The Founder Of Supanova Is Stepping Down

The Founder Of Supanova Is Stepping Down
Image: Supanova

The founder and event director for all Supanova, Daniel Zachariou, has announced he will be stepping down from his position following the outcry over the pop culture convention’s Sydney event.

The move was announced in an email titled “Exhibitor Update” this morning, and included the first official words from Zachariou on the Celtic Panzer booth that sold offensive merchandise, including a flag sporting swastikas.

“Firstly, I have made the decision to step back from my role of Event Director for all Supanova Comic Con & Gaming events,” the Supanova founder announced, saying Scott Liston would be the event director for all Supanova events going forward.

As part of a response to the handling of events at Supanova Sydney, Supanova will be recruiting an Ethics Officer to liaise with sponsors, vendors, Supanova staff and attendees. “These changes are an important part of ensuring we can remain true to our values and continue to celebrate pop culture fandom in a welcoming and secure environment,” the Supanova founder wrote.

The update also included Zachariou’s first public comments about the handling of the Celtic Panzer booth at Supanova Sydney, where he claimed “all offensive materials” were removed from the booth before the show opened on Saturday:

We have an amazing group of exhibitors that continue to help us deliver the events we have become famous for, however, we acknowledge an issue with one specific exhibitor at our recent Sydney event that did not align with our values and the experience we want to deliver to everyone in attendance.

At the time, we removed all offensive materials before the show opened on Saturday and then on Sunday, again prior to opening, removed the exhibitor and subsequently banned them from all future events due to multiple serious breaches of our policies, before issuing an apology to our patrons.

Despite details being inaccurately reported by some media outlets, including comments that were attributed to me that were taken out of context, we have used the time since the event to commence a review into how we can provide the best environment for staff, attendees, exhibitors and sponsors.

The statement doesn’t go into detail as to why Celtic Panzer were removed on the Sunday, or why Supanova apologised, if all offensive material was removed from the booth the day prior. Supanova’s statement also doesn’t explain why the exhibitor was removed on Sunday “prior to opening” if “all offensive materials” had been taken down “before the show opened on Saturday”.

Multiple former exhibitors and attendees confirmed to Kotaku Australia over the course of reporting this story that complaints about the exhibitor in question were raised in years prior, and Supanova’s social media team did not directly respond to posts from users raising the same question.

The statement claims that details were inaccurately reported by some media outlets, although it doesn’t specify which outlet.  It mentions that comments attributed to Daniel Zachariou were taken “out of context”. Kotaku Australia previously reported that Zachariou had told Supanova staff that “cancel culture really sucks” as part of a broader Slack message announcing Celtic Panzer’s ban. That message can be seen here.

The full post from the Supanova founder can be seen below:


Dear Sponsors, Exhibitors & Artists,

We hope you are doing well despite the current COVID restrictions impacting much of the country. We appreciate it is a tough time and want to thank you for your generous support which allows us to keep delivering our events each year.

As you know, we should’ve wrapped up our event in Perth recently and while we are disappointed that we couldn’t spend time with you and promote our relationship to our fans in Western Australia, we want to provide you with an update on what has been happening since out last event in Sydney.

When we ran our first event in 2000 it was to celebrate pop culture fandom through inclusive and all-ages events where our diverse community could express themselves and connect with each other in a welcoming and secure environment.

As an inclusive and values-led organisation, we have worked hard to build a loyal and passionate group of attendees, sponsors and exhibitors like you which is something I am especially proud of as we get closer to the 20th anniversary of Supanova in 2022.

We have an amazing group of exhibitors that continue to help us deliver the events we have become famous for, however, we acknowledge an issue with one specific exhibitor at our recent Sydney event that did not align with our values and the experience we want to deliver to everyone in attendance.

At the time, we removed all offensive materials before the show opened on Saturday and then on Sunday, again prior to opening, removed the exhibitor and subsequently banned them from all future events due to multiple serious breaches of our policies, before issuing an apology to our patrons.

Despite details being inaccurately reported by some media outlets, including comments that were attributed to me that were taken out of context, we have used the time since the event to commence a review into how we can provide the best environment for staff, attendees, exhibitors and sponsors.

The review includes our governance and management structures. We have now concluded the initial phase of our review and make the following announcements.

Firstly, I have made the decision to step back from my role of Event Director for all Supanova Comic Con & Gaming events. I am being replaced in the Event Director role by Scott Liston who brings a wealth of experience having delivered the Armageddon Expos in Australia, AMC Expos, Queer Expo and First Contact Conventions.

Another important change is that we’ll be creating an advisory group to inform our major events going forward and ensure Supanova meets the current and ongoing needs and expectations of our staff, patrons, exhibitors, sponsors and advertisers.

We will also be adding an Ethics Officer to the team, a new role that will sit on our advisory group as well as work with staff, patrons, exhibitors and sponsors.

These changes are an important part of ensuring we can remain true to our values and continue to celebrate pop culture fandom in a welcoming and secure environment.

We will make further announcements as we work through the next phase of the review, however, if you have questions about the changes we’ve announced today please contact us via our Exhibitors Enquiries page.

Thank you for your commitment and ongoing support of Supanova Comic Con & Gaming and we look forward to working with you to welcome everyone back to our events as soon as COVID restrictions allow.

Yours faithfully,

Daniel Zachariou

Comments

  • Great work, Alex. Still left with some questions, though, re: ‘Stepping back’. Is he still involved in some other capacity? Does he continue to make money from the event?

    Also wondering which materials exactly did they consider ‘offensive’, because I read there were some pretty awful ones still there on Sunday. Not necessarily covered in a swastika, but still foul.

    • I just can’t imagine how this store ever got included to begin with. This is a convention for movie/games/anime etc fandom. I just can’t see how this would be a store like that’s target demo.

      • That’s what I was thinking when I saw it. This is not the audience they want. People going to a con are generally not going to touch any of that stuff with a ten foot pole.

      • The store holder once told me he was mates with Daniel.

        After previous running showing his stuff, he created his own comic he offers that he prints up himself.

        Seeing as Daniel has (from my dodgy recollection) gotten into trouble for expressing his own views on the supanova website against LGBT+, it seems to ring true.

    • I’d assume that he is still involved in the organisation, and someone sympathetic to him will take on his role. If the convention survives, he’ll try to reclaim the ED role and be surprised that people haven’t gotten over the Nazi thing (or the same sex marriage thing, for that matter).

      • I’ve interacted quite a bit with Scott Liston before, so I can vouch for him, he’s a stand-up guy, probably one of the most experienced con-runners in Australia.

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