Why I love Malta Comic-Con

Every so often, the fictional characters I love to follow, sort of spring to life. Well, maybe that’s pushing it but it certainly feels that way when the Malta Comic-Con comes by. Think of all your favourite super-heroes – Batman, Superman, Spiderman, The Hulk, Ironman, Captain America…and chances are that if you drop in at any comic convention you will find an artist creating new visuals for your heroes.

But it’s not just about superheroes. There are also the multitude of characters from your favourite television series and movies to discover. The crowning moment from last year’s Malta Comic-Con came for me when, hidden among the Marvel offerings, I discovered a slim volume titled Supernatural: Rising Son Vol I.  I don’t think I’ve ever referred to Supernatural in this column before, but readers should be aware that it’s only one of my favourite television series ever.

Before the Comic-Con I hadn’t found the Rising Son series anywhere in Malta. I could’ve searched for it online, of course, but nothing beats the excitement of actually finding it there in your hands, unexpectedly. It’s a bit like stumbling on a hidden piece of chocolate at the back of your cupboard. While on the subject of Supernatural, a fun fact that apparently not many fans are acquainted with. The series has spawned its very own anime version, Supernatural: The Animation (yup, very original). It’s corny as heck but extremely enjoyable. Like the WB series, it’s also created by Eric Kripke; the man must have figured that cashing in on the fame of the original wouldn’t be half bad.

The weird thing about it is that Jared Padalecki, ie the actor who plays the original Sam, also lends his voice to the animation version Sam. The infinitely yummy Jensen Ackles, on the other hand, refused to do the same for his original character, Dean. In the animation version, that honour goes to Canadian Andrew Farrar. I keep wondering whether Kripke and Ackles had a falling out over the anime but I haven’t managed to find enlightenment yet.

But back to Comic-Con. In the 2010 edition I found another treasure: a hardcover version of The Art of Sleepy Hollow, complete with an introduction by director Tim Burton. If you think I waxed a tad too lyrical about Guillermo del Toro in last week’s column, then be warned that I can easily bore you to tears if I start going on about Burton.

Has the man ever created anything short of a masterpiece? From the very first time I saw Edward Scissorhands on to a collection of weird and wonderful offerings – Sweeney Todd, Batman Returns, Mars Attacks, Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, Alice in Wonderland… – I have never been disappointed. Of course, it helps that Burton tends to use two of my favourite actors, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter.

To cut a long story short, you can imagine my excitement when my paws landed on the Sleepy Hollow art book. That alone made the whole convention more than a success. Add the massive geeking out at workshops, followed by an afternoon of anime at St James Cavalier’s cinema…and you can guess why I’m looking forward to this weekend, which is when – you guessed it – the fourth edition of Malta Comic-Con hits.

This year the organisers, Wicked Comics, have once again broken new records and the amount of artists and writers who will be present is pretty impressive. If you want full details about workshops, exhibitions, guests and the like, visit the link below.

Malta Comic-Con 2012 is happening this Saturday and Sunday at St James Cavalier, Valletta. An edited version of this column was published on The Sunday Times.