WOW what a weekend!
To give you just some idea of the weekend, every team member who attended: Stephen East, Dan Fraser & Jermayn Parker; share their experiences of the Sydney Mecca Weekend!
I flew into Sydney 5 hours later than I'd booked for - bloody Qantas! Still, it didn't stop me getting to Supanova only 45 minutes after it opened on Friday and thankfully in time to buy one of the Messenger bags at the Frew booth!
It as great to get straight into the first highlight of the weekend: meeting Steve for the first time and then having the CC team together for the first time ever - we wasted no time and recorded part of a podcast (our first ever live and in the same venue) on the train home that afternoon.
It really was good to do my 'bulk buying' that day... yes it was painful to be lugging (two) Messenger bags and (two) Phantom's Universe card folders home on Friday, but I did appreciate it the next day when I had less to carry. All the effort was rewarded almost immediately with a few beers back at the Mercure during the evening. The best analogy I can come up with is that the mood in the room is like having a sip with the boys after footy training - it's just a great way to catch up after a year since we all saw each other.
A bit of a different start to Saturday this year, as I went for a 5km Parkrun with Nick. It was brilliant and invigorating, and a must do next year for me! The two of us (and Sean, who made a slower start Saturday morning after a bigger Friday night) took the train out well after the rest of the crew and it must be said, walked straight in, with no real queue for us later arrivals. The whole of Saturday at Supanova was brilliant, with much of the day spent chatting to the creators we admire so much.
Lunch with everyone was entirely satisfying, and there were just so many people there that were catching up for the first time in a year or indeed meeting for the first time after years conversing online. After lunch, I found the Limitless Visions stand with a bunch of Phantom t-shirts! Playing The Phantom: Treasures of Drakon board game prototype was also an awesome experience and is captured in a youtube video somewhere.
Saturday night at the Lee Falk Memorial Bengalla Explorer's Club Dinner was just sensational and truly the highlight of the trip. It was inspiring and gratifying: to see such wonderful generosity; to have genuine and extended extended chats with good friends; to see Sammy J never being introduced but somehow being centre stage; to hear Andrew Constant's poignant speech; to enjoy the bidding wars; to experience the satisfaction of donation; to have the opportunity to chat with Wonder Woman's Nicola Scott; and just a lot of fun to go #podbombing! The best analogy I can come up with is that the mood in the room is like a Best and Fairest at the end of a footy season - it's just a great way to have a formal catch up after a year since we all saw each other.
Despite plans to head out to Supanova again on the Sunday and do my final catchups and autograph hunting, bloody Qantas again foiled me and had me heading out to the airport 8 hours earlier than I'd booked thanks to 'mechanical problems'. I complained, but my credit card was probably sighing with relief.
Sydney Supanova & LFMBEC Dinners are always busy, tiring, expensive and emotional and after doing this almost every year for the past 10 years, this weekend was no different. I got to catch up with old friends and meet new phans who quickly become like long lost brothers as they join in on the banter, teasing and become part of the inner crowd as you spend time with them.
Highlights up front are countless including and in no order: the bidding war between Duncan and Terry, Andrew Constant's amazing and touching speech on why the Phantom should be in every primary school teaching troubled kids how to read, the midnight late night chats with phans, the countless items we brought at the Frew booth and what we had to leave behind and the sketch covers I received from some very talented artists.
Oh and the new terminology we coined 'The Pod-Bomb'
As many will know who has listened to the podcast, this was the first time Stephen, Dan and myself have been in the same room and its fair to say they were awestruck! All jokes aside, it was great to finally catch up and talk shop in person.
This year majority of us went Friday day and it makes sense. I did majority of my shopping Friday which meant not only did I get in early on limited stock like the Man Bag and Kid Phantom TPB but I was able to get in early with artists for commissions and spend time on Saturday not rushing. I will be doing the same again.
The Frew Booth was full again but much more roomier and I say 3 booths is the right size. It was a pity Shane Foley was not in attendance as he is one of my favourite Frew artists and a top bloke. Frew had lots of stuff available, some pricier than others.
One of the biggest discussions with phans prior and during the weekend was about whether we were informed enough. I think it's safe to say the current generation thought no but the past generation was not bothered - let's leave that argument there.
The hardest thing was leaving stuff behind. I did not buy all of Jamie Johnson's prints and also left the two Pholios and set of A2 prints behind at the Frew booth. With a new baby and going down to one income, decisions had to be made.
Around $9,000 was raised at the LFMBEC dinner which is amazing. It goes to the Westmead Children's hospital and is a great cause. These dinners are also the only time I see so many countless phans not caring about how much they paid for certain items. 364 days of the year they may be a Scrooge but on this one day, the wallets are open!
What gets me is the amount of people who appreciate what I do with the Chronicle Chamber website and the Podcast. Glad people enjoy it and informing us so helps keep the fire lit. So I thank the people who told us.