FanX starts today and runs through Saturday night. Tens of thousands of us will be gathering at the Salt Palace Convention Center to listen to Hollywood stars, voice actors, artists, cosplayers, and share our assorted loves of geekdom.

I am lucky enough to be a special guest at the Con once again, and I am participating on three panels. I’ve been a panelist for Comic Con since the first event, and I absolutely love it. I get to suggest panel topics, and once the directors have put together a list of potential panels that they feel would be good, they let us select ones we are interested in being on. We are then assigned panels and then the work begins. Panelists don’t just show up on stage and talk about the subject. We are there to bring new information, ideas, and interpretations of the subject matter to the audience. If people are willing to take 50 minutes out of their day to come and listen to me talk, the last thing I want is to have them leave feeling that I wasted their time. I select panels that I am already familiar with, that I have a passion for, that I want to talk about with others. Most of the audience members are coming to the panel because they have that same love and passion for the subject as I do. So, once I am assigned my panels, I start doing my homework.

I have a BA from the University of Utah in Film Studies, and I am a local independent filmmaker. I love TV and movies, and especially genre pieces, and I’m a HUGE Disney fan, so this year my panels are “Disneyland – How to Get the Most Magic from Your Trip to the Park” “Morality and Monsters: Ethics of the Walking Dead” and The Doctor and River Song.” Once I had received my lineup, I was beyond excited as this panels really cover the gamut of my geekdom…Disneyland and The Walking Dead are on pretty different sides of the spectrum you know.

River Song first appeared on Doctor Who back in 2008, and has appeared in 14 episodes. She’s a pivotal and beloved character in the Who Universe, and so I went and read plot synopsis and articles to refresh my memory with specifics. For the Walking Dead, I am caught up with the TV show, but it had been a while since I had read the comics and I haven’t gone much past the 100th book. So, I once again turned to Wikipedia and other articles. I also got together with some of the other panelists and we had a pre-show discussion online to throw out ideas, topics, and to get a feel for one another.

Sometimes you have never met your fellow panelist until 15 minutes before you go on stage together, and that can be really difficult. I believe the best panels are ones where everyone is contributing to the discussion, and are harmonious with others. I hate panels where one individual tries to dominate the conversation instead of letting it flow naturally. I try to bring insight and new ideas, but also humor where appropriate. I try to have a good time up there, because if I’m having fun, I hope the audience is too.

Many people ask me how to become a panelist. I would suggest you first start by going to panels. Watch them and see what works, what doesn’t, how the people interact, how the conversation went. Then, get together with friends and have long discussions about topics you are passionate about. Get together and have dinner, get coffee and get your geek on. Invite people that aren’t your friends, and someone that feels differently than you do and debate your differences while being respectful to each other. Then, reach out to smaller cons and conventions and volunteer to be a panelist. Groups like LTUE (Life, the Universe, and Everything), Gaming Con, etc. Salt Lake Comic Con is the biggest convention in the state, and you may be on a panel in a room with hundreds of people there to listen to you. It helps if you have practiced in rooms of 20-50 first. Once you feel you like it, like you have some things to say, contact SL Comic Con and introduce yourself. Explain your background, what would make you a great panelist, what experience you have, and why you are adding to the show. There are a lot of people that are interested, so what makes you stand out.

I’m thrilled to be working with SLCNerd.com and I can’t wait to meet you all this weekend at FanX!

Panel Schedule:

Disneyland- How to Get The Most Magic from Your Trip to the Park

Friday (03/25/2016) 1:00 to 2:00 PM

Morality and Monsters: Ethics of the Walking Dead
Friday (March 25, 2016) 7:00 to 8:00 PM

The Doctor and River Song
Saturday (March 26, 2016) 3:00 to 4:00 P<

 

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