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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Dubai Comic Con: Artists Alley showcases work by international talents

Artists Alley at Middle East Film & Comic Con has something for everyone including original artworks, prints, comics, toys and sculptures

Emirati artist Shamma Alkhaja, 26, created a book about her fight against depression. Photo by Michael Coetzee
Emirati artist Shamma Alkhaja, 26, created a book about her fight against depression. Photo by Michael Coetzee

Creative types from all over are congregating at the Artists Alley at the Middle East Film and Comic Con in Dubai.

The three-day event, which started today, draws tens of thousands of visitors every year. They come to the Dubai World Trade Centre for the cosplay competitions and workshops by film and comic industry professionals, as well as the chance to meet a favourite celebrity.

But for some the main attraction is the area set aside for artists and creators to show off their work and interact with old and new fans.

There is something for everyone - original artworks, prints, comics, toys and sculptures.

Some of the creators have travelled quite far to make the event.

Roderick Thornton is an independent comics artist from Houston, Texas, and the creator of Alien Hunter.

Roderick Thornton is an independent comics artist and the creator of Alien Hunter. Photo by Michael Coetzee
Roderick Thornton is an independent comics artist and the creator of Alien Hunter. Photo by Michael Coetzee

His advice for aspiring artists is to have a passion for what they are doing.

“There’s a lot of hard work that goes into it, but I can tell you this: after 10 years the pay-off is that I get a chance to go all over the world creating my own books, developing my own stories and working with some of the best professionals in the business," he tells The National.

“So you just got to have the heart, the drive, and make sure this is what you want to do for the rest of your life. Don’t make it work - make it something that you love to do, and you will have a great time doing it.”

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Read more:

our guide to the Middle East Film and Comic Con 2018

Ezra Miller and Jenna Coleman in as late addition for Middle East Film & Comic Con

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Emirati artist Shamma Alkhaja, 26, came to MEFCC to present her art and story to the world.

She created a book about her fight against depression, and it has inspired others to come forward with their own stories.

“I know in the UAE we don’t really speak about our feelings, and I thought of a way to speak about my feelings with my art, with pictures I create with my hands,” she says.

“I want to create things that represent me as an Emirati and be unique in my own way. A lot of people thought it was very courageous of me to do something that no one else has done, especially here as an Emirati woman. A lot of woman came to me and told me they also want to speak out - they started to speak about their feelings too.”

Originally from South Africa but now living in the UAE after several years spent in Bahrain, Anna Thackray is the creator of the superhero comic Shamal.

“My story starts in Bahrain and moves all the way to the UAE. It’s about a man trying to defeat evil, as is normal in a comic book,” she says.

South African Anna Thackray is the creator of the superhero comic 'Shamal'. Photo by Michael Coetzee
South African Anna Thackray. Photo by Michael Coetzee

The stories in the book are inspired by the legends and fables her Bahraini friends told her during the 10 years she lived in the kingdom.

She says the most difficult part of being a successful comics creator is not the actual creative process, but distributing the completed work.

“You have to compete with DC Comics and Marvel Comic, which is basically impossible to do,” she says. "So you need to find a spot where you can be unique and sell.”

She says that those who would like to follow in her footsteps just need to keep at it.

“When I first attended Comic Con five years ago there were no women. Now there’s loads of women and expats doing it,” she says.

“It’s just finding and loving and supporting the local creatives and artists in this."

MEFCC information

Tickets range from Dh110 for an advance single-day pass to Dh300 for a weekend pass at the door. VIP tickets have sold out. Visit www.mefcc.com to purchase tickets in advance.

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