It’s no secret to anyone who has ever read one of my Supernatural books that I love Comic Con – my first year there was 2007, when you could still drive your rental car right up to the convention center, park in the underground garage and stroll up to get in the (very small) line to get in. It was Supernatural that brought me to Comic Con back then, and it’s still Supernatural that brings me back now, and every year in between. The Show has gone from Room 6BCF to the larger Ballroom 20 and finally for the past few years, the gigantic Hall H. Like many loyal fans, I’ve followed along and celebrated the Show’s success as it defied the odds and refused to be cancelled. Last year saw a triumphant celebration of that tenacity, with Kansas appearing to play the Show’s unofficial theme song, Carry On Wayward Son, live on the Hall H stage.
Nobody expected Warner Brothers to top that amazing feat this year, and yet anticipation was high for our first glimpse of Season 14 – and Supernatural (as always) did not disappoint.
My Supernatural-centric Comic Con began on Thursday night with the Wayward Cocktails party in the Gaslamp district’s Analog Bar. Jules Wilkinson (better known as admin of the SuperWiki) and friends throw this party most years, and it’s a great place to meet up with all your fellow Supernatural fans. It’s also a charity event, so I brought along some copies of Family Don’t End With Blood to donate, benefiting Random Acts and Public Counsel, a legal services advocacy organization. All the television screens in the bar were playing episodes of Supernatural, there were Supernatural themed drinks, plenty of food, and of course pie for dessert. Ruth Connell joined us at our table for a while, and I had a chance to chat with Scoobynatural writers Jeremy Adams and Jim Krieg, who would love nothing more than to reprise that amazing episode.
I also got to hug some of the people who keep the Show awesome, like the always adorable post coordinator Mary Manchin and showrunner’s assistant Meghan – and to talk Season 14 a bit with writer Davy Perez. He’s excited about the upcoming episode written by Meredith Glynn and that makes ME even more excited! More on that later, because SQUEE!
Friday stayed Supernatural-focused with the Warner Bros. party at Float, the rooftop bar of the Hard Rock Hotel. My friend M. Night Shyamalan was also at Comic Con, premiering the trailer for his new film Glass (more about that coming up!) so I invited him to come by the WB party – because it’s always a fabulous party! He stayed long enough to chat for a little while, and then ran into Jensen Ackles as he was leaving, so they got to reconnect too. That’s what makes Comic Con so awesome!
Along with my good friends Laurena and Alice, I chatted Season 14 of Supernatural at the party with producer Jim Michaels while we sampled the delicious food and drinks, including the pros and cons of a reduced season of 20 episodes instead of 23. I was thrilled to hear that Jim’s optimism about the Show continuing for a while matches my own. We also were happy to run into showrunner and director Bob Singer and his wife, writer and executive producer Eugenie Ross-Leming. Both are excited about the new season, even if Bob did try to retire a few years ago – but we all know how that turned out!
Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins and Alex Calvert joined the party a short while in and stayed until they literally turned the lights on to try to convince those of us who were having way too good a time to finally leave – sorry, Float employees! My chats with Jensen were about his singing prowess and whether he’d run into Night before Night had to leave (he had, in the elevator!), with Jared about his recent birthday, and with Misha about politics – and whether I need a new phone (I do).
My chats with Alex were a bit more substantial – I can’t say enough about what a lovely person Alex is and how thoughtful about this unique situation he finds himself in. Needless to say, he was nervous about being onstage at Hall H in front of 8000 people on Sunday, but as I told him that night – the rest of the cast have his back. And so does the fandom.
(And yes, he kicked ass at the panel on Sunday!)
Ruth Connell and Rob Benedict were also at the party, and it was heartwarming to watch the cast greet each other with so much genuine affection. I chatted with Ruth about her panels at Comic Con, including one all about witches which she found very empowering.
Ruth: I’ve never been so proud to portray a witch!
Former Supernatural writer Adam Glass was also there, and it was wonderful to re-connect with him and be able to thank him for all the Supernatural actors he’s cast in the shows he’s moved on to.
At times, the Supernatural gang was a tight knit circle – a group of people who are clearly always happy to see each other. I think, honestly, that makes all the difference. They got to mingle with actors from the other Warner Bros. shows who were there (hugs with Tom Ellis and Stephen Amell among others), but they also just enjoyed each other’s company – and they were in no hurry to leave. In fact, I’m fairly sure our cast closed the place down!
Saturday I kept the Supernatural connection going with panels and press room interviews for season 2 of Midnight Texas (with former Supernatural writers and now showrunners Nicole Snyder and Eric Charmelo) and season 4 of The Magicians (with former Supernatural showrunner and writer Sera Gamble and of course Felicia Day). Much more on both of those soon! Saturday also left me a little bit of time to hang out with friends, which is as much what Comic Con is about as going to panels or waiting in line for the Pop Funko exclusives you reallllly want. I also found time to reconnect with Supernatural alum Robbie Thompson, who I will forever miss as a writer on the Show but am thrilled to call a friend whose career success I can keep celebrating. Stay tuned for more of our chat with Robbie coming up!
