Some smaller pop culture conventions have been popping up around Adelaide recently and Pop Con is one of them. Hosted by the Pop Club and held at the Thebarton Community Centre on May 12th, Pop Con is in its second year, hence its name Pop Con 2.0. Being a fan of pop culture conventions, I decided to check it out. I left excited and wanting more.
Entry was $20 at the door ($15 online), a reasonable price for its overall size. It took up two halls in the Thebarton Community Centre: one for tabletop and video games, another for Comet Market (an artist alley) and a stage. Video game consoles like the Nintendo Switch and Wii U were free for use for attendees, with tournaments like Splatoon 2 and Super Smash Bros (on Wii U) playing through the day. Attendees too were free to join in on tabletop games like Dragon Reign and Dungeons and Dragons.
Despite being only four rows long, Comet Market was filled with local arts and craft. I found a wide variety of things, from anime-inspired artwork of Bilbo Baggins to steampunk mysteries books by indie author Karen J. Carlisle. Some products on sale that caught my eye were customised figurines. Priced at $100, these figurines were originally dolls that had been turned into pop culture icons like Ash Williams (The Evil Dead) and Link (The Legend of Zelda). What really made Comet Market fantastic was how affordable everything was. I paid $8 for Final Fantasy stickers made by LapiaRieDraws, a local artist.
Before leaving for Pop Con 2.0, I was unsure on whether to cosplay, but after seeing the number of people cosplaying, I regret deciding not to. There were many fantastic cosplays, from Steampunk to D.va from Overwatch. Cosplayers could also get their photo taken by official photographers and participate in a parade.
Like any good event, there was a place to purchase food and drinks. The food available was mainly Japanese snacks like Pocky and onigiri. These were served by Yummi Maid Café, a maid café on Gouger Street (part of the Pop Club on 117a Gouger Street). Onigiri were $2 each, with both meat and vegetarian options available. A beef burger was available for $7 for those who didn’t want Japanese food.
Perhaps the most stand out part of Pop Con 2.0 was its friendly atmosphere. People hosting the tabletop games were more than happy to allow new players to join in. One stall owner made it clear we could open something (e.g. a DVD) to inspect it if we wished to. Due to the smaller crowd, I could have decent conversations with the artists and ask about their artwork. Even one of the people from the maid café came up to me while exploring to deliver my onigiri. The overall atmosphere is what I imagined it would have been for AVCon in its early days.
Pop Con 2.0 may have been a small event, but its friendly atmosphere, focus on local art, and smaller crowds made it feel more personalised than much bigger conventions. Pop Con 2.0 filled me with a lot of hope; I would love to see conventions like this appear more. I look forward to the next Pop Con and where it could go in future.
Words by Cameron Lowe