Comics, Competitions, And Cosplay At Free Comic Book Day 2013 Cape Town

Posted: 15 May 2013
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This year local comic-book store Readers Den organised the biggest Free Comic Book Day event that Cape Town has ever seen. Thousands of fans were treated to free comics, great discounts, awesome prizes, local comics creators, and a huge cosplay competition.

This year's Free Comic Book Day celebrations in Cape Town, organised by local comic-book store Readers Den at Stadium On Main in Claremont, were the biggest ever. I've previously written about the event for my (now somewhat defunct) personal blog (2011, 2009, 2007) but this year's event really warrants an in-depth showcase here on

FCBD Cape Town 2013: Comics on sale

Thousands of people started queueing, two hours before the events kicked off at 09:00, in order to take advantage of the special discounts the store was offering, and to get their hands on one of the many free comics especially published for the day. (Due to limited supply we can only take one comic - it was a treat for me, last year while in Portland, to be able to get 10 comics at Things From Another World.)

The activities included the 2013 free comics selection, imported from the US; a sale on comics, graphic novels, figurines, and merchandise; local comic creators showcasing their work and launching new publications; the annual giveaways and prize draws for people who had bought comics; and cosplay, cosplay dance performances, and a cosplay competition. I have never seen so many Cape Town comics fans in one place before. The queues, to the store, the overflow sale room, and the free comics table, were massive and I eventually gave up on standing in the store queue in favour of continuing my coverage of the day as I was missing, among other things, most of the action in the dance-showcase performance arena.

Here's a photo roundup of who was there and some of what happened on the day. (Please excuse some of the blurriness - a few of the areas were very dark.)

Free Comic Book Day
FCBD Cape Town 2013:
There were, thankfully, enough free comics that although I only got to the table hours after the festival started I still managed to get my free copy. (The one comic per person rule helped a lot too!)

FCBD Cape Town 2013: Readers Den
The owners of Readers Den let me dash inside the store quickly to snap some photos of the patient people that managed to get inside to shop.

FCBD Cape Town 2013: Figurines
This is some of Readers Den co-owner Nizar Abrahams' figurine collection, which is encased in a glass cabinet in the store window and is a treat to view whenever I visit the store.

FCBD Cape Town 2013: Vintage Superman comics
To celebrate Superman's 75th anniversary Readers Den set up a huge display of vintage Superman comics that presumably come from co-owner Mahdi Abrahams' private collection of Golden Age comics. It was a bit hard to see them as they were off to the side, high up, and behind glass (understandably) but it was still a great showcase to add to the day.

FCBD Cape Town 2013: HeroClix
Digital Sushi showcased and sold HeroClix collectible gaming miniatures.

FCBD Cape Town 2013: Star Wars bobble head
Digital Sushi also showcased and sold geek-related bobble head figurines, such as this Star Wars: Jawa POP! Vinyl Bobble Head.

I must admit that I don't really understand the appeal of bobble heads but this little guy was quite cute. (That's probably the only time anyone will say that about a Jawa.)

FCBD Cape Town 2013: Model building
These guys spent the day building models. They also had a collection of finished models, some painted and some not, for visitors to admire.

FCBD Cape Town 2013: Neko-Chan Wigs & Cosplay
Neko-Chan Wigs & Cosplay was one of a number of cosplay and accessory retailers that had stands on the day.

FCBD Cape Town 2013: 2upGamers
2upGamers set up a gaming showcase featuring Injustice: Gods Among Us, a fighting game set in the DC universe.

Local Comics Creators
FCBD Cape Town 2013: Mamba Media
Mamba Media didn't really participate with a manned table with creators and illustrators and signings but it did set up a huge table where it was giving away a number of issues of its corporate comic Soccer Warrior.

FCBD Cape Town 2013: Creamy Cheese Ninjas
kEda Gomes [sic] (illustration) and Wesley Harris (writing), creators of Creamy Cheese Ninjas. I'm still reading this but I can confirm that there are ninjas.

FCBD Cape Town 2013: Kay Carmichael and Shameema Dharsey
Illustrators Kay Carmichael and Shameema Dharsey. Shameema created the most wonderful illustration of zombie pirates in love for in 2010. I'm still completely mesmerised by it.

FCBD Cape Town 2013: Kay Carmichael
Kay Carmichael is the creator of Sophie: Giant Slayer. The name speaks for itself but, best of all for those looking for role models for girls (although she swears a lot... but then who wouldn't when faced with an angry giant?), Sophie wears jeans and a T-shirt, rather than unreasonable armour, and has a rather epic sword. Kay was promoting part one. Hopefully there will be more.

FCBD Cape Town 2013: Chris Beukes
Chris Beukes has started a comic called Wrath and was at Free Comic Book Day to promote the first issue of a planned series of nine. As a bonus those who bought the issue received a free CD with three tracks by Strident as a special Free Comic Book Day promotion. I'm still going through all my loot from the day but Wrath is one of the comics that I have already read, and I highly recommend it. Email wrathgraphicnovel at gmail to get on the mailing list for updates and to find out where you can buy the first issue.

[ YouTube link ]

The Free Comic Book Day promotional video for Wrath.

FCBD Cape Town 2013: They Did This!
The They Did This! table had lots to see and buy, as well as people to meet. They Did This! publishes The Lil Five comics and after seeing how much cheaper The Lil Five graphic novel was at their table I spoke to some of the guys about how I paid so much more when I bought it a few weeks ago at a store. (I mentioned the cost problem here in my local-comics roundup.) This was a surprise to them and led to a long email discussion over the next few days about the problem. I updated the roundup post mentioned above to explain the situation but, in essence, distributors and retailers are adding profit margins to the comics that results in them being nearly double the price at some stores, and therefore too expensive. This is also the reason why the Velocity anthologies have been so expensive.

