MEFCC-The next BIG convention on the circuit. By Des Taylor

12:34:00 2 Comments

 Now that I have had ample time to let stuff sink in I thought it was time I wrote about the experience of Middle East Film and Comic Con 2015 and why I feel that this gem of a convention is a breathe of fresh air compared to the many comic conventions that are sprouting up over the world.
I'm trying to figure out why this was the best Comic Con I've ever been to. 
Was it that I sold out of everything I had on my booth for the first time ever? Was it because I managed to chat to my new hero Marvel's Agent Carter actress Hayley Attwell? Or was it due to the reaction I got from the fans I seem to have inherited over in Dubai since my first visit in 2014? The question is no? Sure these were great moments that surely helped my confidence going into my busiest period as a freelance illustrator but that wasn't the reason I think this was the best convention in the top 3 meaningful conventions in the world.   It was the experience and organisation.

When I say experience I'm talking about the Dolby Digital sound of Star Wars sound Effects that went around the hall coupled with classic James Bond soundtracks that I whistled to whilst I sketched commissions. As I walked through the artists alley it was refreshing to see artists work that was not all superhero or manga based characters but creations that had their own Middle Eastern vibe.
Even some of the Stormtroopers wore traditional Arab dress.

I loved walking past the STAR WARS stand and watching people chilling out on bean-bags engrossed in clips from the movies. The concert stage was brilliant outside in the sunshine, with bands entertaining the crowds who sipped drinks and ate food from top vendors like COSTA , PIZZA EXPRESS and my favourite MAPLE LEAF, a Canadian burger company that made the tastiest grub I've had the pleasure of eating at a convention.
I gawped at the Gibson guitar stand which stood out in the center of the convention hall and equally loved when my friend Jesse (who plays guitar) showed everyone how it was done. Gibson wanted him to stay on the stand after that.

I walked past mini Hip-Hop/House rave that was going on in the middle of the convention which seemed to get everyone up on a vibe and up dancing.
The American ex-Pats who walked the room told me how delighted that Comic Con had come to the Middle East and was thriving. Yes it was busy and at sometimes chaotic ... but then it was organised so well.
The organisers (Extracake) employed loads of minions ( well...they were wearing yellow) to ensure everybody was okay and could find whatever they were looking for. The creators were always brought water or food upon request. Something I've never experienced at any of the American or European conventions minus F.A.C.T.S in Belgium. 
Security all wore Black suits with earpieces or radio's and looked the type you just wouldn't mess with so there was no worries about harassment towards female cosplayers. Any of that shit would get you locked up...or worse!

I was constantly questioned by the Arab women on my art process and found nothing more humbling than when many said that my work inspired them to get into art and design. I remembered quite a few from the previous year in which I held a panel about my art and the design industry and as I recall the majority in the hall were women. It was one of the things I brought up during my Scarlett Couture interview with action channel MBC at the COMICAVE stand. I feel very proud about that I have some kind of positive influence to inspire people to make art.

There was a great event in which you could have cocktails with KIRK!! Something I told two of my friends who parted with their cash and had the privilege of knocking back drinks in a small intimate setting and got to know more about William Shatner life. The concept was brilliant and I'd love to see who they get next year for that event.

MEFCC created an amazing array of events like SFX workshops, seminars on the gaming industry, short film viewings, master classes on sword fighting and in the evening an after-party on every night. 

My favourite being SPIN bar. A place where you can mix drinking and Ping Pong. You should have seen Sam Jones ( Flash Gordon) tearing up the dance floor. Hilarious!

Without a thriving American comic book culture the Middle East has been playing catch up with the rest of the world in terms of comic book history. Sure the die-hard fans over there know their shit, (I'll never forget the conversation with two teenagers from Kuwait who schooled me on the amount of Comic book stores there are in Iraq) but most of the locals have 75 years of stories, origins and arcs to catch up on. Surprisingly, rather than slogging through a couple of million books these amazing people have taken their new found Pop Culture passion to another level, one the average western comic book collector can only dream about. Limited Edition Collectibles. And money is no object. If you have the chance to go check out COMICAVE- the biggest comic book and collectible store in the world. You will see what I'm talking about when you visit there.

I couldn't believe how much money was spent on merchandise here. There is a fantastic 'If I like it, I'll buy it now' attitude and some punters proudly showed me photo's of 'Man-Cave's' that put your average comic book store to shame.

I know understood why Marvel and DC don't have comics on their stands anymore. Why movies like GHOST PROTOCOL, EPISODE VII and FAST & the FURIOUS film out in the UAE. Why our favourite characters are being chopped up, rebooted and super-suited every bloody minute. MERCHANDISE! Whilst die-hard fans bicker about costume changes, feminism, and storylines that piss them off in a $3.50 comic , these companies are now catering for the collector that will drop $350 on a figure. This region is where the NEW pop culture fan embraces the Comic Con concept and moulds it into something uniquely their own... because they can afford it and the big studios know it too.

I used to think San Diego Con was the convention for business networking but my opinion has changed dramatically. Most of the big dealers and shakers of the Middle East and Asian markets float around the convention and even more at the after-parties. There is big-business to do in this part of the world.
Remember, most of the products we have come to love over the years are made in this part of the world.

 Overall, the organisers make the effort to ensure everybody has a great time with activities created for everyone and cater the event for families as well as the geeks. I find MEFCC to be the convention of respect. The punters respect the artists in a way I've not seen on my travels, the artists respect the locals by remembering the customs associated with being in Dubai and everyone respects that we are all there to have fun and leave the real world for 3 days and make new friends.

Is this the best convention I have ever been to? Yes! It's amazing and I'm going back next year without hesitation.
Would I recommend it to artists and companies? Yes. This convention is worth your while.

Is it the best comic convention in the world?
Give it 2 more years and we'll see.