Friday, April 4, 2014

Oz Comic Con Perth Review!

This past weekend Perth had its second ever Oz Comic Con at the Perth Exhibition Centre!

Even though there were a lot of last minute cancellations including Billie Piper and we didn't get Benedict Cumberbatch, join me under the cut for a review of what I saw and did over the weekend!

My weekend started early in the morning at breakfast with Amanda Tapping. There's something to be said for the fan experiences that The Hub and now Oz Comic Con put on and I highly recommend paying the money to go to them if you are keen to hear some different and interesting stories from these artists and actors in a non-convention setting.

As I stumbled through the doors, the very first person I was greeted by was Amanda Tapping herself! Early and unable to enter yet she was waiting at the front of the venue. Seeing Amanda Tapping first thing in the morning without coffee is a challenging experience, one doesn't really know what to say, but she was kind and appreciative and I soon made my way over to a group of people waiting for the breakfast buffet to open.

Once 8 am rolled around, Amanda came in to sit with us and chat. Armed with her winning smile, a cup of tea and a lot of warmth, she spent the next half hour chatting to a small group of us about Perth, her daughter and her acting projects. She had spent her time thus far in Perth geocashing and looking at public art with her daughter and also in Fremantle at the Ship Wreck Museum. She said that she was hoping to change her flights and spend more time here and was very complimentary of our city! She told great stories about her daughter Olivia being afraid of her Uncle Christopher Heyerdahl while he was in his Bigfoot costume but totally calm when he was dressed as Druitt which was ironic to say the least. We talked about Frozen and Doctor Who, which are a couple of my favourite things and apparently of hers and her daughters as well.

At about 8.30 am it was time for her to move to the next table of people who had been patiently waiting while we loaded ourselves up with eggs and toast to get ready for the convention day ahead. One of the things Amanda commented on (and Jewel Staite later on in the weekend) was that when you are at a convention you feel accepted and at home. That many people outside of particularly the sci-fi and fantasy communities perhaps do not get that acceptance and joy and that both women felt particularly comfortable in this space. They also said that people came to conventions in the most part to make friends and to see each other and that is certainly what happened both during breakfast, in the lines on the way to the convention and at the convention itself.

The organisation was top notch this year with lines moving quickly and smoothly and the indoor space being well set out and easy to navigate. There were an incredible number of stalls this year and it was difficult not to buy everything in the place! I think I did pretty well in the morning, visiting artist Jason Palmer and picking up an amazing Firefly shirt as well as convention veterans Gifts for the Geek and snagging an awesome all 11 Doctor's tee.

The morning also included photographs with Amanda Tapping and Jewel Staite before checking out the many cosplayers and cool items for sale. I was particularly impressed with the guy in the TARDIS that he had made... there didn't look like there was a lot of air in that thing!

1 pm signalled the time for Amanda Tapping's solo panel and in the Riverside Theatre we were treated to great stories from the sets of Stargate, Stargate Atlantis, Sanctuary and Supernatural. Particularly funny was Amanda's recollection that before appearing on Supernatural she had never received fan hate mail. During one scene in which her character is instructing Castiel to practice killing Dean in a virtual reality, the shot pans out and shows thousands of dead Dean's strewn across the floor. Apparently Jensen looked up at Amanda from the floor and said "Amanda, my fans are really going to hate you" and she was like "you mean the character right?" and he said "No. They're going to hate you. Really".

Amanda also told the story of Christopher Judge pranking her on the shoot of the last Stargate SG1 episode. Apparently she had a very emotional scene and then had to hug him. He had stripper pants made and a custom SG1 thong. It was horrific.

Next up was Jewel Staite talking about Stargate Atlantis and Firefly in the majority, as well as some new rolls that she has recently played. Although some of the questions left a little to be desired, she told a fantastic story about herself and Sean Maher drinking with Joss Whedon and then dressing him in a disguise (a paisley pink scarf over his head and sunglasses) to go dancing at a disco being held at a convention. Needless to say, everyone very quickly saw through the disguise but were happy to let Joss, Jewel and Sean have fun and dance with them until 4 am. Jewel commented that it was because of the Browncoats and the mutual respect that they share with the actors that something like this could occur where everyone felt totally comfortable and had a fantastic time.

After the panels it was time to seek out some more amazing cosplay and I have to say, although I am always impressed by the amazing Iron Man and Iron Patriot that I have seen at last years Oz Comic Con and Supanova, this year I think the best was by far the huge and amazing Bumblebee costume. It was just so detailed and so fantastic, I was half waiting for it to transform in front of me. Also big props to the awesome Green Ranger who I also thought was magnificent.

As the afternoon began to wind down I headed to Robin Dunne's panel to hear a bit about his time on Sanctuary. Robin was jet lagged, bouncy, fun and incredibly easily led onto a comedy tangent. He told a great story about a prank he pulled on Martin Wood for the better part of a year, emailing him under the name Holden McPhilips. As it reached crescendo and Robin revealed it was him, Martin could not believe that Robin had spent that long sending him long, detailed and weird emails pitching movies as a joke. It made me excited to see his panel with Amanda Tapping the following day.

To round the day out I picked up some great artwork of the Frozen ladies and the 9th Doctor and his companions as well as a sweet Merlin Knights bag from Bruce Loves You.

Day 2 started a lot later, arriving in time to catch Jewel Staite's Sunday morning panel. The questions were a lot better and Jewel laughed as she discussed her guest role with Sean Maher on Warehouse 13 and Sean having to wear spandex. She talked about her star struck moment meeting Matthew Fox from Lost and totally blanking and making awkward conversation and the definitely made everyone in the room feel like she was exactly the same as us - prone to strange out bursts, embarrassment and challenges. She was an absolute pleasure.

After a short break, and missing Connor Trinneer's panel unfortunately, we sat through the delightful sitcom that was Robin and Amanda's joint panel. Having seen the two of them do a panel together before I was prepared for how in sync, funny and comfortable they are with each other. That didn't stop me from having some serious eye watering laughs during the hour. They spoke emphatically and with animated and real time examples of how they pretend to be a couple when they travel together and pretend to have fights on planes that result in commiserations being given to Robin about the tough life he leads. They also told an amazing story about a balloon-o-gram that Amanda and the crew ordered for Robin when he had finished his first stint directing and how it all went horribly wrong when the guy turned out to be nothing like expected, terrified and playing the world's tiniest harmonica as he sang James Brown's "I feel good".


The rest of the afternoon involved getting an autograph from Jewel Staite who was lovely, trudging around the convention centre buying more memorabilia and bumping into fellow fans.

I visited Stewart McKenny once again to update my collection of his amazing Doctor Who prints with a War Doctor, Rose Tyler from the 50th Anniversary Special and an A3 new 11th Doctor, complete with frock coat which I absolutely love.

All up, it was a pretty low-key convention but a lot of fun.

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