Comic Con Africa is back, bigger, and better – so say the organisers of the pop culture event that celebrates fandoms from all galaxies.
More than 60 000 people are expected to grace the Gallagher Convention Centre between September 21 and 24.
Carol Weaving, of Reed Exhibitions Africa and part of the organisers of Comic Con Africa, said they had moved the convention from last year’s Kyalami venue mainly because of space.
“We did not expect the number of people that we got [last year],” Weaving said at a media launch in Lone Hill on Tuesday afternoon at the Jaguar Land Rover Experience centre.
Weaving said the team realised it was “really hot” and people – especially cosplayers who wore intricate and sometimes heavy material-laden outfits – found it difficult to commute from the parking areas to the festival itself.
“The halls are also much bigger [this year], because if you remember last year it was really, really packed and at one point we had to close the doors because we were worried about safety.”
This year there will be seven halls filled with everything from gaming to the latest movie releases, to photograph and signing areas, to meeting the creators and artists of various comic books and cult media.
And if everything seems a little overwhelming or you need to plan your days to the minute, the KFC-sponsored Comic Con has also launched its own app that will be your digital guide to everything Comic Con Africa related [See below to download the app].
Headlining this year’s guestlist will be William Shatner, who played Captain James T. Kirk in Star-Trek; Anthony Mackie, who played Falcon in the Marvel Avengers movies and who was supposed to attend last year but was stopped by a hurricane on the day of his flight; and Isaac Hempstead Wright, who played Bran Stark in Game of Thrones.
Local artists like Jason Masters (Guardians of the Galaxy, Wolverine and Batman), Sean Izaakse (Avengers and Fantastic Four), Bill Masuku (Captain South Africa and Razor-Man) and Loyiso Mkize (Supa Strikers and Kwezi Comics) will also be in attendance at the Artists’ Alley, with fans able to get their comics signed, commission prints and engage with the people who draw the superheroes we look up to.
Comic Con has also struck a deal with the Gautrain to make sure that trains will run normal schedules and not reduced weekend schedules to Midrand station for the four days of Comic Con, with designated Uber drop-off areas also made visible.
Kids Con a First
The 2019 edition of Comic Con Africa also has a dedicated hall for children who, from the ages of 3 to 12, will be able to have a convention specifically focused and dedicated to the little minions.
In coming up with ideas of what kids want, Comic Con Africa brought on board 12 children for its “Little Experts” advisory team.
The children’s insights were then curated to create an experience that, Carla Massman - portfolio director at Comic Con - says, will be “unforgettable, dynamic and modern” and have parents itching to join in on the fun.
The Jaguar Land Rover Kids Con will have a life-sized Monopoly game, Nerf battles, VR-experiences, an Nintendo area complete with Mario and Luigi present and the “largest Lego event in Africa”.
The Lego event will have 1000 square metres of Lego plus everything from building your own world to having Lego displays to competitions and prizes.
But if you are thinking of leaving the kids and going to explore “the adult” side of life, don’t.
“Kids Con is not a drop-off zone,” Massman says.
“We want to make it a family day out. So, you can go to Comic Con and visit the Kids Con. We have enough activities so that the grownups can also enjoy it, because we want mum and dad with the kids on stage.”
From a security perspective, every child will also be fitted with an armband with a phone number to call should they wander off.
There will also be cosplay prizes for the best-dressed family.
Gaming Industry Boost
eSports and gaming have also been a major experience point for Comic Con lovers with this year’s larger venue providing for even more interaction and engagement.
This will all be under one hall that will be dedicated to gaming from “free-play zones, racing SIMs and the latest gaming equipment”.
There will also be prizes in excess of R1 million up for grabs while the inaugural South Africa Gaming Awards will also take place over the four days.
There will also be a chance to compete for spots at national and international gaming competitions, while DOTA2 and multiplayer first-person shooter game, Counter Strike: GO, will also have tournaments where you can see the masters in action.
Another very interesting feature this year is the Business of Gaming Forum set to be hosted on September 23, which will explore the tremendous growth and investment potential of this sector.
City Press reported that the South African games sector is worth $1.3 trillion and is only set to grow.
Comic Con says the forum is “directed at business investors, brand executives, brand agencies and managers as well as content creators, game developer and eSports businesses”.
Ben Myers, who together with Cukia Kimani became the first fully South African game developer company (Nyamakop Games) to develop a game for a Nintendo console, will also be leading a panel on the business of game development.
Weaving says the forum “will offer thorough insight into this ever-growing industry”.
Cosplay - The art of creativity
Two international cosplayers – LeeAnna Vamp and Italian Leon Chiro – will also be visiting Comic Con Africa this year.
Both are renowned for their amazing designs and cosplays with Chiro being the cos-model for the champion Rakan from League of Legends.
There will also be panel discussions on why cosplay is important for children especially from a creative side and how to cosplay on a budget.
Cosplay competitions with prize money of R20 500 and a trip to Chicago, to compete in the world cosplay competitions, will also be up for grabs.
Comic Con Africa takes place from September 21 – 24 at the Gallagher Convention Centre. Tickets are R160 per day and R500 for a four-day pass, that gets you access to Comic Con and Kids Con. Children under 6 enter free. See ComicConAfrica.co.za for more.
Download the Comic Con Africa app here.