Are you a diehard otaku? What about a hardcore Steam gamer? Do you immerse yourself in re-runs of Marvel and DC movies? Then come to Comic Fiesta, Malaysia’s largest and longest-running convention! It serves as a venue for those in the anime, comic and gaming community (ACG) to show their love of their fandoms.
The event was held on the 17th and 18th of December 2016 at the Putra World Trade Centre. Hundreds of people lined up hours in advance to buy tickets and enter the exhibition halls. The event takes place every year in November or December. Entry tickets are priced this year at RM 25 per day, a slight increase from last year.
There were activities and live events that cater for every visitor. From live band music and doujin (fanmade) merchandise sales to cosplay competitions and art workshops, there is so much to do that it is impossible to partake in all the events at once. With walkways packed with hundreds of visitors making their way in between stalls and booths, it is easy to get overwhelmed, especially if it is your first time in a convention.
We were able to interview a few members of our UNMC community who attended the event. Here are some of their 5 top tips on how to make the most of your time when going to your first convention!
1. Do some prior research
Research does not mean spending hours learning what an ACG convention is about. However, you should still know essential information about the event, such as the venue, admission, activities, invited guests, promoters and so on. You may find that your favourite local artist is setting up a booth in the fanmade merchandise section, or your favourite band from Japan is invited to perform on stage! Find what is it that interests you so that you will know what to expect from the event as a whole. All of this can be found on the Comic Fiesta website and Facebook page. In addition, ask anyone who went to previous conventions about their experiences.
Here is a video of 2016’s Comic Fiesta to give you an idea of what to expect for this year’s upcoming events!
2. Plan ahead and prioritise
For such a large-scale event, it is important for any visitor to plan ahead of time. You need to plan your transport route if you don’t live near the venue. From campus, you travel to Comic Fiesta using only public transport. Based on last year’s venue, one can take the UNMC shuttle bus to KLTC or Kajang and then change over to the rail transit system. Another way is by driving to the venue yourself. Either way, expect possible delays, traffic jams and congestions along the way. Leaving earlier in the morning is much better than later.
Planning ahead also means having sufficient cash on hand to spend. No doubt you will be enticed by the plethora of official and fan-made merchandise and artwork, but this can take a heavy toll on your budget if you are not careful. If you do decide to shop around, make sure to have a shopping list handy to ensure you will buy what you absolutely wanted from the start, instead of buying on impulse and regretting later. In addition, do withdraw cash from the ATM before the convention to avoid very long queues at ATMs onsite. This is because most vendors do not accept credit or debit cards. If you would rather save money on merchandise alone instead of eating out (which can also be quite costly), bring your own food.
Most importantly, keep in mind that with so much going on in the two days, it is impossible to attend and experience every single activity. Know that if you are going to spend the entire day shopping in the fanmade merchandise section, you will miss some of the stage events. If you take part in a trading card battle game, you may not have enough time to get an autograph from a visiting artist you admire. Knowing the timetable of events and setting your priorities will ensure that you won’t regret any of your experiences there.
3. Invite your like-minded friends
As the old saying goes, two heads are better than one, and it is no different for going to an ACG convention for your first time. If you prefer going solo, all the power to you, but most visitors come to Comic Fiesta with friends and/or family members who share the same enthusiasm for all that is related to ACG. Friends can not only improve your experience by sharing the fun time spent together but also give you a great deal of physical, financial and logistical support as well.
Speaking from my own experience, it is really relieving when a friend or two are there to keep an eye on your belongings, to carry things for you if you have a lot of things to carry, to borrow money from if you’ve run out of cash, and many other possible situations that a friend can help immensely. You will also have a LOT of things you can bond over once you’re there, like introducing new anime or games to your friend, buying each other presents with each other’s favourite characters on them and the endless conversations about ACG in general.
4. Try out things you’ve never done before
During my visit to Comic Fiesta, there was one popular section which caters to and promotes trading card and board games. One that caught my attention was Avarium Academy. Not so much of a gamer myself, I was a little unsure about taking part. However, after some persuasion, I joined in and learnt the rules as I played. It turned out to be a fantastic experience; I even won a round of the game against my friend and another visitor! This is just one example of an activity on-site where you may not necessarily have an interest in, but you may end up liking it or becoming a fan of it. Other than this, there are mini-games, lucky draws and competitions taking place in many parts of the venue so keep an eye out for those!
Cosplay is a popular hobby among visitors to Comic Fiesta. Cosplay, an abbreviation of ‘costume play’, is a kind of artistic presentation involving dressing up as characters from animation, games or comics. Both amateurs and professionals partake in cosplay, it can range from simplistic school uniforms to elaborate dresses or armours, complete with detailed accessories. Why not come to Comic Fiesta cosplaying as a character? It’s a satisfying and unique experience that you would not get in any other kind of gathering. You can make your own costumes or pre-order them online or through specially-catered cosplay supply shops. You can even get in the spirit of the character by acting like them. And even if you are not cosplaying yourself, take some time to appreciate the cosplayers. Comic Fiesta is an opportunity to take photos with cosplayers. It’s like meeting your favourite characters in real life!
5. Most importantly, keep calm and have fun!
No doubt that after an entire day walking around the venue, you may wind up feeling exhausted. The atmosphere itself may be overwhelming to some; after all, hundreds of people like you are converging in one place. The best mindset to have when in Comic Fiesta and other conventions is to remain calm no matter what happens. Even with the most careful preparation and planning, things can go wrong unexpectedly, like belongings going missing, losing a friend in a crowd, or getting lost yourself. Don’t panic, and try to get assistance from nearby volunteers or members of staff who are stationed around the halls. The worst thing that can happen is to leave Comic Fiesta with a terrible experience, and no one wants that!
I hope that this article has given you a good idea of what to expect if you do plan to go to Comic Fiesta 2017 later this year. As soon as the date comes out, mark your calendars everyone! Hope to see as many UNMCians there as possible!
For more information about all things anime and manga related, you can get in touch with UNMC’s very own Anime and Manga Society. AMS can help to get you get early tickets for Comic Fiesta so that you can avoid long lines on the day. Through AMS, you can also keep yourself updated about other similar conventions and events throughout the year.
By Ahmad F. Affendy