Since its inception a decade ago, the Malta Comic Con, a creation of local NGO Wicked Comics, has mushroomed into a large-scale affair with global reach. Not to mention the fact that it draws in the Maltese, so much so that even last year’s roomy venue at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta had to be swapped for the jumbo MFCC this time around.
What makes the Malta Comic Con special? Well, let’s take a look.
Art enjoyed with unabashed passion
So much about the “arts scene” these days, whether in Malta or elsewhere, tends toward ironic distance and showy displays of sophistication. There’s none of that at the Malta Comic Con. People come dressed as their favorite superheroes, gush at well-known artists and industry players, and go home weighed down with stacks of fresh comics and other memorabilia – wallets thinned out but a smile on every face. It’s a reminder of what art should be about: joy and uplift, as opposed to artists and consumers trying to convince each other how clever they are.
The biggest names you’ve never heard of
Admittedly, some pretentious types get sniffy about the lack of bona fide celebrity guests at the Malta Comic Con. But let’s say the convention were able to secure the participation of former luminaries who now have little spark and a lot of time on their hands. Would you really want to pay 50 euros for a photo with / autograph by a star in free fall?
The Malta Comic Con prefers the up-and-coming yet not-quite-prime-time younger talent, as well as the older unsung sort. This year’s iteration featured British actor Mark Ryan – perhaps not a “tentpole” thespian, but an accomplished one nonetheless, one known for prominent roles in Black Sails, Transformers, and Robin of Sherwood. The Con also hosted film sculptor Brian Muir, who designed the iconic Darth Vader costumes of the Star Wars films. And we mustn’t forget the many returning guests from overseas – emblematic of a convention’s appeal and enduring success – including artists from the UK, Spain, and Greece who work for the likes of Marvel, DC, and 2000 AD.
Great opportunity for Christmas shopping
One of the perks of attending comic cons is the chance to commission, on the spot, work from top-notch professional illustrators. At the Malta Comic Con, you can do this without the hassle of queuing for hours on end the way you’d have to do at its more established international counterparts. As a result, you get your hands on great original art quickly (and often more affordably than elsewhere), after which you can choose to hang it in your home or give it away as the perfect Christmas gift!
An inspired partnership with Heritage Malta, a governmental organization, enabled Wicked Comics to mark the 10th anniversary of the Malta Comic Con in style.
How, you ask? With a pretty cool comic book, naturally. Impressions of An Island: A Malta Comic Con Art Book not only details the event’s history, but features original illustrations inspired by Maltese history and the island’s landmark heritage sites, courtesy of local and international artists. Now that’s an apt way both to commemorate the event and to drum up interest in its future!
Today, a decade after its birth, the Malta Comic Con remains an excellent platform through which to engage with the contemporary comic book scene. And as a fan-friendly event that now enjoys a sterling international reputation, it’s a major entry in Malta’s annual cultural calendar. For art, fun, and Maltese culture, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more exciting alternative.