| Post Office Box 67
Fulham Gardens SA
Phone: 0412 208 011
Oz Comic Con Adelaide
For the second year in a row Adelaide has been the venue for a two day sci fi (and pop culture) convention. Last year it was Armageddon and this year its the first convention for Oz Comic Con. There were a couple of guest line up changes with Ben Browder joining the line up a few weeks ago and at virtually the last second Sean Patrick Flanery dropped out to be replaced by Sean Astin.
The weekend started on Friday night with a cocktail meet and greet for the Platinum pass holders. Being the first time for this particular event in Adelaide there was only a small select group of us and pass holders were actually outnumbered by guests and con staff however for our group this was fantastic. Before the convention guests arrived there was plenty of time for pass holders to collect wristbands and photo and autograph tokens for the weekend before moving into the room for the meet and greet. It was fantastic to have the opportunity to talk to at least one or two guests at a time during the entire evening and the guests themselves (well the tv and film guests - I wasnt actually too interested in the voice and comic guests myself not knowing their work) made the effort to make sure they got around at least once often more to the small groups of passholders for some lengthy chats at times. All the guests I spoke to were extremely personable with stories of local shopping, travel, etc and of course why Ben Browder had the questionable moustache. It may have only been an hour or two but a great night before the guests headed off to overcome their jetlag and the rest of us headed off to home or hotels to prepare for the weekend. Next year there will probably be quite a few more platinum holders making this years experience even more unique and memorable.
Saturday morning heralded the start of the event and well prior to 9am the main queue already went outside the door of the Goyder Pavilion (those who are familiar with the large corridor through the centre of the building will understand the size of the line up) however Platinum pass holders (and VIP) had their own line and priority entry. Once inside it was off to find the queues for the photos and the staff did a great job making sure Platinum got priority then VIP then other ticket holders. It may seem like pushing in for some but anyone is welcome to pay the extra for the Platinum/VIP tickets to 'fast track' through some areas of the event and obtain priority seating prior to the weekend. Through the photos and autographs the guests remembered us from the night before so that was an extra bonus for the weekend though unfortunately with the photos especially there isn't time for more than a short chat due to the long line ups waiting their turn. Then it was on to the panels. Platinum pass holders had the first row reserved while VIP were the next 3 or 4 rows then general admission. Unlike Armageddon the organisers insisted that photos could only be taken at the start and not further on during the panels. Flash photography restrictions are completely understandable as that can be annoying to guests and audiences alike but without a flash the cameras are not distracting and once everyone has their shots they stop anyway. There are fewer photos in this pictorial report than the Armageddon events last year and that is why - this was the only frustrating aspect of the whole convention.
First up was the animation panel with Sean Schennel, Debi Derryberry and Bill Farmer (voice of Goofy) and while I only caught the end of it and had no idea who the characters were they were talking about (apart from Goofy) it was very interesting to hear the questions and answers that were discussed. This was followed by an onscreen presentation of a number of webisodes for The Walking Dead which didn't really do much but add some entertainment on different ways to kill zombies followed by an interesting behind the scenes type short doco about how the zombie make up is applied for only a minute or two at most on screen (the actors have it easy compared to the extras who are there for hours to look zombiefied).
Finally it was to the actor panels and first up was Norman Reedus and most of the questions were about The Walking Dead in regard to future plotlines, how it compares with the comic, if the crossbow really shoots (kind of but nothing like the sfx would appear on screen) and how every character is so very accurate when shooting at the zombies there were a few questions about Boondock Saints, Blade 2 plus other movies and the absent Sean Patrick Flanery even got a few mentions (hopefully one day he does make it to Adelaide instead of the usual Melb/Sydney only trips). Next up was Sean Astin who gave us a fantastic insight into his experiences working on the films and living in New Zealand for 2 years or so when working on Lord of the Rings Trilogy and with director Peter Jackson plus discussing earlier movies such as Encino Man, Memphis Belle, The Goonies, etc.
There as a short break while organisers held a quiz with prizes while we all headed off to find food or get additional autographs before returning for Ben Browder's panel. This would have to have been the most entertaining panel of the day as so many jokes revolved around that 70s porn star moustache and longer hair. If you looked really closely you could see the bloke in front of us really was the same as the clean shaven shorthaired version from Stargate SG1 on the screen behind him. Now apparently the moustache in particular had been getting a few comments throughout the day (even Jonathan Frakes commented on it during his VIP panel) but it turns out it was for the character he had recently finished filming as a cowboy/sheriff from the 1870s for an episode of Doctor Who. Now Doctor Who seems to be the one show that every sci fi actor wants to eventually appear on if they can. There was plenty of discussion about Farscape as it was filmed in Sydney and what it was like living and filming it not to mention the disappointment with how it was placed on Australian TV and never actually given a decent chance to find an audience. But it was apparently on 'after the cricket' and then reappeared the following August in competition with the Sydney Olympics so at least I know why I never came across the show - these days such a show would probably end up on GO and have a regular timeslot and an audience. Surprisingly there wasn't a lot of discussion about Stargate during this panel as you would have thought but still very entertaining.
