Supanova Brisbane

Wednesday, 21 November, 2012

It's been a week since Supanova Brisbane and I have only just managed to find time to sit down and write a post about it! This being my third Supanova Artists Alley Supanova table (the first two being Melbourne and Sydney), you'd think that things would go relatively smoothly, and in some aspects, they did. But there were other complicating factors.

Given what had happened in Melbourne with Tiger Airways and our luggage allowance, I mailed 30 books and 2000 postcards to Kathleen in Brisbane. (Kathleen was the artist on “Nihilo” and “Knitting therapy”) The original plan was that I was going to stay with her. Then she got nominated for a World Fantasy Award, so of course she had to go to Toronto! She very kindly offered her place for accommodation and her car for transport, and even her flatmate (Aimee) as a table helper (with Aimee's agreement, mind you!) But then several things happened: firstly, friends of ours from our Wollongong days moved to Brisbane for work and invited us to come stay, and secondly, because of that, Ben thought he'd like to come too and take Astrid as well. Thirdly, Tiger had a sale on flights, so I ended up booking for the three of us to fly together. (However, I didn't realise that stuff happens at Supanova on the Friday in Brisbane. I couldn't change my flight so I just left it and told the others that we would not be selling books on that day.) I was excited that we were all going away together for the weekend (well, sort of; I would be engaged for most of that time), but I was also nervous about taking Astrid on a plane for the first time. I also took the precaution of pre-booking the maximum amount of luggage allowance (i.e. 40kg each way) just in case we needed it. And then I told Kathleen who graciously made time to drop off the books to Dan (who was the artist on “Toward the waves”).

Anyway, here is how it all unfolded:

Friday 9th November

I did most of the packing for all of us the previous day, but there were still bits and pieces to finish off. (Being the control freak that I am, I had multiple packing lists to make sure nothing we left behind—not even the bits and pieces I needed to cosplay. I even painted my nails blue several days beforehand.) We went to my mum's in the morning because Friday is normally the day we see her and Peter (though we normally go in the afternoon) and I don't like to miss a week. (Neither do they.) On the way there, my car engine started smoking because it was out of coolant, which was pretty scary! So Peter helped me fix it.

While they had Astrid, I went for a walk down to the local mall just to wander around and window shop child-free. Then when I came back, Astrid was just finishing her lunch, so we packed up and headed home. But foolishly I forgot my purse! So Ben had to come get it later.

Back at home, I put Astrid down for her nap and finished the rest of the packing. She woke up just before we had to leave (most fortunately!) Bec W arrived then (she was very kindly giving us a lift to the airport!), so we were just waiting on Ben. And then we all piled in Ben's car and drove to the airport, arriving with only a bit of time to spare as check-in was going to close very soon.

We needn't have worried; our flight time got pushed back. The gate for our flight changed three times—from one end of the airport to the other—so we ended up walking back and forth, Ben carrying Astrid most of the way as she wanted to be carried or was tired of walking. That really made me wish that we hadn't had to check in our stroller. Ah well.

Time passed. Our flight, which was supposed to leave at 5:15 pm, was rescheduled for 6:00 pm because the plane was late coming back from Brisbane due to wild weather. We decided to have something to eat in the food court (Sumo salad—which Astrid refused to eat, so I thought to myself, “Stuff it!” and bought her chicken nuggets from McDonald's because I just wanted her to eat something and I knew she'd eat them). I'm glad we did because we wouldn't have had another opportunity to do so. Finally Tiger started boarding us at around 6:10 pm. I don't think we got in the air until 7 pm, and then we were airborne for about two hours. I must say Astrid coped marvellously well, given the tediousness of it all, the late hour of the day (it got well past her bedtime) and the confines of the plane. (Also, I knew Tiger was a budget airline and so wasn't expecting much from them, however I was still surprised at how little allowance was made for us, given that we had a child with us.) I was prepared: George had advised bringing some non-electronic entertainment/activities for Astrid for the times when we couldn't use the iPad, so I had packed her nappy bag full of coloured pencils and paper, and books of various kinds. We resorted to the iPad close to the very end when she was getting really restless and complaining, “I want to get off!” (to which I mentally replied, “I know, honey, we all want to get off.” We were in the air for two hours and finally landed in Brisbane at around 9 pm. (I am proud of myself for being so well-prepared: I brought some of those lollipops made of fruit juice that Artisse make, and I gave one to Astrid during take-off and one during landing to help with the changing cabin pressure and its effect on her ears.)

