Comic Con Asia 2018 – A First Look

It’s new! It’s controversial! If you’re reading this, then you already know (or at least have heard about) the news surrounding Comic Con Asia this 2018. Touted as the freshest pop-culture convention that will hit Manila on March 24 – 25, Comic Con Asia certainly has some big boots to fill.

Should you be hyped for it? Read on!

What do I know about this event so far? A fair bit – some concerning, some interesting. Here’s the low-down on things so far:

  • There are (ostensibly) two groups behind this event.

Comic Con Asia (Website, Facebook) is organized by PSL Entertainment Production and NAM Entertainment Group. What gives? And who are these people anyway?

PSL Entertainment are the brains behind the Miss Global Philippines beauty pageant (Facebook, Website). In fact, the address for the beauty pageant’s offices are the same address for PSL Entertainment itself. Meanwhile, a quick search for NAM Entertainment Group turned up only this sole seemingly-legitimate result on Google. That said, a company named “Công Ty TNHH Nam Entertainment Group” seems to have the same Vietnam address as the aforementioned company. A public website, however, remains elusive.

If you thought that the people “hosting” the event on the event page itself are involved, that’s not the case. Otaku Events (Facebook, Website) seems to be a group that compiles local events of interest to the anime-loving community, so there’s that.

What does this mean for Comic Con Asia? Some patience – and objectivity – may be in order. It seems that this will be their first pop-culture event of this scale, so some birthing pains may happen. A lot of regional attention may come our way as a result of this event, which sets the stakes even higher.

  • Manny Pacquiao is the face of the event as a, quote, “ambassador of tourism”, end quote.

It’s not surprising that politicians are pledging their support for events such as these. The E-Sports and Gaming Summit (Website, Facebook) has enjoyed support from the illustrious Bam Aquino (no slouch at Tekken 7 himself) who has long championed the growth of the local e-sports and digital gaming industry. Mr. Pacquiao’s support for Comic Con Asia would be quite welcome as he is well-known here and abroad, both as a public figure and as a vital local eco-political influencer. His presence is a welcome boon in establishing confidence in the event’s brand and reputation to partners & attendees (both here and abroad) alike.

There’s just one problem.

Senator Pacquiao is equally well-known (and highly controversial) for his hard-line stance on major issues such as gender identity, same-sex marriage and reproductive health education. As a result, his public involvement has compromised the benefits he can bring to the table to the public eye, with at least one prominent Filipino comic artist already announcing his non-presence at the event. Public discussion on the matter is quite heated, with many people already adding their intention to boycott the event this early.

In the long run, whether his involvement can help Comic Con Asia weather the storm of public opinion or not is anyone’s guess. But it may be healthy not to bet on it.

  • What they’ve released so far is concerning, to say the least.

You could overlook these problems if their content so far was really, really good. Knock your boots off good. Crazy insane good. But what has been seen so far is not quite inspiring confidence.

– Reimaru Files posted a breakdown of a still from Comic Con Asia’s teaser video on September 14 that shows a digitally manipulated image purporting to show Stan Lee waving before an audience (presumably to lead people into believing that Comic Con Asia could deliver this level of star power to their event). To add insult to injury, the original image was from another pop-culture event held in Manila.

– Their webpage text is quite repetitive to the point of near-dullness, and could use an editing pass to encourage interest in the audience that they’re targeting. Here’s a verbatim sample, from the Highlights section of their website:

Comic Con Asia was created as an event to showcase Filipino, and Asian, talent, and apart from international and regional celebrity guests, there will be plenty of industry panels. It is not just a meet-and-greet with famous actors and actresses, it is also a proper industry con where one can learn from the people behind the scenes: the artists, creators, and producers.

Here’s another verbatim copy, this time from the Villages section:

The main floor will be divided into four zones: Manga & Anime, Comics, Toys & Gaming, and Movies, Series, & Animation—four quadrants of vendors, sellers, galleries, and artists. The main stage will be set up right in the center, so people won’t miss a thing while they explore the many different booths and alleys.

Considering that this is a major regional convention, the text fails to effectively communicate a lot of things essential to its success – like why people should be hyped for it.

So what now?

It’s still too early to tell what to do with Comic Con Asia. It has some big aspirations, but its ability to deliver on them remains in question, especially since it seems that San Diego Comic Con (Website, Facebook, a.k.a. the official IP holders of the Comic Con brand) are not involved in any way with Comic Con Asia. Whether you choose to avoid it, attend it, or attend it with rainbow-hued fingers held high are all valid options to take, after all.

Talk to you later.

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