Toronto Con 2017!

It’s Supernatural premiere week, so this will be a drive by Toronto con write up. As in, I’m writing this at the con between panels since I’m not a vendor here. That’s my only hope of actually getting a con report posted before the season premiere. Squeeeee!!!

This was reputed to be the last Toronto con, though it looks like Creation might now be considering coming back in 2019. But the chance of it being the last one was enough to make it emotional for me – for anyone who was here the year that Rob Benedict had the stroke here at the con, or for anyone who was here the next year for his triumphant return. When I first read Rob’s intimate first person account of having the stroke that he wrote for Family Don’t End With Blood, I couldn’t make it through without reaching for the tissues – not many other people have told me they could either. All those emotions come up when I’m here in Toronto, but it makes this con a special one.

The other thing that made me emotional was having Rob and Rich back. I loved NJCon (as you know if you read my con report) and I think Jason Manns and company did a fabulous amazing job. But I just miss Rob and Rich when they’re not here. They’re part of the family, and not having them with us just feels wrong. Unfortunately I got here so late that I missed their intro and rushed to my seat just as Julian Richings was starting his panel.

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The #WoManns Con – Supernatural New Jersey!

New Jersey con holds a special place in my heart, simply because it’s the closest con to my hometown of Philly. That means I can actually drive there instead of flying, which makes being a vendor a bit easier. That also meant I could caption this con ‘Adventures in Vending’ because we definitely had some adventures – and some misadventures.

Being a Supernatural con vendor is like joining a tribe of frankly awesome people. For the SPN Creation cons, it’s mostly the same group of friendly, creative, resourceful folks at every convention – and because those cons happen a few times a month on average, the vendors get to know each other very well. They’re like a group of traveling carnies, moving their wares from one city to the next. They have each other’s backs just like the rest of the SPNFamily does, and I would trust any one of them if I was in a tight spot.

That doesn’t mean vending is easy. My friend Karen offered to help me out at NJCon, so we drove up together. The day before, the FedEx guy delivered my many many boxes of books, each of which weighs over 40 pounds. I bolted out the door as soon as he pulled up and asked what the policy was for leaving the books in my car instead of on my doorstep, and luckily the very nice FedEx man agreed. When Karen and I got in the car the next day, I swear it felt sort of like getting into a rocket ship – the boxes of books in the trunk and back seat made the front of the car point dangerously towards the sky.

With apologies to my poor overburdened Honda Civic, we started out, slowly making our way north to scenic Secaucus. The giant convention center had a back loading dock where we could unload the books, so we drove up there and asked where we could park to unload lots of boxes of books. The bored looking man waved us into a spot and said we could park there. Karen and I looked at the very long ramp across the lot where we would have to enter the convention center and exchanged a look of dismay. That was a steep ramp and a long way with forty pound boxes of books!

True to my always-frantically-busy-and-not-quite-prepared state, I hadn’t been able to find an actual hand cart but I’d brought along my green and white striped beach chair on wheels that doubles as a transport cart. You know, for taking your cooler to the beach or whatever. If it can transport a cooler, I thought, why not a box of books? So Karen and I heaved a box out of the trunk and onto the beach chair. The canvas sagged but didn’t break, so we counted that as a win. Then we began the trek up the long steep ramp. After a few minutes of struggling, we finally got up and into the convention center, wheeled the books and the chair down the hall and found our vendor table. One box down, ten to go!

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Supernatural Minncon Friday and Saturday – Misha, SNS and More!

 

The Supernatural convention in Minneapolis is notable for a couple of things. First, it’s in the grandest theater on the whole tour – an actual slanted floor tilted and cushioned seated amphitheater style theater with two clamshell balconies that open up like magic on Sunday for J2 Day. The stage is so big that some of the guests aren’t quite sure what to do with it and it makes the Saturday Night Special seem like a rock show in a bona fide concert hall – and Louden Swain and guests know exactly what to do with that!

The convention center, and the city itself actually, is also notable for being connected by a series of hamster trail elevated tunnels that allow you to make your way from the hotels to the convention center without being pelted by the inevitable wind and rain. My hotel was also playing host to a furry convention, so we had furries and Supernatural tee-shirted fans sharing space and high fiving in the hallways. I was struggling to transport my hundreds of copies of Family Don’t End With Blood the mile and a half (okay okay, exaggeration, but it felt like that…) of hamster trails to the convention center when a very nice young man at the furry convention offered to help. He pushed the overloaded handcart the entire way to the convention center, while we chatted about what our two fandoms had in common and why nobody should be ashamed of what they’re passionate about.

