Adelaide Comic and Toy Fair 2019

The Adelaide Comic and Toy Fair is one of the major events for pop culture memorabilia, toys and comics in Adelaide. Now in its sixth year, the event opened at the Marden Sports Complex (MARS) in Marden on April 14. After enjoying my first visit in 2018, I decided to once again go along again and like last year, this didn’t disappoint.

The first thing that caught my attention as soon as I entered the MARS Complex was the sheer size of this event. It was far bigger than the one I attended in 2018, which was held in the German Club on Flinders Street. It took up almost the entirety of the complex and had numerous stalls all filled with toys, comics and pop culture goodness. Visitors could buy Star Wars figurines, VCRs of classic movies like Alien and the latest comics from Greenlight Comics.

Like many of these events, there are always at least two standout items on sale. This year there was a sealed box of a Sega 32X, an add-on for the Sega Mega Drive. Sold by King Kaiju Collections, one would be paying of upwards of $1,000 to own this strange but unique history of Sega. The other item was a tea pot shaped as the genie from Aladdin (1992) one would pay about $49.95 for.

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Representing local creators at this year’s event included Dark Oz, Matt J. Pike and Dr. Mike 2000. Alongside his usual items of horror and sci-fi comics, Dark Oz owner Darren Koziol was selling Laserdiscs. One standout of this collection was a copy of Titanic. Pike was selling his books which include the Apocalypse series, which is a post-apocalyptic series set in Adelaide. Dr. Mike 2000 sold his Universe Gun comic series, a collection of twelve volumes which is basically Yellow Submarine meets sci-fi.

A number of different pop culture clubs and societies were present at the event too. One of these included Starship Mawson, a local sci-fi and fantasy society. In attendance of this stall included the society’s founder, pop culture historian and avid Tintin fan Stuart A. Blair. Fresh of the heels of the Franco-Belgian Comics exhibition at Supanova, Blair once again had a small display of Tintin memorabilia for attendees to enjoy.

If there are any criticisms for the Comic and Toy Fair this year it would be the venue itself. While the MARS Complex was massive, there was little to no air conditioning or fans available on the day. It was a warm day and inside was stuffy and hot, distracting from the enjoyment. The complex too is in an inconvenient location for those who don’t drive, which would have held some people back from attending.

The 2019 Adelaide and Comic Toy Fair is by far bigger and better than last year’s event. It’s still one of the prime events for pop culture, comic and collectible lovers around Adelaide. Entry this year was $4, more than last year, but still worth it considering the treasures waiting to be discovered.


Words by Cameron Lowe

STEAMing Ahead

South Australia is quickly becoming the prime location for those looking for employment in the STEM fields. For those who are uncertain, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths. These fields currently offer diverse career opportunities, from medical advancements to the Australian Space Agency. However, there is one a vital component to STEM fields: Arts.

Arts and STEM have been inspiring each other for years, from Isaac Asimov’s three laws of robotics to the hard-scientific facts which make Andy Weir’s The Martian more realistic. This combination of STEM and the Arts is better known by professionals as STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics). STEAM has already been making itself known in South Australia, appearing at arts festivals and used to show off new locally developed technology.

In the 2017/2018 budget, the state government invested $250 million into Education to deliver more STEM topics to primary and secondary schools. Flinders University’s Tonsley Campus and its Innovation Hub, alongside the Medical Research and Science Centre (the cheese grater on North Terrace) are some STEM-focused buildings which now make up part of the Adelaide skyline.

It is expected STEM funding will increase with the new budget due in September. In 2018 the Adelaide Fringe generated $16.6 million at the box office and added $29.5 million to the state economy, as set out in their annual report. It is also the highest earning arts festival in Australia, generating a total of 39% of all multi-category ticket sales in the country. These figures show there is money in both STEM and the Arts in South Australia. Combined, they will make a far bigger impact on the local culture and economy than they do separately. Including Arts in STEM education will learning more interactive and fun while STEM in festivals like the Fringe more engaging and interactive.

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Modern technology has been heavily influenced by the arts. Many hardware and software engineers/programmers have long been inspired by technology in science fiction. One example of this is the Adelaide based company Voxon Photonics. Their technology, the Voxon VX1, is a 3D volumetric engine that was inspired by science fiction, more specifically Dejarik in Star Wars: A New Hope. For it to work, they required the aid of the STEM fields, especially engineering and mathematics (key components in hardware and software design). They create games to demonstrate their technology’s power. The VX1 was showcased in the Indie Games Room at AVCon 2018, allowing the public to interact with their exciting new technology. While the VX1 can do other things like medical imaging, art shows its power off in a more engaging way. Voxon Photonics has advertised pushing to get more local games developed for the VX1, showing it off at Game Plus (a co-working digital games space on Pirie Street) in June 2018.

