The next two weekends (respectively) John Barrowman, entertainer with a capital E, will be brightening the streets of Adelaide and Brisbane when he attends Supanova to discuss popular television series ‘Torchwood’, ‘Arrow, and ‘DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow’.
This is not John’s first appearance at a comic convention or Australia, with this November being his fourth trip to Australia this year alone.
“I absolutely love coming to Australia and I have never been to Adelaide, and I've only ever flown out of Brisbane. So I've never really been to Brisbane either.
“My husband Scott will be coming with me. There's an island [Moreton] that does snorkelling and dune sledding so we may take a vacation.
“And the fans in Australia are just amazing,” John adds. “They get my sense of humour. They get the fun that I like to have. They go along with all the hysterics and spontaneity that I bring.
“I didn't realise over the course of the years how – and I don't mean this as an ego thing; it's just something I've been brought to realise – how popular I am in Australia.”
At my suggestion that it’s because his genuineness shines through, John answers: “Thank you. My motto is why be an a..hole, you know. So I appreciate that. It's easier for someone else to say that than me, but I like to think of myself as being down-to-earth and normal.”
On the topic of meet-and-greets, John says he loves interacting with fans face to face. “[I] genuinely enjoy doing it.
“If I wanted an easy paycheque there are lots of other things I could be doing. Scott and I have two other companies that provide for us, so I do these things because I love doing them.
“I love talking to people and I love getting the letters. And I do read every single one because these people are telling me their stories, you know. It's important to listen to them because you might learn something.
“And it's great for me to see the impact that I've had in the craft that I've chosen as my career. It's great to know that what I'm doing is affecting people and how it's affecting people.”
He’s even been called a lifesaver. “Not to sound too heavy, but a lot of people write them down because they don't want to talk about it – which I get.
“They say that my fun and silliness and exuberance has saved their life. I always tell people 'I like you. I want you around. I want to know you're still here. So don't do something like taking your own life.'
“Because people do think about it. And those letters say that they haven’t because of me. I'm really proud of that.”
He is quick to emphasise again that “that’s not the reason I do it. I'm just being me. And I seem to be helping people and that's great.”
To lighten the mood, John adds: “And I always love when I bump into Nathan Fillion at these conventions. Nathan and I were actually on the same flight last time. We do one of those nods to each other across the aircraft, and then I usually wait until he's sleeping to photograph him.”
Not only will John be answering fans’ questions about his recent and not-so recent shows, he’ll be discussing and signing copies of novels he co-wrote with his sister Carole.
“We have done nine novels together as well as the Malcolm Merlyn comic ‘Arrow: The Dark Archer’ that delves into his history and pre-history. “Oh, and we’ve also done Torchwood comics. And at the moment we've got our Webtoon ‘Acursian’.”
‘Acursian’ pits Celtic lore against modern day anti-hero Charlie Stewart, who looks remarkably like John himself.
When asked if that was a mighty big coincidence, John laughs in response. “Oh god, it was totally conscious! I'm just trying to keep myself in employment.
“Legendary [Entertainment], the company we work with, has produced films like ‘Pacific Rim’ and ‘King Kong’ – and they wanted the character to look like me. If we ever lift it from the comic, if it's ever popular enough to go on the screen, they want me to play the role. It’s the first time a comic has starred an actor, ever!”
John and Carole will happily sign copies of their ‘Hollow Earth’ and ‘Orion’ series at Supanova. “If people want to read or buy the books, we've got them at the convention. We're not allowed to bring the books in, but the booksellers there have them. Hopefully we'll get some autographs on those books for people.
“Start with the ‘Orion Chronicles’ and then go back and read the ‘Hollow Earth’ series,” John suggests. “That way you can find out more about Matt and Em. That's the way I would do it.
“The ideas for ‘Hollow Earth’ came on a sweet-fuelled drive from Cardiff to London when my sister and I were deciding what our superpowers would be. We wanted to incorporate arts and music somehow.
“We wrote the first three books and then were commissioned to write 'Orion'. They’re still YA but they're more adult in nature. The characters are 18 so we're able to do more with them.”
Working in a professional nature with family is great because they “don’t hold grudges”.
“She and I will have our little fights, I mean disagreements not real fights, but we're adult enough that we can move on. We're a close family, so we're able to have rows and still work well together.
“I still pin her down on the ground and lick her face to piss her off sometimes,” John admits.