First of all, I believe as an experiment (by the ACA) and as an experience (for myself) I thought the exercise was well-worth exploring. The ACA has never been represented at Supanova, and it was also the first time I have attended such a gathering (although I had thought about attending many times in the past).
From a personal point of view, it was good to see some of the cartoonists working with the general public. Paul Harvey didn’t stay long, but made a great impression. Jules Faber helped a young lady make an equally good impression with her partner with a spontaneous but planned impromptu marriage proposal – you just don’t get that every day! And Jenner was the hardest working of all – he was just non-stop all Sunday in Melbourne with his caricatures of and/or animal illustrations for the public!
It was good to see how Gerald Carr does his pencils and inking, and there were more than a few interested spectators watching him quietly working away on an Australian super-hero page! Great to meet one of my all-time favourite comic book artists: Colin Wilson! And even though I only sold a total of two copies of Ned Kelly, Narrated and Illustrated by Monty Wedd (and none of Air Hawk!) I personally found both weekends well worth attending.
My understanding is that the idea of Supanova grew out of the early Australian comic book conventions of the late 1970s-early 1980s when “Comic Fandom” became collectively more organised with the growth of many comic specialty shops in most of our major capital cities; in many ways mirroring the Direct Market trends in the American comic book scene of that time. And whilst the initial plan may have been to cater for the comic book fan and allow them the opportunity to congregate with each other in celebration of that medium, the initial essence of that sense of genial community seems to have now been lost. And somehow I feel the ACA appeared equally lost in the general positioning of its stand at both the Gold Coast and Melbourne’s Supanova events.
Without being privy to the financial outcomes of the ACA’s presence, I wonder if that was a similar result of four day’s attendance for our Association. Throughout the four days of the Gold Coast and Melbourne Supanova Pop Culture Expo, the ACA Members actively sought out potential new members from artists, cartoonists and members of the public. The outcome of this “recruitment” may not be known for some time yet, but longer-term this may prove to be a financial boon for the Association, and may yet justify the ACA presence at this year’s Supanova.
Supanova has actively attempted to give back to the Australian comic community this year. (Perhaps in response to the disquiet among the creative comic people who have held stores at the events over the years?) As Platinum Sponsor of the Ledger Awards (“Promoting Excellence in Australian Comics”), in 2014 Supanova helped organise an Awards Night that was held in the State Library of Victoria on the Friday Night before the Melbourne (Supanova) leg. The Ledger Awards were open to the public, although to these eyes most of those in attendance seemed to be from the comic community. Given the concentration of cartoonists, artists and publishers attending these Awards, I wonder if the ACA’s financial investment might produce a better outcome (than the hiring of tables at multiple Supanova Events) by sponsoring one of these Awards.