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Comic Con Middle East: Comic book geeks unite

One of the organisers of the Middle East’s first event dedicated to comic books and films talks about what we can expect – beyond the stormtroopers and autograph hunters

  • An A-Team fan dresses up as Barbaracus.Image Credit: Supplied picture
  • No event is complete without Star Wars obsessives.Image Credit: Supplied picture
  • Dedicated fanboys check out the latest releases.Image Credit: Supplied picture
  • Decoy by Andy MacDonald.Image Credit: Supplied picture

It started out as a single comic book convention in California in the 1970s, but Comic-Con has grown into a worldwide pop culture phenomenon attracting millions of avid fanboys (and girls) many of whom get into the spirit of the event by donning the costumes of their favourite superheroes and characters from sci-fi and fantasy films. And now, at long last, we at Extra Cake PRA are bringing the event to the Middle East.

Having grown beyond its comic book origins, Comic-Con covers all areas of entertainment and popular culture, including video games, TV and film, collectables and pop art. With hundreds of similar events held throughout the year, attracting fans of every age, Comic-Con has become a regular feature in the modern entertainment and consumer landscape in most major cities of the world.

The Middle East Film and Comic Con (MEFCC) takes place on April 20 and 21 at The Mina Seyahi Hall – Dubai International Marine Club, and will provide an outlet for fans, and support the local content creation and merchandising industries and the artistic community.

Since the Middle East has a massive population of young people, the demand for entertainment, merchandise and cultural content is huge. People attending the event will have a number of things to keep them engaged, and one of the key focuses will be regional talent. The MEFCC will offer a single platform for creators, artists and entrepreneurs to connect and learn from one another, to be inspired and to showcase their work to fans and other professionals.

What to expect

There’s an extensive line-up of things to do and see at the event. MEFCC is trying to incorporate something for everyone over the weekend. When you go, make sure you visit as many of the sites as possible and take advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet some of the biggest names in comics, Manga, TV and film.

You’ll definitely want to spend some time in the Jashanmal Comics Village, which will have some of the world’s biggest publishers like Top Cow Productions, IDW Publishing and Archaia Entertainment. A visit to Manga Town is essential for lovers of Japanese comics and it features artists from the region and abroad.

Look out for collectable merchandiser the Gamezone – with tournaments and the latest video game releases from the leading publishers – plus the Vox Cinema’s Movie Club, if you’re interested in classic sci-fi or anime. Keep your eyes peeled for few sneak peeks of some of the summer’s most anticipated blockbusters. At the SAE Institute Dubai green screen you’ll have the opportunity to have pictures taken in simulations of your favourite movie scenes.

WHo will be there?
There are over 100 exhibitors, ranging from individuals in Artist Alley to some of the world’s-biggest entertainment companies. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You’ll be able to brush shoulders with artists, creators and celebrities from the region and abroad. Some well known names from this part of the world include City of Life director, Ali F Mostafa, Gold Ring author Qais Sedki, Xero Error maestro Ashraf Ghori and THE 99 creator Dr Naif Al Mutawa. They’ll be guiding fans through panels and workshops with the aim to inspire the next generation of talent in the region. We’re particularly excited about our international guests including Lord of the Rings and Indiana Jones legend, John Rhys-Davies, The Walking Dead star Laurie Holden, genre star Mark Sheppard, plus Chad Michael Murray and Luciana Carro. Cosplay queen, Alodia, will also be making an appearance in her custom-made outfits.

Regional fans of the classic Grendizer anime series will be thrilled to know that Sammy Clark, the singer of the Arabic theme song, will be in attendance with some live performances.

Manga fans will be excited to hear that Joel Enos, Naruto’s editor and creative consultant, will be doing portfolio reviews for aspiring creatives attending the show.

Numerous comic book stars are also set to attend, including Alvin Lee, Yishan Li, Mark Sable and Lee Townsend, along with Anthony Del Col and Colin McCreery, the creators of the genre-twisting Kill Shakespeare. They will be on hand to sign autographs, draw sketches and take part in panel discussions and workshops.

You can expect all this and a lot more, but you’re going to have to get down to the event yourself to experience it. See you there.

Comic-Con Trivia  

  • The first-ever Comic-Con was held in San Diego, USA, in August 1970 and organised by Detroit native Shel Dorf. He recruited 300 comics devotees to the basement of the US Grant Hotel for the two-day event.
  • Movie studios often use Comic-Cons as a marketing platform  for film releases. A stunt for the 2010 thriller film Buried at the  San Diego convention involved attendees trapping themselves  in wooden coffins for 15 seconds, and being filmed while inside.
  • India’s first Comic-Con was held last February in Delhi and  attracted over 50 participants and over 15,000 fans. Entrance  was only Rs15 (Dh1.09).
  • Australia’s first Comic-Con in 1986 was held at the Sydney Opera House. One of only nine remaining copies of the first Superman comic was sold at auction at the event for A$8,500 (Dh32,878).
  • On average 79 per cent of all Comic-Con attendees are male.
  • Invited to the 2010 San Diego Comi Con to promote his movie Cowboys & Aliens, Harrison Ford said: “The only way I would go to that place is if you brought me in handcuffs.” He was eventually persuaded to attend and received a standing ovation from fans.
  • An estimated 29 cities around the world have held some kind Comic-Con event in the past 40 years.