Supanova: a day of geeky goodness

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 22nd June 2010.

Ever wondered where former television and film actors go when their careers begin to slow down, or even come to a complete stop? They hit the convention circuit and this past weekend in Sydney, the Supanova pop culture expo exploded into Sydney’s Olympic Park.

An annual event, Supanova attracts fans of all ages and interests. Covering almost all aspects of geekdom, from television and movies to anime (Japanese animation), comics, wrestling and gaming, this convention is the perfect place to grab an autograph from your favourite actor, locate that elusive comic for your collection and spend, spend, spend at the numerous stores, laden with toys, t-shirts and collectibles.

Of course, if you fancy wandering around dressed up as a superhero, a Japanese cartoon character or a Stormtrooper, you certainly would not be out of place at Supanova. In fact, attending in costume is encouraged and hundreds of fans came out in their best costumes to participate in the National Cosplay (costume play) Championships. I’m still wondering how the guy in the homemade rubber Alien suit went to the bathroom or caught the train home.

This year’s special guests included Lou Ferrigno, Michael Winslow, Eliza Dushku and Charisma Carpenter. Who exactly are these celebrities, you may ask?

Mr Ferrigno came to fame in the seventies as the original Incredible Hulk. After 5 years painted green and running around in his trousers smashing things up on TV, Lou’s star fell and he now is a personal trainer and a regular on the international fan convention circuit. Despite being profoundly deaf, he is a fascinating speaker and still in great shape.

Remember the guy from the Police Academy movies that made all of the funny sounds? That’s Michael Winslow. Still highly amusing, his act hasn’t changed since his movie franchise ground to a halt in 1994.

Eliza Dushku and Charisma Carpenter are both alumni from the Whedonverse, a series of television shows created by Joss Whedon, which includes Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Dollhouse. Both actresses were extremely popular with the attendees, despite being “between jobs”.

All guest stars participated in Q & A sessions, where fans got to field questions about almost anything. I attended the majority of these sessions and found all of the celebrities to be most professional, despite the odd inappropriate question. Most interesting were the more aged guests, such as Lou Ferrigno, who had many entertaining stories from a lengthy career as a minor celebrity.

The majority of the celebrities’ time over the weekend was spent giving autographs. When I say, giving, I actually mean selling. Whilst resting “between jobs” or in the twilight of their careers, the convention circuit is a reliable source of income for all but the highest echelon of performers.

For the sum of $30 per autograph, fans can get the signature of their favourite guests on a headshot photograph or an item of their choice. For $40, you can have a professional photo with them too. For the mega fan who wants to skip the queues, a VIP ticket for $800 will get you in the front row of the talks and guaranteed photos and autographs.

The Supanova experience is certainly not a cheap day out but for those of us who like to bath in geeky goodness, it is an annual pilgrimage. Now if only I could get a minor role in a Star Wars movie or something, I could make a living with a permanent marker on the convention circuit.