Review: Supanova Pop Culture Expo Brisbane


Supanova pop culture expo is a three-day event designed to indulge the nerd in all of us and, for many, it’s an amazing opportunity to become someone – or something – else entirely.

This year’s event was fun, as anticipated, and kind of chaotic, if we’re to take into consideration how crowded Brisbane’s RNA Showgrounds were. Crowds aside, Supanova was a cinch to navigate, if you knew who and what you wanted to see, and don’t normally have trouble keeping track of time. The festival could essentially be broken into four physical sections, with the amount of time spent in each depending, of course, on how far one’s wallet is willing to stretch, and how seriously one take’s their role as a fan.

To begin with, there were the markets, where everything from 3D printing demonstrations to all the TV/film/game merchandise imaginable were on display and purchasable. The markets took up the majority of the space available at the event, utilising the entire ground floor of the Royal International Convention Centre building and extending, by means of a walkway, to an enormous white tent. Both were busting their seams with people, and this, teamed with the sun’s rays, caused inside temperatures to soar. Pity for the people clad head-to-toe in cosplay gear (think Darth Vader, Sam Tully, assorted robots, etc.). It was a humid affair.

Market tent at Supanova

Market tent at Supanova

Above the markets and up the packed escalators presented the other three sections that, together, completed the festival. These were the Cosplay Theatre, for Q & A sessions,  the seminar rooms, for those who paid a little/lot more than the average attendee, and, of course, the swarming autograph room.

Jerome Flynn and George RR Martin

Jerome Flynn and George RR Martin

After headliner Peter Dinklage of Game of Thrones fame cancelled his appearance, Lena Headey (Cersei, also of GoT) stepped into his place, and although she wasn’t available for signings until around 2pm, the queue (each of whom paid $50+, mind you) at the autograph room snaked out the door for hours in advance. Keep in mind said queue started at the other end of the room. The other stars of GoT were slightly more accessible, including Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark), Jerome Flynn (Bronn), and a very approachable Mark Addy (Robert Baratheon).

Of course, they weren’t the only ones there: Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit fans had plenty to marvel at, especially for those who had pre-purchased special, all-inclusive tickets. Post event, on searching #Supanova on Instagram, it was quite clear that Dominic Monaghan (Merry, LotR) was the guy to have one’s photo taken with (what a malleable face).

As mentioned, some expo-goers had in their possession VIP tickets – the kind that bought entry into the more intimate seminar rooms, where audience members could fire their nerd-questions at the likes of Dean O’Gorman, John Callen or Stephen Hunter of The Hobbit. These people, however, made up a small minority. For everyone else, there was the fourth, last, and best section – otherwise known as the Cosplay Theatre. Oddly, the only people dressed in cosplay were the audience members, but overall, that room was the place to be. Multiple Q & A sessions were held over the course of the weekend with the “supa-stars” , perhaps most popularly with the GoT cast and author, George RR Martin.

Jerome Flynn, George RR Martin, Michele Fairley, Mark Addy at Supanova

Jerome Flynn, George RR Martin, Michele Fairley, Mark Addy at Supanova

It was here that the average day-ticket holder could learn things they may otherwise never have known – for example, that Mr Martin consistently strokes his beard when questioned, that Flynn is a serious vegetarian who wears thongs with his jeans, or that Addy finds it as funny as we do that he died before Sean Bean in season 1 of GoT.

It helped too, that the Cosplay Theatre was at least 10 degrees cooler than anywhere else, dimly lit, and smelled nice. Yes, smelled nice.

The Cosplay Theatre

The Cosplay Theatre

One thing that wasn’t mentioned at the beginning of this article was that, unofficially, there was a fifth section at Supanova. This particular area was all around, at all times, and didn’t require wonderful time-keeping skills, nor a map. Surprisingly, you didn’t even have pay to see it.

It was, in fact, the incredible effort that gamers/dorklords/wondernerds and the like put into their spectacular costumes, emphasized by the sheer number of them. Honestly, there were more in costume than not – think Halloween, in America, on steroids, but with a thousand Sailor Moons in place of your predictable promiscuous nurse.


Supanova was something else.



(Photos – David Adcock and Sophie Blackshaw)

I'm listening to Roxy Music's 'Avalon' right now, and worrying how that might influence a self-written portrayal of myself. As a result, I'm keeping things simple: writer, reader, watcher, skeptic. I like questions more than answers. Too mysterious? I promise I don't listen to Roxy Music often.

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