“Turn here, turn here!”
“Right there, right there, ohmygod you’re gonna miss it!”
Kathy yanked the wheel of our rented PT Cruiser sharply to the right, tires screeching as we drove way too fast through the unfamiliar streets of San Diego. Lynn scowled from the passenger seat, clutching the door handle as the car barely held the turn. In the back seat, Sabrina wisely stayed silent, hoping we’d make it to our destination in one piece.
At 4 am, the massive glass and concrete convention center up ahead was still a dark outline against the sky. We lurched into a spot in the deserted underground parking garage. Easy! We were feeling confident that we’d be first in line as we hurried up three flights of stairs and onto the darkened sidewalk, repeating our mantra of “please let us be the first ones here, please let us be the first ones here.” It was too early for the trolley, too early for the traffic and crowds that would soon clog the streets. We threaded our way through the previous day’s debris – discarded flyers for new television shows, promo cards in the shape of coffins, souvenir buttons, colorful miniposters for upcoming films. Geek garbage.
Our instincts told us that three women in an unfamiliar city at 4 am should be careful, but we silenced the pesky little voice of reason. If we’d had good judgment, we wouldn’t have been in California at all. None of us had the excess money or time to fly 3000 miles across the country, and we knew we were going to pay for it in all sorts of ways. But not right now.
“We did it,” Sabrina whispered to Kathy. Even Lynn –never a morning person let alone a 4 am person – started to smile. Then we turned the corner. Our self congratulatory grins faded. There was already a line.
Welcome to Comic Con
–from Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls
That’s the beginning of ‘Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls’. Our story – our wild and crazy roadtrip through fandom – started at Comic Con. Last week, I returned again to the place it all began. Because there’s nothing like Comic Con. It’s insane and hectic and at times so crowded that you can’t see more than a foot in front of you (or anything other than the back of the very tall man in the Darth Vader costume who’s walking in front of you).
It’s colorful and diverse and awash in the sort of fannish creativity that we celebrated in all our books. It’s a place where no one bats an eye when Batman gets on the bus or there’s an Ewok in a stroller. There were probably a few incidents that were less than fandom at its supportive best, but I was lucky enough not to see them. Once again, Comic Con was four days of fannish celebration – and I soaked up every minute of it.
As always, I crossed fingers, toes and everything else that I would get a Supernatural bag. As always, that didn’t work. I ended up with a Batman versus Superman bag. But no worries. I’ve gotten better over the years at identifying fans who just might want to trade their Supernatural bag for something else. I spotted a young man with a Supernatural bag.
Me: Excuse me, sir, would you by any chance prefer a Batman versus Superman bag over that Supernatural bag?
Man: Hell yes! Would you prefer Sam and Dean?
Me: Hell yes!
That worked out well.
The comic con bags are incorporated into expressions of fannish creativity like everything else. Here amandabrookeiam models her new dress. What do you think, Stephen Amell??
Last year, I brought our Supernatural books to Comic Con to sell with Cinequest, which meant a lot of trekking back and forth from our hotel (which was lovely but a bit of a distance from the convention center) with a backpack full of books. This year, I was there to be a fangirl like everyone else. Until a) somebody decided to throw a ten year anniversary party for that Show I love and b) somebody decided to make a fabulous documentary celebrating fangirls and invited me to join the production team. So much for a laid back California vacation with lots of poolside relaxing in between taking in the Supernatural panels. But guess what? I had a BLAST!
Thursday started with the Fandom Is My Fandom panel modded by the OTW’s Heidi Tandy, and featuring some of my favorite fangirls, including SuperWiki’s own Jules Wilkinson. Nothing better than sitting in a room surrounded by like minded people all wanting to talk candidly about fanfiction and how the culture surrounding fanfic has changed as it moves into the mainstream. I sort of wished the panel could be about ten times as long as it was!
Then it was off to the Wayward Cocktails party at the Analog Bar to celebrate ten years of Supernatural. Hosted by the Superwiki and FYeahCopyright, the party was sold out and jam packed, with plenty of great food and drink (yes, of course that included pie!). I brought along some books to sell and to sign, got to reconnect with Supernatural writers Robbie Thompson and Bob Berens, and got to meet some fans who had read our books and enjoyed them, which always means a lot to me. It was great to meet Hannah and Hilly Hindi in person after interviewing them by phone, and what a great feeling to have the entire jam packed bar watch their Supernatural Parody together, all of us singing along with Hannah and Hilly! We need to get them to a Creation convention so we can do more of that.