So yes, I love Comic Con. Not that there aren’t down sides to being in a place with over 100,000 other people and only three Starbucks. My friend Laurena and I waited 45 minutes for our lattes one day – and that was AFTER we’d waited in line to order them! The wear and tear on your feet and your back is also significant – one day I clocked over 5 miles just walking between hotels and convention center, and while my backpack was a lifesaver, it got heavier and heavier as each day went on. But oh, so worth it!
Sunday is Supernatural day, so I always wake up with butterflies in my stomach and an extra bit of exhilaration as I make the long trek up to Hall H. Hall H is so gigantic that it’s disorienting – you walk in and are immediately dumbfounded by the sheer size and hordes of people, all rushing to find the best seat possible. Some people spend all day at Hall H, either because the panel they really want to see doesn’t start for six hours or because it’s air conditioned and once you’re in you’re in – Hall H has its own twitter account, its own bathrooms and even its own food and drink concessions! The press area is in the middle a dozen or so rows back, so I had a pretty good view of the stage as we waited for the panel to start. Writer Steve Yockey was seated nearby, so we chatted a bit – once again, he had all sorts of good things to say about some of the episodes coming up, including the one penned by Meredith Glynn. AAAAHHHHHH is it October yet???
Finally it was time! Richard Speight Jr. and Rob Benedict took the stage, once again our panel moderators. I always feel so lucky that instead of someone who may or may not really know a show and the panelists, we get to have two actors who are an integral part of the show and very good friends with the cast on the panel too.
Not to mention Rob and Rich are just plain hilarious, especially when they’re together – like a Kings of Con reunion onstage at Comic Con! Rich and Rob even gave us a little acapella version of Dust In The Wind to make up for the lack of actual Kansas this year. And I feel like, you know, they just GET us…
Rob when Jensen took the stage: Isn’t he dreamy?
Rich: OMG he’s so hot!
I had a chance to chat with Rob after the panel and asked him how much of their hilarious panel banter was scripted and how much was improv?
Rob: All of it!
Why am I not surprised? That’s the thing about Rob and Rich and about this cast they know so well – they can all do the off-the-cuff thing brilliantly because they do it constantly onstage at Supernatural conventions, so they’re like a well oiled comedy machine. And we get to reap the benefits!
The Comic Con 2018 Supernatural panel was showrunners Andrew Dabb and Bob Singer, Exec Producers and writers Eugenie Ross-Leming and Brad Buckner, and cast Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins and Alex Calvert. The panel kicked off with a sneak peek at Season 14 – and Michael!Dean.
To be honest, just the graphic on the screen had already kicked my heart into overdrive, seeing the dramatic portrayal of Sam facing off against his brother – who is no longer his brother. It was heart-stopping and heartbreaking and I think I was staring open-mouthed when the image filled the gigantic screen. (In other words, it rocked my world – which explains my tilted uneven camera angle…) (Props to Mary Manchin for this masterpiece btw).
And then the scene started to play. OHMYGOD. I can’t say enough about how mesmerized the entire room was by that scene and Jensen Ackles’ performance as Michael. All 8,000 people were so quiet you could have heard a pin drop. Michael was so unlike Dean that it was striking – and in turns both terrifying and disturbingly attractive, radiating a calm that you just know is covering up power that could turn deadly in a heartbeat. If I was excited about Season 14 before, I’m way more excited now!
Jared, who had just seen the clip for the first time as well, interjected to compliment Jensen on his incredible work.
Jared: I hadn’t seen that scene yet, that was my first time to see it, and I kinda got chills. Way to go, Ackles.
Jensen: It’s also just really cold backstage…
Ackles has said he was nervous about playing a different character, especially on a familiar set with familiar other characters, but he knocked it out of the park. Before last season ended, he asked Christian Keyes, who played Michael in S13, for any tips on how to play him. As Jensen acted out onstage, Christian just flipped his long coat back with flourish.
Jensen: (deadpans) I’ve been nailing that move ever since.
It’s always interesting to watch the actors listen intently to what the showrunners and executive producers are saying about the show and the characters they play; I get the feeling that sometimes they’re as eager as we are to figure out what the people who write the show are planning for them!
Andrew Dabb: So Dean isn’t returning to the show…
Jensen Ackles: (silently) What now?
Richard to Andrew: Does any of Dean ever seep out while he’s Michael?
Jensen: (looks at Andrew expectantly)
Jared, Misha and Alex did the same thing when one of the showrunners or producers spoke about their character – I had the feeling they were as eager as we were for some additional insights!
The first time Rob asked Jared a question, someone in the audience yelled out “I love you, Jared” and Padalecki immediately responded with an “I love you back.”
Rob: So much!
Again, I feel like Rich and Rob are just speaking for us…
Jared: Thanks, Mom.
One of the biggest reveals to come out of Comic Con for Supernatural this year was that Sam won’t be clean shaven – or even just a bit scruffy. He’ll be full on beardy!
Jared: Sam is sort of distracted, because his brother isn’t around, so he hasn’t shaved in a little bit…
Misha: (reaches over to stroke Jared’s beard, grinning)
Rich: So freaking hot!
