Artist channels the Hulk to combat depression, brings joy to comic convention fans

Hulk gets a paint job as he prepares to meet the fans of FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention (Photo: Josh Isom)

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) -- Josh Isom found himself struggling with depression, disappointment and debt. To claw his way back from rock bottom, Isom decided to embark on a creative journey that saw him build a massive statue of the popular Marvel Comics character the Hulk. This weekend at FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention, he stood back and watched as hundreds of attendees, celebrities and volunteers stopped to have their photo taken with his massive creation. His joy was palpable; he had made something that gave a little happiness to all that saw it.

Isom documented the building of the Hulk on his Instagram account. He also opened up on what the process meant to him. One post reads, "Working on the Hulk has given me a sense of fulfillment and purpose - it's given me hope." A hope that he intends to use to improve the lives of his family and those close to him who helped him through his hardships.

A co-worker directed me to Isom and his Instagram story on Saturday, the last day of FanX. I had seen the marvelous sculpture, but had no idea of what it represented to the man who spent hours in his garage crafting this marvelous creation out of foam. I wanted to meet him, but my busy schedule made the prospect of that happening seemingly impossible.

Sometimes fate or happenstance intervenes. This was one of those moments.

I spoke to Isom, a man with a hulk-like physique, briefly as he stood and looked over the long line of people waiting for their turn to have their picture taken with his Hulk. He was happy to talk to me, but seemed a little uncertain as to why I was interested in hearing his story. I couldn't put it into words at the moment, but my interest stems from the fact that most of us have gone through a dark period where we needed a purpose to help us push through and keep on living. Few of us build giant Hulk statues in our garages as a way to escape the darkness.

Isom explains that he picked the Hulk because of his son, Kaiden. When Kaiden was born he spent 11 days in the NICU and was in and out of hospital for most of the first year of his life. Isom and his wife called Kaiden their "Little Hulk" as he fought to stay alive while doctors tried to determine what was causing his health issues. Thankfully, doctors were able to determine the source of Kaiden's problems and his health has dramatically improved.

The Hulk was built entirely from reused materials. The old fire sprinkler pies that were used to build the statue's internal structure and rebar for his fingers were salvaged from a demolished building near Isom's work. The 200 pieces of foam that form the Hulk's body were all destined for a landfill. The process required sanding, filling in gaps and seams, hard coating the foam, more sanding, a base coat of paint and extensive detailing with an airbrush.

Getting to show off his work at FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention wasn't part of Isom's plan, but when Dan Farr, co-founder of the convention, found out about Isom's project he invited him to display it at the event. Being able to share the Hulk with a group of people who would appreciate and enjoy him motivated Isom to finish his creation. With the aid of family, friends and caffeine, Isom brought Hulk up from St. George and worked through the night to airbrush the statue. They finished Thursday morning, just before FanX opened its doors.

The assembled statue stands 8 feet tall and is 8 feet wide from fist to fist.

To get Hulk to FanX he was transported on a flatbed trailer to the Salt Palace Convention Center. Isom was surprised by how many people he saw stop to take pictures.

Isom told me that next year he hopes to build a full-sized Thanos that will stand 10 feet tall and will feature a real metal Infinity Gauntlet and sword.

For more of Isom's behind-the-scenes and FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention photos please visit and follow Isom Super Custom Creations on Instagram.