Jacksonville is a great venue for a con, with the vendor room in a gigantic brightly lit room with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the river. I was fortunate to have my friend Christina with me at the vendor table all weekend, along with other friends who stopped by to chat or bring food and a latte or give me a bathroom break. I always leave conventions feeling so warm and fuzzy about this fandom, and this cast, and this show. Maybe because we all knew this was the last con of the decade, there were even more warm and fuzzy feelings than usual – along with some anticipatory sadness, knowing the end of the show is coming.
The con kicked off, as it often does, with a panel by Rachel Miner. Rachel always makes me smile, so it’s a good way to start the day.
One of the things I love most about Rachel is that she’s a bona fide geek, just like so many of us are. She spent a few minutes sorting her colleagues ala Hogwarts.
About Billy Moran?
Rachel and Rob: Slytherin for sure!
Rachel: I’m a big Dr. Who fan. I’d love to be on that crossover. I feel like that’s why we all connect, because I’m such a nerd.
She’d also love to see Meg team up with Rowena.
Fan: Double sassy!
Rachel: Meg and Dean are also alike in some ways. Snarky and afraid of their feelings.
I also love that Rachel is a proud shipper – of Meg and Cas – but also a vehement supporter of ship and let ship (or don’t ship at all).
Rachel: Everyone should ship who you want, but I ship Meg and Cas and in my fanfic version she would never turn on him.
Rachel l had some kind words for Rob and the work he’s doing as Chuck.
Rachel: I think Rob is doing such a great job. We should all be extra nice to him, because he’s still a great guy – he’s just a good actor!
She also had nice things to say about the Supernatural set, and how special it is.
Rachel: I’ve never had that feeling of being taken care of on another set, and that feeling like you’re doing something important, but not self important, as on the set of Supernatural.
She’s also very excited to have Shoshannah Stern back. Shoshannah has written another project for her and Rachel, which is doubly exciting!
On a more serious note, Rachel acknowledged that life is sometimes hard.
Rachel: It’s okay to feel like life is really hard because sometimes it is, and don’t beat yourself up about feeling that. And then you can move on and notice what joy there is right here. It’s work to find that joy, though. It’s not easy. You’re allowed to feel your feelings, and also take time to find the joy in even moments that are difficult.
How can you describe the SPNFamily?
Rachel: We take care of each other, and that’s a model for the whole world.
Jason Manns did his traditional “quoncert” next, playing some tunes and answering some questions.
Someone asked him how he got Jared Padalecki to sing on his Christmas CD.
Jason: I was up in Vancouver recording Jense, and Jared was hanging out and I was like, well, you’re here if you want to record a song…no pressure…
Finally writing up the last two cons of 2019 now that we’re on the last day of the decade!
All Supernatural cons are emotional when you’re as big a fan of the show as I am, but the Supernatural convention in DC at the beginning of November was emotional for a different reason. Jared Padalecki was unable to attend after the incident at one of his Austin bars the week before, and Richard Speight Jr. was also not there since he was busy directing. It’s been a long long time since there was a con without both Jared and Jensen, and fans were both sad not to have Jared there and simultaneously supportive of him doing what he needed to do. And I always miss Rich as emcee even though whoever steps in for him – and Rob of course – always do a stellar job. Nevertheless, this con turned out to be a wonderful one full of good friends and good memories.
This is the other “local” con that I can drive to, so I headed out ridiculously early on Friday morning and made my way to Crystal City, Virginia (the con is not actually in DC, despite its hashtag). I picked up my friend Kathy, my OG fellow Supernatural fangirl with whom I wrote my first four books on fandom and the show, and we drove there together. Kathy and I were joined at the hip for my first five or six years of Supernatural fandom, and all our early misadventures were chronicled (confessed to?) in the book ‘Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls’. It seemed fitting that I brought some of those and our other early books on the show along with Kathy there too. We set up in the vendor room and people who came by to get one of those earlier books were surprised to get both the authors’ signatures on their copy!
