After its success in South Africa, Comic Con may become an African thing

Africa’s first Comic Con expo which sold out took place at the Kyalami Convention Centre from 14-16 September 2018, and featured a range of international stars as guests.

Started in 1970 when a group of science fiction fans in San Diego got together to trade comic books, Comic Con provides attendees with the opportunity to have photos with their favourite stars, check out the latest in comic book, gaming and movie memorabilia, and also watch cosplayers show off their outfits. Comic Con has since grown into a globally recognized set of fantasy celebrations, drawing over 130,000 fans to events in London, Moscow, Delhi, Sydney and Dubai.

Launching its first event in Africa with a somewhat strong lineup in the build up to the event, it went on to have 40 000 people in attendance. However, three major key visitors cancelled, including Avengers 4 star Mackie (one of the heroes affected by Thanos’ finger snap with the Infinity Gauntlet) who was slated to be one of the guests at the convention. Comic Con Africa posted a video message from Mackie on their Facebook page explaining that he won’t be able to make it due to the Hurricane Florence wreaking havoc in South and North Carolina.

Nevertheless, geeks from across the country got their superhero capes and gathered at Kyalami International Convention Centre, Johannesburg where celebrities like Kevin Sussman (The Big Bang Theory), Demore Barnes (American Gods), Travis Fimmel (Vikings), and cosplayers, gamers, and science fiction fans celebrated all things geek while competing for the best costume over three days.

Cosplayers attend the international Comic Con at Kyalami race course in Johannesburg, South Africa, 14 September, 2018. Photo: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

“Growing up as a black child we are bombarded with mainstream media, whether that be movies or comic books, that have white people,” said Zimbabwean-born comic artist Bill Masuku to Reuters. “To not see yourself, is diminishing,” said Masuku who implied that the event was a chance for people to learn more about locally produced comics and occupy spaces typically dominated by Hollywood. Masuku who has a black female superhero as the protagonist in one of his comics added: “I would like to push the narrative that black people can be superheroes without being sidekicks.”

“We are so thrilled to be able to launch this event. This is only the beginning, there is much more to come,” said Kuo-Yu Liang, the global director of business development at ReedPop, the organisers of the event at a media briefing. Carol Weaving, managing director of organizer Reed Exhibitions, told Reuters that the event had attracted comic, superhero and anime fans from Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Nigeria and that it would expand beyond South Africa into other African countries.

The next edition of Comic Con Africa is slated for September 2019.