SOFA 2018: Where to wander

By Phil Stoneman October 12, 2018
SOFA 2018

He drove all the way from Jurassic Park to Bogotá Photo: Oli Pritchard

With Bogotá’s annual geekathon now up and running, we take a look at some of this year’s highlights.

Once again blessed are the geeks, for they have inherited Corferias – for a few days, at least. This year’s SOFA (the yearly leisure-time, comics and fantasy fair) has landed with a momentous thud in the capital once again. With SOFA being a bit bigger each year (now taking up the whole of the capital’s sprawling convention centre) and more than 3,000 different exhibitors, it’s easy to lose your way among the pavilions. That’s why we’re providing this insider’s guide as to what you should watch out for. Think of it as your marauder’s map to SOFA 2018.

The beating heart of SOFA has always been its grassroots links, and this year is no different. A large part of the main pavilion is given over to fan clubs of all shapes and sizes, whether these are aficionados of comics giants Marvel and DC, Pokémon or much more obscure fandoms. This gives a vital space for such groups to get out to a wider public and maybe even find more people who love the whole thing as much as they do.
Local illustrators and comic book artists continue to also be a large part of SOFA. There are various parts of the fair which let Colombian talent shine, whether that’s in the form of locally-produced comics, or the ever popular stickers, badges and caricatures.

While the focus at SOFA tends to be on the fans and a sense of community, it also continues to bring in more international talent, too. Such is the case with Alejandro Sánchez, Spanish colourist with DC comics who has been plying his trade of late with the Justice League and Young Justice. This year’s event also has fellow Spanish artist Alejandra Gámez, whose online comic the Mountain with Teeth has built up a Colombian following due to its mix of gorgeous illustration with dark humour.

Video gaming is a force to be reckoned with at this year’s event, with all the big console producers vying for the attention of twitching thumbs. With rows and rows of consoles available for free play, this section of SOFA is sure to be popular. Specifically, PlayStation will be drawing in the punters with their raffle: playing for a few minutes on each of six different games with earn you the stamps necessary to take part, which gives you the chance to win a brand-new PS4. Definitely worth a few minutes of gaming time.

SOFA 2018, Thanos

A Thanos still in construction is still scary! 

Given SOFA’s interest in encouraging entrepreneurship, it’s also great to see the focus given to local indie producers, looking for much needed publicity for their software. A lot of the indie games on display might not be as famous as their big-name counterparts, but there are certain to be some rather more off-the-wall entries to the video game hall of fame.

Games of a more tangible sort fill up other sections of SOFA, as various types of cars are available to be driven around miniature courses. A much larger variety of this, though, is the full-scale MarioKart track to be found in the large pavilion. This lets its drivers hurl themselves around in a quest for victory, with all the weaponry and dirty tricks you’d expect. The full cosplay team of Mario, Toad, Wario and Bowsette did well to spin past each other as they were showing off the course, and this will be a popular attraction this year. Check out our ‘voices of SOFA’ article for Wario’s victory speech!

Of course, this being SOFA, you don’t have to go so far as the MarioKart track to find some quality cosplay. One of the delights of the event is just hanging around and enjoying the ambience while keeping an eye out for the costumes and getups on display. Sure to be popular this year are Thanos (see our board-game style SOFA guide!) and Bowsette. There are plenty more, much more obscure, cosplay costumes on offer though, for those able to stay alert and with a perhaps inexhaustible knowledge of anime lore. Unfortunately, no Spider Jerusalems to be seen so far.

SOFA also continues to be as inclusive as possible, with more sections dedicated to circus skills than you can shake a slackline at. There are plenty of jugglers doing what they do, while bikes, skateboards and archery also manage an impressive presence. It’s encouraging and very laudable that SOFA is able to be so expansive in its definition of free time activities, and the communities that form around them.

Making a welcome return this year is Kurenai Maid Café, who’ve taken over one of the smaller pavilions with their service with a manga-perfect smile. This year, they’ve taken on a tribute to much-loved anime Cardcaptor Sakura, so expect their waitresses to dress and act the part. The café’s offerings this year are focused on anime-themed desserts, so now you know where to head once you need a rest from traipsing up and down Corferias. We sampled their green cocktails already, and they were scrumptious!

SOFA continues to offer a bit of everything to anyone even remotely interested in all things geek. It just remains for you to don your adventurer’s cloak and step boldly forwards, into a whole other universe.