So You Wanna Go To Comic Con…Supernatural and More at SDCC14!
Two of the most pivotal chapters of Fangasm take place at the four days of contained (mostly) insanity that is Comic Con – and yes, I mean that in (mostly) a good way. We began our wild roadtrip through Supernatural fandom at Comic Con, wide-eyed and overwhelmed, newbies in every way imaginable. On our first visit, I spent most of the time either grinning like a fool at being immersed in a place where geeks were the majority and it seemed like everyone was okay with being who they were, or catastrophizing about failing once again to meet the elusive Jensen Ackles. Kathy spent most of the time shaking her head at both my smiling and nail-biting. We schemed and planned and stood in endless lines and met some wonderful Supernatural fans who are still our friends today. The nail biting finally ended in the glorious moment when I managed to say two words to Jensen, but suffice it to say, there was no way the smiling was going to end for a very long time after that. Much to Kathy’s amusement.
The next time we went back, a year later, it was a vastly different experience. We were writing a book on Supernatural, escorted past security and invited upstairs to the WB booth to meet with Eric Kripke and Sera Gamble. Instead of fighting our way through the throngs of people frantically trying to catch a glimpse of Jensen, we were looking down from the booth and hugging him and Danneel afterwards, and feeling like the luckiest fangirls in the history of ever. Of course, if you’ve read Fangasm, you know that our good luck didn’t exactly last, but that’s another story.
So returning to Comic Con, with all that history, was an emotional experience.
It took four years after that day of incredible good fortune and a lot of heartache to actually get a book published – first Fandom At The Crossroads and then Fangasm, but it was well worth the wait to be able to tell the real story of being a fangirl and have so many fans tell us that they relate. Jensen, Jared, Misha and many of the guest actors were incredibly supportive of our books – so supportive that Misha and Richard Speight penned a chapter in our most recent book, Fan Phenomena: Supernatural. So we returned to Comic Con this time as authors as well as fans, selling our books with Cinequest. Talk about full circle!
Jensen and Jared looked just as happy to be there this year as they were back in 2008!
Comic Con 2014 was different than our first two experiences, partly because it was just me, which left no one to shake their head in amusement (or possibly irritation) when I got particularly zealous about something (cough…Supernatural…cough…). Partly because I split my time between book selling and fangirling and connecting with friends. And partly because Comic Con itself has changed. It’s bigger (which I didn’t think was possible) and more crowded (which I was certain was not possible). It’s more spectacular, visually stunning, and yet more hectic and at times overwhelming in the not-so-good way. One thing hasn’t changed – this excerpt from Fangasm still rings true:
We arrived in San Diego still singing, ready for our first experience at Comic Con. Or at least we thought we were ready. Words of advice to the Comic Con uninitiated who are contemplating attending. If you hate crowds – don’t come. If you hate traffic – don’t come. If you like to sleep late – don’t come. If you require regular feedings at normal intervals – don’t come. If the thought of standing on a line that stretches for what is easily a mile is unimaginable to you – DON’T come. If, however, you like the idea of fans of all sorts coming together to celebrate their geeky, freaky fanboy/fangirl ways – definitely come. If the sight of men in tights, multiple Jokers walking down the street, and furries and stormtroopers in pedicabs warms your heart – definitely come. If the prospect of getting up close and personal with creative people of all stripes appeals to you – definitely come. The best thing about Comic Con is that here, we’re all geeks, on both sides of the panels. And it’s okay.
We thought the crowds that first time were unbelievable, but five years later, there were even more people crammed into the sprawling San Diego Convention Center. The sidewalks were so jam-packed that walking was next to impossible – it was less like walking and more like being swept along a stream with a slow-moving but relentless current, impossible to either stop or move any faster. Try doing that while lugging backpacks full of books to and from the Convention Center, and you’ll be as hot and sweaty and cranky as Lynn was much of the time. There was no room in the Cinequest booth to store inventory, so this year’s Comic Con experience involved a lot of traversing the 10 blocks to my hotel and then braving the current back while trying not to knock anyone over with an over-loaded backpack.
