A record 15,293 fans visited the annual Comic Fiesta 2011, Malaysia’s biggest anime, comics and games (ACG) convention, over two days at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) recently surpassing last year’s 11,310 held at Berjaya Times Square Kuala Lumpur.
The opening day saw thousands of sorely disappointed fans unabled to get tickets after queueing for hours. There was a disaster on crowd control as there were many restrictions on entrance and exit between the halls.
“It was a much bigger crowd than anticipated and I think it was at least three or four times our expectation. The Hall 5 where the event was held could take in at best around 4,000 people. In and out and the long queue of fans waiting outside stretched into Hall 4 where tickets was sold. Both halls were packed to maximum capacity,” said Nerv Lim Chin Hwa, president of Comic Fiesta 2011 and chairman of Sequential Arts Youth Society (SAYS), the event organiser.
“We have to stop selling tickets because even if they purchased the tickets, It would be disastrous if they can’t get in.”
Many in the line who had been waiting for hours left frustrated and blamed the chaos on the poor ticketing and queue system.
In its Facebook posting on the same day, the organiser apologised to all affected fans.
One frustrated fan, Sharan A/L Sinivasagam, 18, who came with his brother and two friends complained: “We have been standing in the queue for three hours already and it’s hardly moving and I don’t know why they [KLCC security personnel] moved those at the back of the long queue to the front and allowed them in first. This is unfair and I think they are very disorganized.”
“Then there were these two girls behind us who were allowed in by the guards through
the side door. How frustrating it can be,” said Sharan who demanded an explanation.
Another student Lau left frustrated after waiting for four hours. She had heard that all tickets for the day had been sold out.
However, things got better on the second day with a revamped ticketing plan where the queue and ticketing were ran primarily by the organiser with some assistance from KLCC management.
It was a major success with more fans getting in and there was no queue and no major complaints. Based on ticket sales provided, 6,914 fans came on the first day and 8,379 on the second day.
This year’s event included a special musical performance by Japanese singers Ceui and Shimokawa Mikuni, who later signed autographs for their fans during the “meet and greet” session.
A treat for the fans was the movie screening of a Japanese animated fantasy show entitled “Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo” (Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below) by award-winning director Makoto Shinkai.
Droves of excited fans enjoyed browsing the many artist booths – all 140 of them – for their favourite merchandises. There were also over 30 commercial booths and over 400
participating artists from countries such as Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia selling assorted merchandise from self-published graphic comics, cups, badges, posters to plushies and stickers.
The highlight and the most popular entertainment of the event – the cosplay show and competition – saw eagerly fans dressed up in elaborate costumes and wigs as their favourite characters and displayed their awesome cosplay skills.
These cosplayers mingled with the massive crowd and willingly posed for photographers.
At the video gaming booth, gamers had the chance to test their skills at the variety of computer games.
The first Comic Fiesta began in 2001 at the Kuala Lumpur Chinese Assembly Hall (KLCAH). Then there were limited activities and booths as the small room at KLCAH can only take in 150 people.
Ten years later, it has grown to the size it is today with tens of thousands visitors and wider range of activities offered from artists booths, live band performances, solo singing, autograph sessions to cosplay competitions and stage games.