Supanova Perth 2014 wrap-up!
By Daniel McIntosh
So this year marked my first ever trip to a convention in the west. Perth is a long way to travel for just a convention, especially when one runs the risk of a guest or guests pulling out from their appearance for any reason. Fortunately I had personal reasons for travelling to Perth in addition to attending the show which was good, otherwise I think the experience would have been a little soured when the news came that Adam Hughes was unable to attend the show. 2014 marked the first year that Supanova Perth was held in the Perth Convention and Exhibition centre. The venue was huge and from what I was told by various people the venue occupied more floor space than the previous Oz Comic Con show. There was certainly a fantastic turn-out as it was a challenge to move within the venue. The only real breathing room was amongst artist alley guests. This was certainly not a bad thing though. It was not overly claustrophobic, but certainly very cosy.
I attended the Friday evening preview night to collect tokens for autographs and photos and to attend the Alan Davis master class. The master class was quite enjoyable, but I would say that it was more of a Q&A rather than a proper master class. I do have to commend Supanova for holding a master class and it is something that I feel that all the Australian conventions should be doing. I believe that while the artists do get benefits from attending the shows through sketches and print sales, it is nice for them to give something back. As an aspiring artist it is something that I feel is very important that artists should do and it is a philosophy that I most certainly embrace. I hope to see more master classes in the future and run in a more tutorial or educational format as opposed to a simple Q&A which typically occurs during the course of the weekend. The likes of David Yardin and Nicola Scott could provide excellent master classes on marker work and perspective that would really help other artists out. Kudos though to Supanova and Royd Burgoyne for making the effort though and I hope that they continually improve this aspect of the convention. It is certainly something that is widely appreciated and done on the American convention circuit.
I was quite fortunate to get all my autographs and photos on the Saturday of the convention. This was not due to lack of popularity of guests. This was due to the fact that the event was run properly. The way a convention should be run. Allow fans to get their tokens on the Friday to save massive queues on the Saturday for tokens and then a tidal wave of people waiting to get their autographs and photos. This really facilitated the flow of the event and made the whole con experience enjoyable. The only recommendation that I could offer up is to sell autograph and photo tokens online in a limited quantity which would make things for the fans even easier.
From what I could see, the TV and movie guests were quite nice to all their fans and I never heard any bad rumblings from attendees which is a great sign. John Barrowman was of course extremely popular, however the surprise duck who was almost as popular was Manu Bennett who starred as Crixus the Undefeated Gaul in the Spartacus TV series and played Slade Wilson, aka Death Stroke, in the hit TV series Arrow. After meeting him it is completely understandable why. They man is a total legend and extremely nice to all his fans. I even gave him copies of an illustrated Arrow poster as well as his portrait from it and he was completely blown away. He was certainly deeply appreciative of my efforts and my gift which is the response that you want when you give something to a visiting guest. I also met Katie Cassidy who plays Laurel Lance in Arrow and all I can say is what a total sweetheart and all-round stunning looking woman. This woman is the whole package. I also gave her a copy of my illustrated arrow poster as well as her portrait from it. She was absolutely in love with it and told me she was going to get it framed when she gets home. The last guest I had the pleasure of meeting was Jamie Bamber who played Captain Lee “Apollo” Adama in the reimagined Battlestar Galactica TV series. Jamie was exceptionally gracious and such a nice person. He was even nice enough to accept to do a phone interview over the phone with Marcey and chat with Marcey’s mum which I am sure was the highlight of both their days. A huge thank you goes out to Lionel for making this happen.
After meeting with the TV guests I was able to spend some time with the comic artists who are the main reason that I attend the shows for. It represents a great opportunity to get feedback from working professionals as well as watch them work and gain insight into their processes. This was also a special occasion in that I finally got the opportunity to meet a new found friend Mark Raats who is an illustrator for Lucasfilm and Disney and has an animation background. His most notable works include the recent Raiders of the Lost Ark Imax poster and the return of the Jedi 30th Anniversary posters. Mark is such a fantastic person and has a wealth of experience and stories to tell. He knows so many people in the business like George Lucas. You may have heard of him. Mark is an extremely kind and talented artist and I was glad to have the opportunity to meet him. He can appear quite intimidating with his 6 foot plus stature, but trust me. You will struggle to find someone as nice as him. I highly recommend you take the opportunity to meet him at his next convention appearance which I believe might be the next Star Wars Celebration event.
Overall I thought that the show was really well run and I loved the venue and the layout. My only criticism in regards to setup of the venue would be that the small seminar panel that was next to the comic guest area be relocated to an area where noise from the con floor would have less of an impact on seminars and panels as there were times where it was quite hard to hear anything. Also the lighting for the small seminar area was not the best and I found that while guests on stage were shielding their eyes because the light was too bright, I found it to be a little too dark in the audience. One criticism that I do have in regards to media access is that all the cons make it too restrictive for media photographers to get decent photos in some panels. Understandably some guests may not want their photo taken during a panel which is fine, but often photographers struggle with the lighting conditions as they try to avoid using flash photography out of respect for the panellists and need to take a few shots to get the best shot. This can’t happen unless they are provided with the freedom to do so. I understand that there were some issues in regards to media passes for the Sydney show which forced the Supanova team to change the way they issue media passes. I think that perhaps Supanova should entertain making photo passes as they do with the senior volunteers. That will help resolve the issue.
If I had to give the con a rating I would say 4/5 gold stars!