The exhibit floor itself was similarly jam packed, especially when celebrity signings were happening on one of the giant studio booths that tower over the convention center landscape. The Cinequest booth is directly opposite the WB booth, which was both a good thing and a bad thing. Good in that it brought people to the vicinity of the booth. Bad in that there were so many people packed into a way too small space that nobody could have stopped to browse unless they wanted to risk their life doing so. In fact, security was out in more force than in my prior visits, since they’ve now figured out that yes, thousands of people will turn out to catch a glimpse of Jared and Jensen and Misha and Mark (or any other popular stars) and yes, chaos will ensue if someone doesn’t impose some organization. Unfortunately, the organization imposition was a bit frightening in itself, and not very pleasant. Nothing creates that blissful feeling of acceptance quite like a bunch of big burly guys yelling at you to “Move along! Keep it moving! Don’t stop, lady! MOVE!!” Security was not above routing out the fans who tried to duck into the nearby restroom to wait for the boys to come downstairs from the booth after the signing, with admonitions of “If you’re not USING the bathroom, get out!” At one point, I paused nearby to try to answer my phone and was unceremoniously told to stop standing still, the clear implication being that I was trying to pull one over on them. Not pleasant. I was so rattled, I dropped my phone and broke the case. *sobbing*
Security and crowd control are clearly necessary (the alternative being just a mob of people pushing to get to the same place at the same time), but pretty unpleasant at times. It sets up a dynamic where fans are seen as a threatening force, trying to subvert the rules to get what they want (ie, to be up close and personal with the stars), and security is the opposing force, trying to keep fans contained and at a distance. At the same time, the entire enterprise of Comic Con is “for” the fans, courting their favor and plying them with freebies and tantalizing glimpses of new films and television and comics, hoping for their support. In the middle of this are the stars, shuttled between cloistered safe spaces and then put on display for short periods of time. Amazingly, those short periods of time do actually provide some reciprocal interaction with fans – but the getting there, on the fan side, can be daunting.
Nevertheless, this is as much a part of Comic Con as anything, so I joined the constantly-in-motion throng that was funneled by the WB booth for a few of the signings, attempting to avoid both fellow fans’ elbows and security guards’ wrath to snap photos when there was a break between security guards’ heads and (very broad) shoulders. It’s kind of like a strange sport, requiring physical stamina, fine motor dexterity, and a hell of a lot of persistence. A sense of humor doesn’t hurt either.
The next day, I got a strikingly different perspective. I joined my friend M. Night Shyamalan for a day of panels and promotion for his new Fox television show, Wayward Pines. Like Supernatural, the show is also filmed in beautiful Vancouver, and I had watched some of the filming last year. Matt Dillon and company are excellent, and the pilot episode turned out to be much scarier and more suspenseful than it even looked in filming, so check it out if you like scary (actually, if you’re watching Supernatural, that’s probably a no-brainer…)
This time I watched the signing from the top of the Fox booth instead of fighting my way through the throngs to take a photo, and was escorted through the crowds by security without so much as a “please keep moving”. Oddly, from inside the protective seclusion of security that’s surrounding you, the fans pushing to get a glimpse and take a photo can seem intimidating – the fact that you’re being “protected” implies that there’s something to protect you from. And yet, 99.9% of the time, that’s me on the other side of security, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never had a nefarious intention when it comes to the SPN actors. If anything, fans are protective. The entire dynamic is both fascinating and confusing. There’s a reason the next book is on celebrity and its psychological impact on both sides.
We were then led through the cavernous and un-crowded underbelly of the convention center through which the celebrities come and go, past loading docks and storage areas, all of which give access to the various studio signing booths.
Later that day, at the EW photo shoot, an impromptu Sixth Sense reunion took place when Haley Joel Osment ran into M. Night Shyamalan for the first time since filming! My son was also in The Sixth Sense, so Haley and I got to reminisce too. (Btw, I’m considering this Supernatural related, since the Show has pop-culture-referenced Night, Haley and The Sixth Sense multiple times…can anyone remember what they were?)
Later that evening, at a party with the Wayward Pines cast, I had a chance to chat with Shannyn Sossamon. Most of our conversation was about other things, but I couldn’t resist…
Me: So Shannyn, I think you were in a movie with Jensen Ackles…
Shannyn: (looking extremely surprised) I was!
Me: Devour, right?
Shannyn: I think this is the only time I’ve been asked about a role and it’s that one!
Me: Well, I write books about Supernatural, so…
Shannyn: (nods knowingly) Ohhh, okay.
Me: I think you got to make out with Jensen in that movie.
Shannyn: Did I? I can’t remember exactly.
Me: (incredulously speechless)
Shannyn: That was a tough film to shoot actually.
Me: I’m assuming you don’t mean the kissing Jensen Ackles part.
Shannyn: (laughing) No.
Me: Well, the film did end up rather….confusing….