Throughout the weekend, my contribution to making ‘Squee! The Fangirl Documentary,’ in addition to the interview questions, was trying to mesh the schedules of our lovely filmmaker Eric Mittleman and whoever we were attempting to film. Sounds simple enough, right? Not at Comic Con! The celebs and the fangirls had autographs and panels to do, and Eric had editing. Add to that the fact that my phone only worked sporadically due to the millions of people trying to simultaneously access the internet in the convention center and you have a recipe for stress. That explains why I spent a lot of time camped out in the Marriott Starbucks, which mercifully had some tables and chairs. At least then I could keep telling people to come find me at the same place!
We did some interviews with awesome, inspiring fangirls, and caught up with Curtis Armstrong at the Wayward Cocktails party to film his bit for the doc. Every time I get to spend time with Curtis, I love him more – especially his passion for fandom. Cannot wait to see what Season 11 brings for his alter ego, Metatron!
We also filmed a wonderful segment with the Hillywood Show girls and spent some time chatting with them as well. I am really hoping they’ll get invited to some cons, because they are so much fun and such Supernatural fans.
And their Dean and Cas cosplay fit right in at Comic Con!
Friday was the day my friend M. Night Shyamalan was in town, so I went to his panel for the new film ‘The Visit’. He and producer Jason Blum have great chemistry, and both have an infectious enthusiasm for this film. They had some great discussion about the difference between a thriller and a horror movie, but both agreed that The Visit will scare the crap out of you either way.
Night and Jason also did a Nerd HQ panel to benefit Operation Smile. I got to meet Zachary Levi afterwards for the first time – what a super nice guy!
Night to Zach: This is Lynn. She’s the biggest Supernatural fan in the world.
Me: Well, probably not THE biggest…
Night: Nope. The biggest.
Zachary: Aren’t those guys great?
Me: (beaming and nodding) Okay, fine.
Pretty sure some of you could give me a run for my money, but hey, it’s not a bad title to shoot for.
If you don’t have the new film ‘The Visit’ on your must-see list, add it right the hell now – I went to the screening of the film on Friday night and LOVED it! Don’t go see it if you don’t want to scream though. Seriously. Luckily the person sitting next to me was in the same boat, or my gasps and squeals of terror would undoubtedly have been annoying.
Saturday I caught a few panels with friends, including Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy for the new movie Victor Frankenstein, which looked interesting, and the Maze Runner panel because my friend wanted to see Dylan O’Brien. It looks pretty intense, gotta say.
The rest of Saturday was more filming for Squee, including finally catching up with Osric Chau. Osric was at Comic Con because he’s a fan, which is one of the reasons I love him. How funny is it that the attendee bag he got happened to be a Supernatural one? They had no clue they were giving it to a cast member.
We shot a segment with Osric at the waterfront, with a beautiful backdrop. As we filmed, we’d hear people walk by and then go ‘oh wait, isn’t that Kevin, OMG it is!’
Some of them stopped to tell Osric that they were huge Supernatural fans – and every single person, at some point in the conversation, said “They need to bring back Kevin!” Hear that, Jeremy Carver??
By the time we finished filming, Osric was heading to the Gaslamp quarter to meet up with Misha Collins and some Random Acts folks. In what I think is becoming a really cool tradition, Misha planned to bring pizza to the fans waiting in line all night to get into the Supernatural panel in Hall H the next day.
Osric: Why don’t you come with me? You can film everything on my camera. Like make a little mini documentary.
Lynn: Ummm, filming isn’t exactly my forte…
Osric: No, it’s easy, here let me show you.
Lynn: (skeptical) Okayyyyy. But don’t judge me if it’s the worst footage ever!
It’s definitely the worst footage ever. We trekked about ten miles up into the Gaslamp to a bar that was the designated meeting place.
Lynn: (out of breath) Why did Misha have to order pizza from a place that’s about twenty miles from the convention center? Are there no decent pizza places CLOSER??
Osric did not have an answer.
Perhaps, I think, this is just the best pizza place in all of San Diego. Supernatural fans deserve the best, after all.
Misha appears, along with some lovely RA folks and the RA mascot the Dinomite. I attempt to film Misha and Osric being introduced to him, with limited success. (It sort of looks like Misha and Osric meet the Dinomite during an earthquake).
