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22.09.2019 South Africa

S.Africa cosplayers flock to African comic convention

By AFP
Cosplayers dress as their favourite superheroes - or villains.  By Michele Spatari (AFP)
SEP 22, 2019 SOUTH AFRICA
Cosplayers dress as their favourite superheroes - or villains. By Michele Spatari (AFP)

Clad in an array of capes, masks, pointy elf ears and spectacular face paint, comics fans gathered in South Africa's biggest city this weekend for the second edition of Comic Con Africa.

Fans strolled around Johannesburg's Gallager convention centre, meeting writers, illustrators and fellow enthusiasts.  By Michele Spatari (AFP) Fans strolled around Johannesburg's Gallager convention centre, meeting writers, illustrators and fellow enthusiasts. By Michele Spatari (AFP)

Dressed as their favourite superhero, fans of cosplay -- a portmanteau for costume play -- strolled around Johannesburg's Gallager convention centre, meeting writers, illustrators and fellow enthusiasts.

"It's the first time I've been here. I have heard so much about it so I wanted to experience it," said Nishen Deepchand, peering out from a black Batman mask.

"I've teamed up with Tinkerbell as well. It's a special love affair but nobody knows about it so make sure you don't tell Batgirl."

Some 60,000 people are expected to attend the second edition of Comic Con Africa .  By Michele Spatari (AFP) Some 60,000 people are expected to attend the second edition of Comic Con Africa . By Michele Spatari (AFP)

Sponsors of the four-day event, which opened on Saturday, are expecting 60,000 attendees - a unique opportunity for new creators to showcase their work.

Guests of honour this year included Loyiso Mkize, the artist behind South Africa's first superhero.

Mkize's three-volume illustrated story of "Kwezi" - a 19-year old boy in South Africa who discovers he has superpowers - has been a hit in the country.

A cosplayer is dressed as a character from A cosplayer is dressed as a character from "The Walking Dead". By Michele Spatari (AFP)

"The fan base has grown to now in the tens of thousands," Mkize told AFP. "That's an amazing feat, particularly for an industry in South Africa where we thought there was no industry."

Mkize is among a growing movement of African illustrators striving to bring more diversity to the global comic scene.

Since 2013, Nigerian start-up Comic Republic have created a series of superheroes referred to as "Africa's Avengers"by fans.

The event draws fans of all ages.  By Michele Spatari (AFP) The event draws fans of all ages. By Michele Spatari (AFP)

And in 2015 Nigerian-born Roye Okupe launched the futuristic saga "E.X.O. - The Legend of Wale Williams".

Last year, Marvel studios released the first superhero blockbuster featuring an entirely black cast.

"Creating South Africa's first superhero was the first leg," said Mkize. "But continuing that legacy and continuing the story and the narrative along with our readers has been the journey".

sch/nla

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