Recent advances in science and technology have influenced the Adelaide arts scene. One example is the University of South Australia’s Museum of Discovery (MOD). Opened in 2018, MOD on North Terrace is where visitors can engage with science and technology through art (STEAM). Their current displays are a showcase on the future STEAM can bring. One example being the genetic modification of children, if they’re to survive on Earth from choices made today. This allows visitors to witness these changes first hand. For more on MOD, check out our review here.

In terms of festivals, 2017’s OzAsia Festival saw an international example of STEAM. This was Keiichiro Shibuya’s The End, starring Japanese vocaloid Hatsune Miku. Unlike a traditional opera, The End is entirely virtual, containing only Miku and showcases the relationship between art and technology. This also is a reflection on the term vocaloid itself, as Miku is actually nothing more than computer software herself. Another example of STEAM is coming to 2018’s OzAsia. Called War Sum Up, it is a 21st-century electronic opera that is summed up in three words “Music. Manga. Machines.” This unique blend will be showcasing technology working alongside Japanese Noh theatre.

The South Australian Government should be pushing STEAM rather than just STEM. It is already happening around Adelaide, and if given that extra boost, can help make Adelaide stand out against other Australian cities. STEAM can help bring more young people to Adelaide and benefit other fields like tourism and education. A STEAM revolution has the potential to completely reinvent Adelaide, making it a younger, more vibrant city.

What are your thoughts? Should South Australia be aiming towards a STEAM future rather than a STEM one? Leave your comments below.


Words by Cameron Lowe

Meet-the-Team-Cameron2Cameron Lowe is a horror and sci-fi writer, editor and student. He’s had fiction and articles featured in Speakeasy Zine and Empire Times. He loves to read, play video games, and drink green tea. He’s one of the 2018 editors at Empire Times. He tweets at @cloweshadowking.

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash.

Solo

Appearing to be a fun caper film, Solo, directed by Ron Howard, dives deep into a world of crime and cruelty just slightly too real for the Star Wars universe. The film’s villain, Dryden Voss (Paul Bettany) is a very human-like sadist whose presence hangs heavy over the movie and keeps it feeling threatening and unpredictable. In these respects, the movie succeeds utterly but it does not feel like the film heist in space we were sold. Nor does it really feel like a Star Wars film.

The creation of the new Star Wars Anthology series was to be able to tell new stories in this galaxy far, far away. Rogue One, the first in the series, established this could be done and done well, albeit, with a strong reliance on the established elements of the Skywalker saga with the supporting role afforded to Vader and the strong focus on the Death Star. Solo proves there is great danger in straying too far from this success.

Despite its successful fan service in dropping names like ‘Aurra Sing’ and ‘Bossk’ that mean little to the casual viewer but reward the more committed fans, the film feels very unlike Star Wars. This creeps in small things like the brutality of the war scenes, the allusions to the nature of Lando Calrissian’s relationship with his droid, the Lovecraftian space beast, the near-swearing, and the frequent off-colour jokes. Where the film feels least like a Star Wars film is in the presence of Dryden Voss, a character whose connection with and behaviour towards the main female character is often alluded to in a way that leaves an unsettling feeling.

The film’s handling of Emilia Clarke’s, Qi’ra feels a little off. Her story is only ever alluded to and the brief glimpses we get make it seem clear we could not see any more in a film using the Star Wars brand which makes one wonder why they chose to use such dark themes. This is territory well outside the expected for Star Wars and it seems unable to do it justice.

As the film continues, it becomes clear that it was an unnecessary endeavour. It fleshes out elements of the series that were better left as vague comments and world-building never elucidated upon. The character of Han Solo feels slightly diminished by being explored in such a thorough manner. He shot (literally) his way onto the screen in 1977 and was best left that way. Alden Ehrenreich does a thoroughly serviceable job as Han but it’s now obvious that Han Solo is not a role that can be so easily handed from one actor to another as works with James Bond. Whether he likes it or not, Harrison Ford was Han Solo.

Donald Glover’s, Lando Calrissian is perfect which is particularly remarkable for such an iconic character and proves the highlight of the film but his role is not enough to overcome the film’s issues.

Like Anakin Skywalker, Han Solo does not benefit from an origin story – the mystery was far better than anything a film could show.

It looks as though this Anthology film was supposed to launch another series but it is likely best it doesn’t. The unexpected arrival of a fan favourite character sent a ripple of excitement throughout the cinema but ultimately adds little.

