The First Supernatural and Other J & J Projects Convention – Vegas 2023!

The first “Salute to Supernatural and Other J & J Projects” and the first con of 2023 happened in Las Vegas two weeks ago. Anyone who knows me knows that I am generally a person who loathes change – especially when it comes to things that are important to me. Like Supernatural. So I had a little trepidation flying to Vegas, wondering if the con would feel different, if it would be less “Supernatural” and if that would make me sad. I was nostalgic to be back at the Rio despite my less-than-wonderful memories of the year our toilet started overflowing in the middle of the night (when everyone had been asleep for hours) and we ended up having to switch rooms at 3 am in the midst of a truly horrific mess. Somehow I am STILL fondly nostalgic for the Rio anyway, with its open-24-hours Starbucks and its gigantic Hash House breakfasts and its 20 mile walk to the convention center (yes, that’s an exaggeration). Alas, there’s only one Starbucks left and it closed at 5 pm every day much to my dismay, but I did have some Hash House thanks to my lovely friends.

Most importantly, yes, it still felt like a Supernatural con! Give me the Jared and Jensen gold panel and the Jared and Jensen main panel and the Misha Saturday panel and Louden Swain at SNS and I will continue to be happy. I thoroughly enjoyed the Smallville panel with Tom Welling and Michael Rosenbaum, and the Walker panel with Mitch Pileggi, Jake Abel and Keegan Allen. SNS was awesome and there was no drama (that I witnessed anyway) and phew, I feel like I can relax a bit. I just don’t want to lose what I so love about Supernatural cons, but I’m happy to get to hear some new stories and meet some new people for the other shows I’m watching too.

The new semester just started, so this is a briefer con write up than I usually do, but I wanted to write up some of the fun before I don’t remember it all. I missed Kathy a lot at this con, since my first trip to Vegas was with her – we rode the roller coaster and saw the Criss Angel magic show and generally “did” Vegas, and it will always remind me of her. I still can’t believe she’s gone, honestly. (If you’ve read Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls you understand how unique and wonderful our friendship was). Luckily I had lots of friends at this con, and I’m very grateful.

My friend Sue picked me up at the airport on Friday afternoon after a flight that was long but not arduous largely because I got a very nice seat that had a footrest! So I might have slept most of the way… Anyway, caught some of the Gil McKinney and David Haydn-Jones panel, which was hilarious. When I came in, Gil was telling the story of the time he was filming a show and they gave him a prosthetic penis and it looked like a cave man’s.

David: Why didn’t you keep it? And use it as a hat?

I mean, sure, why not?

From there they ended up talking about hat size…and head size…

David: We’ll try on hats together later…and that’s not even a double entendre!

Gil thanked the fandom for their influence in giving him the courage to go back to performing onstage as a singer – he writes about it in his chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood. And he sang at the SNS in Vegas too, yay!

David wrote a chapter in the next book, There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, about the impact the Supernatural fandom has had in his life too.

They talked about the flexibility that’s essential to being an actor. David said he first auditioned for Ketch looking scruffy and wearing a motorcycle jacket, but the next time after they took the character in another direction, in a tuxedo!

Gil said that he especially loves working with directors who are also actors, like Richard Speight, Jr. and said he had a great director once who really helped him get back to where he should be.

Jason Manns was the emcee for Friday, and did a great job as always.

Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster had a panel on Friday too, which as always was equal parts amusing and serious (as in, tears in my eyes kinda serious)

What other characters would they like to play?

Kim: I’d like to play Lucifer, angelically… as I pop your eyeballs out…

They told the hilarious story of when they first met on set and Briana apologized to Kim for cussing a lot!

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‘The Winchesters’ Mid Season Finale Brings Back a Familiar Face

The mid season finale was aptly titled ‘Reflections’ and that’s what it asked some of its main characters to do. Supernatural (the Mothership for this prequel series) has always been about family relationships, so I was eager to watch this episode, which promised not one but TWO missing fathers returning. The episode was also directed by Supernatural’s Richard Speight, Jr. so that was an extra incentive to be excited. It also had me reflecting on my long history with this universe, since Speight has been so much a part of all things Supernatural and the return of Henry Winchester also meant the return of Supernatural’s Gil McKinney. That meant that this episode was, for me, the most emotional one so far.

