News broke a few weeks ago about Comic-Con Africa launching this year. Exciting news right? YES and a few troubling NOs!
Comic-Con Africa is a 3-day event showcasing comic books and science fiction/fantasy related film, television, and similar popular arts. The exhibition will also feature a larger range of pop culture and entertainment elements across virtually all genres, including animation, toys, gadgets, clothing, collectable card games, tabletop games, anime, manga, video games, webcomics, and fantasy novels.
Finding spaces where adults and children alike can bask in the awesomeness of comic books, video games, animation and cosplay in Africa might sound like nothing but fantasy to those who don’t know better. It isn’t. There are thriving communities all over the continent creating such safe havens for us and I can’t thank creators and organizers enough for what they do.
That’s what’s exciting about Comic-Con Africa. It is another awesome event where geeks can be themselves and connect with their peers, trade stories, find the coolest new comics, games, cosplay and more. Comic-Con Africa also promises to bring in the cast of Game of Thrones and The Big Bang Theory. That’s a real attraction and a great marketing strategy. Even more exciting is the idea of having an official Comic-Con hosted on the continent!
That’s where the problem starts. Is Africa a country? Not by a stretch. Africa is a big continent with 54 distinct nations. Having a Comic-Con Africa only perpetuates this misconception that Africa is a country. It also doesn’t help that Comic-Con Africa will be held in South Africa which, hate it or love it, represents the continent for a lot of non-African peoples. It doesn’t.
Why can’t it just be Comic-Con South Africa? That’s more specific and doesn’t mislead at all. Why lump it all together? Why not be more specific and include other countries as the franchise expands? Perhaps that’s a long-term goal, I can only hope.
Comic-Con Africa was officially announced on February 20 at an event attended by Dr John Kani (T’chaka) and Connie Chiume (Mining Tribe Elder), stars of the blockbuster superhero movie Black Panther. That’s major star power backing the event.
What’s not exciting about this is that it creates a false perception that before the global acclaim of the Black Panther movie, Africa had zilch comic conventions. In fact, I think it’s insulting to the people who have worked tirelessly over the years to put together several comic conventions across Africa. Some of such pioneering conventions include the Lagos Comic Convention, FanCon Convention, ICON and the Nairobi Comic Convention.
What’s even less exciting is that this new kid on the block is slated in the same period as the Lagos Comic Con. Co-incidence or sabotage? I’m not sure. But this Lagos Comic-Con poster (below) released just after the announcement of Comic-Con Africa suggests the latter.
Is Comic-Con Africa a Collaboration of African Comic Conventions?
First thing I thought when I heard about Comic-Con Africa was that it was a collaborative project between the various comic conventions in Africa. “What a great idea,” I thought. Imagine merging all the various comic conventions under one umbrella, Comic-Con Africa. Imagine the impact such a move would make.
Unfortunately, it isn’t. If the recent DISCOMICS announcement, a collaboration between DISCOP Africa, Lagos Comic Con, ICON and NAICCON is any indication, a collaboration is what Comic-Con Africa could and should have been.
ReedPOP, the people behind this should know better. Internationally, they’re responsible for events such as Comic-Con New York; not Comic-Con America. One would expect that they’ll respect the dynamics of a continent as big as Africa. But perhaps that’s our fault.
Maybe we are not supporting local events enough. Or perhaps event organizers aren’t doing enough. We’ve all seen how well Disney’s marketing muscle augmented by fans — old and new — propelled Black Panther to the stars.
Maybe other cons across the continent aren’t marketing their events as extensively as they should. I can easily credit that to a lack of funds. What are our business execs and investors doing? Is it that they do not see the potential in backing African creative endeavours? So many questions I have very few answers for.
Implications for African (Comic) Creators
For the creators that can afford to exhibit at the event, especially creators in southern Africa, this is another opportunity to spread the word about their projects. As Comic-Con Africa’s marketing has shown so far, the event will attract a lot of eyeballs. That’s something creators should take advantage of as best as they can.
Comic Conventions in Africa
Are there any comic conventions in Africa? Yes, quite a few actually. I’ve listed them below.
- Lagos Comic Con (Nigeria)
- Lusaka Comic Con (Zambia)
- Nairobi Comic Con (Kenya)
- Mboa BD (Cameroon)
- Nerd Con (Accra)
- FanCon (South Africa)
- ICON (South Africa)
- Egypt Con
- DigiArt Fest (Uganda)
- rAge Expo
- UNICON (Nigeria)
You can also discover many other geek events, from workshops, festivals, conventions, gaming tourneys and more by checking out our evergreen African geek calendar.
Am I against Comic-Con Africa? Not at all. It is an exciting event that will beef up the momentum that has been building up across the continent over the last couple of years, if only for the international validation an official African comic convention carries. I just wish it was more representative of the entire African geek community.
Watch the event promo below.
What are your thoughts on Comic-Con Africa?
*rAge Expo is mostly geared towards gaming and technology. It’s more an electronics convention than a comic convention.
KaDi Yao Tay
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