Let’s start with the pure numbers. Over 45,000 visitors. More than 400 stalls, exhibitors and artists to visit and purchase loot from. Over 30 toilets to choose from for your ablution needs. At least 20 chairs to sit on. The same number again of film and television stars to pose with and/or have your chest signed by, while there were no real A listers this year we still got to see some fairly popular folks, James Marsters or ‘Spike’ from both ‘Buffy’ and ‘Angel’ was a real highlight, his onscreen partner Juliet Landau (‘Drusilla’) was also in town!
10 years since it came home to the current venue of the Sydney Superdome. 4 big name voice actors. 6 main prizes for the Madman cosplay competition. Zero on street parking spots left by 10.30 am. 16 seminars to attend and marvel at. 9 Best selling authors.
Then the costs….. Weekend Pass $90. Photo with Travis Fimmel $80. Photo with James Marsters and most of the other guest stars $60. A 600ml bottle of soft drink $4.50 A warmed up meat pie $10.50 An entire weekend out with your best friends in costume? Priceless.
I couldn’t really finish that with anything else could I? It really would be unfair on this sprawling multifaceted event to describe it only in numbers though, there is a lot going on behind the crowds lined up at the entrance, past the baying volunteers slowly losing their voices as they cry out in vain for people to show their wrist bands or to stop blocking the entrance.
There really is a whole lot more than the endless parade of brightly coloured costumes inside the main dome, the inability to get from one side to the other without running into long lost friends you’ve only seen briefly on Facebook and don’t recognise at all, stopping repeatedly just so you can take one more photo of that guy in the Optimus Prime costume or the family of Samurai Stormtroopers. Don’t forget, it’s not just about a short distance of 400 metres taking well over an hour to traverse and that being a fantastic thing? No.
You can’t simply sum it up by merely describing the feeling you get after finally meeting in person the many inspiring artists, authors, actors and creative geniuses who flock to the event. Nor is it encapsulated by the sense of awe that washes over you while watching one of the many shows and performances staged throughout the weekend, from professional wrestling, to the professional stunt people of ‘Action Reaction’ to the cosplay skits or many musical interludes performed on stage.
Could it be that feeling of pride that fills your heart when you are called on stage to accept a prize for best cosplay? Or the simple ability to be able to forget all the everyday cares that have been causing a spike in your cortisol levels and shaving years off an otherwise healthy life. Suddenly all those stresses and worries fade into the background as the worst part of the day becomes a slightly long queue or over priced soft drink. The best? Those shared moments of joy with your friends and family which you know you will never forget.
The memories you create that you will be retelling over and over on social media or to bewildered work colleagues, at least until the next big con when you will do it all over again. In fact, this very weekend (June 24-26) Supanova is on AGAIN in Perth so if you’re local or can get there (out of Beyond Cosplays budget for now unfortunately) do make the trip.
So actually yes, it’s all those things and more which make up the experience of Supanova for the average con-goer. Could there be improvements? Always, in fact I reached out through the usual channels (Facebook and friends!) and got a small list of suggestions just in case Daniel Zachariou (Event founder and Director) himself is reading this…
1. More chairs around the cafes and other open spaces.
I know you want to keep people moving where traffic is heaviest but away from the eddies and swirls of the crowds around the stalls there is lots of space for little groups to congregate and rest their weary bones. A lucky few may snag a table near one of the cafes but most simply plonk down on the cold concrete floor of the hall. Will there always be enough seating for everyone? No of course not, but as we observed last year, there’s definitely room for improvement in this area. It may sound trivial to you in your comfortable office chair but after six hours on your feet in an often over heated uncomfortable costume sometimes even a cheap plastic chair can be a lifesaver.
2. Post the panel/seminar footage online or at least make it available to purchase on DVD.
This con, I was so off my feet running around snapping cosplayers and catching up with friends (i think i knew that guy..) that I missed most of the panels I had been meaning to catch. Namely John Nobles, Travis Fimmels and James Marsters. Hell, I even wouldn’t mind watching the ‘Power of Three’ Charmed panel which according to those who made it was hilarious. According to an insider all these things ARE filmed but due to contractual complications or issues with rights, simply posting them on YouTube would be fraught with difficulty. In fact, attendees are banned from filming the panels so it’s only the officially sanctioned recording equipment which captures it all. If there is anyway for those hoops to be jumped through or if its possible for there to be a Blizzardcon style live stream of the event then Supanova PLEASE do one or all of these things!