Here's Ben and Astrid on the plane before take-off:


Simon met us at the gate after we landed and helped us with our luggage. Fortunately he had a spare carseat, which meant we didn't have to bring one for Astrid. We drove for another hour to get to his and Amanda's place—which is located as far out of Brisbane that can be still called Brisbane. (Their back windows overlook paddocks and bush.) Of course, we stopped for McDonalds on the way as we were all hungry again (which meant more nuggets for both me and Astrid!) Amanda was still up to greet us and get us settled, but obviously their kids had long since gone to bed.

I got stuff ready for the following day (I was bringing the table cloths, signs, display copies and float), and then we all went to bed at around midnight, exhausted.

Saturday 10th November

I got up at 6:30 am or so because I knew I had an hour-long train ride into Brisbane to get to the RNA Showgrounds on time. The other kids were already awake and making noise, so of course Astrid woke too. I dressed her and took her out to meet them. (Before we had left Sydney, I had tried to show Astrid photos of the family we were staying with so that she would have a bit of familiarity before meeting them.) They were all wary with one another, the way kids are. Amanda kept them all busy so I could go have a shower. Then we headed downstairs for breakfast, where Simon made us French toast. He dropped me off at the station (which was a 15-minute drive away), and I just managed to catch my train. I had been hoping to get one of TransLink's go cards, but that station didn't sell them. (If I had been more organised, I would have arranged to have one sent to me earlier.) There were Supanova attendees on the train already; you could tell by their costumes!

The train had a series of ads about train etiquette up on its walls. This was one of them:


I've since been told that the ads have become a meme (warning: some humour in that link may offend).

I got off at Bowen Hills and then tried to figure out where to go. Thankfully, Maps on my iPhone showed me the way. (I probably should have gotten off at Fortitude Valley but I didn't know any better.) It was sprinkling, so I walked along, juggling umbrella, iPhone and wheely suitcase. There were a couple of other Supanova attendees walking along too, so I kind of half-followed them, and came in the back way. Dan had picked up the exhibitor passes the previous day because he wanted to go to Friday's seminars, so I didn't actually have one. The staff let me in anyway; I guess they figured who else would be dragging around a wheely suitcase! I got a bit lost, trying to figure out where I was supposed to be as the con was spread out between a number of buildings and there were two areas for Artists Alley, but I eventually figured it out. RNA Showgrounds was being renovated, so we were in halls like these:


Showing the right paperwork got me into the right building eventually, and I went and set everything up and did the finishing touches on my Coraline costume. I ended up looking like this:


I modified the costume a little for what I thought was going to be Brisbane head—T-shirt instead of jumper, shorts instead of jeans, sandals instead of gumboots. (Turns out gumboots plus raincoat would have been perfect for that sort of day!)

Then I called Dan to find out where he was. He arrived not long after. Then Aimee (who was with Caitlene, our other helper) called to say where she was. I didn't have much familiarity with the site, but I went out anyway and had a look for them. Foolishly I should have brought my umbrella as it was raining, but the raincoat kept me mostly dry. I finally managed to locate Aimee and Caitlene and give them their exhibitor badges, and then we ran and tried to dodge the rain all the way back to the hall where the table was. Here's Dan at the table:


Here's Caitlene and Aimee:


Notice Caitlene's catbus hat!

The con had opened by this stage and there were already people milling around. I gave everyone some garbled instructions about everything, then sent Aimee and Caitlene off to explore while I took the first shift handing out postcards. We also met our neighbours on the left—Meg of Pirate Dragon, who makes the most amazing steampunk jewellery out of old watch parts and the like:


(Unfortunately there's only a couple of pictures of it up on her site, but believe me, it was gorgeous!) Also, her tablemate Janet, who knows both Kathleen and Aimee and who became our first customer:


The rest of the day was pretty straightforward: we took it in shifts to hand out postcards and walk around the con floor/go to stuff. As usual, there were people everywhere. And as usual, there were a LOT of cosplayers everywhere. This time, I was a lot bolder about asking them to pose for photos as I realised that that's partly the point and also that cosplayers rather like the attention: it's rather flattering when someone wants to take your picture because they recognise who you're dressed as and they think it's cool. (I got photographed four times as Coraline and it tickled me pink!) Here's a Vulpix:


(The ears on her head measure her brainwaves via the things on her ear and forehead, and move the ears accordingly. Pretty cool, eh!)

My Little Pony:


Halo Kitty:


Dalek girl:


A couple of steampunk pirate wenches:


A steampunk wind-up girl (she actually had a key in her back):


(We got quite a lot of steampunk passersby because of Meg's table.)

