Middle East Film & Comic Con (MEFCC) started only a few years ago at the Dubai International Marine Club. Back then it was a small event, with a spark that has now become Comic Con’s distinctive atmosphere. There are and always will be detractors and critics of MEFCC, myself included, finding fault with some of its commercial and celebrity-driven aspects. Regardless, the spirit of Comic Con is passionate and honest, and the fact that no one is too weird, too “out there”, or too overdressed is liberating. Everyone’s focus is on the imagination and creativity that brings these characters to life, unweaving the strands of fiction. At Comic Con, it is difficult for anyone to look “weird”.
There were a lot of great changes in this year’s edition of MEFCC. The increased focus on games was brilliant since generally, it has focused more on films/TV shows. The “Overwatch” tournament was incredible to watch – so many people who truly love the game were competing against each other, with stands and massive screens for passersby. The extended arcade section was also a good addition, and seeing teenagers who are too young to have played at arcades in their childhood was a sweet sight. I still think the gaming part of Comic Con has a long way to go, but it’s definitely improving.
One of the major changes that I appreciated was the introduction of the International Artists’ Alley. This was new, and it worked well. I met several comic book artists and directors of publishing studios from outside the UAE who were impressed by the regional artists and excited to meet them. Bringing international artists means that local illustrators and designers get the chance to connect, collaborate, and perhaps find some exposure abroad as well. This is essential, as the comic book industry here is still very young, and meeting and learning from people elsewhere is always helpful.
I especially liked the layout this year, which was much more open and inviting than in the previous years. The sectioning was systematic, and the bookstores and toy shops in between worked very well. I walked around and saw almost everything in one day, although more than half of the fun of Comic Con is seeing the cosplays, which means a one-day visit is never quite enough.
Cosplays are truly the heart and soul of this convention. The effort and commitment that people put into their costumes are intense, and seeing your favorite characters from TV shows, games, films, and comic books come to life is always a fantastic experience. That moment when you spot in the crowd, a cosplay that is done so well, and acted out so brilliantly – that is the moment of utter excitement and joy that I go to Comic Con for.
I’m not quite sure why Comic Conventions around the world invite wrestlers though, perhaps because they play their part in pop culture, but the general line-up of celebrities this year was pretty decent. Celebrities are only one part of Comic Con, but if I were to recommend something, I would say it would be better if they provided a panel talk of actors from the same game/TV show/film, rather than actors from everything on one panel. The dynamic between them is always off, and it doesn’t quite fully capture any actor’s part in their work.
All in all, I would say, as a fan of Comic Con, this year was a massive improvement from last year. The artists were better, the setup was much cleaner, the music better as well (although it was still extremely loud), and the cosplays were awesome. Thank you MEFCC, you did well.