3. Cloakrooms and Change rooms!
A big gripe for many cosplayers and indeed many soaking wet attendees of all stripes and persuasions was the lack of somewhere to store their damp jackets, baggage, and large shopping cart full of fraying hats. OZCC and other events across Australia has overcome this by providing a space to change AND a cloakroom. Having been to Toughmudder and other large sporting events which DO provide such amenities, we know it’s possible and a modest storage fee should more than cover the extra cost involved. Thankfully we hear that at the recent Supanova in Perth that they did actually have a cloakroom but still no cosplay changing rooms.
4. The lines for the Cosplay competition.
We’re not sure exactly how this could be improved but a number of competitors and fans described the current arrangements as a convoluted mess which leaves many entrants standing out in the pouring rain or cold. Whether extra cover can be organised or just some minor alterations to the layout something here has to give.
No, okay we’re actually kidding here. We know she has sensitive eyes and can’t handle the bright lights that convention spaces naturally have but when people are paying $60 for a photo with her maybe you could give them some warning before they hand over the cash that those things are staying on. Also as a general piece of advice for anyone reading this who intends to pay for photos with a celebrity. Look up previous con galleries they are featured in and check out how they usually dress, how much fun they seem to be having to help gauge whether you want to put down your hard earned dollars for the privilege of spending thirty seconds posing with them.
I don’t even watch a lot of Doctor Who, Arrow or Torchwood but that John Barrowman sure looks like a lot of fun to pose with and is first on my list!
6. Have a large whiteboard or some kind of information board in a central location
OZCC does this, any last minute changes to panels or guests running late? Simply throw it on the board! Not everyone can constantly check the website for updates so giving people a chance to find out about this sort of thing would be a big plus.
7. More training for volunteers.
We know Supanova does have a mandatory training session set aside for volunteers but according to a lot of attendees and even some volunteers this isn’t enough. Most vollies were super friendly and patient, we personally had no run ins with anyone in a blue shirt, but there was the odd complaint about a volunteer here or there who was a little too abrupt, or simply didn’t know the answer to a question. Others gave out conflicting information leading to a lot of unnecessary confusion. The answer here is simple, more training and make it easier for vollies to go up the foodchain to a supervisor if they don’t know the answer to a query.
There were quite a few instances of people standing up and putting guests on the spot with awkward proposals or embarrassing personal questions. No, asking Travis Fimmel to take his shirt off is not okay. Would you ask Summer Glau to do the same? A volunteer running around with the mic and quickly checking before handing it over would prevent a lot of these incidents.
There is more feedback to give, and if your think we missed anything obvious feel free to comment below or hit us up on our Facebook page. But for now those will have to be the issues we fight for. Especially the change rooms , seating and footage of panels!
Improvements we did see were the background colours for the guest photos, the new bold design is a huge leap forward and everyone was raving about that, the ability to buy tokens online was a big improvement along with generic tokens so you could change your mind at the last minute about which guest you used them for. The inclusion of a diversity panel and the Government funded initiative Headspace were other positive additions to the hall, and Daniel is to be applauded for attempting to address the social media embarrassment of signing a petition that seeks to allow parents greater control over whether their children can attend the controversial safe schools program.
Other than that it was business as usual and for most aspects of the con, as they say, if it aint broke….
I just want to emphasis that while the majority of this write up seems to have been spent detailing things we think could be done better, I don’t want to take away any of what WAS awesome about the con. It still had all the ingredients that make a convention like this great. A good number of interesting guests to get the really passionate fans in. A huge amount of cosplay with quality right across the spectrum, plenty of choices for food and drink (even if the stuff inside the hall itself is a little pricey), a simply ridiculous number of stalls to browse (i tried to count the list in the Supanova Magazine but lost my place somewhere north of 400), and all the small and large shows, panels, workshops and contests that you could possibly want.
There was not one minute of the con from opening on Friday at 1pm until closing at 6pm on Sunday that you wouldn’t be agonising over whether you should see one panel over another. In a way our desire to see more of the official footage out there for fans to see is a testament to just how great the con is. It’s a victim of its own success. There is literally too much happening at once for anyone to see it all.
If I was for example asked to choose a day on which to live our my own personal version of the film ‘Groundhog Day’ it would be on the busiest day of a con like this. If that’s not a ringing endorsement of this years event, then I don’t know what is!
I hope everyone in Perth is having just as much fun right now and we look forward to doing it all again next year! Thank you Supanova, and Thank you to everyone who made the effort to get out to the Dome even when the weather said “no”. That’s one thing about us passionate popculture fans; no matter how hard mother nature tries to stop us or how many times we have to sit on the floor or lug wet jackets around with us all day, we love our fandoms and our community so much that we will always find a way to say YES!
If you have been snapped by our roaming staff at Supanova, check out the album links below.