Supanova 2012: Australia's Biggest Con

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The tenth anniversary of Australia’s largest convention, or “pop culture expo,” as it prefers to be called was held late last month. Kicking off in Sydney in 2002 and soon expanding to most other major cities throughout the country, Supanova also now holds annual events in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne and Perth, with about 80, 000 people attending across the five cities every year. Having gone to my first Supanova in Gold Coast, Queensland a few years ago, I was happy to hear that it was coming to my hometown of Perth, which it first did in 2008, and was impressed with the turnout and the large number of teenagers dressed as manga and anime characters I’d never heard of.

I attended Supanova’s 5th event in Perth, Western Australia at the end of last month, held at the sprawling Claremont Showgrounds, and as usual, it was well organised, and well attended and of course, filled with costumes and the ever present struggle to get past the crowd, as is the case with all popular conventions. In fact this year was another record breaking season for Perth’s event, forcing the organisers to consider a bigger venue for the future.

Supanova has always been welcome to mainstream media coverage in newspapers, radio and TV which seems to help draw out a lot of people who would never read a comic or even consider calling themselves fanboys or girls, and that’s a good thing. Quite a few of my friends and colleagues admitted their desire to attend simply to see celebrities such as Mini-Me (otherwise known as actor Verne Troyer), Back to the Future’s Christopher Lloyd, Tricia Helfer, or The Expendables’ Eric Roberts. Living up to the “pop culture” part of its name other guests included novelists Matthew Reilly, Christopher Paolini and  Marianne De Pierres amongst others, voice actors Jennifer Hale and Vic Mignogna, and the guys behind Halo parody Red vs Blue. Of course, there were comic creators there too, which was the highlight for me.

I hung out with the always charming team from Perth based Gestalt Comics, including publisher Wolfgang Bylsma, writer Justin Randall (Changing Ways) and Tom Taylor, the scribe behind a lot of great Gestalt goodies including The Example, Rombies and the Aurealis Award winning all-ages OGN The Deep. Randall thanked me for the review of his upcoming Changing Ways sequel and while I was chatting to him I was inadvertently filmed for an in-the-works documentary on Gestalt (look for the back of my head in that one!). Taylor proved his always witty and confident self, spruiking The Deep to a representative from Dymocks bookstores and giving me a glimpse at the upcoming sequel to The Deep, called The Vanishing Island, by himself and artist James Brouwer which looks even better than their first outing. With a lot of Dark Horse work in the bag, and in the pipeline, Taylor and I discussed his recent contributions to the Star Wars line, with Taylor admitting that whereas his current series Blood Ties-Boba Fett is Dead is more of a western/revenge tale, his July 25-launching Darth Maul: Death Sentence is more firmly rooted in Lucas’ epic, with all the wonders of Star Wars including lightsabers and epic battles.  

Nerd rock duo Kirby Krackle had a busy day, and were generally thankful to be in attendance; the pair having travelled to Australia last year, releasing a live EP while doing so. I mentioned to Jim Demonakos that I liked The Silence of our Friends OGN that he co-wrote, but he said he’s too busy with his music (Krackle’s Live in Seattle has just been released, and they are working on upcoming singles), and running the Emerald City Comicon, so that his chances to create comics are rare. Kyle Stevens, the other half of Krackle, admitted he enjoyed his time in Australia but wasn’t looking forward to the 30 hour flight back home, but had a great time meeting existing fans, and making new ones during the show.

I shook hands with artist Jim Cheung (Avengers: The Children’s Crusade), said hello to the multi-talented David Mack, and noticed Aussie artist Jeffrey “Chamba” Cruz’s awesome moustache.

Cosplayers weren’t in abundance, but were certainly noticeable. The David Tennant version of Doctor Who was by far the most popular choice, and there were quite a few steampunk and Lolita outfits, one Rick Grimes from The Walking Dead and even a Bane from The Dark Knight Rises. The Stormtroopers of the 501st Legion were there, as was Perth’s only Doctor Who fan club, The West Lodge.

Of the 47 vendors there were comic shops, including Australia’s biggest Kings Comics, who make the trip from Sydney every year, and plenty of opportunities to buy rare comics, action figures, clothes, DVDs, books, costume accessories and more.

The team from AWF put on a show three times a day in the wrestling ring, with teenagers to hairy middle-aged men dressed in tight costumes and entertaining the assembled throng. The announcer warned all bystanders to stay clear of the red line circling the ring though just before the Royal Rumble began, leaving frightened parents to scramble for their curious children lest they become eclipsed by a hefty gent in spandex.

It’s very encouraging to see Supanova growing throughout the country, giving people a chance to meet some truly creative professionals and just have a day of family friendly fun, although I admit that the noisy wrestlers did scare some kids.

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  • Richard Boom

    Richard Boom Jul 9, 2012 at 12:56pm

    I saw great pictures of David Mack (Kabuki, Daredevil) with Tricia and Noah Hathaway (Treyo from The Neverending Story) in the Australian Zoo. Wish I was there :)

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