We get Dean Winchester right away with his introductory monologue: Comes a time in every hunt when the fightin’ starts. And the difference between winning and losing isn’t whether you have the holy water, the wooden stake or the silver bullet. It’s whether you’ve got the grit to get the job done.

Certainly something that Sam and Dean had, no matter what got thrown at them, and not something that the John and Mary we know in the future were lacking. In this timeline, John and Mary stalk the radio station tower that’s calling all the monsters to the Akrida in a beautifully filmed scene in an overgrown field and then inside a dark abandoned radio tower.

Speight always gives us some shots that strike me as beautiful in their composition, and I enjoy looking for them in each episode he directs – this one didn’t disappoint.

Unexpectedly, Mary finds her father’s bag covered in blood (he apparently puts his initials on everything – someone must have sent him to camp a lot as a kid).

Mary freaks out, feeling guilty about the way they left things. She told him that she wanted to leave hunting and then Samuel went out on his own, and now she fears that maybe he’s not coming back. It’s such a common struggle for people who have lost someone and their last interaction was less than positive, and it can cause painful feelings of guilt and regret that are hard to get past. I felt for Mary there, as she confessed how much it was bothering her. I wondered if John too had felt some guilt – we don’t know what he had said to his father on the night Henry disappeared. Were there regrets there too?

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Creation Supernatural Convention Kansas City 2022

It’s been a busy couple of months! It’s almost Thanksgiving as I write this, and I’m finally trying to catch up on Supernatural convention posts – first up, Kansas City Con!

Three days after getting back from the Supernatural convention at Denver, I headed blearily to the airport again on Thursday night to fly to the next one in Kansas City. I’d never been there, and there had never been a convention there, so that was exciting – enough to keep me awake at least. My lovely roommates had a delicious burger and fries waiting for me, so that helped too. So did a good night’s sleep!

I am rarely able to be at a con on Friday morning, so it was a treat to get to see Gabe Tigerman’s panel. Gabe has a chapter in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, and he’s also part of our earliest books, both Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls and Fandom At The Crossroads, so it made me all kinds of happy to catch up with him.  A fan asked what he would do if he had mind control like his character, Andy?

Gabe: I’d do the same thing he did – steal Baby!

Favorite line?

Gabe: I have an evil twin! Though I wish it was identical twins so it could be like me fighting me with a mustache.

Like so many guest actors on the show, Gabe said that Supernatural was his favorite job.

Gabe: As guest actors on that show, we really got to act – and then do these conventions!

He wishes Andy didn’t have to die, because it made so much sense for Sam and Dean to just take Andy’s van and go hunting with him.

I was extra thrilled to hear him tell the infamous 5-legged steer story, about the time he and some buddies went to see the world’s largest groundhog and found it stuffed – and then were chased by a cow with a whole ass extra leg hanging off its side!

He also told the story of him fanboying Michael C Hall at a restaurant, and taking out his Invisalign at the exact moment that Hall walked by and said hello, so that Gabe looked up at him with a spit string attached to his Invisalign hahaha.

Gabe took an informal poll of how many times people in the audience had watched Supernatural start to finish – the winner was 35!!

It’s been a while since I’ve seen Julian Richings too – only in the Supernatural fandom does Death exuberantly take the stage like this!

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‘The Winchesters’ Pilot Episode Brings Lots of Emotions to a Long-Time Supernatural Fan

I already posted my emotional non-spoilery reactions to the pilot episode of The Winchesters which aired at New York Comic Con, but I also wanted to do a rewatch and a deep dive into the events of the episode itself and the introduction of the younger version of John and Mary Winchester who we know from the original series, Supernatural. As a very very passionate Supernatural fan who watched that show for 15 seasons, I felt both anticipation and trepidation at a prequel kicking off – it was mostly due to the reassurance of people who knew the Supernatural world intimately that I went into watching ‘The Winchesters’ pilot hoping for the best. I was also anxious, though. I am very protective of “My Show” and always will be.

