Comic Con Africa 2018 – A Convention of Unconventionals
A six month hype surrounded the arrival of the very first Comic Con on African shores.
Geeks, nerds, fangirls and fanboys from all over lost the metaphorical plot at the news and within moments, social media was flooded with excitement and planning.
Having been on the receiving end of some rather inappropriate cosplay rage at an event a few years back, I was relieved to see that the community seems to have banded together, welcoming the n00bs and slightly ignorant into the fold, choosing to educate rather than ridicule. Watching from the outskirts, I was amazed at the sheer community spirit shown before the event even started.
As the hype built, I was simply blown away by the dedication, commitment, and sheer artistry of those who were choosing to cosplay their favourite characters, keeping the spectators enthralled with the costume-building process.
I believe it is safe to say that being called ‘A Geek’ or ‘A Nerd’ is no longer the insult it used to be as events like Icon, Medieval Fayre, rAge and Geekfest have slowly but surely made fandoms, cosplayers and LARPers (to name a few) mainstream.
Now geeks and nerds of all ages embrace these labels and wear them proudly. The stereotypes have been shattered as the ‘jocks’, the ‘cool kids’, the elderly, toddlers, the black, the white, the yellow, the pink all mingle together as one big happy family. Cosplay is no longer considered ‘odd’, but it is considered an art form. Being tech-savvy no longer makes you an IT-nerd, but rather makes you the ‘go-to’ person for friends and family.
All pre-conceived notions have been shattered, and I am proud to have watched it happen. Years of hiding in the shadows and being considered weird have paid off, and Comic Con Africa was the massive spotlight that shed light onto all of us.
I am not brave enough to cosplay, I do not lose my panties over statues and plushies, I do not know the words to Star Wars movies but I am a geek in other aspects – a music geek, a theatre geek – very different to the norm….so still a geek and as I write this – very proud to say I am a part of this incredibly colourful community.
As an event organiser, I walked around Comic Con with a critical eye – looking for something that made THIS event so different to our local events. Was it the brand name? Was it because the idea of an event of this magnitude hitting SA’s shores was always a pipe dream finally being realised? Was it the MASSIVE budget thrown behind it to ensure its success?
I think it was all of those things and I commend the organisers for putting together such a brilliant con. There will ALWAYS be that ONE person who moans about space, the venue, the food, the queues, the shade, the entertainment. Always. They’re entitled to their opinion, but dearie – perfection will never be reached, so look for the good things and encourage the organisers to do better, rather than bleating.
Whilst it was apparent that Comic Con Africa was a league in its own, it saddens me that local events are not as well supported. Events that appeal to this community are now frequent. Whether you are a vendor, an artist, a cosplayer or just looking for something different to do – there are MULTIPLE events throughout the year that should be appealing to the ‘geek’ community. The organisers of these events don’t have millions to put these events together. They don’t have a major INTERNATIONAL brand name to rest on – and as a result they are quite often not as well attended as they should be. I suppose it’s the same mind set as the general public barely supporting local musicians, but paying thousands to see Ed Sheeran.
South Africans, as a culture tend to be on the back foot with most international trends, which is why we have hidden our ‘geekiness’ in the shadows for so long. However, Comic Con Africa saw well over 40 000 people through their doors over 3 days. Why do local organisers do not receive the same kind of enthusiasm and support. Perhaps with a little more hype from the community, our locally organised events would also be just as fantastic?
All that being said, Comic Con was an experience.
It was a really large street party.
The perfect excuse for those who want to make believe, to imagine, to escape reality, to gather together and show our true colours.
It was a platform where people’s creativity was celebrated, not looked down upon.
Exciting times we live in, where Africa is thrown into the mix of the international. Where the locals can prove they are on a par with the cons we have all watched on TV. Where we are given the opportunity to take selfies with stars, where those who were always considered outcasts are now making the news.
Let the haters hate. Let those who do not understand who you are and what you do laugh at you. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that there is a massive community who watches you in awe.
You are someone’s hero. Keep going.
Geeks are the new ‘IT’ crowd, and it took an international convention like Comic Con Africa to prove that to the world.
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers.
The round pegs in square holes. The ones who see things differently’
– Steve Jobs –
Dayle Robyn – DoubleD