By Sami Zaptia.
London, 25 September 2016:
The first-ever comic, manga, costume play, gaming and digital art convention, Comic Con Libya, (#ComicCon_Libya) was held over three days in Tripoli between 23-25 September.
The event was held at the Tripoli International Fairgrounds (TIF) in the Libyan capital, Tripoli.
Thousands attended the very successful event with organizers reporting that at the end of the second day 7,000 tickets had been sold. They estimate that as many as 20,000 could turn up over the three days.
The event was organized by a group of eight young friends: Hisham Aref, Mohammed El-Gadi, Backer Faris, Mahmoud Najmeddin, Aymen Swesi, Haithem Abourgheba and Abdul Rahman Kraza.
They are mostly students studying electrical engineering, medicine art and computing with a number having to hold down jobs while studying, including a graphic designer and an English teacher.
Asked by Libya Herald how the idea of holding the event came about, one of the organizers, student and English teacher, Hisham Aref, said that it came about through ‘’brainstorming’’.
‘‘It was just a brainstorming session between a group of friends who were discussing drawing, comics and gaming’’.
Organizing such a novel event in Tripoli would not have been easy at a time when the whole country was still dealing with its post 2011 revolution fallout. Asked about the challenges they faced as organizers, Aref said that ‘‘It’s the same difficulties anyone would face with an unprecedented idea. People were reluctant to sponsor. A new idea in these times in Libya is very difficult to pitch’’, he added.
‘‘Nevertheless’’, Aref stressed, ‘‘we got a lot of help from very generous donors who wanted to make it happen. ‘‘The Arete Foundation for Arts and Culture was our main sponsor. And official support came from many parts of the Libyan public and private sector. The Ministry of Culture was very cooperative with us and offered permission to host the event at TIF’’.
‘‘Tripoli Municipality helped provide a wide variety of locations before we settled on TIF. We also got a lot of help and instructions from the Art House’’, explained Aref.
The event received wide coverage on social media as well as coverage by Libyan TV stations and was seen as a welcomed positive distraction to Libya’s youth: away from polarized politics, shortages, everyday struggles of life as well as militia fighting.
The event was seen as an effort to highlight and encourage various artistic skills associated with makeup, cosplay, cartoon, and digital art.