A friend said they didn’t understand all the hype for Comic Con, so the best way that I could come up with for them to understand is that it is like Coachella for Geeks. Think about it, a festival that happens over multiple days with multiple stages and a whole host of exciting performances lined up. All the geeks, weebs, gamers and just fans of pop culture line up to experience the largest convention of gaming and pop culture on the continent. The first day was way more engaging and eventful than I ever anticipated. It’s also like a reunion meeting up with those you haven’t seen in a while, those you mostly chat to online and friends from all over the country who’ve come in for this.
Was everything I needed it to be and more. At the heart of the con, in hall 6 across from the main stage is Otaku Town. A quaint setup of Japanese culture and aesthetics. They have Sakura trees [cherry blossoms], chairs lined up facing the stage, a stunning Japanese Zen garden-style bridge, a few related exhibitors and the Japan street setup. We began the morning by learning a few key Japanese phrases and mannerisms, taught by Hiromi sensei from the Japanese Language Club. Throughout the day we learned how to make cosplay, the joys of Gunpla, how to make California rolls with Market Kokoro, got into the anime mecha verse and so much more. JETRO is definitely looking to grow Otaku Town and partner with businesses to bring in more Japanese IPs into the country. This is the place to be for anime fans so please come support the activities so that we can grow it into a bigger exhibit each year.
Assassins Creed Mirage Preview Presented by Marco Cocomello in concert with MC Zaid Motala.
Goosebumps. Literal goosebumps. I felt honoured to be one of the first to experience this preview of the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Mirage game. There was this really majestic and magical edit of the game with this ethereal musical score that just had all the hairs on your forearms standing and this pulsating sense of transcendence in your chest. Played on the massive KFC main stage wide-angle screen, you really get transported into that world. Marco did such an amazing job of explaining and highlighting all the brilliant new features of the game while also taking into consideration what the fans will be most excited about playing. He also managed to snag an insightful interview with the creative executive behind the game for us. Many lucky people walked away with game codes.
KFC Comic Con Menu
The menu KFC South Africa has created for Comic Con Africa is absolutely dastardly delectable and delicious. There is nothing like it and each item is beyond tasty. The baby Yoda shake is out of this world, it’s more than just a milkshake. The Ghost Pepper Strips is one of my favourites, many shied away from it on account of the spiciness but I enjoy that the most. Was shocked to discover the Avatar Skins which are the skins of the chicken pieces that I usually steal which frustrates my family to no end. And they are now an actual item on the menu! The taste is sublime. I could go on and on about this menu. I heard that apparently KFC revamped the whole kitchen at Nasrec Johanessburg Expo Centre in preparation for Comic Con Africa and to give the attending fans the very best food experience. From my conversations with the head executives of Comic Con Africa, it would appear that this venue is the one to stay. It accommodates all their needs and caters to what their ticket holders need.
Only Murders in the building Disney Plus Activation
Disney Plus have launched an amazing exhibition for their TV series, Only Murders In The Building located in Hall 6 adjacent to the main stage. Be sure to check it out and solve the clues each day for spot giveaways and then a chance to win a massive R10 000 on the final day. The premise is that a character has gone missing, there are a few suspects and it is up to you to solve the case. The setup is quite intricate with secret passageways, UV messages on the walls, suspect interrogation videos, clues from 1 to 5 to help you solve the mystery of each day and overall who kidnapped the character. It’s a great sense of accomplishment when you solve all the clues, even just figuring out the code for the safe with the note hidden inside.
So many unbelievably amazing exhibitors are at the con this year, some of the most outstanding fandom merchandise you will ever see. From my walkaround at the end of the day, it was surprising to learn that so many were saying they were already almost sold out! The hottest seller of the day seems to be the realistic-looking straw hat from the Netflix live-action adaption of anime and manga, One Piece. Craftsingh was a highlight near Shinzo’s Maid Café and Otaku Town, she had the most affordable and quality anime merch.
Chaos Kraft has giant-sized Snorlax which she already sold 4 of and these wonderfully magical Pokemon terrariums that are her claim to fame. Speaking of the Maid Café, it was solidly packed throughout the entire day, a very clear attraction. Cricut has a practice room where you can actively use and test out those fun machines. Nexus Hub has so many presences around the con with some of the most exciting gaming products you could ever want. Powered by Ecoflow they have a promotion where if you buy an Ecoflow product, you get a mystery box with a limited-edition figurine inside. There are only 50 in the whole country. Be sure to check them out. Down in Artist Alley, you have such unique and specifically creative merch to buy. Moccus Magics has some of the coolest Dungeon and Dragons dice I’ve seen or felt. Neko.co has such amazing artwork that the Anime Man and Akidearest have even signed, as well as Kawaii mugs and badges.
Hearing Veronica Taylor speak in the Ash Ketchum voice was truly a spectacle to behold. Activating memories deep within from my childhood. Such a wholesome experience. She actively reached out to be a part of Comic Con Africa as she’s been a fan of it since its inception. We got to meet and interview Ross Marquand asking him, knowing what he knows, how he would survive in a Zombie apocalypse. Jeff Teravainen is an absolute snack and thirst-quenching drink, his cadence and gruff accent are heaven to listen to. One of his favourite games is The Last of Us and he gives such Joel vibes. Martin Copping seems to be such a humble down-to-earth guy, talking to us about how got into voice acting.
Probably one of the biggest highlights of Comic Con Africa is our very talented local cosplayers. Even during the casual cosplay competition, some of the cosplayers that debuted on stage were jaw-dropping with Elliot even exclaiming “This is casual?! This is casual?!”. A moment that tugged at all our heartstrings was the baby cosplayer dressed up as Jessie from Toy Story. I can still hear the collective audience gasping in awe. What I enjoyed was hearing the first-place winner spot went to an original cosplay creation. Titled by the judges as “the witch chick with the stick”. It definitely inspires me to know that one could win a cosplay competition for that creativity.
Board Games take over
Unplug Yourself has really taken up a massive space in Hall 6 for all things board games. From Catan to Yugi-oh, to miniature painting to Dungeons and Dragons they have it all. It really is a place you can unplug and chill out with a board game for hours on end. They also have this scavenge hunt for resources from Catan with badges that you can barter with other conventioners for. They are also showing a demo of a game that is only out next year so be sure to check out that.
Comic Con Cruise
We got to hear the exciting news of the upcoming Comic Con Cruise that they have lined up for us next year from Durban to Cape Town. Over 3 days at a capacity of about 2000 guests. They have different sizes of cabins with a special deal of buy one get one free. You can find their exhibit near the maid café in Hall 6. MSC has a virtual tour there for you. Carol Weaving’s 5-year plan has been to get to Comic Con Africa 2023 and her next 5-year plan could be taking the con to other African countries. The cruise seems to have way more Comic Con-themed activities though it would be as you have on a regular cruise, while still including the staples like panels and celebrity guests. I can’t wait to see which guests come out, it’s highly desirable to come to meet fans on a 3-day cruise ship. Durban residents have always wanted a Comic Con there, now essentially is their time to shine.
There is just so, so much more that I haven’t even covered here or yet at the con. It’s everything everywhere all at once! I highly recommend you get the Comic Con Africa app from your app store. As it has all the programmes there you can add the events/activities that you want to see and notify you when they are about to begin. There is so much more to explore and discover this year, so I’m looking forward to Day 2 of Comic Con Africa 2023.