And then we’re on the move – a strange procession of about a dozen people, some with signs, following Misha and Osric through the Gaslamp. Me simultaneously filming the unlikely parade and tripping over things I can’t see on the street because I’m looking through the camera lens. Back down to the convention center. Without any pizza. What the hell?? So the pizza was not at the bar in the Gaslamp? Where IS the pizza??
We weave in and out of crowds, occasionally pausing for Misha to take pictures with people who recognize him and are suddenly overcome with an understandable euphoria.
Across the trolley tracks, across the street, around the Hall H entrance. Finally we arrive at the elusive pizza – loaded onto three pedicabs, festooned with multicolored bright lights. Misha being Misha, he hops on one and begins to pedal away, the rest of us streaming along behind him, me muttering to no one “But why did we have to go all the way to the Gaslamp when the pizza was waiting for us down here??”
True to his word, Misha gave out pizza to the tired and hungry fans waiting in line, who were overjoyed to see him – and the pizza. Then Osric grabbed some pizzas and headed to the ADA line, where 30 or so fans were also camped out. They were clearly surprised to see Osric, and very grateful for the pizza and the time he took to hang out and chat.
Is ours the only Show that brings pizza to its fans at midnight at Comic Con? I think so. By the time the evening was over, I was so emotional I didn’t even care that I’d had to walk 20 miles and back for apparently no reason I could ever fathom. It was one of those adventures that only happens at Comic Con.
I made my way back to the hotel in the wee hours of the morning – thank god for the all night shuttle buses! Sleep? If that’s what you’re after, Comic Con might not be the place for you.
Sunday is Supernatural day at Comic Con, so I was up bright and early without any significant amount of sleep. But who cares when you’re on your way to see Jared and Jensen and Misha and Mark?? The Vampire Diaries panel was first up in Hall H – which, if you haven’t been to, is just indescribably gigantic. Here’s the view from the front of the hall. You can’t even see the back from here!
I couldn’t help but remember the first year we were at Comic Con for Supernatural, when we thought Room 6CDEF was so big. I never imagined, back then, that the Show would still be on 8 years later – or would be in the biggest hall in the convention center!
Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder and the gang were both witty and warm. Their bromance reminds me of Jared and Jensen’s, with a lot more overtly slashy joking thrown in.
Side note: I got a new phone for Comic Con, which has a much better camera but no handy dandy old school flip out keyboard so I can tweet super fast and with some accuracy. This new one? Not so much. I noticed later that my attempt to tweet about Paul and Ian’s bromance instead came out “Paul and Ian’s bromine” thanks to autocorrect. Perhaps my helpful phone thought I was trying to comment on their chemistry.
TVD also showed a fabulous mashup vid that shipped everyone with everyone, including Ian making out with Michael Malarky, who gleefully announced that he shipped “Denzo”. Gotta say, I love TVD’s appreciation of their fans’ creativity and fanworks.
Also? Julie Plec is adorable. And a total fangirl. Maybe that explains it…
Best line of the Vampire Diaries panel? Paul: If I want the crowd to scream, I just have to say two words: Jared and Jensen!
The excitement ratcheted up to off the charts as TVD panel ended and we all got ready for the Supernatural one. Mark Sheppard snuck out onstage to give everyone a Crowley Pop Funko doll, perhaps to make up for the fact that there wasn’t one last year. Then it was finally time!
We were treated to a special reel made up for the 200th episode party that consisted of clips from all 200 episodes, which made me realize all over again just how damn special our Show is.
I had been clued in that Richard Speight Jr. and Rob Benedict would be moderating, which only served to make me even MORE excited. And what a fabulous job they did! Some of the best questions were asked by special guest mod The Hamster, whose accent rivals some of Misha’s. We totally need to interview him soon.
One of my favorite moments was Jensen talking about how they and we really are family, and Mark chiming in with how much fun it is to be able to go to work with family.
Everyone seemed excited about the Winchesters working together again instead of against each other, and fandom expressed our agreement. With enthusiasm.
You can all watch the videos, but there were two moments that were striking, for completely different reasons. One was when a fan stepped up to the mic and confronted showrunner Jeremy Carver about killing off Charlie and “dumping her body in a bathtub.”
The question was clearly intended as a challenge, and the cast reacted instantly. Mark Sheppard cracked up and then pointedly turned away. Jensen stood up, laughing, and then disappeared behind the table and turned around too. Eventually only his shoes were visible. Misha and Jared turned around too.
This one’s all for you, Jeremy.
His answer was half drowned out by boos, though the audience of fans was quick to forgive and move on. But not before sending a clear message.
