Meet the Emirati who brings stars to Comic Con – News
Al Farooq’s passion for comics began when he was 9 years old
Do a Google search for “comics in Dubai” and you’ll find loads of places. However, Dubai City Walk Speedy Comics is no ordinary comic book store. It specializes in comic books and vintage memorabilia: anything a true fan or collector would describe as a “treasure chest”. It’s a place every comic book reader or movie buff should visit at least once to get a taste of popular culture all in one place. This year, they are the “Meet the Stars” sponsors of Middle East Film and Comic-Con (MEFCC) which kicks off on Friday, March 4 at ADNEC (Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre), Abu Dhabi.
Rashid Mohammed Zubair Al Farooq opened this channel in 2016. The Emirati says his passion for comics began at the age of 9, when he lived in the United Kingdom. Her father went to study medicine and they were among the first families to go abroad for education. He points to Oxford Street in London and the famous Forbidden Planet comic book store as his inspiration. He would see several toys and action figures but his father would not allow him to splurge on the more expensive items. He would come back afterwards (often with his allowance to buy more comics). Farook also mentions a nice older Jewish gentleman who gave him free books on visits that sparked his interest.
Rashid Al Farooq (L) with Mena Massoud (C)
Over time, Farook acquired over 40,000 comics for his personal collection. Then, six years ago, his wife said it was cluttering up their house. His son then suggested that he get involved with the MEFCC (Middle East Film and Comic-Con), and start selling comics. Following the advice of the family, the first store was opened in 2016, followed by the flagship City Walk store in 2020.
Farook said he “wanted to do something unique”. This translates to everyone working in the store having an in-depth conversation with visitors about the comic. Farook gradually became the “Meet the Stars” sponsor at MEFCC, better known to most as Comic-Con and is responsible for arranging celebrity visits to the event. Farooq has hosted famous personalities such as Brandon Routh, who portrayed Superman in Superman Returns, Atom in Legends of Tomorrow and Kevin Sussman from the Big Bang Theory in 2020.
In 2021, Comic Con was scrapped due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the first Digital Comic Con in the Middle East was held with many famous names including Jon Bernthal (Marvel’s Punisher) among the attendees. It garnered around 190 million views.
Celebrities at Comic Con 2022
Charles Martinet (voice of Super Mario)
Ming-Na Wen (Fennec Shand/ Mulan’s voice)
Michael Rooker (Yondu)
Kevin Conroy (voice of Batman in the animated series)
Barry Keoghan (Druig in Eternals)
Jon Bernthal (Marvel’s Punisher)
Charlie Cox (Marvel’s Daredevil)
Nathalie Emmanuel (Missandei from Game of Thrones)
The store probably has the most vintage comics in the area and is a unique experience in the Gulf, if not the world. The Vault is a comic book museum within the store. For 100 Dh, you can benefit from a visit and a 20% discount on books.
Some items are early appearances like those in Superman’s first solo run (one piece is valued at $2.6 million). They also hold the first “Silver Age” appearances of Thor and Captain America. There’s a funko-pop Batman with a signature from every actor who played the role, except for the late Adam West from the 60s series. Farook hopes to add Pattinson’s signature after the latest draft of the actor as the Caped Crusader in The Batman, released in cinemas across the United Arab Emirates today.
There are memorabilia with signatures of household names such as Robert Downey Jr. (Iron-Man), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Tom Holland (Spider-Man) and writers such as Stan Lee, Jack ‘the King’ Kirby , Joe Simon and Schuster, the creator of Superman which came out in 1940. He also has memories related to his good friend, legendary artist Bob Layton, co-creator of the household names: Iron-man, Ant-man, DC comics’s Huntress, Bloodshot and the Valiant Universe.
Many are classified as “Blue chip books”, the highest quality and rarest books whose prices increase over time. Some are even “classified”, making them “one of a kind” in the world. The shop also offers books that echo nostalgia like Archie, Tarzan and Micronauts that all avid collectors should have at home. Avi Kumar