Shannyn: (deadpans) Uh huh.
Luckily for the rest of the Wayward Pines cast, they hadn’t been in anything with Supernatural actors to my knowledge, so everyone else got spared the awkward questions. The party, however, was at the beautiful (and reputedly haunted) Coronado Hotel, which would make a great location for an episode. Just saying.
Saturday had some great panels, and I watched from near the back of the gigantic Hall H. Their giant screens are helpfully positioned throughout the hall, so even if you’re in the back, if you’re relatively close to a screen, you can see what’s happening on the stage that’s approximately a mile away from you. The only caveat is if you’re watching the screen at an angle, even gorgeous guys like Orlando Bloom and Benedict Cumberbatch (at The Hobbit panel) look a little off kilter.
Warner Bros. pulled out all the stops to introduce their new fall shows, with wraparound screens running all through the Hall, the Marvel panel kicked ass, and the kickass women panel was excellent, with some thoughtful discussion on what it conveys to young women when the women they see onscreen are so artificially made up, to the point where the actresses all allowed that they don’t “look real”.
Sunday was Supernatural day at Comic Con, which really started the night before when fans camped out in the Hall H line to wait for the 10 am panel. By 8:30, Misha Collins appeared with free (and much needed) coffee for some lucky fans, then walked the line to say hi and take pictures. Is there a better way to wake up after a long night of camping out on the sidewalk than to see Misha Collins? I don’t think so.
We love Misha, and we loved working with him as he wrote his chapter for Fan Phenomena: Supernatural. He wrote about how Supernatural has changed his life, and how it galvanized his passion for helping others, and we love him for that passion. But I think I fell in love just a little bit more watching him get up early and come out to thank fans for their passion. Also, how awesome is it that he wore a ‘take a howl at that moon’ tee shirt?
ETA: And apparently Jared was out there walking the Hall H line too — twice! Which just makes me believe even more wholeheartedly that we in fact have the BEST CAST EVER!
The energy in Hall H as we waited for the panel to begin was electric. I remember it from that first time we were there, back when the Supernatural panel was in 6CDEF and The Powers That Be didn’t realize that the room was wayyyyyyyyyyyyy too small to contain the Show’s fans.
The energy is the same now, but multiply it exponentially for the size of Hall H, and even without coffee, you’d be wide awake. When “Director Jensen Ackles” took the stage, the room went crazy, and me along with it. Even Jensen seemed genuinely taken aback at the number of people screaming their appreciation, admitting “I’m nervous” as he introduced a clip from the episode he’d just finished directing.
I’ve been anticipating Demon!Dean since before it actually became canon, after falling in love with the idea in some fabulous fanfiction – but OMG, the reality of it, watching Jensen embody that part, has me off the charts excited. I thought Dean Winchester was the hottest fictional character ever to exist, but Demon!Dean just might have him beat. Holy hell, the potential for this storyline is AMAZING. Is it October yet???
You can watch the panel on Youtube, I’m sure, but suffice it to say, the boys were all in a great mood and enjoying interacting with fans. They are all clearly excited about S10, and that says something really good about what we can expect this season.
Cosplay is a huge part of Comic Con, and Supernatural fans didn’t disappoint.
WB gave J2 and Misha their own Funko Pop Vinyl boys, and Misha helpfully constructed a makeshift version for Mark, who sulked about not having an actual Crowley one.
Everyone burst into applause when one of the costumed fans who came to the mike to ask a question turned out to be Osric Chau, a true fanboy himself. “Bring back Kevin!” could be heard all over the Hall, and the Supernatural boys all bowed down to “Master Chau” himself. A great Comic Con moment.
Jared wore a hat and looked amazing – he took the sling off during the panel and press, but put it back on afterwards. Poor Jared, I’m guessing it hurts, but you couldn’t tell from how much he smiled. I think I might have a bit of a thing for Jared in hats…
Jensen didn’t wear a hat and looked amazing. His hair is sort of a hybrid between Dean’s hair, Jensen’s hair, and his character in A Few Good Men’s hair, which somehow manages to work anyway.
And there’s something about a guy in tee shirt and jeans, isn’t there? Whether he has a fitted suit jacket on over it (at the panel) or not (at Nerd HQ)
I loved Misha’s tee shirt and shorts in the morning as he walked the line and then continued on his run, but he looked great when he changed for the panel too. And damned if they all don’t have the most gorgeous smiles!
