By Sumayyah Meehan, MMNS Middle East Correspondent
In an intermingling of comic mania, that would make the likes of Superman and Batman proud, Middle East Film and Comic Con are organizing a comic book extravaganza this coming March in Abu Dhabi. It will be the very first time that such an event has taken place in the Middle East region with an estimated 25,000 die hard fans expected to descend upon the tiny Gulf State.
The World Comics Convention will be an all-inclusive event with just about every comic book genre known to man being represented. Held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center, the event will showcase comic books based on science fiction, fantasy and horror to name just a few. Organizers hope that loyal comic book devotees will show up in full costume to delight the more conservative guests. Comic Con conventions, in particular, are renowned for having the most bizarre and extravagant fans show up in elaborate costumes to match their favorite super-hero or villain.
According to event organizer Ben Caddy, who is the Managing Director of an events and management firm called â€œExtra Cakeâ€ based in Dubai, there is a growing fan base for all things comic in the Middle East. â€œWe live in the age of the geek. The industry has grown significantly. Bookstores here have increased their manga sections tenfold. Youâ€™re starting to see the demand for something like this,â€ Caddy said in a recent interview.
Comic book mania may be more subdued in the Middle East compared to other parts of the world, however, there is a notable growth in interest especially amongst the youth. Kuwaiti entrepreneurial dynamo and comic book whiz Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa is one of the biggest reasons why comic books are slowly gaining momentum in the region. Al-Mutawa is the creator behind the comic book â€œThe 99â€ which seeks to break Islamic stereotypes and bridge the gap between the East and the West. The comic book, and creator behind it, has garnered international acclaim and even a shout-out from US President Barack Obama himself in a recent speech.
A handful of celebrities are also expected to attend the event. Word has it that Star Trek actor William Shatner, who portrayed Captain Kirk in the cult TV drama, will make a special guest appearance. Organizers are also trying to get an RSVP from American comic book legend Stan Lee who brought the likes of X-Men and Spiderman into comic book reality. A series of local comic book artists and self-published comic book creators will also be on hand.