The fourth edition of Comic Con Africa (CCA) has wrapped up, and we can comfortably report that this year’s edition was the best one yet.

This marked the second consecutive year that CCA returned physically after Covid-19 at the Nasrec Johannesburg Expo Centre – from 22 to 25 September 2023. In previous years, we saw the geekiness unfold at Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit and Gallagher Estate in Midrand. While a bit of a drive, Nasrec has been the best venue for the annual con.

Previous venues had unique challenges like parking, food access, and space. There were many welcome improvements from previous years. Most of the improvements were based on visitor feedback.

This year, we saw a new layout, wider aisles, a larger variety of food and beverage options, and limited tickets to manage the crowds. Due to the long weekend, the Sunday was pretty packed, too, but that just allowed for more time to Con.

Brand activations

Of course, it wouldn’t be Comic-Con without some shameless punting. Marketing activations by companies like Disney, Empire Entertainment, PlayStation and MultiChoice added to the vibe.

The same goes for head sponsor KFC, which offered a limited-edition pink Barbie burger for the weekend if you were keen enough to brave that line.

It was clear these brands understood the brief. They focused on offering an experience, instead of simply distributing old flyers and relying on products to entice visitors. Disney+ erected a styrofoam house in the middle of the one hall to promote its original show ‘Only Murders In The Building’. It offered cash prizes for visitors who managed to ‘solve’ the mystery.

Gamers united

Doritos was back with its inaugural Crunch Cup esports event, open to gamers in Johannesburg to join. Its space in the gaming hall was impressive, with many neon lights and bean bags. And, of course, Doritos to snack on while your mates compete.

Regarding esports, CCA also hosted the Telkom VS Masters, which had its dedicated world-class stage set up. It featured the competitive title, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), and hosted the grand finale of a year-long journey for South Africa’s foremost eSports experts.

Visitors could even get their hands on the recently launched Pikmin at the Nintendo stands (or spend their whole day there, if they prefer).

It was clear from first impressions that the gaming hall was the most well-executed and adored by visitors. The many gaming activations, first sneak peeks at games, and esports comps made the space electrifying. This could point to the passion of the South African gaming industry as a whole.

Cosplay kings and queens

Probably one of the most exciting activations at CCA, was the cosplay. One wouldn’t just walk past the cosplay stage – it was too enthralling. The amount of attention to detail that goes into developing and wearing outfits inspired by fantasy characters is admirable.

That’s especially true when it’s done in Johannesburg heat, inside a convention centre. Some of the cosplays require complete covering from top to bottom or even carrying heavy armour.

The winner of the CCA cosplay competition was Jinxie Cosplay, dressed as Princess Zelda.

Wrapping up

This year likely also saw the longest list of pop culture icons South Africa has ever seen at Comic Con. That means we should start seeing more famous names make their way to South Africa for future conventions.

Overall, this year’s CCA was the most enjoyable instalment yet. It’s clear the organisers understood what had to be improved on, and implemented those improvements well. Our favourite improvement by far, was the addition of massive fans at entrances that help cool off con-goers.

Images: Comic-Con Africa via Facebook