The first-ever Saudi ComicCon concluded on Saturday at Take Off Club, where more than 300 artists, actors, and vendors interacted with around 24,000 fans of comic books and related media.
During the three-day event, fans got to be a part of several activities such, impersonating, rapping, beatboxing, lip syncing, gaming tournaments, regional artist showcases and much more. The event also featured a cosplay competition where fans had the opportunity to dress up as their favorite movie, video game or comic book characters and win valuable prizes.
Fans got a chance to meet their favorite local and international celebrities in a fun and entertaining atmosphere. Cosplay enthusiasts mingled with geeks discussing movies while gamers exercise their reflexes.
Over the course of the three days the ComicCon hosted many panel discussions in which authors and comic creators discussed their work and how they began making comic books. Quite of few of the panels were storytelling panels that featured famous American and British actors.
Hundreds of fans, friends and families came and went, making memories and an experience all their own. From meeting the stars to seeing the most famous fictional characters, ComicCon provided a unique experience to all residents of Jeddah.
The Take Off Club included attractions for fans of all ages. Merchandise sales ranging from comics to T-shirts, photo opportunities with props such as Captain Hero, Star Wars characters or Superman, Spiderman, and contests, which was something for everyone.
“Quite simply, it’s an event not to be missed by anyone interested in movies, TV, video games, comics or role-playing,” said Haitham Al Najjar, specialized in animation films.
Dr. Abdulhakeem Jumah, who was dressed up as Negan, the main villain in the Walking Dead TV series, said, “I went to the ComicCon in Dubai, and the ComicCon in Anaheim, California, and let me tell you, this ComicCon is on the same level if not better. To see all the events and the international superstars as guests here, to see all of that in Jeddah is amazing.”
He continued, “I thought the organizers of the convention will have a tough time in organizing the huge crowds but they have done a great job honestly. This is an international event and I›ve seen many people from America, Japan, Australia and other countries, and they all said this ComicCon is as good as the ones they had in their countries and this is something to be proud of.”
Ibrahim Badri, a Comic book artist, said “Saudi ComicCon, as it is being held here for the first time, has been great. I have been to many similar conventions and this one is as good. Although there has been some minor problems regarding the organization of this event but it›s understandable since this is the first time it›s been here and I›m sure in the future it›ll be more improved and better.”
He added, “The attendance has been great and the people have been great. I have been to the ComicCon in Dubai and I have seen many Saudis there dressed up as their favorite characters, and since there isn›t that much focus on this kind of art in Saudi Arabia, I›m not surprised that the attendance has been this huge.”
Faisal Boker, who was dressed as Rick from the animated TV series, Rick and Morty, said “Saudi ComicCon allowed all the Saudi fans to dress up as their favorite characters and meet all the people who are interested in this kind of stuff. It›s been a great experience for all.”
Mohammed Yasser, who was dressed as Ryu from the video game Street Fighter, said, “A huge number of Saudis were waiting for ComicCon to come to Saudi Arabia for a long time, and also they were waiting to meet and ask the famous actors they see on film and television, other than that, the events and awards were also a huge part of the convention.” He added, “Saudi ComicCon exceeded my expectations, and I wish it will be here every year so I can attend.”
Amro Sallam, who was dressed as Snake from the video game series Metal Gear Solid, said, “I wished for a long time for ComicCon to come to Saudi Arabia, and I›ve traveled to other countries just to attend ComicCon there. We all love heroes and we want to be like them and now we have the chance to dress like them and act like them. This is new to Saudis and I wish it will continue for many years to come.”
International Celebs Attended The Saudi Comic Con
The three-day festival of anime, pop art, video gaming and film-related events is part of a government initiative to bring more entertainment to Saudi Arabia. Both men and women Comic Con fans attended the event.
The event was so popular that the queue to enter the building stretched for more than 100 yards when the event opened in mid-afternoon. Inside the darkened hall, rock music blared.
Some young men were dressed in the costumes of their favorite Japanese anime characters.
“Many people in Saudi Arabia like Japanese culture so much, and Korean culture,” Abdul Aziz said, calling it “amazing” that Comic-Con is taking place in her country.
The American author Drake was the first to open the sessions on creative writing and dynamic story creation. “I already knew before coming to Saudi Arabia that the youth make up a big number of the Saudi nation,” told Arab News.
Convention attendees listened carefully to Drake’s tips and advice on how to be a creative writer. Choosing the genre, theme, type of readers and many more were addressed in the one-and-a-half-hour session.
Two open panel discussions were held. The first panel featured the moderators and speakers from the “Bewitched” show and “Takki” YouTube series. The second session was hosted local directors who discussed their experience sin the film industry.
Several other discussions will be held over the two next days covering topics such as comics, video games and production.
With loud cheering and yelling, Saudis offered the warmest welcome for two “Game of Thrones” actors: Julian Glover and Charles Dance. The actors said they were impressed by the Saudis’ enthusiasm in their reception.
The two prominent stars visited Saudi Arabia for the first time to mark an exceptional era in the Entertainment industry of the Kingdom.
“Saudi Arabia should have many more of these events,” said Julian Glover. “It should bring films into this country very soon.”
Comic-Con began in 1970 as a convention of a few dozen geeks who swapped superhero magazines in the US.
The event has grown in size and spread around the world, including to Saudi Arabia’s Gulf neighbor Dubai.
The government’s General Entertainment Authority has said it supports the event, organized by Saudi firm Time Entertainment, because of Comic-Con’s “strong family appeal.”
Providing more entertainment is one of the goals of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 economic diversification plan developed by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
He is keen to harness the energy of a population more than half of which is under 25.
Source: Saudi Gazette and France Press Agency