On Saturday, on the 16th of September in Lagos, Nigeria, fans thronged the annual Lagos Comic-Con, resulting in an estimated 5,000 attendees. This is a far cry from the first one held in 2012, which had about 300 guests. This is expected, of course, as the comic book industry continues to expand in the African nation, which has an estimated population of 200 million people.

Loud Nigerian music pounded at the NECA Centre in Ikeja, where fans of all ages trooped in to get their yearly fix of all things geek in Nigeria.

Founded by Ayodele Elegba, the show has begun to attract attention from many  African nations, as well as other parts of the world. In a report on Bleeding Cool, he was quoted as having said: “Now every Nigerian fan and creative is proud to boast of a comic convention they can call their own.”

This year’s con saw additional focus on the business end of things, with panels advising creators on the need to make money from their craft. Major publishers, creators and studios were present, like Comic Republic, Vortex, YouNeek Studios, Peda Comics, Epoch Comics, Spoof! Animation, and more. New books were also announced, and some debuted at the con, as did the trade paperback of Kickstarter smash Newborn, which sold out quickly.

Fan-favorite creators where on ground in full force, most notably Stanley Obende, who smilingly sketched away on a Wacom, entertaining a small crowd of fans, while his Comic Republic cohorts chatted with other fans.

What’s a convention without a little cosplay? To spice that up a bit more, there was a cash prize of one hundred and fifty thousand naira, roughly the equivalent of $500, clinched by a fan cosplaying as a character from Assassin’s Creed. There were also some Nigerian comic book characters too.

Other activities include young attendees getting free ‘snap lessons’ in animation and digital art by pros. There also were many points provided by publishers where kids could grab pens, pencils or markers and draw, most times under the tutelage of an established name.

Then there’s also the just-debuted Fist Awards, which rewarded the best comics produced in 2017. They were handed out for a variety of categories like Best Artist (Martin Okonkwo for his work on ‘Aegis’ #3 from Epoch Comics), Best Writer (John Nova for ‘Aegis’, too), and more. There also was introduced, the category for Best International Comic, which rewards the best usage of characters/stories based on persons of African descent. The judges selected Noble #1 from Catalyst Prime/Lionforge. The other two, both American comic books, are Motor Crush Vol.1 TPB (June 2017) By Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr, and Aditya Bidikar, published by Image Comics, and Power Man and Iron Fist #11 (February 2017) By David F. Walker, Sanford Greene, Lee Loughridge, and Clayton Cowles, published by Marvel Comics.

Retailers, too, made brisk business, as fans snapped up Marvel, DC, IDW, Image and Valiant comics. But interestingly, Nigerian comics were dominant. Another thing to note is the fact that Nigerian comic books are more popular in the digital format than hard copies.

In the aforementioned Bleeding Cool article, Jide Martins, the CEO of Comic Republic, and Somto Ajuluchukwu, CEO of Vortex Studios, both agreed digital is the future and where their companies get the most attention from.

Elegba, founder of the Lagos Comic Con, ended everything by declaring that the planning for next year’s show begins today.

By Justina Terhember