Maverick Life

REFLECTION

Comic Con Cape Town 2024 — a big level up from previous one

Comic Con Cape Town 2024 — a big level up from previous one
Cosplay at Comic Con Cape Town. (Photo: Comic Con Cape Town / photographer Matthew Ashley)

A look back at the pros and cons of Comic Con Cape Town 2024, the Mother City’s second Comic Con pop culture celebration.

It may have been only the second Comic Con Cape Town (CCCT), but 2024’s pop culture celebration will be remembered as an outlier due to its five-day duration, running from 27 April to 1 May. 

Not even the world’s biggest geeky gatherings – including the likes of San Diego Comic-Con and CCXP – are open to the public for more than four days, so one really can’t avoid talking about it.  

Organisers have already said that five days will likely never happen again, since it only came about as a result of the April/May public holidays (particularly Freedom Day) falling so awkwardly. 

South Africa won’t be in a similar situation for the next six years or so. 

Word on the street is that it was also the sponsors who were pushing for as long a Con as possible due to their investment. 

Either way, with the event behind us now, Comic Con Cape Town 2024’s unusual length did appear to have a wide-ranging impact.

Comic Con from the stage. (Photo: Comic Con Cape Town / photographer Matthew Ashley)

Comic Con

Cosplay at Comic Con Cape Town. (Photo: Comic Con Cape Town / photographer Matthew Ashley)

Regardless of duration, Comic Con Cape Town 2024 was a big level up over its inaugural predecessor. 

There were bigger name guests (like Sean Gunn, Veronica Taylor, South African-born stars Lesley-Ann Brandt and Sharlto Copley, plus former DC Comics head Dan Didio); a superb, lively and popular gaming section; a packed calendar of stage events, including some surprises; a thriving tabletop area, and the addition of a KidsCon that ended up being more than a glorified toy store (while Toys “R” Us and its partners dominated the space set aside for kids, there were still activities like cookie decorating, LEGO stations and a welcome colouring-in and bean bag zone courtesy of MultiChoice).

KidsCon is one example of organisers Mogul Media – operating under licence from Reed Exhibitions – listening to feedback and implementing improvements since the first Con

Another welcome change this year was the shifting of the Artists Alley stage – home to the comic creator panels – to the far side of the Pop Culture Hall and away from the noise of the Main Stage. This created a more intimate space where it was easier to listen to and engage with the knowledgeable professionals.

From a logistics standpoint, hosting Comic Con at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) meant easy access to refreshments or a quick snack via decent in-house catering, even if the queues for the food trucks outside were long. 

Cosplay at Comic Con Cape Town. (Photo: Comic Con Cape Town / photographer Matthew Ashley)

Experimenting with special effects makeup at Comic Con Cape Town. (Photo: Comic Con Cape Town / photographer Matthew Ashley)

Cosplay at Comic Con Cape Town. (Photo: Comic Con Cape Town / photographer Matthew Ashley)

An orchestrated fight scene at Comic Con Cape Town. (Photo: Comic Con Cape Town / photographer Matthew Ashley)

Less successful was the parking situation and unthinking or dismissive attitudes by venue staff towards the mobility-challenged. 

A surprise midday storm on the first day also drenched the outside tables and chairs. Though no one’s fault, it did reveal a shortage of seating, as attendees were forced to sit on the floor.

That situation was also a sign of how busy Comic Con Cape Town was this year. The opening Saturday and Sunday were sold out long before the event, and closing day Wednesday started with just a hundred or so tickets available at the door before they too were snapped up. 

CTICC 2 is a smaller space than Johannesburg’s Expo Centre, where big brother event Comic Con Africa takes place, and you could feel the crush during peak periods, especially in the downstairs Pop Culture Hall 1.

This was great for vendors but less appealing for ticket holders.

Light sabers light up Comic Con Cape Town. (Photo: Comic Con Cape Town / photographer Matthew Ashley)

Comic Con Cape Town. (Photo: Comic Con Cape Town / photographer Matthew Ashley)

Comic Con

Comic Con Cape Town. (Photo: Comic Con Cape Town / photographer Matthew Ashley)

Browsing and shopping were far more pleasant on the Monday and Tuesday – work days with later event hours (11am to 8pm, as opposed to the traditional 9am to 6pm) to accommodate people coming from school or the office. 

That said, those whose first-ever CCCT was on those days – which hovered around 50-60% of tickets sold – weren’t getting the full Con experience.

The organisers also tried something new, theming the two days as a Horror and Family Pyjama Party, respectively. The scarefest drew people in, but if you were hoping to see the big-name international guests (or pursue photos with cosplayers portraying your favourite characters), they were mostly absent, taking a break before returning on the Wednesday… while some were already long gone.

Comic Con

Getting inked at Comic Con Cape Town. (Photo: Comic Con Cape Town / photographer Matthew Ashley)

To be fair, in their social posts for the event, CCCT 2024 was always very clear about what days celebrities would be present, and convention regulars know to keep an eye on the Comic Con app and plan their attendance accordingly. 

For example, at Comic Con Africa 2023, John Barrowman had only a single main stage slot over four days. Unaware of this typical situation, though, newcomers and casual attendees of the 2024 event were more likely to be disappointed if they attended on a workday.

At the same time, the Monday and Tuesday created a strange gap that, speaking to some crafters in Artist Alley, was deathly quiet and very low on sales in comparison to the other days. Some felt it wasn’t worth their time. 

Cosplay at Comic Con Cape Town. (Photo: Comic Con Cape Town / photographer Matthew Ashley)

There were plenty of refreshments to choose from at Comic Con Cape Town. (Photo: Comic Con Cape Town / photographer Matthew Ashley)

Outside Comic Con Cape Town. (Photo: Comic Con Cape Town / photographer Matthew Ashley)

This sentiment was shared in advance by retailers who would need to travel to Cape Town from elsewhere in the country and couldn’t afford Mother City accommodation or hire staff for such a lengthy period – just in case you were wondering why some convention stalwarts were absent.

Once again, it goes back to Comic Con Cape Town 2024’s unprecedented five-day duration. It was simply too long. It’s a pity because this year’s gathering was well-thought-out, very busy and, through feedback, had upped its game. DM

This story was first published on PFangirl.

Fans ready to enter Comic Con Cape Town. (Photo: Comic Con Cape Town / photographer Matthew Ashley)

Fans at Comic Con Cape Town. (Photo: Comic Con Cape Town / photographer Matthew Ashley)

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  • Hi there, my names Alice, I’m the cosplayer in your cover photo. I would appreciate a mention or a tag as would most of the other cosplayers featured in your article I believe ! I can help you with that as I know many of the people featured.

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