Friday was a crazy day at the con since everyone was frantically trying to trade in their photo ops with Jared in them for something else, and in the mayhem I never managed to do that. I had a J2M op and, unlike my usual, I actually had something special planned, so I was bummed. Especially because it meant I had no photo ops at all (that was my only one) and wouldn’t even get to give Jensen or Misha a hug. Fangirl problems. Luckily one of my wonderful friends offered to let me join her Jensen photo op, so I did at least get to say hi and get a hug from one of them after all! Fandom takes care of fandom.
Kathy and I got to the con so late that we missed the first few panels, including Rachel Miner’s, Jason Manns’ and Gil McKinney’s, which I was very sad to miss. It’s been a while since Gil has been at a Supernatural con, and I miss having him there. Luckily he did another panel on Saturday, and I got a chance to chat with him and catch up a bit later that afternoon too. Gil wrote a beautiful chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood, and I just miss him. Thanks for bringing him back, Creation!
It looks like Jason and Rob and the band did a bang up job with the intro, if these photos by fellow fan Barb are any indication. Rob in those glasses, mmmm. And a non-blurry shot of Billy Moran! Barb is clearly a better photographer than me – thanks for sharing, Barb!
I also missed Jeffrey Vincent Parise’s Friday panel. From the looks of Barb’s pics, it was a fun one!
did catch some of the Ladies of SPN panel, which is invariably inspiring and amusing in equal amounts.
Lisa Berry told the story of auditioning for Supernatural — for like ten years!
Lisa: I was a huge fan. Never give up on your dreams.
Someone asked about favorite episodes.
Kim Rhodes: I love the episode where Dean can talk to dogs. I like dogs…
Literally everyone: Yep. We love you, Kim.
Briana is often asked about body image and self esteem and she always has some wise words.
Briana: Keep working on your body, but even more work on your relationship with yourself.
Also, Lisa and Briana hair appreciation moment. Gorgeous.
Perhaps the most exciting thing we heard in that panel was that Wayward Podcast is now represented, and Kim and Briana will start doing live podcasts coming soon! If you haven’t listened to it, check it out – it’s like an antidote to the depressing and frustrating and artificial world out there.
New Jersey is my “home con”. That means I can load a bunch of boxes of books into my car and drive there – and then hope I can find someone to help me get them all up the long long ramp and into the convention center!
I didn’t really need to worry, because as always, fandom comes through. I was on my own in the vendor room officially, but dozens of people came by on a regular basis to check on me and see if I needed a bathroom break (to the ONE bathroom for the entire convention center….don’t get me started about how much I hate this venue…) or a hot dog or another bottle of water. Two of the nicest women ever helped me wrangle a luggage cart from my nearby hotel and load and unload the boxes of books to and from my car. Another lovely woman delivered my photo ops right to my vendor table so I wouldn’t have to go grab them at the end of the con. The entire weekend was full of the best of SPNFamily, honestly. I met so many people who have read Family Don’t End With Blood and been inspired by it. I got to have dinner with my friend Trish from Attitudes in Reverse (one of the charities that the book benefits) and with a fellow acafan who’s teaching a course on leadership and Supernatural and her inspiring student.
As we got ready for the final season of Supernatural to kick off, everyone seemed to want to just relish our time together while we have it.
Friday kicked off with Rachel Miner, who always starts the con off with smiles and sparkles and words that inevitably make me feel better about people and life in general. I love the chapter that Rachel wrote in Family Don’t End With Blood, and the way she looks at the world.
Rachel on what it’s meant to be part of the SPNFamily: Everyone in this group are abnormally good humans.
Rachel advises to keep reminders of whatever it is that inspires you. She keeps pictures on her computer, some of them from fans.
She also talked about the importance of finding community and being able to help each other, something that Random Acts has done for many fans.
I love when Vancon is in August, because that means I can head up there a few days early to just have FUN. My first flight was cancelled and it took five hours to get it straightened out and get off the ground, so Wednesday was pretty much a no go, but I did get there in time to have a nice dinner with my friend Betty (who was kind enough to pick me up at the airport). After we’d indulged in lots of good pizza, we drove by the filming location for that evening, a nearby school. Due to our prioritizing of food (okay, it was my prioritizing, tbh) we arrived just as they were wrapping filming for the night – but in time to wave cheerily at the vans and trucks as they pulled out. Oh well.
