As the second Middle East Film & Comic Con (MEFCC) kicks off this Friday in Dubai, organisers are promising an event that’s bigger, better and wilder than the first edition dedicated solely to everything pop culture. Think fan boys, outrageous costumes, games, artists and the stars all in one place. Here’s our pick of what not to miss at the two-day event.
Hobbits, Charms Masters, brooding Gauls and superheroes. The actors that have made us fanboys of them are coming. There’s Sean Astin, best known for his role as hobbit Samwise in ‘The Lord of The Rings’ trilogy; English actor Warwick Davis, who plays Charms Master Professor Filius Flitwick in the ‘Harry Potter’ films and also the title character in the ‘Willow’ film series; Manu Bennett, best known for his role as Crixus in TV series ‘Spartacus’ and Azog the Defiler in ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’; Welsh actor Ioan Gruffudd, known for his role as Mister Fantastic in the ‘Fantastic Four’ films and Alan Tudyk, star of films such as ‘Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story’, ‘I, Robot’ and TV series ‘Firefly’.
What’s a comic book convention without the artists? While local talents will get their own space at the Artist Alley, international names to look out for include James O’Barr, creator of the comic book series ‘The Crow’; Digger T Mesch, the man behind Art Asylum, makers of block-styled miniature action figures Minimates; the team from Singapore-based illustration, comics art and concept art studio Imaginary Friends Studio and Rufus Dayglo, artist for the British comic series ‘Tank Girl’.
There will also be voice artist Yuri Lowenthal, who voices the title character in the ‘Ben 10’ animated series and Max Landis, writer of the massive 2012 sci-fi film ‘Chronicle’. And, of course, one of the world’s most famous cosplayer Alodia Gosiengfiao will be returning, this time with her sister Ashley.
The Middle East is no dry talent pool. Representing the region will be Dr Naif Al Mutawa, the Kuwaiti entrepreneur behind the hugely successful comic series, ‘The 99’; Emirati artist Mo Abedine, founder of Foo Dog and the creator of the Mega toy, which is, well, a toy as well as an urban art project offering artists to create their interpretations; and Marwan Al Nashar, creator and writer of the graphic novel series, Jinn Warriors. Sohaib Awan, the creator of the ‘Jinnrise’ comic series and his company Jabal Entertainment will also premiere their next title, ‘Drawn,’ about a henna artist Rayann who discovers special powers through the art form. Both Awan and writer Mai Al Shoush will be on hand for the launch. And Dubai’s most active filmmaker, ‘City of Life’ director and self-confessed comic books fan Ali Mostafa will discuss, well, films. Emirati animated series ‘Freej’ creator Mohammed Saaed Harib will also create specially-designed t-shirts along with artists at the Samsung Canvas: Collective Lounge.
While most of the celebrities and international artists will hold their own panels during the two-day event, notable ones include one on filmmaking in the Middle East, featuring regional names, and a session by Nancy Silberkleit, the co-CEO of Archie Comics on the social impact of comic books and their influence in education. Silberkleit is also an anti-bullying campaigner and will discuss how comics in the class room can help deal with bullying.
Time to get down and dirty. ‘The Crow’ creator James O’Barr will host sketching workshops while voice artists Yuri Lowenthal and Tara Platt will teach attendants how to voice act. Abu Dhabi’s twofour54 will also be hosting a free creative workshop for young animators, game developers and movie makers. Highlights include a ‘3D Games Development’ workshop where developers can learn the basics on how to create their own games for tablets and consoles and a session on ‘World Heroes’, where an artist Ubisoft Abu Dhabi Studio will talk about how some famous characters such as Batman, Harry Potter and Naruto succeed in having such global appeal, crossing cultural boundaries. There will also be a Comics Village and Manga Town, where Manga artists will sketch live.
For game lovers, this is where you flex your gaming muscle. Warner Bros Interactive will be hosting a special promotion for their upcoming multiplayer game ‘Injustice: Gods Among Us’, where regional winners of the tournament will be flown down to the MEFCC and compete. The winner will then get a chance to fly to France for the global tournament before the game’s official launch in April. Other major gaming companies, including PlayStation Middle East and EA Games, will host activities all day and dole out prizes.
This is the space for local artists. Organisers say they had to extend the space up to three times and no more because of the massive response. You can find UAE-based artists here showcasing their stuff, selling or simply networking. If you’re still looking for space, sorry, it’s house full this year.
Undoubtedly, the highlight of the entire event, this is the opportunity for fans to go wild and dress up as their favourite characters, and win some prizes. To be held at 5.30pm on Friday and overseen by celebrity judges, including renowned cosplayer Alodia Gosiengfiao, there’s limited edition comic books, video games and passes to exclusive events to be won.
If you didn’t quite have the time to get into character, you can always head to Mr Ben’s Costume Closet’s kiosk where the guys will give you some cool SFS make-up.
The MEFCC will also give a platform for local musicians to shine, and for visitors to sit their tired costumed selfs down on bean bags and relax. There will be performances by DJ David Craig, DJ Alec Harden, rock bands Nicotine, Chronicles of Khan and Jay Wud, who recently opened for Guns N’ Roses in Abu Dhabi. Dubai-based B-boy troupe Rhythm Dance Project will also perform.
Yes, there’s something for everyone. And we’re talking a massive Smurfs Village and a set-up for fans of the toy figures Skylanders game.
It’s Dh75 for a day pass and Dh135 for both days. There’s also a VIP ticket for Dh500, which will give you entry into the venue earlier than regular ticket holders, first dips at exclusive items on sale and free merchandise. Children under five years of age get in for free. The MEFCC will be open from 12noon to 10pm on Friday (April 5) and 11am to 10pm on Saturday (April 6). VIP ticket holders gain entry from 10am on both days. For tickets and more, go to mefcc.com
Go wild, say organisers. It’s not every day you can let your inner fanboy out.
The MEFCC will be held at the Dubai International Marine Club, Mina Siyahi at Dubai Marina.