Could we ever have had a Lagos Comic Con bigger and better than the Lagos Comic Con 2018? This was the major question on my mind at the end of the Lagos Comic Con 2018 which took place at the Landmark Event Center, Victoria Island, Lagos. The sparks and success fireworks that followed the event trended on the social media and became the toast of countless prominent platforms several days and months after the event was long ended so much so that in my candid opinion that year’s event seemed to be the peak of the yearly event doped the biggest geek and Pop culture event in Africa. However, my conclusions changed when the Fearless Lagos Comic Con, 2019 hit the ground. Gissss! It was phenomenal. But did I really anticipate the massiveness of the event? I don’t think so. Maybe it was just me. So, in a way, the event exceeded expectations in my opinion.

The 2019 geek event was a three day event which took place on the 19th, 20th and 21st of September, 2019. For the first time in the history of the event the con took place simultaneously in two venues: the Silverbird Galleria and the Alliance Francaise, Mike Adenuga Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos. The event, a brainchild of Musterseed Limited with Mr Ayodele Elegba as the Arrow Head was sponsored by Fearless Energy Drink and Alliance Francaise. I personally thought the turnout at the grand finale of the event on Saturday would be drastically reduced due to the fact that the event had been ongoing for two days previously in two separate venues. I was wrong. The crowd on Saturday the 21st September, 2019 was explosive. Though the day started quietly and as at 11am things were still at a very low key and I could barely feel the vibes. But within a very short time Alliance Francaise transformed into a Mecca of some sort with comic geeks flooding the venue of the event. There were a good number of vendors at the event too, featuring the who is who in the growing creative industry: Vortex made a major grand appearance after disappearing from the comic scene for a long while. The fast raising star of the industry “Epoch Studios” was not left out. Their stand was continually bubbling with fans that clamored to purchase their own copy of an Epoch Comic book.  Also, among the vendors at the event was the ground breaker “Youneek Studios”, Peda Studios, Shadow Black and a host of others. Though I however did not see the stand of the towering giant of the industry “Comic Republic” even though a number of dudes in the signature vest of the comic brand were spotted at the event.

One of the most engaging aspects of the Con for me was the panel sessions. They were insightful and very revealing. Every forward thinking brand CEO and creative geek that attended either the master class session or the general session will agree with me that these powerful sessions were more than worth it. A few high points at the event blew me off completely and made a daring statement in the industry. One was the Spoof session were creative geeks had the first hand opportunity to view the short animation work produced by Spoof titled “ Hero Corps”. The 2D Animation work actually got two standing ovations from the marmot crowd in the hall! Agreed, they succeeded in blowing people’s mind. The voice overs and audio quality of the animation was nothing short of amazing. Another high point at the event was the premiere of the ground breaking Malika 3d animation short film produced by the phenomenal Youneek Studios in conjunction with Anthill Studios. I had previously seen Mr Roye Okupe, the CEO of Youneek Studio before the premiere and told him I could not miss the premiere for anything at the event. The crowd that thronged the entrance of the viewing hall only reminded me of the crowd at the film house the day I went to watch one of the most anticipated film of the year “Avengers-ENDGAME”. Malika lived up to the hype. The images were beautiful to the eyes. The quality of the animation lived up to international standard making a clear statement that regardless  of the limitation that bedevils this African environment of ours we can live above it and produce something world class. Kudos to the brilliant minds at Anthill and Youneek Studios. Despite how thrilled creative geeks were however, at the back of my mind I kept asking, “hope the creative industry here in Nigeria is ready for the emergence of the animation industry and do we really appreciate the level of work that goes into making animation?”. It is no longer news that one of the greatest challenges of the creative industry is funding and making even a short animation the likes of Malika requires millions of naira. We were thrilled and mesmerized by Commotion Studio’s Sango:The Dawn of Thunder last year but at the moment we are still waiting on the mega project. We have the skills, we have the brilliant minds but are we ready for the emergence of the animation industry? Will creative minds that are pumping money into such ventures be able to eventually recoup their huge investments? Will there be enough funding to expand projects like these in the days to come? What does the future hold in a place like Nigeria for high budget projects such as animation? I have followed the animation sphere in Nigeria with keen observation. Before now there has been amazing works produced by the leader labels in the budding animation industry. The rib cracking Skelebe animation by Quandron Studios, Frogeck produced by Anthill Studios and of course how can I forget mind blowing animations like SIM and PLAYMATE by the amazing Eri Umusu of Anthill Studios. Regardless of this, the worrisome thing for me is whether the effort put in by these creative geniuses translate into substantial cash that makes up for all the sweat and sleepless night put into all these landmark animation projects.

The event gradually wrapped up with the Cosplay session and the Fist award night to reward excellence in the comic scene.  The Cosplay session this year received some of the most exciting characters from the Marvel and Dc Universe. We had the likes of Thor from the MCU, Gwen Stacy and Miles Morales from “Through the Spider Verse” and the psychopathic Joker from the Dc Universe all joining the Cosplay competition and bedazzling fans. At the end Mr Joker carried the day with a winning price of a cool N100,000.00 presented by representatives of the event’s sponsors “Fearless Energy Drink”.

The Fist Awards eventually wrapped up the huge event with best writer and illustrator going to KBS Studios: Kelly Kalu winning  best writer while Chima Kalu won for best illustrator. Queen Malika did not leave empty handed as “Malika fallen Queen” won for the best packaged comic. Epoch Studios did not fail to appear in the spotlight again as they cleared three awards straight: Best cover for AEGIS episode 5, best colorist won by Tarella Pablo for Seraph episode 4, and Comic book of the year for their comic “Prophecy”. The best studio of the year however went to KBS Studios while PEDA Studios won  Neophte award for their comic “Mbuze”.

So, while I thought the 2018 Con will remain the peak for a long time, the Fearless Lagos Comic Con, 2019 actually broke the previous record set by the 2018 Lagos Comic Con! In a way, the Fearless Lagos Comic Con is the dawn of greatness for the industry, from here, expect some quantum leaps by the industry that will create new records of greater achievements!

Ayo Makinde is the CEO of comicsDI,

He writes from Abuja.

Inked art is the cover art of Duro, an African Mythological Comic by ComicsDI.