It’s hard to see what this film was supposed to be – fun caper, brutal gangster film, or special effects extravaganza. Whichever one Howard  finally decided upon, he couldn’t quite get it right. This underworld is too real, too brutal, and populated by too vile a group of characters for the audience to escape without feeling faintly dirty for being immersed in that environment. This film could be a tremendous success as a separate entity but not so for the Star Wars franchise where the more unsettling elements are usually clothed in the alien as in Jabba the Hutt and his ilk. Here we have the very nearly human face of Dryden to associate with evil and corruption. A trip to the galaxy far, far away should feel like a more enjoyable experience than this. The suffering and cruelty is on an individual level here as the series jarringly tries to be both space opera and portrait of humanity existing in extremes.

Solo is not a bad film but it certainly is a disappointing and an unnecessary one. There’s a crueller edge to this film than any before and a more sordid world to see. Complete with off-colour jokes and hints of very real evils, it’s hard to see quite who this film was made to please. Whatever the plan, the result is a decent attempt but ultimately the most unsatisfying entry in the series.

 


Words by Liam McNally.

2.5 stars.

Adelaide Comic and Toy Fair 2018

 

Despite being a small city, Adelaide has a number of pop culture conventions, one being the Adelaide Comic and Toy Fair. Now in its fourth year, the Adelaide Comic and Toy Fair is held around the Adelaide CBD and this year’s April 28th event was held on the first level of The German Club on Flinders Street. I decided to make my first visit and I am happy to say that it did not disappoint.

I felt at home right as I entered the room, after paying the $2 entry fee. I found figurines from popular franchises like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Action Man filling the tables inside. The variety of them was diverse, from boxed Farscape figurines selling at $15 to a $500 boxed Black Series Boba Fett with Han Solo frozen in carbonite. Alongside all of these were Lego (but not actual Lego) sized figurines of super-heroes selling for $10-15 each. Whether it be for starting a toy collection, or finding your favourite childhood toy, the Comic and Toy fair had it all.

 

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For retro game collectors, the Comic and Toy Fair did not disappoint. There were boxes full of games, mainly from retro consoles like the Sega Saturn and PlayStation 2. Many games were the usual shovelware titles, but there were some hidden gems. One gem was a copy of Resident Evil: Deadly Silence (case included) for the Nintendo DS selling for $40. Perhaps the most impressive find was a copy of Final Fantasy V (cartridge only) for the Super Famicom selling for $7[1]. Speaking of the Super Famicom, one was on sale for $130 with its box for any willing game fan.

For bookworms, the Comic and Toy Fair had enough books to quench your thirst for reading. There was a little a bit of everything, from the classic Doctor Who Target Books series to old encyclopedias of the Star Trek universe. Comic book fans were also spoiled for choice, having a wide selection of comics from both the past and present. Both Greenlight Comics and Gamma Rays had a presence, offering the usual $2-$4 range of old single-issue superhero comics to trade paperbacks of V for Vendetta. Alongside these were comics from Adelaide indie comic writers like Darren Koziol of Dark Oz, and Dr. Mike 2000 of the Universe Gun series. Fans of the DECAY series could pick up the final issue for $12 from Koziol himself.

 

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The final interesting part of the Comic and Toy Fair was the presence of two Adelaide pop culture clubs. These clubs were Starship Mawson and TinTin Club Australia, with the former being the prime Adelaide sci-fi fan club. Some memorabilia from Lexicon, a recent pop culture exhibition at Unley Museum, was on sale too, including a framed 1960s Spiderman comic being sold at the Starship Mawson table for $90. For anyone who might be interested in joining these club, I recommend looking them up and getting in contact.

Overall, the 2018 Adelaide Comic and Toy Fair was a worthwhile experience. It was a fun day out where you could find a hidden gem and discover more of the Adelaide pop culture scene. I recommend anyone who is interested in pop culture expos like AVCon and Supanova to go check out the Comic and Toy Fair next time it is held.

If you are interested in pop culture and toy collecting, the Mega Toy Fair will be on at Adelaide Showgrounds (June 2nd-3rd). For more information, click the link here.


[1]WARNING: Super Famicom games will not work on your Australian Super Nintendo (SNES). This is due to region lock. To play a Japanese game, you will need either a Super Famicom, or a third-party region-free system. Another word of warning: Super Famicoms run on the Japanese 110V power setting, well below the Australian 230V standard. To prevent possible motherboard frying or a fire, you must buy a step-down convertor.