I was in the vendor room throughout the con, and was so honored to meet many people who had read Family Don’t End With Blood and been inspired by what the actors and the fans shared in their personal essays. I also was thrilled to collaborate with Jodi from Eldwenne’s Fantasy – she created an original Women of SPN – FDEWB necklace that I adore, and was kind enough to give one to me. The necklace symbolizes that for the women of Supernatural, family means more than just blood – there’s a blue backdrop that matches the cover of the book, hugged tight by silver to symbolize the found family that surrounds the Winchesters, and black for Baby. And of course the drop of blood red. Gorgeous. Jodi is giving $5 off the necklace to anyone who purchases the book, or $10 at a con!

The con kicked off on Friday with Rob and Rich a bit overwhelmed by the amount of greenery onstage – not just the usual couple of dead trees, but a whole forest of them, along with some equally-dead potted plants.

Rob and Rich rearranged them, made a makeshift Supernatural Christmas tree, and generally had way too much fun with inanimate things. They even had a Christmas story, with Richard sitting crosslegged on the stage.

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Return to Mecca – Supernatural Vancouver Con (Part One)

I’ve been too busy to post con reports this year for the most part, but I’m trying to change that – at least for one con! Vancon, as it was called for almost a decade and will still always be called in my head, is a special con. It takes place in mecca for Supernatural fans, where the show is filmed, and that means that lots of other Vancouver-based Supernatural alums and crew members often come by to say hi to the fans. It’s also the place where some of the best days of my life have taken place, and where many of my SPNFamily friends come to congregate, so that makes it a special con for me. This year was no exception.

I didn’t have any extra time to take in location filming or revisit some of my favorite Vancouver restaurants and sights, and I’m still grieving that the con is no longer at the beautiful Sheraton Wall Centre, but the Westin Bayshore is also quite nice. It’s also way above my budget at the non-con rate, and thanks to my aforementioned busy, I neglected to book it early enough to get that. So my friend Alicia and I spent the first two nights up the hill at the Coast, a European flavored hotel with an international bunch of patrons and a portable AC machine that served as possibly the best white noise I’ve ever experienced. I totally wanted to bring the giant thing with me! I then cashed in every single Starwood point I’ve ever accumulated to move over to the Westin, which rewarded us with an amazing view of this amazing city. I love you, Vancouver!

I mean, look at it! That’s the view from my window once I finally got to the Westin Bayshore.

I had a lovely seafood dinner out on the water on Friday night and a few good meals at the hotel restaurant too – I wasn’t in the vendor room, so I had a lot more time to hang out and have some good conversation. I was also very honored to sign copies of Family Don’t End With Blood for lots of people who had read it and been inspired by it, which totally made my weekend. If you came up to me and asked for my ‘autograph’, I’m thrilled that you enjoyed the book and that I got to meet you. And I hope you all told the actors what a fantastic job they did writing their chapters!

I had very little internet reception on Friday and especially Saturday, so I tried to make up for the lack of tweets by taking pictures. Thus this is Part One of my Vancon post, since wordpress was a wee bit upset with how many photos I was trying to cram into a single post. Part Two (SNS continued and Sunday) up shortly!

There were lots of SPN alums on hand for karaoke and during the con, most of which I forgot to take photos of, but I had to have a picture of the lovely Kuma, star of television commercials, and his owners Kevin and Jill Parks. Kevin has been with Supernatural as a First Assistant Director ever since I can remember, and is instrumental in making the show the high quality tv that it is. In fact, he’s joking referred to as “Parkasapedia” for his encyclopedic knowledge of SPN canon! Kuma has appeared on the show too, as well as in that Flonase commercial you see all the time.

Adam Williams, who supervises all that amazing VFX wizardry on Supernatural, was also on hand – along with the always awesome Lucy. Together, Adam and Lucy wrote a chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood about how the show changed their lives completely – by bringing them together! Talk about life changing.

Friday kicked off with Alaina Huffman (filling in for the busy-filming-Supernatural Kim Rhodes) and Gil McKinney.

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Supernatural Texas Style – DallasCon Saturday

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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).

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