So it was with a lot of conflicting emotions that I watched the series premiere. Now that I’m home and have done a rewatch, here’s my deep dive into the events of the pilot and the characters, familiar and new, introduced in the episode.

It’s a suitably spooky beginning, a dark graveyard and an Indiana Jones-esque character entering a crypt by torch light to slice his palm and draw a blood sigil, opening a stone container to retrieve something – and then run like hell trying to escape from the monster that’s now after him! As Supernatural beginnings go, that’s pretty on point!

And then we’re greeted by a “Welcome To Lawrence” sign and an instrumental music background that’s also reminiscent of what Jensen Ackles likes to call “the mothership”, OG Supernatural. That show used lots of signage to mark the brothers’ travels, so this also feels familiar. Young John Winchester (Drake Rodger) is on a bus heading back to Lawrence, fresh from the war, still rattled by flashbacks thanks to the PTSD he’s brought back with him, and clutching a mysterious letter addressed to him.

Apparently the show had to fight hard for the extra budget to film John’s war scenes, but I think those instincts were good – we need to understand how much impact the violence John experienced had on him, and how much guilt he’s carrying around as a result of not being able to save his comrades. Those experiences are integral to his determination to head down the ‘saving people hunting things’ path, especially the guilt and the subsequent need to save everyone he can. Similar motivations will send his sons down the same path eventually, as we all know.

“March 23, 1972” a familiar voice narrates – it’s no surprise to anyone that it’s Jensen Ackles reprising his role of Dean Winchester. The narration is emotional for any Supernatural fan, but it’s also a bit confusing, because we don’t know who Dean is supposed to be talking to, and it actually sounds like he’s talking to us, the audience – and that he’s somehow savvy about the anxiety fans have had over whether this prequel will mess with established canon. “I know this story might sound familiar, but I’m gonna put the pieces together in a way that might surprise you” seems directed at us, the anxious viewers. Perhaps that’s only for this first bit of narration but it struck me as interesting. I guess we’ll see!

I’m not entirely convinced that we really needed Dean as the narrator, as much as I’ve missed having my favorite character in the history of the universe on my screen. I would kinda like to watch this story as its own thing, and am not sure I need the frame of Dean looking back. But hopefully they worked that into the ongoing story in an organic way that just hasn’t been revealed yet.

Anyway, John does indeed bump into Mary Campbell (Meg Donnelly) just like we’d heard in the original show. It’s a “meet cute” in the tradition of meet cutes, and both John and Mary are likable, but they don’t get that cup of coffee that we heard they did right away. Instead, Mary walks away with a “see ya around, soldier boy”, a cheeky shout out to Jensen Ackles’ role on The Boys as Soldier Boy.

I admit I smiled at that and both her and John’s love of licorice (something their son Dean will later share and which I cannot fathom at all..). Also I love Mary’s bell bottoms! Don’t tell me that bell bottoms aren’t awesome, I remember how awesome they were! I’m hoping fervently that Danneel Ackles agrees with me, because I’m fairly certain she’s the biggest influence on the fashion choices we’ll see on this show.

John’s reunion with his mother Millie (Bianca Kajlich) is frosty to start, which is interesting. Millie owns the gas station and is a mechanic, and she pulls no punches reminding John that from her perspective, “my husband and son walked out on me, so…”

She also clearly adores him as she sweeps him into a welcome home hug.

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Back To Where It All Began – Supernatural Chicago 2022!

Chicago was the very first Supernatural convention, way back in 2007. I was there, overcome with anticipation to see both Jared and Jensen together and to be in a room full of my fellow Supernatural fans. Kathy and I, along with our friends Laura and Karen, had stalked the Creation website for weeks to get the best possible seats, and we couldn’t wait to all be together to celebrate the show that was already changing our lives.

