The lines between fantasy and reality blur at the Middle East Film and Comic Con. The three-day convention is designed for fans of fantasy and sci-fi flicks, comics, video games and TV shows. And that’s quite a big community here in the UAE with this year’s Comic Con – the third since 2012 – moving to Dubai World Trade Centre to meet demand.

If this kind of escapism is your thing, Comic Con gives you the chance to get up close to film stars, stars of animation and comic book artists. Warwick Davies, Alan Tudyk and John Rhys-Davies have attended in the past and highlights this year include Seth Green (the voice of Chris Griffin in Family Guy and creator of Robot Chicken) and Sylvester McCoy – best known as the eighth Doctor in Doctor Who.

Also in attendance will be Giancarlo Esposito, the American actor, director, and producer, who is widely known for his award-winning role of Gustavo Fring in hit TV show Breaking Bad. He has also appeared in The Usual Suspects, King of New York, and Once Upon a Time, among others. He will be joined by Michael Jai White, an actor – famed for his portrayal of Mike Tyson – with more than two decades of experience as a martial artist, leading to key choreography roles in Hollywood movies. The legend that is Tony Jaa will be showcasing his talents, as well.

Star Wars fans shouldn’t miss meeting Andrew Ainsworth, who created one of the most iconic costume pieces in cinema history: the Stormtrooper helmet. The prop designer has worked on more than 70 films in his career and will run a workshop at the event.

Ainsworth came up with the idea of Art Wars, an exhibition featuring Stormtrooper helmets customised by artists. The exhibition first appeared at the Saatchi Gallery in London in 2013 – having first seen one sold in 2002 for more than Dhs300,000 – and receives only its second outing in Dubai this month. The centre piece of the exhibition will be a helmet designed by one of Britain’s most iconic artists, Damien Hirst. Local UAE artists will have their designs on show too.

Ben Caddy, Managing Director of Comic Con said: “It’s an honour to be only the second venue in the world to feature the exhibit and to have the Damien Hirst piece for display and auction. Putting it alongside our regional artists makes it extra special.”

If comics are your thing, Vincent Zurzolo is bringing almost Dhs4 million worth of vintage comic books to Comic Con, including the first editions of Superman, Batman and Spider-Man. He’s the owner of the world’s largest vintage comic book dealer, Metropolis Collectibles, and runs the online vintage comic auction house

Meanwhile, Comic giant Marvel are sending CB Cebulski, Vice President of Creator and Content Development (try fitting that on a business card). In simpler terms, he’s a scout who travels the world, sniffing out talented comic book illustrators. Impress him at Comic Con and your work might get published. 

Artists’ Alley will allow you to get up close and personal with 120 independent pop-culture enthusiasts and their respective collections. 

There will also be a live Skype chat with Stan Lee, the visionary comic book mastermind who co- created Spider-Man, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor and X-Men.

For those who just want to feel a part of it, there will be a live Cosplay competition. ‘Cosplay’ is short for ‘costume play’ and essentially awards the individual in the best fancy dress. Anyone can participate, and will be judged by model Madeleine Rose, Japanese professional cosplayer Tadaaki Dosai and American favourite Yaya Han, who will also be leading workshops on costume-making during the weekend. 

The excellent work of SuperHope will also be showcased. Led by Tarik Batal and Basma Masri, Superhope works with children to give those less fortunate a real shot at feeling super, with a care-free and a larger than life experience. So, with the help of photographers (Tina Patni), illustrators and costume designers (Quiceno Art), these brave kids has been given their own superhero moment, the results of which can be seen in our gallery above. To see a preview of the art work, click here.

April 3 to 5
World Trade Centre, Dubai, Thur 4pm to 8pm, Fri noon to 10pm, Sat noon to 9pm, Dhs85. Tel: (04) 4474344. Metro: World Trade Centre.