I had the pleasure of meeting Tyler Johnston (most well known by the SPN Family as the adorable but tortured angel Samandriel, but he was also the kid in Season 1’s classic episode, Bugs, eleven years ago!) at a few recent cons. His panels are always a lot of fun, so I was excited to have the chance to chat with him about his experience on Supernatural – and of course, since this is me, about all sorts of other things too.
Somehow the entire first part of our conversation was about cats and dogs. But hey, pets are important! And anyway, there’s nothing more endearing than hearing someone talk about a beloved pet.
So where did I leave off in my Minncon adventures?
Saturday night I was invited to speak at the Attitudes in Reverse ‘In Their Shoes’ event, which kicked off the Minneapolis chapter of AIR. If you have not been to one of AIR’s events, let me tell you that it is tremendously powerful and moving to see all those shoes with all their messages – of doubt, sadness, fear, and ultimately of hope. Hope because it is people speaking out, talking about how they feel, reaching out and asking for help even though that’s tremendously hard. I’m inspired by the work that AIR and SPN Survivors are doing to combat the stigma that keeps us from talking about mental health issues and prevents people from getting the help they need. That’s the best way to prevent suicide – and if people can feel comfortable asking for help, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There is hope.
That’s one of the messages of our new book, Family Don’t End With Blood: Cast and Fans on How Supernatural Has Changed Lives. It’s a story twelve years in the making, with chapters written by ten Supernatural actors and a dozen Supernatural fans. Every chapter in the book, both those written by fans and those written by the actors, is personal and incredibly powerful. Some of the chapters were hard to write, but every author persevered because the message is so important. We all hope that the book will be an inspiration to others to speak up and be real too, and to ask for the help we all need sometimes to get through the challenges life throws in our way.
Jared Padalecki is one of the actors who wrote a chapter for the book, written with candor and trust, and so inspiring I still can’t read it without tearing up and smiling simultaneously. He came to the AIR event to talk about his own journey – the help he has needed and the hope he has found.
A common thread in all the chapters is how the extraordinary relationship between the Supernatural cast and fandom has been a source of support and inspiration – for both sides. At the AIR event, Jared didn’t leave after he’d had his turn at the mic. Instead, he reached out to a young girl who was crying, crouching down and holding both her hands as he listened to her and helped her feel grounded.
Today is a special day – the birthday of a special person. So I wanted to share some of the stories we’ve heard about how Misha Collins has inspired Supernatural fans and changed lives. That’s the theme of our new book, Family Don’t End With Blood (which has other amazing stories of how all the Supernatural cast have changed lives), so it seemed fitting to share a few fan stories in honor of his birthday.
I still remember the first time we met Misha, way back in Season 4. We had been on the Supernatural set (a visit chronicled rather hilariously in Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls) and were scheduled to interview “the new guy” that evening at the hotel. Our set van pulled up behind another Supernatural set van as we arrived at the hotel, and out jumped Misha. Except he looked nothing like Castiel!
Instead of a trenchcoat and a stern face, this guy had on a tee shirt and faded jeans that looked like they were vintage 1970s flared jeans. And damn, did they fit him well! And he was smiling! I turned to Kathy and said ‘nobody told me he was so hot!’
Minncon still feels new to me, added years after the first cons were already established. It’s a city I had never been to before Creation decided to do a con there, and that I probably never would have visited otherwise. (Not that I’ve seen a lot of it other than the convention center and the Hyatt…) The weather there is apparently problematic often enough that connecting corridors between buildings are advisable; they’re like human habitrails, and I admit to being glad for them when it was raining. When the weather was nice, I walked outside instead, since it was a lovely walk through a park. The park even had its own version of our beloved Moose – this one was gigantic, and interactive. When you pedal the bike beneath him, the Moose tells you a story. If you pull on the giant rope attached to him, he’ll move his head up and down in a truly impressive manner. I can’t believe nobody got Jared to go do that!
The boys were advertised on the convention center’s sign, which amused me every time I walked past. Everyone knows I don’t like convention centers, so walking back and forth to my hotel every time I needed to charge my phone or change my clothes or put my damn feet up from so much walking wasn’t much fun. On the other hand, at least I had the habitrail for the late night walks. Last year, Misha was mugged at Minncon, and everyone was a bit on edge this year because of that. Luckily, I didn’t hear about any incidents this year.
Richard and Louden Swain kicked off the con, as they do every con (unless they’re filming something, in which case we miss them like crazy) – which includes the band’s incredible music and Rob’s traditional shaker dancing.
Comic Con always makes me nostalgic. Our roadtrip through Supernatural fandom started at Comic Con way back in Season 2, when we thought we were a little bit crazy to get in line at 4 am for the Supernatural panel. No Hall H back then – Jared, Jensen, Eric Kripke and Ben Edlund sat on the stage in Room 6CDEF, which wasn’t nearly large enough to allow the huge line of hopeful fans to get in. We were unspeakably grateful that our 4 am “craziness” put us at the front of the line and in the front row, where we happily stared wide eyed at our heroes.
Believe it or not, the same thrill rushes through me now, a decade later, when the teaser for Season 12 comes on the big screen and the whole room goes a little bit crazy. The girl next to me was shaking so hard I thought she might fly apart, exclaiming over and over ‘Ohmygod Ohmygod Ohmygod’. It’s something to witness when a room the size of Hall H erupts into screams of excitement.
This year we got Jared, Jensen, Misha, Mark, and Bob Singer and Andrew Dabb (the new showrunners). You know I’ve been nervous about this season with the departure of so many of my favorite people, but I thought Bob and Andrew did a great job. Andrew showed off a snarky sense of humor that I can appreciate, and Bob closed the panel with a heartfelt thank you to the fans. We also got surprise Samantha Smith and Ruth Connell, who were (as always) awesome.
Sunday is J2 day at a con, which means I don’t grumble as much as usual about getting up early for the Gold Panel. Jared and Jensen apparently had their morning caffeine too – they didn’t walk, but speed walked through the catwalk.
Gary from Creation: I guess I don’t have to announce that they’re on their way…
It was about a million degrees in Pittsburgh, and poor Jared sweated his way through the panels. Not that any of us minded. Like, at all.
Saturday night is always, as you all probably know by now, one of my favorite parts of any con. I’ve written many a heartfelt post about why, which you can read on this blog (but have some tissues handy).
I wasn’t expecting this Saturday Night Special to be off the charts though – everyone was tired, Rob and Rich especially. Rob is so much the heart and soul of the SNS, I wasn’t sure how it would be considering he had a) just gotten there and b) was absolutely knackered. But somehow the force of nature that is the SPN Family and the brilliance that is Louden Swain managed to energize Rob – and the concert was amazing!