At this point VIP and Platinum holders rushed from Ben Browder (who was allowed an extra 10 minutes and probably would have stayed all afternoon but for the reminder about autograph queues waiting) to the VIP panel for Jonathan Frakes. Most of us who arrived late were there in time for the start of the panel but ended up seated well back behind the keenest fans. For most of the panel discussion was about the various aspects of Star Trek from Next Generation, DS9 and Voyager to the movies Jonathan Frakes directed and those he didn't and the 'reboot' version of recent years. There was a little discussion about his move into directing including films and a tv series though recent shows like NCIS LA did not receive a mention. An entertaining and lighthearted look at some aspects of the Star Trek universe as the hour drew to an end.
The final panel of the day was Jewel Staite who discussed a number projects she has worked on including the new show LA Complex to Firefly a little on Stargate Atlantis, Supernatural, etc and also gave the group an insight into Nathan Fillion playing us a phone message he left on her phone (yes it did sound just like Castle - as in the way he spoke in the message not just obviously the voice). Hopefully he too eventually makes it out here to a convention again hopefully in Adelaide. As the day ended many made their way to the guest dinners while the rest of us got our photos and headed home (or to the hotels) to get ready for the second day of the convention.
Sunday arrived and it was back for day 2 which saw most of use line up for the remaining photos and autographs before again heading off to the auditorium for the general panels. First up was Jonathon Frakes who was even more lively than the previous afternoon and started on stage but then made forays up into the audience all around the room (and yes we were all seeing the headline if that video screen had not been so secure!). Again most of the discussion was more about Star Trek but there was more in regard to working as a director on both Star Trek and other movies and even recent shows Leverage, NCIS LA and Castle. Not to mention the singing in fact the entire hour went past so quickly and some answers left us all in hysterics - this was probably the most animated panel of the day.
Corin Nemic followed and a lot of the discussion centred around his role in Stargate and not just the acting but how it was to win the role and then later to find he was being written out again. Then there was the insight into growing up and what inspired him to become an actor. He also told a story of his first convention which happened to be mainly a Star Trek one that was attended by a very large group of fans dressed as Klingons that took their characters to the extreme. Another entertaining hour which again ended too soon.
There was a break after that until the afternoon VIP panels so there was a chance to get lunch and then walk around the trade stalls though I ended up getting distracted halfway around to the photo pick up. I must say the photographers in Booth 1 and Booth 2 were great to talk to giving tips on how to stand to avoid small issues with photos and were great when it came to locating photos after printing including the help on Sunday so it was possible to get to the first VIP panel prior to the start which was greatly appreciated. They also took great photos and others I spoke to were very happy with their photos taken by both photographers.
Norman Reedus was the first VIP panel of the afternoon and there were plenty of questions in regard to The Walking Dead but other roles did get a mention. In addition Norman was quick to mention his own projects both art images and film projects which are sold online with the profits to charity. He also explained the sunglasses which were absent Friday night but didn't budge during the weekend were due to his eyes being sensitive to the constant flashes from cameras and did offer to take them off for most of the panel but no one was too fussed they stayed on.
Ben Browder and Gigi Edgley were next and must say they are both very personable with Gigi Edgley ending up walking through the crowd and chatting in the photo area in the morning when the Farscape double photos finished a little early and Ben was fantastic at the cocktail party to our small group and throughout the weekend. The majority of the discussion was about Farscape and afterwards I think I will have to try and catch the early episodes as I'm told its the type of show best watched from the start. Of most interest to those who hadn't seen the show were the tales of costume design and how it lasted as apparently Australian production rules were not as strict as in the US at the time when it came to actors and oh&s, the long working hours and Gigi missing her flight out of London when making a lightning trip there during Farscape filming.
The final panel was Sean Astin once he finally finished the last of is autographs (don't know if it was caught on camera for the DVD but hilarity ensued when it came to first Sean being downstairs and being ushered to the Panel as everyone was standing up and close to the window and then a short time later as Sean did the same thing (in response to Jonathon Frakes the day before) to be spotted by Corin Nemec (hilarious but impossible to photograph) as they mirrored each other. This panel was very different from the main one with Sean going into details about filming and audition for The Goonies and talking about another movie Rudy plus how his father John Astin (Gomez in the Addams Family) had been to Adelaide with his own performance some years ago and had raved about the town as a must go destination. He also gave the actors insight into their view of conventions (which we all know is true when you think about it BUT while some actors will just be pleasant others, such as Sean, do go out of their way and will let you know they remember you at least for the 48 hours of the event which is more than you expect considering they see hundreds of people each day over the weekend).
And with that Adelaide's second big sci fi convention was over - however a DVD is to be produced of the Q&A Panels from the weekend which should be a great way to relive the event moments that were so entertaining. The next one is Supernova in November (these seem to run on a slightly different format) and then Oz Comic Con is due back next year (with several guests such as Robin Dunne already being mentioned) and Armageddon was perhaps going to try and return next year as well.