Again, I feel like Rich and Rob are just narrating what’s in my head…
Also I’m really hoping for some epic Sam-finally-shaves scenes when Dean is back safe and sound, just sayin’.
Rich: So, Misha…how is this for Cas, is he in more of a hunter role?
Fans start to scream at that, Misha looks thoughtful, which I guess Richard thought looked alarmingly like a frown.
Rich: Don’t get mad at them, they’re supporting you!
Misha: I think this is sort of a roll up his trenchcoat sleeves moment for Cas.
Jared and Jensen: (roll their eyes in dramatic disagreement, then close their eyes and shake their heads in a fervent no…)
Misha had a question of his own for showrunner Bob Singer.
Misha: You cast Alex on the show, and Alex looks exactly like me. Are we gonna find out eventually that Cas is the dad?
Bob Singer: (deadpans) I don’t think they look anything alike.
Alex: Wait til I start wearing a trenchcoat…
All four actors were in a great mood, teasing each other and laughing frequently just as they do when they’re at a Supernatural convention together. Again, I feel like we’re the luckiest fandom in the universe – our cast have an even deeper friendship than most, since they’re not only together on set but they travel the world together on weekends doing conventions too. It shows in how they amuse each other, and in the level of comfort they have with each other. And it makes for a great panel!
Jared: What’s harder, Jack having no powers or Alex having to worry about getting kicked in the crotchal area?
Alex: Jack is going through a lot, so it really helps knowing that I might be kicked in the balls at any time by my coworkers.
Jared: You’re welcome.
Jensen didn’t miss the chance to rib Rob either.
Jensen: Generally on the show, we get rid of those omnipotent characters, and they don’t really come back…
Jared immediately jumped on the bandwagon, both of them teasing Rob. Rob’s voice went higher and higher as he tried to move on from that, which made Jared and Jensen start cracking up for real – when does THAT happen between a cast and a moderator? The love on that stage is palpable, and it makes all the difference.
Jared insisted that Jensen had an idea for the 300th episode (to which Jensen looked somewhat worried…) – that it should be based on The 300, and they all wear togas.
I’m not sure if Jensen approved, but fandom most definitely does.
Bob Singer is pretty good at the teasing too. Rich asked if Jensen had any input into Michael’s wardrobe, and Bob expanded on that answer.
Bob: Any time Jensen has to dress up as anything, the cowboy, whatever, this is his input – “this is what I wanna wear.”
Jensen: (nonplussed) One of them was the dodgeball gym coach. So, you’re welcome.
Misha: Jensen was legitimately more excited about the cowboy outfit than Dean.
No denial from Ackles on that one.
Misha paused in the panel for a few minutes to ask for volunteers to hand out voter registration cards, which made me love him even more than I already do – which is a helluva lot.
Andrew also let us know that some of the Wayward women will be back this season, along with Rowena (that came with a shout out to Ruth Connell, who got a huge ovation from the crowd).
What has made Supernatural successful for 14 years?
Alex: It’s brotherhood, it’s family.
Jensen: The show pivots around one central character….
He paused, and the audience broke into laughter.
Then he continued dramatically and with total sincerity.
Jensen: The car.
He added that the second they call cut, all they’ll see is dust – he figures he can drive the Impala over the border before they can catch him. We’re rooting for you, Jensen!
Jared: Number one to why we’re still going? Y’all. (gesturing to the fans)
The audience broke into delighted applause, and then Jared went on, commenting on the other important part of the equation.
Jared: And I care about the people I work with, there’s a legitimate sense of family.
That there is. I mean, look at them!
Misha: This is rare, but I’m gonna echo what he said. This fandom, there are some unique ingredients that go into this. One is that the show has been on for so long. People have grown up with this show. We have all grown up with this show, and the bonds that you form, with the cast and with the characters, it coalesces around the word family. We’ve spent a lot of time together and forged real emotional bonds, and the audience can feel that.
Just the sheer amount of laughter during the panel was the best evidence of just how true Misha’s words are. This cast is family just like this fandom is family. There’s a reason why the book that the actors all wrote is called Family Don’t End With Blood, after all.
Andrew, for his part, gave the actors a ton of credit – whatever you throw at them, you know they’re gonna make it better.
And I’ll just say Misha Collins had the last word of the panel – and it brought the house down.
We were, as is the Comic Con tradition, treated to the gag reel for Season 13 near the end of the panel. I could seriously watch about 80 hours of Supernatural gag reel – not even exaggerating! I can’t wait for the DVD set to come out so I can rewatch it again and again, because there are inevitably priceless moments. I was particularly excited that one of the amusing moments I got to see filmed made it to the gag reel, when Jensen suddenly broke into dance while waiting for a retake.
And then it was time for the cast to say goodbye. Jared tossed his namecard into the audience; Jensen surreptitiously (not) slipped his into his pocket.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of Supernatural at Comic Con, coming right up – with exclusive videos!
Check out the book that the Supernatural actors
wrote, Family Don’t End With Blood, at the links
on our home page – the wrote their hearts out!