The Mad Hatter:


Minecraft guy:


A lovely trio of Lokis:






Leela and Nibbler:


Death (the non-Gaiman kind):


Spartan from 300:


Batman and Robin:


Tardis girl:


I got to have a bit of a walk around during the afternoon, and I met Sorab Del Rio, creator of Zombie Cities. I also got James Brouwer to sign a copy of The Deep Vol 1: Here Be Dragons (which he did with Tom Taylor; the book won an Aurealis award this year). Here's a model of a hobbit hole that the people across from us had brought:


Later, I queued with hundreds of other people to hear John DiMaggio and Billy West, two of the voice actors from Futurama.


Even though I was quite far back and could barely see the stage, it didn't matter because hearing them do all the voices was enough. Their panel gave me a healthy respect for voice acting.

Some of the Supanova volunteers acted as gophers for us and got us lunch, which was very nice of them. Cons always seem friendlier and nicer when you feel like the managing powers are looking out for you!

Dan disappeared for part of the afternoon to hang out with a friend of his who is an entertainment journalist—which meant he got to hang out in the green room with some of the big-name celebrities (Tom Felton, anyone?) (He did the same thing the following day and got to play Scrabble with Elvira. I don't know who won.)

The con closed at 6 pm. I took the books in my wheely suitcase but left everything else. We bade farewell to Dan, and then Aimee, Caitlene and I walked towards Fortitude Valley station. Aimee even lent me her go card for the train as once again, I was cutting it fine and only just caught it. I spent the train trip painting my nails black for the following day's cosplay. Of course, doing it on public transport meant I did quite a shoddy job:


While I had been gone, Ben, Simon and Amanda had taken the kids to the free council zoo and then home for a sleep. The kids had also been playing a video game and building stuff with the Duplo we had brought them (which they had really loved—yay!)

Amanda met me at the station and drove to wear the drive-in was. She even had dinner for me in the car. Simon, Ben and the kids were already there. We sprinted through the rain over the wet grass to where they were—me with an umbrella and Amanda wearing my Coraline raincoat. We were seeing a double bill—Brave and The Avengers. Apparently Astrid had been watching the screen intently ever since Brave had begun. I was worried that it would be a little too scary for her—especially the bits with Mordu—but she sat on my lap while I whispered things in her ear like, “This bit might be a bit scary. It's okay, you don't have to watch it,” and “Now the bear is chasing the girl” and other plot explanations. I'm not sure how much she understood but she seemed to enjoy the film.

When the movie finished, we tried to get the kids to sleep. They were already a bit narky because it was past their bedtime, but I think it was quite distracting being able to see the screen and having stuff going on around them. Amanda and I ended up stringing up our jumpers to block their view of the screen. The other two kids fell asleep pretty quick, but Astrid took longer and kept trying to peek around the side of what was obstructing her vision—until I finally took the blanket she had had on her lap and put it up to obstruct the screen and put my jumper on her as a blanket. Then they all were quiet and happy while we watched The Avengers.

We got home at around midnight. Astrid settled back to sleep pretty quickly. I packed and prepared for the following day, and then went to bed.

Sunday 11th November

Fortunately I didn't have to wake up as early to catch the train because setup was done. So I got to sleep in and leave a bit later. All the kids were up around the same time, which worked well. Simon dropped me at the station again—in plenty of time for the train. Fortunately it was a gorgeous day and there was no need for umbrellas.

Aimee got on the train part of the way there, looking fabulous in the steampunk corset she had purchased the day before, plus this gorgeous jacket she had bought in England:


(I got another photo of her once we reached the showgrounds and she had laced the corset properly.)


Unfortunately Caitlene missed the train and had to catch the next one, which was half an hour later.

Aimee hadn't eaten, so we went in search of coffee (for her) and breakfast. A little street market was being set up on the closed off part of Brunswick Street. Amazingly, I found an ankh necklace! I had one but the ankh was really small, and I'd always been on the lookout for a bigger one. So of course I bought it!

(You can see it a bit in this photo. For those who don't know [though why wouldn't you if you're a regular reader of this blog ;P], I'm dressed as Death of the Endless from Neil Gaiman's Sandman series. I threw together the costume pretty much at the last minute: I only bought the belt and skirt the Monday before. The parasol I'd had for ages though.)


(Here's another one—this time with a hat that I bought in Japan when I was 15 [I think].)


Aimee and I found coffee (well, a chai latte for me) in Gloria Jeans, and breakfast for Aimee at a cafe further up the street. Then we walked to the showgrounds with all the other attendees (but unlike them, were able to go straight in, of course, because we had exhibitor passes). Caitlene showed up not much later. Dan, unfortunately, was delayed because of circumstances beyond his control, but the beauty of having four people on the table was that his lateness didn't matter much. (Indeed, I felt like I was a lot more relaxed about everything because we had four people on the table. Even during the occasional times when I was looking after the table by myself, it felt manageable because I knew the time was contained and that I would get relieved by someone who would be fresh later.)

