Comic books, celebrities and cosplay are at the weekend agenda at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre as the Middle East Film and Comic Con kicks off in the capital for the first time.
The event brings together pop culture fans for a fun-filled weekend that features workshops, talks, meet-and-greets and more.
On the first day of MEFCC, there was a strong turnout from fans, with some dressed up as their favourite pop culture characters.
Catwoman, the Joker and characters from video game Genshin Impact were among the cosplay costumes spotted at the event on Friday afternoon.
Nouf Baha, 18, Rawan Hiba, 18, and Christian Santos, 21, donned their best costumes to represent the characters Raiden Shogun, Venti and Albedo. For Baha and Santos, it was their first comic con experience.
“It’s really a lot of fun, there’s a lot to do and choose from. It’s very diverse,” said Baha. “I’m so glad they brought it here.”
“It’s very organised,” said Santos. He said he hoped to meet other cosplayers at the event and was looking forward to visiting the gaming product vendors as an avid gamer.
Gaming stations include NBA 2K League, which will host former San Antonio Spurs star Tony Parker at the weekend, as well as esport gamers such as Michael “BearDaBeast” Key and Justin “Just Awkward” Howell, who will offer tips for improving gaming skills.
In addition to gaming, artists at the event will also show off their talents at the Hero Collection zone.
Lining the tables are watercolour portraits of famous superheroes or black-and-white sketches of anime characters from artists such as Tony Moy, who uses watercolour and opaque watercolour to create his works. Meanwhile, comic artist Sorah Suhng showcases her colourful works of art, which feature female heroines.
Those wanting to learn from the artists can attend the workshop zone, where on Friday, American artist Andy Lee taught “modern zen art” while Disney artist James Mulligan gave tutorials on how to draw Olaf, the snowman from Frozen. Artist David Nakayama was also on hand for a special session on video games and cover art in the world of Marvel.
But it isn’t only the big-name artists in the spotlight: over at Artist Alley, local and regional talents are showcasing their work. Dina Awadalla from Nerdy Hook and her sister have a stand where they sell handmade crochet dolls as well as drawings.
The sisters from Al Ain, who have appeared at three previous comic cons, say they appreciate that this year’s event is physically closer, having moved from Dubai.
“The view is better, it's wider and it’s easier to hang posters,” says Awadalla about the set-up at this year's Artist Alley.
While the sisters also have full-time jobs, they appreciate the opportunity to show off their craft at MEFCC.
“Comic Con is an opportunity for us, for one day a year, to express ourselves.”