Now that Season 12 of Supernatural has premiered, there’s a sense of excitement in the fandom that’s absolutely exhilarating. I just finished my review of the premiere, so it’s time to sit down and try to remember what happened last weekend at Toronto con. Luckily, it was pretty memorable.
Warning: Long post ahead! With probably way too many pictures (or is that even possible when we’re talking about Supernatural??)
Torcon, as it used to be hashtagged, has been a special con ever since that time three years ago when Rob Benedict had a stroke near the end of the convention. His fellow Supernatural actors, along with fans and Creation staff and volunteers, were instrumental in saving his life that night – and nobody who’s at Torcon ever forgets it. I spoke with Rob a few hours before the premiere episode last week about his experience on the show at the end of last season, but we also talked a bit about the cons and how emotional they are. Especially this one, and especially the Saturday Night Special. We almost lost Rob, and that makes every time he takes the stage that much more special. Look for that interview here soon – and for Rob’s powerful chapter in our new book, Family Don’t End With Blood, which will be released in May. Until then, here are some of my favorite moments from this year’s Torcon, and lots of pretty pictures.
I came into this season’s premiere of Supernatural a little wary – the end of Season 11 brought with it a lot of changes to the show, including the departure of showrunner Jeremy Carver, some of my favorite writers, and even some long-time crew members. So I was guarded in my expectations, but hopeful because every time I talked to lead actors Jensen Ackles or Jared Padalecki about the new season, they seemed to be happy with the start of the season and where the early episodes were taking them. So, in I went, with tissues and pie and glass of wine at the ready.
Supernatural fans are a bit different than other fans – we’re a fandom that has been around for a long time, and we appreciate all sorts of little things that the casual viewer might not. Case in point:
a) The Show is now back on Thursdays, where it began on another network eleven years ago. That felt special to me, and added to the anticipation.
b) We love the crew of our show and the miracles that they work, so most of us were not only anticipating the show, but the new title card! And it didn’t let us down – I gave a little squee to see it.
c) Music is important. Sure, sure, there’s no singing in Supernatural (untrue, btw…) but there has always been music. Great music. The classic rock that Eric Kripke loved and passed on to his fictional boys, Sam and Dean. This season kicked off with the sort of kickass classic rock montage that we’ve come to expect from Supernatural, ratcheting up the excitement and reminding me of what an amazing show I fell for.
The hotel didn’t get any better on Sunday, but it was even harder to care when we had Jared and Jensen and Julian to entertain us, not to mention Rob and Rich.
I had a chance to chat with Megan Padalecki, who was there to sell her new book, Little Moon. The tiniest member of our family absolutely LOVES her first book, Big Mo, so of course I had to buy this one too. I introduced her to Monica, the production manager for Family Don’t End With Blood, and they totally hit it off. In fact, they sort of geeked out together in animated conversation about printing stock and such things that are far above my pay grade. Meanwhile, I chatted with Jared’s lovely parents, who wanted to know all about the new book and how their son’s chapter had turned out (AMAZING!!!) Soon the Padaleckis will have two published authors in the family, I said, which put a smile on their faces.
Jared and Jensen took the stage for the morning gold panel looking amazing (not a shock, I know) and seeming well rested and in a good mood. Texas agrees with them, I think – they always seem to be in an extra laid back good mood when they’re in their home state.
I only made it to part of Dallascon, thanks to a poorly scheduled department retreat (at least I thought it was poorly scheduled…) I flew in on Saturday afternoon, but luckily for me, Ben Bella (the publisher of our new book) is located in Dallas, so the production manager offered to pick me up. I had never met Monica, but she’s not only the production manager for ‘Family Don’t End With Blood,’ she’s a fellow Supernatural fan, so I was pretty sure we’d hit it off.
We did. In fact, we hit it off so well that we talked excitedly about the show and the boys and the book and the conversation was so scintillating that we missed our exit and ended up downtown. Oops. Scenic tour of downtown Dallas, and then we finally found the Westin. Not the Westin garage, which was hidden around a handily disguised U turn, however. A few more wrong turns (it was a theme of the day) and we finally made it into the garage, only to find large portions of it covered by stacks of building material and reams and reams of rolled up discarded carpets. Which meant very few parking spots. What the hell?
