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Pop Culture Shock – Experiencing Sydney’s Supanova Pop Culture Expo 2016

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The travelling Pop Culture Convention Supanova has been congregating likeminded audiences from across Australia since 2002, and since then this meeting of the fandoms has only gotten more and more extensive, changing to occupy the ever-growing crowds which, in this day and age, have never been more dense in number. We’re now living in an age wherein which being a “nerd” is no longer a title only designated to those with a penchant for science-fiction and higher level learning, as the stereotype incorrectly suggests, but to anyone willing to purchase a full-price ticket to the latest Avengers film. Many see this as a negative, but few look to this cultural change as a step forward in humankind’s ability to accept and understand, and Supanova 2016’s numbers alone make this quite obvious.

Regardless of one’s reasons for attending – be they to purchase the latest Funko Pop! Vinyl figurines or to meet, albeit briefly, a pop culture icon that you find particularly awe-inspiring – hordes of dedicated fans will battle the seasonal Sydney wet weather year after year for the chance to experience everything that this three-day weekend convention has to offer, even if that means catching several different trains and buses sporting bulky cosplay armour just to do so. This shows a level of dedication the likes of which you see in no other facet of culture apart from, perhaps, organised religion which, to some, this convention is seen very much in the same light.

For us here working at SnapThirty, Supanova has been a part of our annual schedule for, collectively, something like eight years. We, as a small group of dedicated writers and content producers, have seen this convention grow to become something larger than we ever expected, and yet it seems as though it’s only ever going to continue expanding, despite how grand it has already become. Thanks to Supanova’s dedicated staff, we were granted media access to this year’s expo with the content of this here article in mind. Follow me, Frank Inglese, as I paint you all the picture of SnapThirty’s experience of Sydney’s Supanova Pop Culture Expo 2016 with the hopes that, by my final words, you will feel as though you attended alongside our small crew.

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Supanova, unlike SMASH! and Madman Entertainment’s upcoming Anime Festival, is dedicated to the popular culture landscape as a whole, choosing not to focus on specific facets, instead playing host to every and all levels of what modern day popular culture has to offer. For all of those attending of their own accord; this is a brilliant societal crossroads wherein which those belonging to multiple fandoms can have their hunger for interaction with other like-minded individual satiated. For us here at SnapThirty dedicated to the media creations of Japan alone…Supanova is a much smaller convention, but one that still has much to offer.

We stormed the convention with the hopes of taking as much of it in as humanly possible, considering we only had media passes for the Saturday of the three-day convention. Unfortunately for us, the only celebrity panel we were able to attend is that of Christopher Sabat’s, who you may know leant his talents to the roles of Vegeta, Piccolo, Yamcha, Kami, Mr. Popo, and many others NOT only appearing within the English dub of Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball Z Anime. For anyone who has yet to attend a panel dedicated to that of a voice actor; they all play out mostly the same, with the celebrity in question going into great detail about not only their career as a voice performer, but their lives beforehand. Mr. Sabat had incredible stage presence, and a subtle sense of humour that delighted the crowd, allowing them to leave the panel in high spirits. To say the very least; it was a wonderfully humbling experience.

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Battling the crowds, we made a promise not to stray from one another…which was instantaneously broken when, after a surge of people rushed around us obviously on the way to a signing event or something along the same lines, we were separated, but our goal to experience as much of Supanova as we possibly could was still in tact, and thus we soldiered on! Friends of us here at SnapThirty, Anime At Abbotsford, once again were featured at Supanova as one of the more sizeable vendors, so I made my way over to the large booth for a chat with co-owner Hanson whilst also having an extensive look at what the stall had to offer. Moving on from there I made a visit to Tamarket who, like previous years, also made quite a splash at the convention with their considerable booth size and Anime-centric stock of items. I had to temper myself and move on before the impulsive side caught up with me and forced me into a buying frenzy that would leave me in a state of unequaled financial insecurity.

In the meantime, it was Kane Bugeja who experienced what the local talent had to offer in the Artist’s Alley section of the convention which was, as per usual, populated with some of the most proficient artists and craftsmen (and women) we had ever seen. The rest of us eventually made our own way to the area as to experience it for ourselves, and what an experience it was! Every single year it is such a pleasure walking through the Artists Alley and seeing that these independent artists are getting the attention that I believe they truly deserve. Despite the fact that the crowds there were were akin to that of an unmovable stone wall, in retrospect I have come to see such crowds as a sign of these artists’ popularity which, as mentioned, I feel as though is earned.

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Supanova, for us, was not all fun and games though. Sadness hung over the group as we left the convention knowing that we were not able to be a part of each and every minor component which made up the grander Supanova as a whole. Regardless, it was an experience that, like many other years, has it’s ups and it’s downs, but ultimately leaves us with a good feeling in our hearts. To me, that is what a convention should do; it should bring you closer to others, allowing many to experience things that, for all intents and purposes, they may never be able to again, at least…not in the same capacity, and I feel as though Supanova has not lost this with age.

The camaraderie between cosplayers, TCG aficionados, fandom heavyweights, and everyone in between was palpable, and it was great. Going to a comic book store, or your local Zing! is not the same as making the trip out to one of these conventions, and it never will be. That is why events like this are special to so many people, and that is why a convention like Supanova will never end.  What more is there to say? See you next year!

If you are featured in any of the pictures seen in this article, be it in cosplay or otherwise, please make sure to alert us so that we can edit the article to show your name. We would hate to have individuals go uncredited, especially if they've put so much work into the Supanova appearance.

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