Betty dropped me off at the Air BnB I was sharing with my friends Alana and Illy, who had spent the day braving the Vancouver rain and searching for past filming locations (all captured on Alana’s @_KingBooks_ Wednesday blog if you’re curious). We had the tiniest little Air BnB ever with a portable air conditioner that required us to leave a window open so its flexible tubing could protrude when we ran it but the shower was lovely and there was a fridge and two beds so we were happy fangirls.
Thursday we got up (relatively) early, walked to the little shopping area a few blocks away to a) get Lynn a latte before she gets too cranky and b) drop off clothes at the laundromat. The laundromat made me picture human!Cas stripping down to do laundry and that made me smile. The latte helped too.
The three of us then piled into the car (Kansas plates, and yes that made us giggle) and hit the road, armed with Alana’s list of past filming locations thanks to a generous fan on LiveJournal who has painstakingly logged them all for going on fifteen years. Fandom, y’all.
We got incredibly lucky at our first attempt, finding the iconic fence by the river where Dean famously told Sam that their father had said that if he couldn’t save Sam, he might have to kill him. If you’ve read ‘Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls’, there’s a chapter in which Kathy and I and some friends also try to find this fence, but have a lot more trouble (without the benefit of any directions). We finally found it at midnight that time, only to be stopped and questioned by flashlight wielding police officers who were sure that a bunch of women scrambling down an overgrown bank in a wooded area at midnight could only be up to no good.
The place has changed a bit – the overgrown banks are now just grass, with a lovely park bench, and there’s now a paved pathway along the fence. The fence itself, which was just a couple of ramshackle boards on posts, is now four new-looking boards. It’s an incredibly beautiful, peaceful spot – which made such a striking contrast when Dean has to say something so horrible to Sam.
The posts were still there so we could use those as a reference as we did what we’d come to do – reenact that iconic moment, of course! Illy set up the camera and she and Alana took their positions while I got to play director.
“You need to be on the other side of the post, Alana. No, I don’t care if there are a bunch of stink bugs there, move over!”
“Lean in more, Illy. Now look at the bridge, be somber. You’re tormented by this. Alana, you look at Illy.”
I kinda liked playing director, can you tell? I think the results speak for themselves.
Alana left her video camera running the entire time we were there, so god knows what other footage she has of us being total idiots – and having the time of our lives. It’s what fandom is all about, after all.
A man and his wife were sitting on a nearby bench and came over to compliment our ‘work’, which was such a Vancouver thing to do. They are the nicest folks!
Our next search missions weren’t quite as successful. We found the field where the gigantic boat from the Wayward Sisters episode is run aground, but it’s on the most forbidding sort of private property you can imagine. I wanted to just get the hell out of there but Alana and Illy are more intrepid, so we got of the car and walked a ways down the gravel road (which WAS a road, so it was technically okay – the private property signs were on the cornfields all around us). But as we passed by a few sketchy looking guys and foreboding looking farmhouses – think The Benders – (were they glaring at us or was that my imagination?) and more signs, I got more and more anxious. Finally we reached a sign that in big letters said “PRIVATE PROPERYY. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.” And then said something about trespassers being violated!
That was it, I was outta there. We later found a vantage point where we could at least see the ship and take a few photos from far away, and that was as close as I was getting!
Next we found the river bank where the Wayward girls skipped stones but – you guessed it – another private property sign. Oh well.
After that we had more success, finding the school where the 200th episode was filmed. The Russ Hamilton set tour earlier that day had been able to go inside to the auditorium and even sing “Carry On” on that same stage, and of course we couldn’t do that, but just seeing where the Impala had been parked and the entrance where the Supernatural sign had been was a thrill. We are nothing if not easily amused.
