By Jaye Sonia
I want to ask bazaar readers a simple question: Do you think Kuwait is ready for its very own comic & film convention?
A few months ago, two of the gentlemen – Meshari and Rashed – behind Q8 Con (www.facebook.com/Q8Con) approached me about my prior involvement with U.S. gaming conventions (see bazaar, October 2011). As a long time gamer, seasoned game designer, comic fan, writer, and all-around super-nerd, it didn’t surprise me – people around here sort of know I’m a fan. And while I know there are fans in Kuwait, I wasn’t sure if Kuwait was even ready for its very own convention. These two gentlemen, however, think so. So, they set out to convince me.
Our initial meeting was brief, but they were excited – you could feel it in the room, too! They had seen what was going on down in Dubai at the Middle Eastern Film and Comic Convention (www.mefcc.com/) and wanted to make that part of Kuwait’s lineage, too. They kept telling me, “Kuwait is just as passionate about comics and we need this here.” Yet, having never been down to Dubai for this event, I was at a loss. Sure, most of us are passionate about our hobbies, but was Dubai’s take on this a good model?
As I was planning on being in Dubai for the weekend anyway, I decided to grab tickets for Friday and head down to the Dubai International Marina to check out the event. Keep in mind that I wasn’t going just as a fan. I was going to see how Dubai had organized their event, with a single question in my mind, “can Kuwait do this?”
I elected to pick up my day pass at the event, so I was immediately pleased to discover I wouldn’t have a long wait. Better still, security and staff were polite and accommodating. There wasn’t much I had to ask for. When I finally cleared security and entered the event, I was immediately funneled into the air conditioning of the comic book and dealer room. The booths were everything I’d expect from an event held in the West, although the space was a little more cramped than I would have liked. Even considering that, I still had enough room to check out some of the artists, look at the latest The Walking Dead trade paperbacks, and snap a few pictures of Cosplayers (after getting their permission, of course).
After leaving the dealer room, I walked out into the open-air courtyard and into the warm sun. The weather was really amazing, too – something I think the guy dressed as a wizard must have had a hand in. Of course, had this event been in the height of summer, it would have been very unpleasant, especially for the Stormtroopers and Lord Vader. I made a mental note; don’t hold an event like this in Kuwait outside unless it’s in the late fall or early spring.
The courtyard was open to the breeze, had plenty of shades deployed, and was ringed by a small platoon of additional booths, offering everything from burgers to pizza to coffee to ice cream, some of which I eventually partook in. There was a costume area, a games room (which was mostly electronic games), a movie area, seminars, and a booth to get photos with your favorite celebrities in attendance (see Zainab Mirza’s article – in this very issue – for the skinny on who attended). Of course, all of this fanned out around the massive stage at the other end of the courtyard, itself a host to events throughout the day.
I made another mental note. If this was going to accommodate thousands of people, it needed to be outside and the weather needed to be nice.
All in all, the event was a win in my book. It had all of the things I’d expect from a convention in Europe or America: it was clean, organized, and had plenty to offer fans from every walk of fandom. While I would have enjoyed seeing more tabletop games, I think the folks behind the MEFCC did a superb job. Dubai was the ideal site for something like this and the Marina just worked. Had it been bigger, I’m sure they would have needed another venue – but it did work.
But what about holding something like this in Kuwait? Would it even be possible?
The idealist in me certainly hopes so. The realist in me realizes Kuwait would have some hurdles.
I’d like to think that with the right sponsors (Red Bull sponsors everything, don’t they?!?), the right space, and the right weather, Kuwait could manage its very own film and comic convention. If it were up to me, I’d host it on the beach, after the summer heat had passed (probably in September or October). I’d make sure all of the best folks flew in for it, especially if I had cool sponsors willing to step up and help make that happen. There would be comics, movies, and Cosplay, too. Of course, I’d keep things clean and professional, as well.
But that’s just what I’d do. What I’d do and what is allowed in Kuwait, however, are two different things. That is, of course, why I’m so interested in hearing what the folks behind Q8 Con have up their sleeve. I’d never dare make predictions, but if they’re following Dubai’s lead, they might just be onto something. I suppose, however, only time will tell.
So, what do you think? Is Kuwait ready for something like this?
Image courtesy of Zainab Mirza.