It’s 15 years later, and so much has changed. Kathy, my partner in crime who I went to all the early cons with, and to the Supernatural set, and who I wrote the first four books with, passed away unexpectedly several months ago. Going back to Chicago, where this unlikely fifteen years and counting adventure began, without her was emotional. I felt lucky to have so many of my friends there to remind me how much love I have in my life and what incredible friends I have still here with me. I’m so grateful.

Chicago con always seems special because it’s the site of so many memories. Even though this year’s was in the convention center instead of the familiar hotel where so many cons have been held, I still stayed in that hotel so the nostalgia was real. It’s also the con where I met or became closer to some of my best fandom buds, and making new memories with them this year felt extra special.

Also Jared was back and that was something to celebrate for sure – he missed the last convention in New Jersey after his very serious car accident. He’s still on the mend, but it was wonderful to see for ourselves his smiling face and have his banter with Jensen back to normal. It felt healing to all of us, I think.

Chicago had a great line up of guests, and I caught most of their panels since I flew in at a ridiculously early hour. Free shuttle to the hotel, yay!

DJ Qualls was back for the first time in a while – I always enjoy his panels, and he’s incredibly friendly. All weekend long, every time I walked by his autograph table in the vendor room to get to my book table, he was happily chatting and selfie-taking with fans and enjoying it immensely.

DJ: Jensen is good at everything. For the dance number that we did, he had like a 15 minute head start and knew it all.

A fan asked what his craziest dream was, and DJ started to laugh.

DJ: Heh heh, no. I had one after Jared’s accident…I think I was worried about him… and it was like fan fiction…

So no, he didn’t share it!

I enjoy hearing DJ talk openly about things like gender roles and the pressures of masculinity. He said that he got hurt every single time he did some stunt work on Supernatural, but the expectation was that you just “walk it off” so he did.

Next we had what for me was a real treat – a panel with Katie Sarife and Joy Regullano, who played Marie and Maeve in the Supernatural 200th episode, Fan Fiction. It’s one of my favorite episodes and they were brilliant in the parts. I had coffee with Joy in Vancouver years ago and so enjoyed our chat – it’s linked below if you want to get to know her a little.

Joy identifies as a fangirl herself, wanting to represent fans as “smart people with a passion”, and Katie said that her ex-boyfriend was a huge Supernatural fan. He’s the reason she already knew “Carry On”, in fact.

Since they are Vancouver based actors, they knew the show – and Joy had auditioned before.

Joy: The first role I auditioned for was K Tran – which became the character of Kevin!

Both said they loved the episode and the way it ended, except that they would have loved to come back. Understandable.

What was the most fun working on Supernatural?

Joy: Well, Jared is like 6 foot 15, so it was fun being able to boss him around and like, be mean to him.  (In the show!)

She also had a scene in which she adlibbed to Jared (Sam): “Look with your eyes and not your mouth” but unfortunately it got cut. I would like to have seen Jared’s response!

Katie: I learned a cool trick from Jensen, of crossing my eyes and the moving just one of them.

(This made me cringe because Jensen has done that to me to tease me and it’s the only time I have ever run away from him lol)

They also enjoyed the comedy in the episode, right down to the “you can’t spell subtext without S-E-X.” Classic Robbie Thompson.

Joy and Katie were asked if Jared and Jensen pranked them, but they said no.

Katie: I think because we were playing teenagers, there were no pranks. Jared and Jensen were really sweet. And not creepy.

I love that everyone who ever worked on the Supernatural set has nothing but praise for the main cast.

Joy: It was like a master class in acting, watching the experienced actors just snap into character like that.

(I’ve witnessed it too, and to a non-actor it is nothing less than amazing!)

Friday also had a great trio panel of Gil McKinney, Adam Fergus and David Haydn-Jones. They joked that it was the “grumpy old men of letters panel”!  It was Pride month, and David had on his Yasssss Queen shirt given to him by a fan and some truly awesome rainbow socks.

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