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  • On Friday, costumed patrons played video games and shopped for merchandise in a convention center north of Johannesburg.

    On Friday, costumed patrons played video games and shopped for merchandise in a convention center north of Johannesburg. | Photo: Reuters

Published 15 September 2018

Hundreds of fans decked out as iconic and beloved characters, such as mother of dragons and Captain America, flocked to the inaugural Comic Con Africa.

Comic, superhero and anime fans from Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Nigeria and beyond flocked to Africa’s first Comic-Con in South Africa, managing director of the event’s organizer Reed Exhibitions, Carol Weaving, said.

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“We have brought Comic-Con to the African continent for the first time and it is hugely exciting,” Weaving told AFP. “We have been trying for five years to get it here. It is long overdue. There is a huge culture here wanting this, ranging from comic book artists and gaming and ‘cosplay’ (costume play) -- so many people are dressed up.”

Hundreds of fans decked out as iconic and beloved characters, such as mother of dragons and Captain America, from both film and television at the inaugural Comic Con Africa which began Friday.

“Growing up as a black child we are bombarded with mainstream media, whether that be movies or comic books, that have white people. To not see yourself, is diminishing,” Zimbabwean-born comic artist, Bill Masuku, said.

“I would like to push the narrative that black people can be superheroes without being sidekicks,” added Masuku, who has a black female superhero as the protagonist in one of his comics. Masuku said the event gives people the chance to learn more about locally produced comics and compete with Hollywood’s dominance.

On Friday, costumed patrons played video games and shopped for merchandise in a convention center north of Johannesburg.

“We are here to just have fun,” Chris Smithard, a market researcher dressed as Aquaman, explained. “For ‘cosplay’ this is a big social gathering. It gives the entire community a much bigger platform and exposure.”

Tickets for Saturday and Sunday of the three-day event were sold out several weeks in advance, according to Weaving, who stated: “It is a complete sell-out and fans have been desperate to come.”

About 18,000 patrons are expected to flock to the venue daily.

The convention includes costume competitions, all-night gaming tournaments, video game launches and virtual reality experiences, as well as appearances by film and TV stars, artists and designers. The international guests included Kevin Sussman from “The Big Bang Theory” and Travis Fimmel from “Vikings.”

Actor Anthony Mackie, who has plays Marvel superhero Falcon, had to cancel a scheduled appearance at the event due to the effects of Hurricane Florence

"I'm so sorry I couldn't make it," Mackie told fans in a video message. "With all the weather, traveling across the Atlantic — it kind of pushed my plans back a little bit." The event organizer assured fans who bought autograph sessions and photo ops with the actor that refunds or swap tickets for another celebrity guest will be arranged.

The Reed Exhibitions representative also added that the event organizer expects to expand the event beyond South Africa in the future.

Comic-Con started in 1970 when a group of science fiction fans in San Diego got together to swap comic books.

 
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