Words by Cameron Lowe

A Discussion of Star Wars: The Last Jedi

A bold and visually-stunning film, The Last Jedi is one that will likely keep a place in your mind days after you have seen it. To that end, Liam, Simone, and Amelia, from the Tulpa team decided to discuss the latest happenings in the galaxy far, far away.

 

Firstly, how did The Last Jedi follow up on The Force Awakens?

Simone: I think this film took where JJ Abrams left off and went into over-drive. There’s so much just more here; more action, more characters, more story, more Kylo Ren being the most strangely attractive man in the franchise. It was far better than anything I expected.

Amelia: I thought it was an interesting follow up because The Force Awakens had a more straightforward plot, and this seemed a bit like the earlier trilogies [being] over the place plot wise, but I think rather because it had so many different elements to it and trying to tie them all together. I liked how they were including references to the Star Wars TV shows as well.

Liam: Narratively it follows very directly on but feels like a completely different beast. Where The Force Awakens was compelling but familiar, this felt like a tearing-up of the script. Anything could happen in this movie – and very frequently did.

 

 

What of the balance between the old and new characters?

Simone: I felt the balance of new characters was handled really well. Pairing them off in story lines with older characters allowed for them to be introduced and explored by bouncing off the dynamics and conflicts in a really satisfying way. It was also really exciting that all the new major characters were women.

Amelia: Once they connected the old characters to the new characters it’s logical to start phasing them out [see Han, The Force Awakens], especially before they all die of old age (poor Carrie). Episode IX will be interesting.

Liam: This felt a bit like a passing-of-the-torch moment. Episode VII started that but Episode VIII continues it. That’s not to say that the wonderful characters we remember from the original trilogy aren’t still a welcome and active part of the story. The fight against the First Order feels like it ought to be won by Rey, Finn, and Poe, not Leia, Luke, and Han.

 

 

Where do we think Episode IX will go?

Simone: I think the best way for Episode IX to go would be to properly dissolve the Jedi Order. And for Finn and Poe to bang.

Amelia: They seem pretty intent on ending the Jedi and the Sith. Ultimately I reckon either both Kylo and Rey will die, or they’ll live in exile together quietly arguing about how to use the Force.

Liam: I think we’ll see the beginning of a new Jedi Order that isn’t so backward-looking and embraces a future. I feel that’s the direction the series is going as well; becoming something new, that’s less governed by its past.

 

Perhaps the most important question of all: should Kylo Ren be redeemed?

Simone: Part of me does want Kylo to redeem himself but I’ve always been a fan of the redemption arc. Prince Zuko is the best part of Avatar the Last Airbender.

Amelia: Kylo Ren redemption, no. I think it’s going to happen, because they spent Episode VIII giving him complexities, and motivations, and personality. But I don’t want it to happen. It’s like all the murder and grief he’s caused would suddenly be forgiven with no consequences

Liam: There’s a moment when Kylo Ren and Rey are almost re-enacting a scene between Darth Vader and Luke. That Ren then goes on to undercut expectation by utterly diverging from the course that scene went last time made me feel like that was a very pointed way of saying (as Luke himself said) ‘this won’t go the way you think’. He shouldn’t follow Vader’s arc. He should stay evil.

 

Each gave a final note of the film. Beware – spoilers beyond this point.

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Simone: It was like they were deliberately trying to break the mould after everyone accused Episode VII of simply rehashing A New Hope.  I also like the exploration of Kylo’s back story which really paints him to be a more sympathetic character. It’s not a black and white situation. Kylo has good reason to hate Luke. Ultimately he just comes off as a sad kid who was failed by everyone who was supposed to help him. I can’t imagine Han and Leia were the best parents. Neither of them had the most normal upbringings, they probably struggled with trying to raise their son, especially one as powerful as Ben.

Amelia: Favourite element? The humour was a nice surprise. I was also surprised how Snoke just got killed off, because he was supposed to be this Emperor Palpatine-type figure and then the apprentice kills the master. But then again, unlike The Force Awakens, I felt like this film actually started to branch out into new territory, instead of having a death star planet and shadowy empire etc.

Liam: I felt Kylo Ren had a much more satisfying arc this film. His conflict is still there and he’s not a standard villain creating evil schemes for no reason. It seemed like he genuinely thought his actions good for the galaxy. The furthering of the stories for the other characters felt satisfying except for Snoke and Phasma who I felt got short changed. The inclusion of Rose was excellent. She proved to be an immediately likeable character who got a wonderful moment with the animals at the casino stables.

 

And a final rating?

Simone: Five stars. And a screaming porg.

Amelia: Four-and-a-half stars.

Liam: Four stars.


Words by Liam McNally, Simone Corletto, and Amelia Hughes.