Eventually, in desperation, Monica proved her superior parking skills and parked the car sideways in several half-blocked spots with stacks of building materials in the other half. That wasn’t the only problem with the Westin, it soon became clear. The entire hotel was under construction – as in, the lobby was inaccessible and lots of men in hard hats standing on giant cranes were literally taking the place apart. With very loud drills and jackhammers and who knows what else. I repeat. What the hell?? Did they not remember they had booked a convention for thousands of people this weekend??
I was having flashbacks to my dismal hotel experience in Vegas last spring before long. There was only one restaurant open in the hotel and it was woefully understaffed and overwhelmed, which meant that there was no way to grab a quick bite when you have 45 minutes between panels. There were four elevators but at any given time usually only one or two were actually working, the others repeatedly getting stuck between floors and then taken out of commission. To add to the fun, they continued to do construction work on the escalators that took people from the ground floor to the convention floor, so there was literally no way to get between them but the already inadequate elevators. At times there were 100 people packed into the lobby entrance trying to get from the first floor to the second. Argh.
That said, the con itself was excellent. The seats were big enough and comfy (woohoo!), the stage was just the right height, and the guests were in great moods. Oh, and there were fangirls. Some of my favorite fangirls, who I hadn’t seen since Houston con a long long time ago – that went a long way toward forgetting just how awful the hotel situation was. (They did comp con guests one night, which I do appreciate).
This is a quick Chicago con update, but I want to give Chicon some love because it’s special. It’s where it all began – the first Creation Supernatural con we went to many years ago (way way back in 2008). I still remember how incredibly excited I was, and how confused about how to get tickets. Kathy and I and two of our friends took turns monitoring (read stalking) Creation’s website, trying to literally have someone online at all times as we waited for tickets to go on sale and bit our nails to the quick. We were thrilled to snag Row B tickets, and guess what? We’re still there today! That first con, the hotel bar had purple nurples and Jensen and Jared didn’t stand up for photo ops and the rule was not only ‘no hugs’ but no touching at all! I remember gingerly inching closer to Jensen as I stood awkwardly next to him, hoping my shoulder might bump his before the photo was taken. Jared ignored the no hugs rule even at that first con and pulled me in, much to my shock (and delight). I think of the way they are in photo ops now, and all the wonderful stories of heartfelt fan encounters that happen, and marvel a little bit at how far we’ve come. From strangers to family, it’s been quite a journey.
To be honest, I missed Richard Speight Jr and his country-twang-ballhat-wearin-jammin-on-guitar portion of the concert. And I missed Gil McKinney singing some song that dripped with so much silky sexiness that it makes one feel weak in the knees. Yes, I missed those guys.
But the Saturday Night Special, at any convention, is always about Stephen and Mike and Billy and Rob. And, as always, they delivered one helluva show in Vancouver this year.
They opened the show with “Reunion,” from their Sky Alive album. Then they played for us a new song, called “Present Time,” from their upcoming album. I don’t know who’s more excited for this new album to be released, the band or the fans. I know a few die-hard Swainers who would argue that they are more excited for its release than the band, that they need this new album like they need air to breathe. Yet as I sat there and listened to the guys play this new song, I am pretty sure they too are pretty excited about this new album and can’t wait to share it with us. And if I haven’t used the word pretty enough, then can I just say the boys of Louden Swain are just so freakin pretty? Yep, pretty. (insert sighs here)
(Side note: there is not an official release date yet. So I guess we’ll all just wait here then.)
Well, actually at Vancon, J2 Day (or at least J1 Day) started the evening before, when Jensen Ackles joined in the Saturday Night Special. I’ve written paeans to Jensen being a rockstar before (maybe even a few times), but I just can’t help it – he is just unbelievably good! He was in a wonderful mood at Vancon, rested and not having had to travel. And his family was with him, so doing the con didn’t mean being away from his daughter, which must have felt pretty utopian. It’s clear how much he enjoys singing with Louden Swain and his fellow cast and musicians too, so the combination made for a very smiley Jensen indeed.