Mark is looking svelte and sexy – perhaps because Demon!Dean has been keeping Crowley on his toes and Mark is portraying that too. Whatever the reason, Mark adds a snarky touch to the foursome’s interaction that had everyone laughing.
We were treated to a bit of the S9 gag reel, which is probably on Youtube too, and is always a highlight of Comic Con for me.
After the panel, I made my way through the packed exhibit hall to the WB booth for the SPN signing. Once again, I didn’t have actual signing tickets, so that meant braving the crowd to try to squeeze in close enough to snap a few photos through the security guards shoulder-to-shoulder barrier (while of course not daring to pause). I don’t really like crowds, so this is a testament to my love of the Show and my fangirl tenacity.
Later that day, I trekked across the street to Petco Park to wait in line for standby tickets to the Supernatural Nerd HQ panel, since I was unable to snag any in the .02 seconds it took for them to sell out. Two hours later, they were about to open the gates so that 50 people could get standby tickets, which made my aching feet and sunburn seem pretty worth it. Then, at the last second, perhaps unnerved by the hundreds of Supernatural fans gathered outside Nerd HQ hoping to get in, they changed their minds and announced no standby tickets would be given out for Supernatural.
I trudged off to drown my sorrows and cry for a while, and was consoled by the amazing Erin (@SPNCrossroad) who talked me into getting some lunch and then curled up with me on a couch in Nerd HQ to watch the livestream on our phones. Thanks, gf.
Actually that’s one of the best things about Comic Con – and about any con. Meeting fellow Supernatural fans is an entirely different kind of wonderful. I didn’t know I was coming to Comic Con until a few weeks ago, when we decided to sell the books there. Two friends I’d met at my first Comic Con (including Sabrina, who appears in Fangasm quite a bit) let me crash on their lovely hotel couch at the Embassy Suites.
Erin not only picked me up at the airport, but took me with her to Aisha Tyler’s Girl on Guy taping with Shane West at the XBoxLive event (which was amazing and had incredible food). Pretty sure Erin and I ate and drank enough to hold us over for another 24 hours. You never know when you’ll have time to eat at Comic Con, so stocking up is prudent. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.
Meeting Aisha was a pleasure – I thanked her for her love of Supernatural and told her how much I enjoyed her Girl on Guy and Whose Line Is It Anyway segments with Jared and Misha.
Guess who’s reading Fangasm now?
I also stopped by the Wattpad event to celebrate transformative works and say hi to my acafannish friends, and met up with some fellow SPN bloggers and fangirls who I usually am only able to chat with online (in person hugs are so much better). Those moments are as precious as the opportunities to say hi to your favorite stars or see the roll-out of a new blockbuster.
One of the highlights of this year’s Comic Con for me was when Supernatural executive producer (and author of the Supernatural: Origins comics) Peter Johnson stopped by the Cinequest booth to buy a copy of our new book for his daughter. We joked that this is the only time he’ll actually be cool to her, because he works on a show she loves. I’m always impressed with the fact that the people who make Supernatural are fans of the Show too, just like we are. What a great guy!
Every time someone on the cast or crew of the Show wants to read our books, it leaves me overwhelmed with gratitude that this is the Show I fell in love with and ended up writing about.
And I ran into another of my favorite Supernatural-related people too, creative genius Ben Edlund.
Me: (after literally running into Ben on the crowded exhibit hall floor) Oh hey, Ben!
Ben: Oh hey, how are you?
Me: Great, the books are great, how are you?
Ben: Good, good…
Me: (blurts out) We miss you on Supernatural!!!
Ben: I miss it too, but I’m really enjoying Gotham. They’re different, but both great.
Me: That’s great, I’m glad…but there’s going to be a musical-ish episode of Supernatural this season, and you should SO have been a part of that!
Ben: (laughing) That would have been great, you’re right.
Yes, I managed to wish Ben well on his new projects, but seriously – can you imagine a musical-ish Edlund Supernatural episode???
Sunday evening was a lovely dinner on the harbor with my friend Alice from Winchester Family Business to celebrate the close of another Comic Con. It’s easy to forget how beautiful San Diego is when you’re inside the convention center for most of the time, but directly behind it is the magnificent bay. We had some great seafood and watched the sunset turn the sky multicolored behind the boats moored in the bay, and I finally relaxed.
I came home exhausted and a bit battered and bruised, but happy. And more excited about Supernatural Season 10 than ever – IS IT OCTOBER YET????
To read more about our Supernatural
adventures in ‘Fangasm’ and ‘Fan Phenomena
Supernatural’ click the links at the
top of the page!