Sydney in June has become something of a 'must do' pilgrimage for Australia phans over the past decade or more.
With the Supanova team bringing their A-game for the Sydney event, this is a natural attraction for comic book lovers and pop culture fans.
Frew Publications now make a point of attending with an ever-expanding presence (1 booth in 2016, 2 in 2017 and we're hearing 3 for 2018), so this is a fantastic opportunity to pick up the latest in Phantom comics and merch without paying postage, and more importantly the chance to meet and talk to Phantom creators.
Then there is the Lee Falk Memorial Bengali Explorer's Club dinner, an annual gathering of Phantom phans who come together to share a meal, listen to a guest speaker and raise money for the Westmead Children's Hospital.
This year for the first time, all members of the Chronicle Chamber team will be there... They all have very different experiences and expectations when it comes to the weekend, so let's have a look at how they're preparing for the big event:
Sydney trip debut: 2018
Sydney trip experience: 0
Planning & Saving:
To say that I’m excited to be going to my first Sydney Supanova with all of the Phantom related events surrounding it would be an understatement. Being a part of ChronicleChamber these past few years has allowed me to embrace my inner nerdom and get further into the Phantom than I ever thought possible.
One of the best things about ChronicleChamber has been the opportunities it has provided to meet up with like minded people and this is probably the thing that I am most looking forward to about Supanova weekend.
As many of you know Dan and Jermayn met, physically, for the first time at Supanova last year but as of yet all three of us have not been in the same room at the same time- maybe we will go back to that after sharing a hotel room together over the weekend.
Technology has granted us the opportunity to communicate with others (pretty much) no matter where they are but there is still something to be said for that physical touch - it’s why I prefer to actually go into a shop rather than order online. You can imagine my excitement when I heard that the Frew booth, now in its 3rd year of being at Sydney Supanova has continued to expand their stall! Being able to see all of their products in the flesh rather than rely on photos is great and is probably going to lead me to buy more than I thought I would.
Something else that I’m very keen on is meeting the Phantom creators who will be present at the Frew booth. I don’t have a lot of original art so I am looking to rectify that, particularly with the sketch that Jamie Johnson has promised me- that Mark of Cain cover is still awesome!
Since joining ChronicleChamber I have heard so much about the LFMBEC Dinner from Joe, Jermayn and now Dan that it would be an absolute tragedy if I had gone all that way and not attend the dinner.
I am very much looking forward to socialising with phans and creators at this event, and though I don’t have the deepest of pockets I do hope to make some contributions to the Children’s Hospital. The little tidbits that I’ve picked up from past dinners (such as the specially made napkins etc) are enough to pique my interest just as much as the stories that phans have been shared. I’m intending to make a great weekend of it, getting there on the Friday and leaving as late as possible on the Sunday so that I can enjoy all that Supanova and The Phantom have to offer.
Sydney debut: 2017
Sydney trip experience: 1
Planning & Saving:
If only this were easier! It takes some serious dedication to save the money required to get to Sydney in June. There are so many Phantom collectables I have had to pass on this year as I try to stock the Minor Treasure Room in readiness - it's been tough and not necessarily successful, if I'm being honest, some things are just too hard to walk past!
A dedicated Phantom bank account is helpful to keep track of it all, and then it really is a matter of discipline, focus and sacrifice. I won't (can't) be spending as much in 2018 as I did last year - flights, accommodation and venue tickets mean that the base price for the weekend is getting close to $800 before you even get to the Frew booth!
Now, many phans would say that this is money that could be better spent on comics or collectables, but what price do you put on the social side and the opportunity to actually talk face to face with a bunch of like-minded phans? $800+ apparently...
As a first-timer last year I was a little blown away by the size and scale of the convention. Something I'm hoping to do differently this year is to get out there for an extra few hours on either the Friday or Sunday. Last year Saturday was great, but to be honest I spent 80% of my time just hanging around the Frew booth and barely saw anything else.
Getting a couple of sketch covers drawn up by Phantom artists was unreal because not only could you see it come to life before your eyes, you could also chat to the maestro scribbling it for you as well.
However, I am keen to see a little more this year - although my personal focus is 100% Phantom, it is interesting to see what else is out there.
Oh, and the best piece I was given before my first con came in our podcast prep talk last year: take a decent backpack and document folder/s for the gear you will be buying!
The key to really enjoying the LFMBEC dinner if you are lucky enough to attend? Make sure you put yourself out there and talk to people! There may not be too many familiar faces for newcomers, but there will be a a number of familiar names, and at the end of the day we all have one of our phavourite topics in common so you will not be stuck for conversation starters.
Trying to keep a little loose change to bid in the charity auctions is fun and there were some very cool items up for grabs last year - some well out of my budget but there was certainly more than I expected that were within range.
The best way to feel that you are contributing to the fundraising effort however, is to actually make a donation to the auction. Last year I donated a little something I had picked up from The Phantom Art Show, and got more pleasure seeing the numbers go up on this than I did from anything I purchased on the night.
Sydney trip debut: 2009
Sydney trip experience: 8
Planning & Saving:
My biggest tip as someone who has come for the last 7-8 years is to be open to change and book early!!
If you have a wife/ partner, get the time booked early and request the time away after you’ve mowed the lawn, cleaned the house so they are more likely to say yes.
Airlines usually have weekly special nights where their flights are slashed. At the time of writing, Jetstar has Tuesday nights and Virgin Thursday nights. If you can save $50 here & in other places it gives you more spending money especially with Frew likely to be releasing many different items.
Many of the regular attending Phantom phans stay in the city at Mecure Hotel which is nice but unless you book early and get it on a special it can cost you up to $200 per person per night.
Within 2-5 minutes of Mecure there is a few cheaper alternatives including hostels and back packers for those who don’t mind roughing it and sharing a bathroom with Bosco. This will allow you to catch up and spend time with everyone else but won’t mean you have to spend as much to put your head down on a pillow.
As a father of two now I have had to rely on saving money as that will become my spending money.
I booked my flights back in January and return from WA I saved $100-150. Booking a three bed hotel room 2 minutes from Mecure meant I saved another $40 compared to last year.
If you’ve been requested to get stuff for friends, get them to send you the money beforehand otherwise it will cut into your spending if your on a budget. Remember you are doing them a favour and the least they can do is give you the money beforehand. The majority of Frew's stuff can be brought online after the event so if you're not going, you can purchase then.
A lot of phantom phans go to the Lee Falk Memorial Bengali Explorers Club dinner which is a members only club. There are no blood or skull oaths to perform to become a member but it’s worth remembering it is a club and attendance is by invite only and you cannot buy a ticket from a website like Supanova. Just being a phan doesn't get you a ticket.
A couple of firm rules for the LFMBEC dinners are:
Don’t bring items for the guests to sign. They are there to enjoy themselves as you are.
Enjoy yourself, have a beer or phantom cocktails
Remember we are raising money for the children so while you could buy it cheaper online elsewhere it’s for a good cause.
Donated items help raise more money for the children.
We are all looking forward to seeing you there.