Elven king Pace to join new Comic Con

Updated: 2015-03-20 12:20

By Xu Junqian in Shanghai(China Daily USA)

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Shanghai Comic Con has the potential to become bigger than its New York forebear as legions of fans here are just waiting for the right platform to step out of the shadows onto, said Lance Fensterman, global vice president of Reed Exhibitions and the founder of New York Comic Con.

"Shanghai Comic Convention (SHCC) is a special milestone for us," he said at a recent press conference in the city.

There isn't usually much to expect in Shanghai during May apart from the plum rain season characterized by intermittent drizzle and muggy weather. This year might be an exception as the city is for the first time hosting a major convention for comic book fans that will feature hobbits, Tuzki, a popular Chinese emoticon, and a host of superheroes and villains.

ReedPop, which organizes New York Comic Con, the largest fair of its kind in North America, announced on March 11 that Shanghai will have a similar convention on May 16 and 17.

"If this show takes off, we hope to bring it to more cities in China next year and involve more local artists and projects," said Fensterman.

Tickets for the two-day event are already selling quickly. The 300 VIP tickets, priced at 1,888 yuan ($302), sold out within three minutes. The 288-yuan two-day passes were all snapped up within a week.

The convention will be held over 13,000 square meters of exhibition space on two floors of the Shanghai Convention and Exhibition Center of International Sourcing.

Stars align

The number of exhibitors, artists and star guests has yet to be decided. Most are still in negotiations. Confirmed guests include Lee Pace, who played the king of the Mirkwood Elves in the Hobbit trilogy, Robin Lord Taylor, who played the Penguin in the Fox spin-off Gotham, and Wang Momo, the Beijing artist behind Tuzki.

The annual China Digital Entertainment Expo, also known as China Joy, used to be Shanghai's only major festival for comic fans and the biggest event of its kind in China. Last year, it attracted a record-high 250,000 visitors over four days. Comic Con hopes to offer fans another alternative.

Tens of thousands of fans in costumes attend the event at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan each year. Fensterman said 75 percent are male and most are aged 18 to 35. In Shanghai, he expects the crowd will be male-dominated but two to three years younger.

But Chinese born in the early 1980s - the target audience - may be more familiar with Japanese than American comics.

Although Superman proved a hit when he appeared on Chinese screens in 1985, interest in American superheroes has only been piqued in China in recent years due to a slew of Hollywood blockbusters inspired by Marvel and other comic publishers.

"It seems that American comics are more about superheroes, while Japanese ones develop the stories more around 'losers' and how they help other people or save the world," said Huang Beilei, 32.

The Shanghai native, a headhunter, defines herself as an amateur comic fan. She spends 1,000 yuan a month on books, DVDs and collectible comics and is part of a social network that closely follows any news from their favorite series and superheroes. Huang plans to attend Comic Con as she is a huge fan of Pace.

Chinese fans are actually very knowledgeable when it comes to Western comics, said Fensterman, whose team has spent a year studying what he described as China's "invisible" local fan base.

He said he sees many similarities between comic fans in Shanghai and those elsewhere. "If there is any (difference), it might be the fact that Chinese fans are more reserved and less vocal," he added.


(China Daily USA 03/20/2015 page7)