RIYADH: The crowd seemed to have doubled overnight at the Comic Con Arabia event at Riyadh’s International Exhibition Center on Friday — no doubt drawn by the big-name stars.
On the second day of Comic Con Arabia, more and more Saudi male and female cosplays were seen among the crowds wearing their superhero-themed costumes, taking pictures, and enjoying an event that could not have been imagined a couple of years ago.
Saud, an 8-year-old who attends an international school in Riyadh, came to Comic Con with his sister Sarah, 11, and their father, who is a big fan of comics. “I’m thrilled to be here with my children to meet and take photographs with their favorite star Jason Momoa,” he said.
Anoud, whom Arab News met in a queue at one of the few food trucks, gave the event a rating of 7.5 out of 10, explaining how happy she was to attend. The limited number of food and drink outlets caused long queues but Comic Con fans didn’t seem to mind the wait.
Arab News met Thomas DePetrillo while he was putting on his 9-foot Hulkbuster costume. DePetrillo was concerned about getting his handmade costume safely to Riyadh and the possibility of it being damaged during flight luggage transfer. Fortunately, Saudi Airlines had a direct flight from New York to Riyadh, and the suit made it in one piece.
Thomas praised the friendliness and hospitality of the locals, who he described as “one big family with the same reactions but different languages.”
Aseel Bitawi came all the way from Makkah to cosplay with his heavy costume of videogame character “The Keeper.”
While inside the main arena hundreds of fans gathered to take turns getting photographed with DePetrillo’s giant suit, while others sat in the company of speakers Kyle Henry Hebert, Jason Liebrecht and Patricia Summersett.
The first comic con, “New York Comic Con”, took place in 1964. Back then, comic cons were still limited both in scope and size. It was not until the seventies that comic cons increased dramatically. They spread to all the main American cities. In August 1970, San Diego Comic Con was held — the world’s largest and most important event of its kind. From that, the Comic Con brand expanded and became a real industry with serious and inspiring pioneers.
Comic cons are usually held in expo centers, hotels or even on college campuses where comic books’ fans gather for several days for a diversity of events and activities.
In the Arab world, the comics festivals were held later — from Cairo to Riyadh and Jeddah to Tripoli. Heroes traveled to meet their growing number of fans.
Although comic cons started out as non-profit events for comics’ fans, it later became an independent industry in which a lot of for-profit companies work, and comic cons were awarded important prizes given to the best shows or images.
According to entertainment experts, in the comic culture fans are heading toward off-site events, a natural result of the rapidly growing numbers of fans and the limited capacity to absorb these numbers in one place, especially with the growing amount of sub-genres and diversity of comic content.
Picture gallery of the Comic Con Arabia