Our final stop of the day was a complete success, and SO much fun – the field where the climactic fight scene of LARP and the Real Girl took place (which, by the way is adjacent to a little swim club). We found the exact place, which is much smaller than it looked in the episode, and decided to reenact that wonderful moment when Dean, painted and bedecked, gives his Braveheart speech – and gets interrupted by a non-LARPer playing Frisbee. You see, the field is a real life Frisbee course. And what happened just as we were setting up the camera to film? A real life guy tossed a Frisbee right onto the field! I was freaking out about how perfect that was, and immediately directed Illy or Alana to go convince the two young guys that they needed to be in our film. (This whole director thing is hard to let go of, tbh…)
They did – and the two nicest guys ever were happy to help. They threw the Frisbee, Illy channeled her inner Dean, Alana her inner Sam, and me my inner Felicia Day – the results are frankly hilarious. If Alana hasn’t posted that video yet, be sure to check it out. Just so you can laugh your ass off at us. We don’t mind.
(Sincere apologies, Felicia Day, if you ever see the video…)
After that we headed to the con hotel for pre-reg, but every so often I’d remember what we just filmed and just burst into laughter.
I met up with my friend Alicia for a late dinner and lots of catching up and reminiscing, and then it was time to get some rest for Friday.
Friday I got to sleep in and have a nice breakfast, then the con kicked off with Rob Benedict holding down the fort (Richard Speight Jr. was busy with directing Supernatural). Poor Rob ended up introducing himself when there was no one else to do it, but all the props because he played all his multiple roles seamlessly.
Rob: (sheepish) Don’t hate me too much, I know I took a turn last season…
The very first Supernatural convention I went to was in Chicago. Well, actually that’s not true. There was a fan-run and all-fan convention of about 30 people in Vancouver in 2007 a few months before the Creation one in Chicago, where I met people who also loved Supernatural and who I still call friends today, twelve years later. But Chicago was the first one with Jared and Jensen, along with a few other SPN guests and some folks from Buffy and Angel too (because Creation wasn’t sure this new little show could pull off a con on its own). My friends and I stalked the website for literally months, waiting for the tickets to go on sale so we could snag some. We had no idea what to expect really – would the actors be as nice as they seemed in the few interviews we’d seen? Would they be entertaining onstage? I want to laugh so hard now, knowing the answers to those questions – but I don’t think anyone could have predicted just how NICE they really are or just how entertaining they would be!
Through the years, I’ve been back to Chicago for a Supernatural convention many times. One of my good friends lives there – we met through a con, when I found myself stranded after the convention ended and a hurricane blew in, cancelling all flights and leaving me without a hotel. I was new to twitter, but I put out a plea – can anyone help? Up drove Laurena, rescuing me from a very bad part of town and taking me in, because SPNFamily. We’ve been friends ever since.
This year, Laurena and her lovely husband Rock helped me in the vendor room once again. There were many old friends at this con, some that I’ve known since the very first one twelve years ago, and many new friends too, some that I’ve met along the way and now call my good friends too. Knowing that the Show is coming to an end made the Chicago con even more emotional than usual, because I keep thinking of beginnings now that I’m constantly thinking about endings. There will be at least one more Chicago con, but this was the last one that will happen when the Show is still on the air. And that hurts.
The actors are also thinking a lot about endings now, and some of them about beginnings too. Richard Speight Jr. reminisced with Rob about his first convention, which was also right here in Chicago. We were writing ‘Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls’ at the time, and there’s an entire chapter in that book on the first couple of Chicago conventions – it’s where we first met Richard and got to know him. None of us could imagine at the time how much our lives would change because of Supernatural.
So this year was bittersweet, but there was a whole lotta sweet! (Neither my camera nor my phone were at all happy so I got fewer photos than usual, but I’ve included some of the better ones here. At least that finally forced me to go out and get a new phone!) Rachel Miner kicked off the con, as she often does – which is a lot like kicking off the day with a sparkly rainbow and lots of sunshine. And unicorns.
Rachel said she feels comfortable at conventions, like she’s with friends. She proved it by sharing her epic fail moments that would be on a gag reel. That should tell you what sort of courageous – and hilarious – person Rachel is.
Rachel is an unabashed Cas girl.
Rachel: I’d like to think if Cas saw Meg in the The Empty, he’d have tried to rescue her.
She likes that both Meg and Cas didn’t fit traditional gender roles, and that they probably have both been male and female.