SALT LAKE CITY — Mayor Ralph Becker wasn't wearing a mask or a cape, but he still showed off his geeky side Thursday.
Flanked by Salt Lake Comic Con co-founders Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg, Becker issued a proclamation declaring Jan. 29, 2015, as "Salt Lake Comic Con's Day of Heroes" at a news conference kicking off FanX.
"The comic books, movies and television shows that inspire Salt Lake Comic Con inspire the people of this city to become heroes in their own ways," the mayor read.
The second annual FanX, which got underway Thursday afternoon and runs through Saturday at the Salt Palace Convention Center, "offers to heroes of Salt Lake City a place to congregate and inspire even more acts of heroism and creativity," Becker said.
FanX is designed to be "a more intimate and exclusive experience" than the annual September Salt Lake Comic Con, Brandenburg said.
"It's not about having huge numbers," he said. "It's about having a huge experience."
Convention organizers capped ticket sales for this year's FanX at 50,000 — half the size of the inaugural FanX last April — and a sellout is expected, Brandenburg said.
The first Salt Lake Comic Con event in September 2013 attracted more than 70,000 attendees, and last September's convention topped 130,000, organizers said.
"We feel like this is going to be our best show ever," Brandenburg said, calling the lineup of celebrity guests "a world-class roster."
That lineup includes Carrie Fisher, Princess Leia from the original Star Wars trilogy and the upcoming "Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens"; Matt Smith, who played the 11th doctor on BBC's long-running hit "Doctor Who"; Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy in the "Harry Potter" films; and Christopher Lloyd of "Back to the Future."
Everyone can be a hero. You don't have to go undercover to rescue kids, and you don't have to do grand things. Everyone can make a difference.
At Thursday's news conference, Becker said the "relatively recent endeavor in Salt Lake City … is changing our world."
"I've been watching the growth and really the spectacular rising — phoenix-like rising, really — around our superheroes, around (Salt Lake) Comic Con, and the incredible positive experience that it creates for so many people who participate in Salt Lake City and our whole region, but also for how much fun it creates in our city," the mayor said. "It is a blast when this whole adventure is going on in Salt Lake City."
Real-life heroes from Operation Underground Railroad also were celebrated Thursday. The Utah-based nonprofit organization works with governments around the world in fighting child trafficking.
Using military backgrounds and training, Operation Underground Railroad conducts undercover operations to rescue children who are kidnapped and sold into the trafficking market, said Doug Osmond, a member of the organization.
Over the past 12 months, Operation Underground Railroad has rescued more than 230 victims, Osmond said, and the group plans to at least double that number in the next year.
"Everyone can be a hero," he said. "You don't have to go undercover to rescue kids, and you don't have to do grand things. Everyone can make a difference."