Last night the doors of Comic Con Africa 2019 closed for the final time, but the buzz and excitement generated by four days of the greatest celebration of pop-culture that South Africa has ever seen shows no signs of abating. The sheer magnitude of this Con was something to behold – Reed Exhibitions and Reedpop promised that Comic Con Africa would be bigger and better, and on that promise they delivered. With an astounding 71,000 visitors, seven halls packed with 300 exhibitors, four international film, TV series, and gaming celebrities, 12 international comic artists and writers, 12 local comic creators, one international cosplayer, two international DJs, competitions, specials, and giveaways, an esports prize pool of R1.3 million, 26,000 square meters of event space, 120 hours of content, and one incredible Wingman in the form of KFC, Comic Con Africa 2019 exceeded all expectations.
This year the guests in Artist Alley tripled in numbers and the incredible line-up left fans spoilt for choice. In the feature area artists and illustrators engaged in live drawings and sketch offs, sharing anecdotes and artistic tips as they did so. Ecstatic fans watched their favourite characters drawn in real time on large screens mounted above the easels. Under the grading organisation CGC’s watchful eye, comic books were signed and sent for evaluation and protective casing to preserve investment pieces. Alongside in the Writers Block, local novelists and authors signed their books and spoke on educational panels to encourage local writers to pick up their pens. The Block was filled with handmade creativity including pop-culture inspired clothing, décor, and jewellery.
A visual feast for geekdom
The Cosplay of Comic Con Africa 2019 was a visual feast. You’d be forgiven for thinking you’d bumped into Iron Man or Wonder Woman walking straight off a Marvel film set, such was the level of detail and skill evidenced in these pieces of walking art. Cosplay Central was buzzing all weekend long with skits and well-known local and international Cosplayers signing prints. Fascinating panels for newbies and pros alike gave insight into crafting the perfect wig, applying make-up, or how to cosplay with confidence.
The Cosplay Karaoke Café was a real hit with Cosplayers belting out magnificent renditions of well-known songs. Casual Cosplay competitions took place every day on the main stage, and on Tuesday the highly anticipated Championships of Cosplay winners were announced. The overall Cosplay winner Jinxkitty, who wowed with her Priestess Bathory cosplay, will be representing Africa at the Championships of Cosplay Quest for the Crown at C2E2 in America. Leon de Bruin of GES, Comic Con Africa’s Cosplay partner, was blown away by the level of this year’s Cosplay and called on any interested Cosplayers to sign up for 2020’s competition.
International guest bailing on Con
It’s certainly not the first time that hype around international guests for Comic Con Africa was misleading until D-Day. Last year we were promised Jason Mamoa and a few weeks before the event, we found out he was tied up in a shoot. This time around, Anthony Mackie, who plays Marvel’s Falcon in the hugely popular Avenger’s movies opted out of Comic Con Africa 2019, due to clashes in his shooting schedule.
Gah. Yeah, it’s great fun, getting dressed as your favourite superhero, it’s something totally different to be in the same room as them. Fans were left really disappointed once again. That and the fact “Bran Stark”, actor Isaac Hempstead, from Game of Thrones fame, failed to keep their commitments to the Con this year, left a gaping hole in my heart.
Where Comic Con Africa fell short on the international guests, they made up for in bucket loads with an impressive Kid Con. A dedicate hall full to the brim with bustling entertainment, on-stage activities, the biggest Lego play area, with displays and enormous pits with lego blocks for kids of all ages to enjoy.
The biggest concern for any parent with an event of this magnitude is, whether it will be kid friendly, kid accommodating or kid focused. And after spending the better part of Sunday morning and afternoon there with my child, I can happily say that Kid Con was kid focused.
Two thumbs up on that.
And what comes next? Comic Con Cape Townof course. Put 1 – 3 May 2020 in your diaries to experience the inaugural Comic Con Cape Town at the Cape Town Stadium.