Comic fans, creators, gamers, pop culture enthusiasts, cosplayers and anime lovers have started gathering at this year’s Comic Con Africa.
Local media say the event will have a record attendance as crowds flock to a vast expo centre south of Johannesburg for the event which runs until Monday (Sep. 25).
This fan of a 2001 Japanese animated fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki shared her excitement on Friday (Sep. 22), the first day of the 3-day event.
“Honestly spirited away is one of my favourite movies and then I was just looking for all kinds of costumes from Spirited Away and then this one just caught my eye, so I got it,” Dominique, an attendee dressed in Kaonashi said.
“It’s really fun I love seeing people dressed up with Star Wars stuff and taking pictures because the fan interaction when someone shares something that you love is just so great and the photos you are both getting joy out of the photos you know,” other attendee Alice shared.
The festival in South Africa, which is in its fourth edition, has a dedicated ‘Afro Geek’ pavilion, showcasing comics reflecting African heritage and society.
Animator Ethan Msithini welcomed the move.
“I know growing up, seeing all of my favourite superheroes on TV they were always white or had long hair, long straight hair, very different from me. And I still admire that and want to be like that but finally seeing superheroes that I look like brings more of a relatability to me it makes me want to read the comics a little more, which is what we want for everyone.”
“We want everyone to enjoy the comics to feel that they can relate in some way. That they can see themselves as a superhero because tath superhero looks like them, and this is what they are accomplishing in this universe. ”
Africa’s largest pop culture festival opened with a spotlight on home-grown superheroes including a black knight battling loadshedding or relentless power outages that have battered South Africa in recent years.
“Most recently we have worked on Kidwiz which is the futuristic South Africa. It follows a coloured superhero from Boneville and the first thing he does is eliminate loadshedding amongst other things,” Msithini explained.
Other ‘Afro Geek’ offerings include a comic series inspired by the legendary Zulu king Shaka and African mythology.
Three halls of South Africa’s largest purpose-built exhibition venue are dedicated to the celebration of all things pop culture. A kid’s zone and a gaming lounge have been set up.
Special guests including Steven John Ward who stars in One Piece live-action series as well as international celebrities, artists and authors will attend.
Lagos, Nigeria and Nairobi, Kenya have been running their own “comic con” festivals for several years.