For those who think Middle East Film and Comic Con (MEFCC) is just one big nerd-fest focused on comic books (and truth be told, it kind of is – but in a cool, geeky sort of way) prepare to be proved wrong. As well as being one of the largest fan conventions in the region, it also attracts writers, artists, gamers and celebrities from some of the biggest TV, video game and movie franchises around the world. Over the past few years, the event has seen actors such as John Rhys Davies of The Lord of the Rings, Laurie Holden of The Walking Dead and Mark Sheppard of Supernatural make personal appearances.
Now in its fourth edition, the annual event will take place from Thursday April 9 to Saturday 11 at Dubai World Trade Centre. Last year’s show attracted more than 35,000 visitors and 220 exhibitors, and this year is already primed to be better.
Throughout the three-day convention, fans will get the chance to meet some big stars and get to walk away with autographs, watch classic movies at the Cine Movie Club, take part in workshops and Q&A sessions and enter competitions including Cosplay, where fans dress up as their favourite characters to win a prize.
The convention will also showcase activities and workshops in manga, pop culture and anime. Here’s how it all breaks down.
Fans can release their inner Wonder Woman or fly their dragons like Khaleesi in the Middle East Film and Comic Con Cosplay Competition. The contest involves dressing up as your favourite character from a movie, book, comic, video game or TV series, and the best costume will be judged in a number of categories including Best Marvel Character and Best Group. Anyone can dress up, regardless of whether they intend to enter the competition or not. During Comic Con, fans can take part in a Cosplay Making workshop with costume designer Micheal Conde. International Cosplayers Alodia Gosiengfiao, LeeAnna Vamp and Madeleine ‘Zhiana’ Rose will also
take to the stage to share their love of the event with Dubai fans.
Perhaps one of the main attractions of Comic Con is its celebrity guests. This year’s event plays host to the legendary William Shatner, who has graced our TV screens for almost half a century and is best known for his role as Captain James T. Kirk, commander of the Starship U.S.S. Enterprise in science fiction series Star Trek. The Canadian actor, comedian, author and director will meet fans for signing and photo ops, as well as taking part in a Q&A.
Emmy Award-winner Gillian Anderson, who achieved international fame for her role as FBI Special Agent Dana Scully in the sci-fi drama series The X-Files and who plays serial killer Hannibal Lecter’s psychotherapist Bedelia Du Maurier in the horror television series Hannibal, will also make an appearance.
Miltos Yerolemou, an accomplished swordsman and actor who played mentor to Arya Stark in HBO’s drama series Game of Thrones will be demonstrating his mastery of swords at a special workshop.
Bringing attitude to the event is Kelly Hu of X-Men 2 fame. The Hawaiian star has starred in Vampire Diaries, Hawaii 5-0 and has even voiced the character of Stacy on the animated series Phineas and Ferb. The talented Karl Urban will also be in attendance, known for his role as Éomer in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and more recently as Judge Dredd in Dredd.
Sam Jones, who is best known for playing the title character in the 1980 film Flash Gordon, is also on the guest list. Max Landis – a Hollywood writer and director who has also worked on music videos for A-list musicians including Ariana Grande – will take part in a Q&A to share his experiences, and will co-host the Cosplay contest.
Other guests include Baywatch star Angelica Bridges who is currently shooting the television trilogy Batgirl Rises, playing the role of Poison Ivy, and will take part in a Q&A about the show.
Fans of animated series and video games can delight in anime veteran, Caitlin Glass, animated series and video game star Vic Mignogna and voice actor Bryce Papenbrook.
This year more than 200 exhibitors will display everything from games, T-shirts, comics, posters, original artworks, signed merchandise and action figures at Comic Con. The event will also have distinct areas and facilities as well as workshops
Get papped with your favourite celebrity
A designated celebrity autograph and photograph area will be set up for fans to take selfies and get their merchandise signed. (Or for the truly dedicated fan – a body part signed, never to be washed again).
Experience all the action on the main stage
This area will be the centre for all the Comic Con action from the Cosplay competition to live music performances from local bands including Nikotin and The Boxtones.
The great outdoors
Those who like to live life on the wild side can visit the ‘Danger Zone’ in the outdoor arena, where you can test your skills on a climbing wall and test your bravery by taking the leap of faith off an adrenaline-filled Bag Drop.
For gaming fans whose parents told them off as kids for staring at the screen too long, now’s your chance to delight in game paradise. This designated zone will feature exclusive releases, tournaments and multiplayer gaming options.
Kids of Comic Con
The event caters to the young and old. Children and families can play together in a special kid’s area while enjoying a variety of entertainment.
Watch upcoming and classic movies or attend panel discussions with industry specialists and stars at the Cine Movie Club – don’t forget to bring your notepad.
Fans will love The Comics Village, which is full of graphic novels and sci-fi and fantasy books from some of the world’s largest publishers, who will be showcasing their latest titles as well as old favourites. Renowned comic artists will be on hand to meet with fans to sign comics or produce a sketch that they can get officially graded by CGC (an independent comic book grading service).
Visit Manga Town
Everything manga is located in this one dedicated area. Fans will get a chance to pick up exclusive merchandise, books and manga comics, and visit various artists from Singapore and Japan who will be sketching live, signing autographs and giving tutorials.
Dhs130-600. April 9-11, noon-10pm. Dubai World Trade Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.mefcc.com (04 447 4344).
Workshops not to miss
Progress your creative career or hobbies at these events
Train as a voice actor
This workshop teaches voice acting basics with Bryce Papenbrook, who is known for voicing anime characters in Pokemon and Attack on Titan.
Create your favourite characters
Learn the process of character design with Long Vo who has worked on well-known games such as Street Fighter.
Make your own game
Learn the basics of how to develop a video game with the SAE Institute.
Learn the history of animation
Find out how moving images came about with the Dubai Moving Image Museum.
Video Game Composing
Check out this workshop led by Tommy Tallarico who has worked on games such as the Earth Worm Jim series, Pac-Man, Prince of Persia and Spider-Man (2000).
This workshop focuses on creating female heroes in cinema with director and writer Vincent Tran. Tran has directed independent films such as Batgirl Rises and Girl of Steel.
Other workshops include T-shirt design with Arab pop culture brand Jobedu, make-up classes with Mary Semele and an improv class with the Dubomedy Crew.
Behind the Mask
Chanelle Tourish gets the Cosplay look from Comic Con attendee and make-up maestro, Mary Semele
1 Start by applying a base on your face using a white powder or eyeshadow
2 Use black eyeshadow to colour in a heart between your neck and your collar bone and draw lines and hearts on your neck using red face paint
3 Pick a vibrant red eye shadow and start at your eyelash line and blend up using a brush