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The Comic-Con that wasn’t

Yesterday’s announcement of South Africa’s own Comic-con has opened a can of worms, as GAVIN MANNION discovers.

Yesterday was a great day for all comic book fans in this fine country when it was revealed that we are will soon be hosting our very own Comic-Con. However those good feelings started dissipating almost immediately as the more we looked into this event the more it started to unravel.

Quite a few sites were quite happy to throw the news up quickly yesterday with little to no fact-checking but after some deeper investigation we have some sad news for you all.

Virtually everything you think you know about this event isn’t true.

Yes there is an event called Comic Con South Africa being planned, you can even see their website here. Notice the incorrect spelling in the domain? It is billing itself as the world’s premier comic book expo, which is quite a bold statement so lets see how they are backing that up.

Marvel South Africa were touted as the big name at the event: that is until Marvel South Africa was revealed to not exist. Now all we know is that some unknown party will be doing something with the Marvel Superheroes Magazine.

The Outer Limits comic book store will be there.. and selling some comics. As will Vinyl Junkie, another comic book shop.

ZombieGamer, one of the local gaming media websites is apparently going to be organising a competitive LAN but in their own words it sounds even worse:

‚”An event that still awaits full details to appear is Comic Con SA. What we do know is that the event is scheduled to happen over the weekend of 25 to 27 April. It will be at a venue in Cape Town called ‚’It’s A House’. It has Marvel SA’s support. It will focus on local comic book artists and writers. Anime, cosplay and Magic will feature. And we have been asked to operate a competitive LAN at the event. As we said, details will follow, but the weekend is worth keeping open.‚”

Apparently there will also be local comic author support. And that’s about it, so it’s not quite the world’s premier comic book expo but hey at least it’s something. Until you start digging deeper.

So with the excitement that has surrounded the event at an all-time high, let’s take a look at where they are hosting it. They’ve chosen Cape Town which isn’t such a bad idea as it’s a reasonably nice city:though it will ensure fewer people can attend. However they have the Cape Town Convention Centre which can hold thousands of eager comic-book fans.

Or they have ‚”It’s a house‚”.. a strange venue that describes itself as:

‚”a ‚’bespoke lifestyle’ a creative concept geared toward creating an environment where people can embody and express their inner creative being.‚”

And that can only hold 150 people. Yes, only 150 people are allowed in the building at one time which means that once you have included the exhibitors and friends they are only going to allow about 70 people to attend.

The event is planned to take place from the 26th-28th of April 2013. That’s in exactly three weeks time giving absolutely no time at all for proper preparations on the part of distributors and exhibitors, or for fans from around the country to organise travel and accommodation to attend the event.

The organisers are saying they are blown away by the huge response their event has received but that simply points to them not really having any idea about the comic book fan base in South Africa or the culture that follows it.. which led us to contact Comic-Con themselves and check out whether this is truly an affiliated event.

The response was swift and clear with Mike Stoltz, PR for Comic-Con International responding:

‚”Thank you for your email. We are not affiliated with that convention and don’t know anything about it.‚”

The only person talking on behalf of the event is Tlou Ramatlhodi, who is listed as the Director of Research and Development at GetItGotItGood, a company whose website is strange to say the least.

The only thing that exists on it is an image for Vuzix hardware and the title of the page is ‚”Vuzix View The Future Today‚” and with a page description of:

‚”Vuzix is the leader in Video Eyewear and personal display devices for the mobile video, entertainment, defense and commercial markets‚”

So these guys do Video Eyewear? Well, no. The company Vuzix does exist but its website is, and it has absolutely nothing to do with South Africa.

Some deeper searching into Tlou has him based in Pretoria on multiple occasions but people move so we can’t take much from that. Another name on the official website is that of Petrol Bomb Productions however a search of that name reveals nothing but a holding page on Facebook. Not quite the production company that would be chosen to host the worlds premier comic book expo.

And the last company who’s linked to on the official site is C-Technology, which directs to a suspended site. However a whois lookup on that domain lists it belonging to Mzingaye Dube, of Pretoria, under the business name of Census Technologies.

A quick google search on that company name brings us to a few classified listings that claim the company has been around since 2005 and does the following:

Graphic Designing, Website Development, Online Marketing, Writing / Content Generating, Admin, IT Hardware/Software Sales, End-user Support, PC Maintenance, IT Auditing, Client Liaisons, Being Innovative, Creative and Growing my Entrepreneurial Mind.

The director of this company is Mzingaye Dube who is also listed on a whois lookup of the ‚”official‚” Comic Con SA website, along with Tlou who is once again listed as being based in Pretoria. We now know a fair amount about both of these guys – and yet they both show no relation to events, comics or the general geek culture in any way.

What really matters is the community and let’s take a look at the smattering of comments on the articles that have covered the event:

Hein Heine Seriously? You give us 3 weeks to make arrangements for this… Then when it flops there is no market here for this… Seriously guys do things right the first time!

ApexPred Smells like a get rich quick scheme to me. It seems like these guys got the rights, but probably don’t know the first thing about organizing an event of this nature. Its quite sad. An event like this should be hyped up for months before its inaugural opening.

Stefan Roets The organisation of this is terrible! I am intimately involved on a national level with 3 of the major collectible card game brands in SA and we have to find out here that they plan to host card game championships?

3 weeks notice to make travel and accommodation arrangements is a joke this might just as well be a Cape Town affair, as I doubt the rest of the country will pitch.

It goes on and on.

We’re not against a good Comic Con event or even a bad one: that is at least trying. However this is not going to be the biggest comic book event in South Africa by a long shot and is simply going to harm the good name of Comic Con.

Hosting a comic book convention at a bar and giving free entrance to women who dress in cosplay is disturbing, especially when looked at in light of this piece of information given to themovies

‚”doors will be open for the whole family from 09:00 to 17:30. Thereafter though, alcohol will also be served on the premises, which unfortunately means that all under 18?s will have to be evacuated as the fun continues until late into the night.‚”

If it goes well, then great! I’ll happily eat my hat and say I was wrong, but this doesn’t smell right to me.

To the organisers: next time you host an event make sure your websites are currently up and running, not misleading and have real information on them. Take a look at the Welsh comic con page to give you some idea on what looks reputable.

As a note, all of this information was researched independently and we have not been in contact with the organisers. Their public comments and statements have been taken into account though.

* Article courtesy of Follow Gavin Mannion on Twitter on @lazygamers

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