Supanova Sydney 2016 was both fun and not – Worst. Review. Sentence. Ever! And yet, this is the most accurate description of what is usually a huge geek/pop-culture event on the Australian calendar. It did not have the best start, considering the controversy it landed in again this year. If you want to read more about my review of their “Diversity Panel”, then head over to my parallel piece “Supanova Is Not The Trendsetter We Were Looking For“. However, if you are looking for a lighter, unicorn-flavored approach to the event… Well, grab yourself a slurpee, and let’s run the highlights reel.
Supanova is like any convention anywhere: You have cosplay. You have artists and writers. You have comics and games. For me, I love these events as stomping grounds for geeks – where once we were singled out and ostracised for our interests, now we have a place to mingle and compare notes.
Let’s start with the first exclusive for Supanova Sydney – this year we had the Wonder Woman Pop Vinyl, as discussed earlier. I really like it, and I’m not a Pop Vinyl fan like others. Clearly, many others like it too because they are all gone. However, I need to question the claim “exclusive” since there are photos of the same Pop Vinyl being an “exclusive” to Books-A-Million in the United States of America. If you missed out at Supanova, check out BAM! online for alternative solutions.
We also had a mini-exhibit of some props from the upcoming Ghostbusters movie. Now, I’ll be honest – I’m not exactly hanging out for this movie, but the spawnlings liked seeing the suits. I noticed a few cosplayer taking some close-up photos and detailed notes. No guesses for what’s the most popular cosplay outfits at the next geek-event.
Speaking of cosplay, I was rather impressed this year. I love seeing some absolute unique concepts brought to life. My favourite was Vinh Nguyen from Blatant Labs. Best Performance in the Supanova Cosplay Competition – with a cardboard cut-out.
My other fave cosplay family also took out Best Cosplay Group – 5NOV Creations made a very impressive Star Wars Samurai. These guys are consistently brilliant and awesome to chat to.
The one thing that really stood out in the cosplay this year was the amount of crossplay. There were plenty of male Harley Quinns, especially with female Jokers. But there was so much more!! TinTin, Doctor Who, Ms Marvel, Cinderella, Sauron, Loki, and the best Deadpool wedding – Lady Deadpool (groom) and Deadpool (bride). Cosplay is no longer limited to who you are right now – it is only limited by who you think can be everywhere else. Which added an ironic twist to the gaping hole left after the Diversity Panel. Clearly, the fans don’t need to be told about ‘inclusivity’. Just the organisers.
The beauty of fans is in their appreciation. Cosplay does this. So does fan-art. We brought along a friend of Sinister this year and initiated him into the world of convention souvenirs with this beauty (by Mike at Cram! Studios).
When I finally made it over to the Artists Alley and the Writers, my buddy Dan the Wingman introduced me to comic producer, Alisha Jade. Picked up an Anthology produced by Alisha and Samantha Calcraft (AKA Mamath) with a beautiful collection of star-inspired stories – Starrytellers. Simply beautiful. Also had a fantastic conversation with her about the nature of conventions like Supanova.
Let me put it in a nutshell: Conventions are the best opportunity to find new, and often independent, artists/writers. If you are frustrated with the rehashing of DC storylines or the blatant button-pushing of Marvel (eg. Capt America), then try the indie writers. And for those who boycott events like Supanova because of the controversy – I understand. After many discussions with many various people, I understand. But don’t go harassing the people who need to work their early days at events like this. Sometimes, they need to have a booth or two on their resume to satisfy a contract elsewhere. Boycotting an event is totally your choice, but don’t assume it is the same decision process for everyone else.
Oops. Veered away from the unicorn-flavored review. Where was I? Oh yeah – standout booths.
The thing about geek conventions is they all start to look the same after a few years. Sometimes the cosplay stands out; sometimes a special guest makes it a special event (for either good or bad reasons). For me, I like to find something different in the vendor booths. Harley’s Tattoo Parlour was a popular choice – some pretty impressive temporary tattoos under the skilful touch of Harley cosplayers. Also impressed with PickPals – All you need to know about lock-picking as a sport. After bustling through the bottle-neck between the two big halls, you simply can’t resist checking out the huge crowd huddled over a small bench, learning how to pick padlocks. It was a song to my evil genius heart.
But to be honest, the lock-picking was the only one to really stand-out from previous years. This year, there was something missing. As I said in my parallel Supanova post, the vibe for the whole event was … diluted. The fans just weren’t buzzing as much as previous years.
Was it the transgender controversy in the weeks leading up? Was it the cancellation of their biggest star, Gal Gadot (AKA Wonder Woman)? Perhaps it was the lack of real interaction with the patrons, through panels or other staff on the floor… I’m sure there will be plenty of hardcore fans who will happily tell me I am completely nuts, but the majority of people I spoke to over the three days were all the same.
If you really want to grow with your fanbase, then you need to bring something that makes them feel included. More workshops. Places to sit and rest weary feet (a problem every year!!). Panels on games and comics. More promotion with your indie booths.
If you did attend Supanova Sydney 2016, share your thoughts below. Go ahead and tell me I’m wrong. Or right. Or a recovering Supanova addict. Either way, let’s start the discussion!