By Jaye Sonia
Following on from last month’s Q8Con experience documented in May’s bazaar, I met with Meshari Al-Arouj, Khaled Al-Mutairi, and Rashed Rashed, three of the guys behind Q8Con. We met at a small Starbucks and, over coffee and desserts, talked for nearly three hours. We talked games, comics, and about their big dreams – of Kuwait’s very first comic convention! While I could never hope to communicate everything they shared with me at that discussion, they did give me their permission to share a couple of the things we discussed, questions I had about their ideas and plans for Kuwait.
What was your inspiration for Q8con?
I love comics. I’ve been reading comics since I was a little kid, as do many people in Kuwait. Because we also have a lot of gamers, it occurred to me that we needed our own community here. This inspired me to build a comic convention.
In the past, you’ve mentioned the Middle East Film and Comic Convention. Did that also inspire you to build something in Kuwait?
Yes. When I attended the MEFCC, I saw a lot of people from Kuwait there, as well as lots of other citizens from the Gulf Coast Countries. It made me wonder why, with all these Kuwaitis flying to Dubai, we didn’t have our own convention.
Why do you think Kuwait needs its own Comic convention?
Kuwait has plenty of conventions, but all of these conventions are associated with more traditional hobbies, things like food, accessories, photography, etc. There hasn’t been anything for gamers or comic fans, though. So I decided to do just that.
What sort of challenges have you encountered while putting this together?
I think my biggest challenge has been finding people interested in the bigger vision of building a convention for the community. A lot of people have personal interests that aim to benefit them alone. I don’t want that. I want something for the community.
I’ve had a hard time getting people to join me. Too many people believe it will be too hard to make a comic convention in Kuwait!
What sort of challenges do you foresee in the future?
I think our biggest challenge will be finding a location to hold the comic convention. There’s not many locations in Kuwait that can handle an event like Q8Con.
Also, because we’re trying to organize a convention that isn’t traditional, we’re having a hard time explaining to people exactly what’s going on.
DC or Marvel?
I prefer Marvel, but I still like DC. I’m a big fan of Iron Man, both the comics and the films. There’s also a bigger Marvel community here in Kuwait, so it’s more accepted.
When did you first start reading comics?
I started reading comics when I was ten years old. I started with the G.I. Joe comics and, through them, found more Marvel comics. I’ve been reading them since then.
What sort of activities are you planning for Q8Con?
First, we plan on bringing in some local comic publishers (the people behind The 99 and other Arabian publishers like MAJED and BASEM). We’re also planning on running some gaming tournaments like Street Fighter and Call of Duty. Of course we’ll have some workshops for video gamers, for the voice actors, for artists that draw comic art (and manga), for movie making, and more.
We plan on making a big spot for people to show off and sell their action figures, too. Several of the big collectors (and shops) will be included. We’ll include some shops for videogames, for books, for art, for t-shirts, and of course, for comics.
We’re also going to invite cosplayers from around the GCC. We plan to have some contests for them, which should make things exciting. Finally, we’ll have several talent shows and competitions for photography, drawing, and other art. We should have enough things to keep peoples’ attention for a full day in the convention.
What are you the most excited about?
I am so excited to see this growing. Every year the community in Kuwait grows and gets better, with fans meeting each other and connecting. I also love to see when fans meet their favorite actors and or people dressed as their favorite characters.
What should fans expect from Q8CON?
They should expect a host of activities, things like live shows, shops, competitions, cosplayers, gaming, new video game demos, collections of action figures, as well as a enjoy a change to meet with some famous Arabian voice actors.
What should vendors and companies expect from Q8CON?
They should expect a huge community in a place full of events. This would be a great place for them to offer their services to a growing community.
Celebrities? Who should we expect?
So far, we’ve contacted Abdurrahman Al-Agil (a Kuwaiti actor from the 1980s), Sammy Clark (the Lebanese singer behind the intro song for Grendizer), and Jihad Al-Atrash (also from Grendizer).
Finally, why is this important?
We have a huge community of geeks, gamers, cosplayers, and comic fans that remains hidden here in Kuwait and we need to get them all together so they can share their interests. Plus, this gives individuals a chance to showcase their talents and their creativity in public. This is important. It shows people that the world of comics has a lot to offer the people of Kuwait.
For more information on how things are developing, check out Q8Con’s Twitter and Facebook pages!