Right now there is no solution to the problem but a lot of ideas have been tossed around and hopefully at least one will help as these comics need to get into the hands of readers.

FCBD Cape Town 2013: Daniel Hugo
Daniël Hugo was one of the artists manning the They Did This! and Velocity stands. Daniël did the cover art for the second Velocity anthology (you can see it here in my Co/Mix 2012 festival roundup) and contributed to the contents of volumes 1, 2, and 3. He's leaning on a poster of the art for the cover of volume 4, which is by Lynton Levengood. At Free Comic Book Day volume 3 was for sale (volumes 1 and 2 are sold out but I'll have more on that in my next comics roundup), so I grabbed a copy with great enthusiasm (and slightly more than just a twinge of regret for not buying volumes 1 and 2 when I could). As part of the Free Comic Book Day deal they gave away a copy of Clockworx as part of the purchase. It's an anthology project from 2003/4, which I was really glad to be able to add to my collection.

FCBD Cape Town 2013: Lynton Levengood
Lynton Levengood is an illustrator and concept artist. He does the most beautiful illustrations of dragons, which were available as prints and postcards. He is also the cover artist for volume 4 of Velocity Graphic Anthology (see above), which will be launched later this year at the rAge Expo in Johannesburg in October, and the Chapter 2 printed volume of CottonStar (see below).

FCBD Cape Town 2013: Alastair Brauns
Alastair Brauns has been working on Crimson and had the first of what he is hoping will be a series of comics for sale at Free Comic Book Day. The story features what seems to be an epic-scale storyline, as well as a female protagonist and has been woven around what were originally a few drawings that were then turned into a story.

FCBD Cape Town 2013: Crimson
The cover of the first issue of Alastair Brauns' Crimson.

FCBD Cape Town 2013: CottonStar
It's no secret that I love CottonStar. I bought Chapter 1, which collects the first chapter of the web comic, at Co/Mix 2012 and fell in love with it, so much so that I don't read the comic online and wait (very patiently) for the chapters to be published so I can enjoy discovering the story as a printed version.

At Free Comic Book Day Ben G Geldenhuys and Danelle Malan launched Chapter 2, featuring cover art by Lynton Levengood (see above). The publication was available as a limited number of artist editions, as well as a more affordable regular edition. There were also posters for sale and the creators offered a combo deal for Chapters 1 and 2, which was great for those who are new to the comic.

FCBD Cape Town 2013: Zero Edge
Zero Edge is an interesting collaborative anthology project by Clarence Musson and Kevin Gibson who put this together while working in separate cities. The eclectic selection comprises mainly comedic vignettes (sample), much of which is focussed on gaming, interspersed with pinups.

FCBD Cape Town 2013: Jarred Cramer
Jarred Cramer is the creator of Juvies, which originated as an online comic and features the adult misadventures of three young men.

Jarred spent the entire event with his head buried in his sketchbook as he turned kids into a Juvies character for R10 a shot, so the queue was always very long and he was the only comic creator I didn't get a chance to talk to.

FCBD Cape Town 2013: Pete Woodbridge
Pete Woodbridge is an artist and illustrator (and musician) who runs his own studio. He has previously worked for Strika Entertainment on corporate comics, which is why he landed up on a panel at Co/Mix 2012 that discussed local talent and whether doing corporate work was selling out. At Free Comic Book Day he had posters, cards, buttons, and merchandise for sale and was showcasing some of his work.

FCBD Cape Town 2013: Protest
Before I jump into the cosplay portion of the day, I just want to note the public-awareness demonstration.

FCBD Cape Town 2013: Cosplay
Readers Den organised two types of cosplay events for this year's Free Comics Day festivities: a cosplay competition (as seen above), which was the final event of the day, and cosplay dance covers (as seen below), which were held throughout the morning until the prize giveaways for shoppers were drawn.

[ YouTube link ]

The World Is Mine dance cover solo performance by Meido Hatsune Miku from Vocaloid (performed by cosplayer KomboKitten/Genevieve Lesch).

[ YouTube link ]

Butterfly On Your Right Shoulder (Remix) dance cover solo performance by Kagamine Len (performed by cosplayer Yamaki Chiya).

FCBD Cape Town 2013: Cosplay Competition
Cosplay was big this year. The competition drew over 70 entries and there were even more cosplayers who didn't enter and instead were just there for the atmosphere. I'll have a post up soon with a showcase of some of the participants and costumes. The standard was incredibly high - we would definitely be able to hold our own internationally.

With that, I have to say thanks to Readers Den for organising such a fantastic event. There was something for everyone and different areas of geekery seemlessly melded into others, broadening everyone's knowledge. The bar has been set very high so it will be interesting to see what happens in 2014.

What's next?

• I'll be posting another local-comics roundup in a few months, which will include many of the publications you've seen above that were launched at Free Comic Book Day.

• Geek Pride Day, which will feature more cosplay, as well as table-top and console gaming and geek merchandise, is on 25 May 2013 at Premier Fitness & Leisure in Cape Town.

• Cape Town's next big comics event is the two-day celebration that forms part of the Open Book Festival in September. This year it will be at a bigger venue and will have a larger marketplace. Many of the participating comics creators have already been announced and it is a very exciting lineup. If you like comics this is
the event to attend this year.

Tags: #arts_and_culture, #batman, #books, #cape_town, #comics, #games, #pirates, #speculative_fiction

On The Internet
Readers Den Comic Shop: Official Site

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