In anticipation of the Middle East’s second Film and Comic convention, which will be held on April 5 & 6, 2013, here’s a review of it’s first which I had the delight to attend last year.
The event was held in Mina Seyahi (Dubai’s International Marine Club). Tickets were either purchased online or at the location itself. Cheerful volunteers were at the ready to give visitors their convention bands, conveniently color coded to represent the type of pass purchased: day, weekend, and VIP. Goodie bags containing posters signed by Street Fighter’s Alvin Lee, among other surprises, like free celebrity autograph vouchers were also included.
Upon entering building, most visitors headed straight for the main MEFCC booth to buy tickets for celebrity autographs and photo’s. Luciana Carro, John Rhys Davies, Jason Mamoa, Mark Sheppard, Sammy Clark, and Jihad Atrash were the guests who sat/stood for autograph and/or photo sessions.
Canadian/American actress, The Walking Dead’s beautiful Laurie Holden was also there. When I asked about her tough performance in the season two premiere (the zombie in a trailer scene), Holden shared that she had stabbed the zombie so hard she actually dislocated four ribs while filming! At my shock she explained “We go all out on the show. ” Laurie went on to recall that a nurse was sent home to her once to make sure she was okay after she got a concussion working on another episode. Now that’s dedication for you.
But actors shouldn’t have to get injured in their work, according to John Rhys Davies. During a chat with him in the green room, I couldn’t help but notice a prominent scar that began on his right forearm. He shared it was due to having had a mosaic wall of stone fall on him during one of his projects, breaking both his back and arm! “I was very lucky” he stated, before adding that actors shouldn’t have to die at work, despite the fact that “the world would probably improve by the death of a lot of actors.” And just in case the twinkle in his eye wasn’t enough, the conscientious actor added, “make sure people know that was a joke.”
I doubt anyone who had the privilege of meeting the Lord of the Rings star would misunderstand his meaning. Listening to him talk about his family (two grown sons and six year old Maya), he exudes an undeniable aura of love, compassion and wisdom. A combination which obviously won over fellow guest, Max Landis who called Davies his friend.
Speaking of the energetic and highly original young screenwriter (“Chronicle”, “The Death and Return of Superman“) Landis was an absolute and instant hit with the fans. Not even accidentally dropping the F-bomb on stage fazed him or his audience; he quickly fixed it by going: “Everybody say ooooh!”….which everybody did. Talk about a lesson in how to fix a #theawkwardmoment, people. Seriously, the man was pure energy, all over the place, giving his %110, even off the stage.
It’s no wonder he was asked back for this years con. This year I’ll be bringing bringing two fully charged phones and an extra video camera (in case mine gives out like last year) the better to keep up with his endlessly witty quotes.
Another guest who captivated the audience’s attention (and never ending devotion) was Mark Sheppard. He completely made my day with his generosity when he agreed to a short interview before I had to catch my flight out of Dubai.
His Q and A session with Luciana Carro was definitely one the Con’s highlights. The beloved English actor (Battle-star Galactica, Dr. Who) was utterly charming and as equally candid (on piracy) as he was elusive (personal questions).
More celebrities included Jihad Atrash and Sammy Clark. The two’s panel discussion over their joint work on the beloved Arabic Dub of Go Nagai’s classic eighties Japanese anime UFO Grendaizer (also known as Goldarak, extremely popular in Europe ). The fans were so interactive during the Q & A, and the guests so obliging, that a subsequent autograph session was postponed for almost an hour.
But the celebrity experience was not the only thing in store for us geeks (although meeting Ashraf Ghori was certainly nice). Jashanmal Comic village was a sight for comic lover’s eyes where writers and publishers could be found promoting their works and sharing their vital knowledge and experience.
Marvel had a booth as did Mark Smylie (Wizard’s of the Coast, Artesia) and Anthony Del Col and McCreary (Kill Shakespeare). The former discussed his work at Archia Entertainment, publishing graphic novels as well as the process of acquiring rights to do work on existing characters in a video interview.
Anthony Del Col also shared his experience creating Kill Shakespeare. When asked how he managed to keep the graphic novel from being labeled as just another fanwork, Anthony replied that the work has to be powerful and unique enough to speak for itself, while at the same time maintaining the authenticity of the original characters. Because this delicate combination was achieved, even die-hard Shakespeare fans were able to enjoy the novel.
After getting my copy autographed, I went upstairs to explore the artist alley. There were a number of supremely talented people, but my favorite by far was Luis Vasquez. His style consisted of simply drawn but gorgeously expressive pieces, moody, but with vibrantly colorful focal points. One piece in particular, of a boy holding an injured bird had a special story: “I was on my way to a class when I saw a bird lying on the ground. I felt very sorry for it and gave it some water. After my class I returned to where it was and the bird was gone. I like to think that the drink helped it and it flew away.”
The piece hangs proudly in my home and seeing that he’ll be attending again this year, I hope to purchase another.
There was so much to see, and so little time. Between the cosplay and art competitions, the lectures on screenwriting and panel discussions, the comic con was a whirlwind of activity. Simply put, it was a creative person’s heaven and I absolutely cannot wait for this year’s con!
Special thanks to Ben Caddy, Nisrine, Araafat Ali Khan, and Julie Catilin Brown for arranging the celebrity interviews. More photos coming soon!
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