Naiccon 2017, Nairobi’s Comic Convention, was hosted at the Sarit Centre in Nairobi from July 29-30.
Comics have been one of the most loved art form in Kenya for many years. We have all been reading comics as diverse as Beano, Desperate Dann, Archie and Veronica, Superman, Batman, Spiderman and many more. Alongside the comics, there has been the development of TV shows that either came from the comics or were straight to the small screen. Some of these that we have enjoyed, usually on Saturday morning specials, were He-man (and She-ra), Spiderman, Smirfs, Captain Planet, Johnny Bravo and a host of others. Also enjoyed from the eastern part of the planet are shows like Kimba The White Lion, Naruto, Pokemon and others.
In the last few years with technology we have seen the new age of comics which had been mainly on TV being brought to life and strutting their stuff on the big screen. The biggest beneficiary of this has to be Marvel Comics who have achieved worldwide fame and tons of dosh from Ironman, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow and coming soon Black Panther.
Alongside the TV and movies associated with comic genre, another thing which we can thank the US residents for; the comic convention. Conventions generally are events at one venue where people who have one interest “convene” to share their love for a specific thing. The comic convention which is primarily a US invention has been around for many years for the nerds (or it is geeks) who love the different versions of this artform. Lupita Nyong’o for instance was filmed at the US Comiccon moving around comic fans incognito.
The Nairobi Comic Convention is the latest addition to the Comic Con world having started in 2015. The convention was hosted at the Sarit Centre this past weekend with many people making their way to the Westlands based mall. This blogger made his way to the Sarit and paid the Kshs200 entry fee and got the stamp on his arm that quickly reminded me of going to variety shows during my high school days.
Once in I would go around the venue to see what was on offer for those who loved comics… not much was to be seen for the comic lovers. There were some events which would be announced where animators would give talks or quizzes where fans would be asked questions about their favoured cartoons or comics for prizes. Q: Which are five members of the Teen Titans? A: Cyborg, Animal, Robin… You know the rest.
What was on offer was a whole lot of merchants selling their products those selling cookies, pancakes, and other food items. Then there were those selling comic related stuff like badges and clothing with comic characters on them. Then there were the people who were doing their best to flog their game consoles or even the games that were available.
One of my favourite things was the VR space where the one could experience virtual reality where we met the extremely friendly Emmanuel. VR is a thing where you are completely immersed in the experience which was so realistic that I saw some kid fall backwards when they were looking up using the glasses.
Then there was the African Digital Media Initiative which was nominated for the Social Media Awards this years. Also there was a gentleman called Mutembei Akhaya Nabutete who was selling his book of magical realism called Shadow Walkers (no reference to Game of Thrones!).
The other thing that was sorely lacking at this comic convention was the cosplayers. Cosplay is a much loved concept where people dress up to look like their favourite comic characters. For those in Instagram who love comics I found Nubia Mancy a great place to see comic art as well as cosplay on show. I saw one kid dressed in that Naruto T-shirt and one or two dressed fully but they were too few for a serious comic convention. Perhaps in the next edition they should consider giving money to the best cosplayer; I suspect that a fee like Kshs10,000 to the best cosplayer would see an improvement in the number of the outfits that we saw.
In spite of the flaws, it was a good had at the Sarit and I hope that next year we would see more comic related things at the only comic convention in the country.