The other moment that was unforgettable was the AlwaysKeepFighting tea lights. Part way through the panel, a volunteer handed Jared a note and a small plastic candle. At the same time, we in the audience each got a candle too, with a note. “Always keep fighting, and you’ll never fight alone.”
Jared was literally open mouthed, disbelieving, when he read the note. Then the most incredible thing happened. The lights went down in Hall H and we all turned on our candles. It was quiet and peaceful, the hall lit only with the small points of light.
Jared stared out at the spectacle, overcome with emotion, as we all started chanting ‘Always keep fighting’. I might have had to grab for a tissue. Jared had to wipe his eyes on Jensen’s waiting shoulder. Jensen looked as moved as Jared as he clapped to show his own appreciation.
It was a moment set apart from the noise and chaos of Comic Con; a moment that spoke volumes of what fandom is really all about and what the SPNFamily means to all of us.
I tweeted back and forth with the fangirl who arranged the heartfelt gesture, who said she didn’t do it for public recognition, but to send a message to Jared about how much the #AlwaysKeepFighting campaign meant to so many people, and to bring fandom together to do it. (But you may want to visit Anne Kirn’s website at House of Darkly http://www.houseofdarkly.com if you’re curious about her own unique brand of fannish creativity). She connected with the awesome folks at Random Acts to make it happen.
That beautiful moment in Hall H reminded me of all that’s wonderful about fandom. We support each other; we’re not ashamed to say that we need help sometimes, and not afraid to give it. Thank you, for giving Jared – and all of us – that moment.
There was apparently a very touching moment between Jensen and a young fan at the autographs too, which I didn’t brave this year after my harrowing experience last year. But the picture that made the rounds through fandom tells the story (if anyone knows who to credit, I’d greatly appreciate the info). The emotion that fan is feeling is written all over her face, and it’s a feeling many of us can relate to – in fact, there’s a scene in Fangasm in which I probably had the same reaction. In the same situation. With the same person.
But that’s not what makes the moment stand out. It’s Jensen’s reaction, as he leans forward to give her a reassuring touch. Everything he’s trying to convey is there in his stance, in his expression, in the look on his face. It’s okay. I see you. I get it. It’s okay.
That validation is so important to someone momentarily overcome with emotion. It fights off the shame that otherwise might rear its ugly head. It says that the people on the “celebrity” side of the equation are just as human and emotional as the fans on the other side. It says we’re not so different – we’re SPNFamily.
Where the hell are my tissues??
Here, have some more panel pretty.
After the panel, I was lucky enough to go to the Supernatural Nerd HQ, which is also online for your viewing pleasure. We all missed Misha’s presence, but understood that this was his only window to see his kids before returning to work. Jared, Jensen and Mark were all in rare form – I think Aisha Tyler brings it out in them. Gotta admit, I kinda like that the boys can speak candidly at Nerd HQ, including letting the so-called F Bomb fly freely. It’s kinda hot.
Some of my favorite fun moments were fans stepping up to help the boys charge their electronics, and Jared being face to face with a fanboy who was taller than him!
Mark: Now you know how I feel.
Oh, and Jared and Jensen re-enacting the iconic “I lost my shoe” scene.
Jared made me emotional (yes, again) talking about how much he relates to his character, because Sam is insecure and so is he. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that being an actor doesn’t actually encourage a great deal of security, especially if you’re a sensitive person. But I also think that sensitivity and empathy that Jared feels for Sam, as odd as that sounds, is part of the reason he’s able to play the character in such a compelling way. Many of us relate to Sam and his struggles, and it’s kind of wonderful to know that Jared does too.
Jensen talked again about how this really has become a family. Clearly the theme of the day.
The guys all had a fabulous time, Aisha Tyler did a great job hosting, and Zachary Levi joined them near the end of the panel with hugs all around. Jensen and Jared left with the hand on shoulder that they so often use when exiting the stage, just another gesture of SPNFamily.
I made my way back to the hotel that evening feeling incredibly fortunate to be a part of the SPNFamily. If someone had told me at that very first Comic Con that Supernatural would still be on the air eight years later – let alone even more popular – I don’t think I would have believed them. It’s thanks to both the loyalty and passion of the fandom and the genuine appreciation of the cast that the Show is still filling Hall H all these years later.
Here’s to next year!
Stay tuned for more con coverage from DC Con in a little over a week!
To read more of our Comic Con Supernatural
adventures, check out ‘Fangasm Supernatural
Fangirls’ at the link at the top of the page!
That’s all folks!