The sunny Gold Coast, with its stunning beach coastline, and warm inviting weather, for one weekend a year the pop culture and gaming and anime fandoms descend on this little city. It’s a sight to behold when people are crossing the main highway all dressed in cosplay. That’s when you know that Supanova Pop Culture Expo is in town.
The preview night opened in a typical relaxed Gold Coast fashion, with the opening ceremony showcasing a handful of some of the talent on offer. The guests from Torchwood, the talented fiction and fantasy authors and John Jarratt and Shawn Ashmore who are both showcasing their new endeavours. The former the new Wolf Creek series exclusive to streaming provider Stan. The latter a new video game called Quantum Break.
The Torchwood panel was the most popular feature of preview night with a lot of the early attendees popping in to ask Gareth David Lloyd, Burn Gorman, Naoko Mori and John Lees questions about Torchwood and Doctor Who. Not so surprisingly John Barrowman’s junk seemed to get mentioned a lot. But by all accounts from the actors, working on the show was boundless amounts of fun. And speaking of fun, those times were to continue through the course of the weekend.
As we enter into the convention on the first full day and wander the floor of the centre, the first thing you will see is all the cosplay, and with this convention it’s a huge variety of characters. From those of film and TV, to comic book characters to video games and anime. We saw a few Star Wars people including Rey, Poe Dameron (complete with plush BB-8), Boba Fett and an X-Wing pilot. There was also Nicholas Angel from Hot Fuzz, Edward Scissorhands and Goku from Dragon Ball Z to name a few others.
We took a break from walking around to sit in on Jade Gatt and Ryan Lappin from Cheez TV’s panel. They discussed nostalgia 90’s cartoons, and how there’s a lot of new cartoons out now but that they don’t hold up as well as those from the 90’s. As well as take a brief detour to discuss the pros and cons of Batman V Superman since it seemed that everybody has an opinion on that film. When quizzed on whether they would do Cheez TV again, the guys said they’d much rather try a Dave Schapelle style comedy sketch show rather than go back to Cheez.
We nearly missed our next panel due to issues getting back into the centre. Apparently the convention centre had set up a queue that ran 2 lengths of the building and they were funnelling people back in through the entry in a drip feed style as the convention floor had reached capacity. It wasn’t ideal to be stuck outside waiting in the sun for more than half an hour.
Luckily though we made it and the other panel that we popped into on Saturday was the ‘Rise of the Antiheroes’ discussion featuring Manu Bennett, Maria Lewis, Marlee Jane Ward, Mitchell Hogan, and Wanda Wiltshire. This diverse group of authors and lone film/tv star discussed the qualities and traits that make up antiheroes. The fact that antiheroes don’t necessarily see themselves as heroes or villains and that they’re usually the most interesting characters because of their depth.
To wrap up our Saturday we did a little more wandering around to peruse the Artist Alley where comic artists come to showcase their work that you can purchase direct. As well as talk to them about how they go about creating their art. It’s always astounding to see how much talent we have here on Australian soil.
For the second full day we arrived a bit late and unfortunately missed the cosplay parade through the main street of Broadbeach. I had seen it last year and it’s a lot of fun, especially for young kids to see all their favourite characters strolling together down the street.
Once we made it inside we decided to venture deep into the potential bank account ruining territory of the exhibitor stalls.
There are so many things to buy, from the handmade wares by budding designers and crafty-folk to the larger exhibitor stalls like Global Gear (specializing in weapons such as replica swords), Popcultcha (famous for their Pop Vinyl figures and other licensed merchandise) and Black Milk (pop culture fashion gurus who make comfy nylon wear). Wallets and bank balances beware, if you haven’t already spent up on photos and autographs this is where you could suddenly find yourself a little poorer.
We managed to briefly catch some of Manu Bennett and Eka Darville’s panel before having to duck back out for some photos. But we made it back upstairs in time to catch the last 15 or so minutes. Where Manu told a great story about how when he was going in to audition for his role as Slade Wilson (aka Deathstroke) on Arrow, he accidentally choked one of the casting reader staff out when trying to demonstrate putting him in a headlock as if he was Oliver Queen. And of course he brings an audience member up to demonstrate. Bennett has quite a few stories to tell, so much so that Eka Darville hardly gets a word in but you can tell he’s enjoying listening to his Spartacus co-star. Darville does manage to answer one audience member’s question just as they’re wrapping the panel up though.
Now any good convention attendee will know that it’s important to take a break and pace yourself through the course of each day. Make sure you stop by any of the food outlets and grab something to eat and stay hydrated with plenty of water. And don’t forget to always wear comfortable shoes (unless you’re cosplaying and your outfit demands you wear a particular set of footwear). As well as check the programme/event guide and schedule your day accordingly based around what you want to see and do. If you’re a little lost or uncertain of something, the volunteers (who for this tour) were wearing bright pink shirts are nothing but helpful and cheery.
Considering how busy we were with panels, with looking at all the stalls and exhibitors, with taking photos of cosplay etc. We feel like this review scratches the surface of what’s on offer when it comes to Supanova. There was a karaoke cosplay competition, as well as live music concerts held in the Cosplay Theatre room of the convention. There were AWF Wrestling matches being held in the afternoons. Not to mention all the other smaller panels going on in the Imagineer’s Playground and Anime Studio rooms that an inability to be in two places at once ruled us out from attending.
So for those attending the convention this coming weekend in Melbourne, be sure to check the event guide and the layout of the convention and plan your weekend accordingly. Supanova is a great opportunity for kids of all ages, big and small, to come along and be amongst fellow nerds and geeks and pop culture lovers. Stay Supa out there kids!
Supanova Pop Culture Expo was held on the Gold Coast from Friday 8th – Sunday 10th April, and will be held at the Melbourne Showgrounds this Friday 15th – Sunday 17th April.