Get those kick-ass costumes ready: Comic Con Africa 2019 is coming up

Contrary to what 'The Big Bang Theory' may tell you, Comic Con isn't just for nerds — this festival celebrating pop culture is fun for everyone

08 September 2019 - 00:09 By
Mike Wegner as Thor and Miguel Goncalves as Kid Flash at Comic Con Africa 2018.
Mike Wegner as Thor and Miguel Goncalves as Kid Flash at Comic Con Africa 2018.
Image: Alon Skuy

If you've watched The Big Bang Theory enough times then you'll know that Comic Con is a pretty big deal. Every year its name reappears in pop culture and has assorted comic-book fanatics scrambling to the nearest costume store to find Iron Man suits in their size. 

Those in the know have already ordered their replica Tony Stark goatees, but for those of you who have found yourselves wondering what the hell a Comic Con is and why it's coming to Joburg from September 21 to 24, read on.

Back in the bell-bottomed '70s, a bunch of comic-book enthusiasts in San Diego felt a strong itch to share their love of picture-driven stories with the wider public.

It was the beginning of the so-called Bronze Age of Comic Books, an epoch characterised by the Captain Americas and Spider-Mans of the day becoming much more woke to their social milieus. 

Cultural relevance and darker themes began to gain a lot more traction, and LSD was probably the multicoloured conscience on many a comic creator's shoulder.  

When it first started, Comic Con, or The Golden State Comic Book Convention, was a little enclave specialising in western comic books and sci-fi and fantasy films. Since then it's grown into a globe-spanning, multi-genre affair that features everything from gaming to animé and its sibling manga and, of course, cosplay.

If you're wondering what cosplay is, the easiest explanation is that it is Halloween on a powerful anabolic steroid programme. A portmanteau of the words "costume" and "play", cosplayers dress up as characters from a particular comic book/animé/gaming universe. So, for example, at Comic Con Africa there's a good chance you may bump into a young lady with long functional pigtails, short shorts, gun holsters on the thighs and a kind of dun military green top. That lady is a fan of the game series Tomb Raider and is channeling its protagonist, Lara Croft.

A visitor poses for a portrait at Comic Con Africa 2018.
A visitor poses for a portrait at Comic Con Africa 2018.
Image: Alon Skuy
Brian Anthony Bennett as Maximus Steam Punkis at Comic Con Africa 2018.
Brian Anthony Bennett as Maximus Steam Punkis at Comic Con Africa 2018.
Image: Alon Skuy

Cosplay has an interesting effect on people. In lieu of alcohol, it acts as a wonderful social lubricant. Without risking putting your foot in your mouth you can tell a lot about what a cosplayer is into just by looking at them. It's like wearing your heart on your sleeve, only now your heart is a giant blonde wig and orange jumpsuit similar to the one Goku would wear in Dragonball Z.

Last year Comic Con arrived in Africa for the first time, drawing a crowd of 45,000 people. This year the event is hoping to up that number by brining Comic Con legend William Shatner AKA Captain Kirk and Anthony Mackie, who looks set to become the new Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Cosplay has an interesting effect on people. In lieu of alcohol, it acts as a wonderful social lubricant

Gamers can look forward to meeting Nolan North and Troy Baker, a pair of video game actors who between them have played iconic characters in the Assassin's Creed, Uncharted, Far Cry and The Last of Us franchises. There will also be a ton of e-sports, animé, manga, collectibles and other memorabilia to tickle your happy places.

This year will also see the introduction of Kids Con, an entire hall dedicated to kids aged from three to 13 that will feature Mario and Luigi, My Little Pony and more.

Contrary to what The Big Bang Theory may tell you, Comic Con isn't just for nerds. By bringing together some of the most lucrative popular entertainment genres in the world, it's become a mainstream space where people with mildly alternative tastes can dress like chubby Italian plumbers and discuss the sociopolitical undertones of Avengers: Endgame like the multifaceted intellectuals they are. It's fun for all.

Comic Con Africa 2019 is on at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, Joburg from September 21 to 24. Go to computicket.com to book tickets.


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