I didn't take as many photos on this day because I lent my phone to Meg for most of the time so she could do PayPal transactions. But here are a few more cosplayers: another Dalek girl:


Ramona Flowers (whom I had wanted to photograph the previous day):


The Black Widow:


And then later Dream and another Death turned up:


(I initially didn't notice Dream because I was talking to someone, and then Dan went, “Karen. KAREN! Look.” Dream came back later with his son to get a photo of the two of us with his camera.)

Later, I met Porco Russo at the train station:


Oh, also during the course of the day, a guy in a black T-shirt with the word “LIFE” written across it gave us a lemon:


(I said, “I guess that means we have to make lemonade.”)

Here is a photo of Aimee, Caitlene (wearing her Tardis tights) and me:


(If I had been thinking straight, I would have gotten one of the four of us together on the table. Ah well!)

There were no Supanova volunteer gophers today, so Aimee and Dan went to get lunch for us, walking back to the Fortitude Valley station area to do so as the options around the con were somewhat limited. I didn't attend any panels, but I did get to have a little walk around. I bought this print of Death of the Endless from Michelle Delecki, which I had seen the day before, I joined the HarperCollins Voyager mailing list and was given a copy of Kim Westwood's book, The Courier's New Bicycle (which won both an Aurealis Award and a Ditmar Award, and which I started reading on the plane home, and I think I'm going to like it because it deals with things like reproductive technology and sexual ethics), I chatted briefly to the people at the Penguin booth (who were selling Emma Vieceli's Vampire Academy graphic novels), and I said hi to Scott from Kings Comics who had also flown up from Sydney.

Other things that were great about Supanova Brisbane:

Pack-up was pretty straightforward and quick. Aimee took most of the surplus postcards home with her for Kathleen, and Dan took some as well for promotion at future comic meet-ups. To leave, we had to walk the long way around to the station as something was happening in the auditorium. I said goodbye and thanks to Dan, and then at the station, I said goodbye and thanks to both Aimee and Caitlene, who were having dinner at Brunswick St again.

Unfortunately I just missed my train and had to wait about half an hour for the next one, but that gave me some time to just rest a bit—catch up on Twitter, post photos, take stock, etc. Simon picked me up at the station and took me back to their house where I was given the dinner they saved for me. (The day had been pretty quiet for them, I think—church and then playing in the backyard.) Then I packed as much as I could into our suitcases. The rest of the evening was spent chatting and watching a bit of TV, and then we all went to bed because we had to get up super early the next day.

Monday 12 November

It would have been nice to stay longer, however Ben had to back at work because he couldn't really take leave. We were up at 5:30 am or something ridiculous like that to finish packing. We had to wake poor Astrid up. The other kids got up not long after, and when told that we were leaving, one said, “No! Want you to stay forever!”, which was really cute. We loaded the car and said our goodbyes, and then Simon drove us to the airport, skilfully avoiding the morning traffic.

Again, we were cutting it fine: we got there just before check-in closed, and were actually bumped ahead in the queue so that we could do it in time. Going through security was tedious: there was only two lines and even to my sleep-addled brain, the staff seemed to be particularly slow with getting everyone through. None of us had eaten (though Astrid was coping pretty well), so we grabbed breakfast wraps as takeaway, which we ate on the plane. (Astrid didn't eat much, and I supplemented what she had with biscuits and fruit bars from our stash.)

The flight went pretty well, I think. Astrid was tired, but she didn't have a meltdown. We kept her occupied with reading books, drawing and playing on the iPad. Ben and I spelled each other as we were both pretty tired. Fortunately the weather was great, we landed on schedule, retrieving our check-in luggage didn't take long (and Astrid was excited about getting the stroller back), and there was no queue at the taxi rank, plus there was no problem catching a cab with Astrid because apparently kids over 12 months don't need a carseat to sit in a cab (?!!) So we both sat in the backseat with her and she sort of fell asleep just as we reached home.

Then it was a quick turnaround: we got our luggage upstairs, I packed Astrid's bag for childcare and changed her pull-up, then Ben left for work and I dropped Astrid at childcare, I went home, ate some lunch and then crashed and slept for one and a half to two hours.

(The craziest thing is that that night, Ben and I went to see Radiohead in concert at the Entertainment Centre. We had bought tickets months ago because we'd never seen Radiohead and they hadn't been here in eight years. So it was another late night and yet more sleep deprivation, but it was totally worth it!)


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