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Superheroes and supervillains unite

Dhaka Comicon 2012

By Munawar Mobin
Photos: Rajiv Ashrafi and Niloy Ashiful Haque

On the 28th and the 29th of December, Gulshan 1's The Bench was held captive by awe, glory and masked strangers as Dhaka's first Comicon came into existence. This was one of those rare events where the amount of people listed as 'going' on the Facebook page was exceeded by the actual thousands who showed up in flesh and blood (and the many costumes).

The event kicked off with great promise and response when first mentioned at the beginning of December, but the entirety of the comic book kingdom that showed up in the shivering cold was too much of an unexpected novelty. An hour into the event, The Bench, which was considered relatively large, was full to the brim with fan boys, collectors, traders, artists, photographers, nerds, geeks, cosplayers, heroes, tourists, friends of friends and the occasional bird. The event was not some glorified nerd fest; yours truly apologies to the fans, God, superhero Gods (not Thor's people though) for having committed the sacrilege of predicting it to be so.

As was your startled reporter, so were many, joined not just in amazement and disbelief, but also as a community of Bangladesh's nerds and geeks brought together by just a group of comic enthusiasts. Unmad's iconic Ahsan Habib was present for signing autographs, with Jamils' Comics and Collectables providing issues of Unmad for interested fans.

The Comicon boasted tons of pop-culture merchandise, which ranged from comics to almost everything you would expect to find on a set of The Big Bang Theory. JCC were obviously been present (with their usual extreme display of generosity in terms of discounts); Bullfrog creations and SRK Showtime showed up too as they put in their fair share of posters, actions figures, wristbands, wall clocks and other collectables. Dhaka Action Figure Shop and Rollout clothing were there too, with the limited (but cheap), box-free action figures, superhero t-shirts and hoodies. Crowds of an average of seven to eight customers were present at every stalls; most of which were huddled about the caricature artists, as they worked their talent and sketched funny portraits for just 300tk. There were random artists sketching their favourite heroes at one big table under the cold sky. It was no surprise however, that the innards of The Bench, which displayed a glorious and heavily detailed private collection of action figures and collectables, was the one most visited, the room almost perpetually full of people.

The organizers had set out with an unreachable goal, and knew they could not expect more than a few buyers and maybe some guys dressed in their pajamas brandishing stick swords, but they were wrong. As mentioned before, the turnout was insanely surprising and other than a few feeble costumes, the rest seemed perfectly crafted and well planned. Among the costumed vigilantes and villains, there was Tony Stark, Bane, Storm Shadow, Dexter, Darth Maul, Gameboy(man), Bobba Fett, The Riddler, Obi Wan, Jigsaw, Poison Ivy, Sherlock Holmes, King Leonidas, Bruce Lee, Hulk, a couple of Batmans, Harley Quins, Catwoman (with an interesting hijab inspired twist), Vs, Supermans, Jokers, Wolverines, that horse head from Godfather, and much more.

The most surprising bit was that no one was ridiculed for their costume. Pictures were snapped here and there, requests floated over the whole area for group shots, and the positive atmosphere enveloping the crowd encouraged even the shyest of fans to tap on shoulders and ask for photos with their childhood heroes. The plethora of colours, cardboard weapons, blinking lights, stuck out threads and uncolored bits from all the costumes, from the brilliantly made ones to the innovative improvised ones, brought the whole group of eager and curious fans and visitors closer together.

Other than the clarity of talented workmanship, the costumes also screamed out the great dedication the cosplayers put into them. RS would like to shout out to the wonderful cosplayers who dressed up as King Leonidas, Storm Shadow, and mostly Bruce Lee, for standing there, smiling, taking photos, and talking in character. All the while being almost stark naked in that shivering cold, it was not an easy task.

Towards the end, when there were so many people present that they stopped allowing them in, a live concert brought down the excited nature of the crowd to slow, synchronized heartbeats and the collective notions of a day well spent.

When the residual feeling of happiness and satisfaction died down a little, a few interviews told us how the crowd really enjoyed themselves.

“Dressing up was an awesome experience! It was weird because on our way here, everyone stared at me funny, but once inside, it felt like it was home”

“I taped my iTouch onto my t-shirt and made it so that the backlight would stay on forever.” – Tony Stark mused about his arc reactor.

“Some chick took my 'start' button!” – Gameboy(guy wearing a cardboard Gameboy for the most part of his torso)

“The sales were fantastic! For the products on regular price, even though I would never pay this much at the actual store, the atmosphere just made me and my wallet feel a lot less heavy.” – broke, but happy fan.

We even took the liberty of tracking down Jamil Bhai himself and after ensuring further discounts for RS employees (if only), we asked him a few questions about the convention.
On the response of the crowd - “I was overwhelmed. I had no idea that there would be so many people interested in the comic con. It was fantastic to see all the cosplay and it was more or less the young crowd that came which was inspiring because it gives hope to see that even in this day and age, the comicon is something that people look forward to”

When asked about any possible drawbacks and perhaps even future plans for the comicon, he had this to say:
“Although the mic didn't function properly during Ahsan Habib's signing and the evening was bad because there was not adequate lighting, it worked. It was the first attempt. People had fun. Next time it'll be done much more efficiently. In the future, we'll also look for a bigger venue.”

We would like to conclude by thanking all those who made this event possible. The organizers should get themselves (and us) some cake and a trip to Vegas because what they had created has changed the face of the comic book community in Bangladesh forever. We think it's pretty unanimous when we thank the organizers for being the successful pioneers of Dhaka Comicon and hope that come next year, it'll be even bigger and better.

“Some chick took my 'start' button!” – Gameboy (guy wearing a cardboard Gameboy for the most part of his torso)


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