Comic Con Africa 2019 Overview

How did the second-ever Comic Con Africa go down?

Whenever most people residing in South Africa heard the name Comic Con, they always associated it with the big overseas event, but now Africa has one to call its own. For the second year in a row, Reed Exhibitions and Reedpop has brought Comic Con to Africa. This year, Comic Con Africa took place at the Gallagher Convention Centre, and boasted some amazing local and international talent.

This year’s Comic Con was bigger, better, and more packed than the previous event. It also made significant improvements, with over 71 000 visitors attending, and 300 exhibitors plying their trade over four days. Was it an event to remember or forget?

This year doubled size in almost every capacity, with the Artist Alley receiving one of the biggest boosts. Where last year, artists were all squashed together, there was an ample amount of space for artists to show off their works this time around. This was heaven sent for any aspiring or current artist.

Many fans got to see their favorite artist draw their favorite characters live in sketch offs, share interesting stories and give advice and tips for those looking to get into the industry. Alongside these artists were local authors selling their novels and signing their works. Plainly speaking, it was an eventful four days with an artist paradise!

Along with the Artist Alley was Hall 5, which was filled with merchandise galore to feast your eyes on. Everything from anime, manga comics, and figures, among other items. There was a huge variety on offer and it was a big highlight for anyone looking to buy some wonderful memorabilia.

It was also home to the KFC stand who were the big sponsor this year. Viacom also brought the Friends couch for people to come and take pictures on it. Along with this, KFC also brought their official wingman to the expo, where attendees could hire a wingman to stand in line for them, so they don’t have to, which was a smart idea.

WWE also had a stand where people could pose with the championship or with the Undertaker’s coffin, along with the option of trying WWE2K20.

Another thing to feast your eyes on was Comic Con Africa’s 2019 cosplay competition. The weekend was filled with walking pieces of art. Everything from casual to masters were displaying their skills for everyone to see. Event organisers also invited well-known local and international cosplayers to feast your eyes on.

A number of interesting panels for both cosplay newcomers and pros, which gave insights on all the different aesthetics of cosplaying took place throughout the event. As expected, a Casual Cosplay Competition took place every day of the event. On Tuesday (the final day of the Con), the highly-anticipated Championships of Cosplay took place. The winner of the Championships will be representing Africa at the Championships of Cosplay Quest for the Crown at C2E2 in the United States.

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This year, there was also a bigger emphasis on gaming, with an entire hall just dedicated to gaming-related products. Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft all attended the event. Overall, this year’s gaming section was a huge improvement and was widely welcomed.

Nintendo brought the new Nintendo Switch Lite, along with demos for the recently released The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, Astral Chain, Fire Emblem: Three Houses and Smash Bros. They also had two exclusive demos for Luigi’s Mansion 3 and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which were available to all attendees.

Sony brought us Nioh 2, Concrete Genie, Dreams, Monster Hunter: Iceborne, and Bee Simulator. There was a Death Stranding stand where attendees could coat their hand in ink and place it on the white background, and for their troubles, they got a nice poster. Xbox brought Gears 5, Borderlands 3, Ghost Recon Breakpoint and a few other titles. It was great to play some of these titles, especially The Witcher 3 and Nioh 2.

There were some very competitive esports matches in action, with both Counter Strike and Dota 2 playing for a cash prize of R1.3 million. Attendees also had the chance to test their skills in free play areas against other players.

Local developers had their own showcase, along with international developers hosting panels for game development in South Africa. There were also panels for upcoming developers, and how to make a career in game development. 

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The newest addition to Comic Con Africa was KidsCon, which is one of the first kid-focused conventions in South Africa. This part of the Con brought a huge LEGO display, and kids could always meet some of their heroes, such as My Little Ponies and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Nintendo also brought Mario and Luigi and gave kids the opportunity to play Splatoon, Mario Kart, and Smash Bros. 

Tabletop gaming was also given a whole hall to themselves along with bottomless coffee this year. Next to this, was the auditorium were they had exclusive screenings of films, such as Adominable, Angry Birds 2 and other local film projects.

Though the main event through the whole con was the international guests making their appearance at the event. It was sad that Anthony Mackie wasn’t able to make it again this year but there was still enough talent to go around.

Daniel Gillies from The Originals extended his stay to all four days, while the William Shatner provided some of the best moments during his panels. Nolan North and Troy Baker stole the show whenever they were present, and were probably the highlight of Comic Con After Dark.

On Saturday, Baker hosted an acoustic session singing songs from his album, while on Sunday he and North hosted a Retro Replay Live for fans. These events happened after the event ended, and were only for the first three hundred people. They were all a huge hit with many lining up to either get photographs or autographs afterwards.

Overall, the major headlining acts were great this year and made every fans dream a reality.

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Although the event was better in every way this year, there were a few shortcomings. Space was still an issue especially in some of the small hallways. I also wish there was better signage for what events were happening at which time. They made a Comic Con app to make up for this but it was still hard to figure out what was happening.

Scheduling was also an issue with multiple events happening at either the same time or during another panel. This caused many headaches forcing you to decide what to attend, with some panels not repeating on other days. These issues may be small but did hinder my enjoyment of the event.

This year’s Comic Con Africa was a huge hit and would not be possible without dedicated pop culture fans in South Africa. Without all of you fans of cosplay, games, board games, film, and all things pop culture this event wouldn’t be so popular. If you missed this year’s Con, make sure to mark you calendars for the next event. Next year, the event will be heading to Cape Town, so get ready!

What did you think about Comic Con Africa 2019?