For my tenth wedding anniversary, my husband and I attended Comic-Con, and it was the most romantic and magical trip a geek couple could have hoped for. We nerded out until we nearly passed out, attending panels for The Guild and Phineas and Ferb, visiting the LEGO booth and getting our picture taken on The Walking Dead set, buying multi-sided dice in every color imaginable and collecting pop culture tchotchkes by the Mythbusters bag full. Would I go again? Absolutely. I sincerely hope to.
But if I had to choose between going to Comic-Con and going to the Creation “Salute to Supernatural” convention in Burbank that I was fortunate enough to attend last week, what would I do? I would fire up the Impala, crank the Kansas, and salt and burn my way to fandom paradise. Why? Well, with a week to digest the overwhelming magic that was that event, I think I’ve figured out why my specialized experience was so much better.
Comic-Con: Nerds, geeks and pop-culture enthusiasts with hundreds of different interests in many different genres.
Salute to Supernatural Con: People who love my show as much as I do. Period.
One of the great things about Comic-Con is the variety, no doubt. But at a themed con like the Salute to Supernatural events, everyone in every line, at every table, and in every audience row shares your distinct passion. I didn’t have to worry that I would be in line next to an anime devotee and have nothing to say because I know so little about the genre. I didn’t have to defend my network TV indulgence to anyone who refuses to watch anything that doesn’t have subtitles. I didn’t have to admit that I’m not really a graphic novel person (with the obvious exception of Neil Gaiman who is a god among men). Everywhere I went, people got me. They wanted to talk about the Sam and Dean of season one versus season nine. They understood my in-joke t-shirts. They cheered when I bought a huge, and I mean HUGE, canvas panel of Sam Winchester in a charity auction. No matter where I went, or where I sat, or whatever line I was in, I was next to an SPN geek who, like me, was having the time of their lives. That made for instant bonding and tons of laughs.
Comic-Con: A huge amount of geek and pop culture panels, spread out into a vast space, many of which conflict and many of which you are not guaranteed by any means to get in to.
Salute to Supernatural Con: One panel presentation or entertainment event at a time, in which you are guaranteed a seat. You miss nothing.
Again, Comic-Con is great. There is so very much to choose from and see. It is eye candy nirvana for nerds. Still? The choices can be overwhelming to say the least. Also, you need to line up for hours, sometimes days, to get into anything big, like, say, Iron Man or the Nerdist or, God forbid, Doctor Who. Hall H, the huge hall where the most popular panels are held, is nigh impossible to get a seat in. At the Supernatural con, I could breeze into a panel or event at the last minute and know I would see the whole thing in a guaranteed chair. The panels were focused, funny and informative, and allowed even recurring stars and guest stars their moment to shine, and to give you the inside skinny on the show.
Comic-Con: Many costumed characters walking about, enhancing the ambiance.
Salute to Supernatural Con: Same! More focused and specific, of course, but just as delightful.
I was amazed at the thought and detail people put into their costumes at the SPN con. People dressed as everything from the basics (Sam, Dean and Castiel) to the more specialized (Crowley, Abaddon and Jo Harvelle) to the downright crazy and awesome (the Leviathan, a shojo, and a “nude” Castiel covered in bees, a SPN in-joke that drove the crowd wild). We put together a slideshow of the costumes below for your enjoyment. Keep your eye out for Steampunk Castiel. She was a particular favorite of mine.
Cosplayer slideshow – click images to enlarge
Comic-Con: Lots of industry and insider parties that you might get to go to, if you’re very, very lucky, but you won’t get to interact with the stars unless you have connections.
Salute to Supernatural Con: Evening events that the stars participate in with you, that are a guaranteed blast.
Slideshow of Mark Pelligrino, Matt Cohen, and Travis Wester – click to enlarge images
On Friday evening, S&C founder Nanea Hoffman and I attended a fantastic karaoke party co-hosted by Richard Speight Jr. (Gabriel/The Trickster) and Matt Cohen (Young John Winchester) and it was more fun than I could have imagined it would be. The event, totally free, had an SPN Class of ’13 theme, and many people came in decade specific high school outfits (Matt even rocked a cheerleader outfit, in which he looked glorious.) We sang our lungs out, and so did many of the stars of the show. How many people can say they sang along with Lucifer (aka: Mark Pellegrino) to AC/DC’s “Big Balls” or that they chanted the Fresh Prince of Bel Air’s theme song with the prophet Kevin Tran (aka Osric Chau)? I can, now. I went to sleep with a sore throat and a happy heart.
On Saturday night, Rob Benedict (The Prophet Chuck) was set to perform with his band Louden Swain. Unfortunately, Rob is recovering from a health crisis and was unable to sing, but, in true the-show-must-go-on spirit, his castmate friends came out in force to sing for him. I watched the angel Balthazar (aka Sebastian Roche) belt out a rock song shirtless, and the angel Anna (aka Julie McNiven) sing a sweet love song. The amazing Jason Manns and Brian Buckley, friends of the SPN cast and hugely talented musicians themselves, filled in too. And the entire crowd lent their voices in support of Rob’s recovery, singing “Carry On Wayward Son” so loud I swear he must have heard us, wherever he was.
Louden Swain concert slideshow with Sebastian Roche, Julie McNiven, and Matt Cohen – click images to enlarge
After, we attended a cocktail party for those who held gold tickets (not cheap but worth the price, IMO) and danced with the likes of Benny the Vampire (aka Ty Olson) and DJ Qualls (aka Garth). I bumped into someone on the dance floor and turned to apologize. Instead of saying sorry, I found myself dancing with a GhostFacer (also known as Travis Wester.) How freakin’ cool is that?
Comic-Con: Many big stars who may or may not recognize the audience with any humility or humor.
Salute to Supernatural Con: Show stars who call you their family and love being at the con as much or more than you do.
J2 panel pics. Click images to enlarge
I was fortunate enough to attend a couple of great panels at Comic-Con, for smaller shows and web shows. The stars were all very well spoken and friendly, and I enjoyed their presentations very much. That said, there is something about being at a show-specific con, and knowing that every single person in an audience absolutely loves what you do. The stars of the SPN con fed on that love and gave it back in bushels. From the two-episode guests right up to the headliners, they were grateful and kind, making us laugh and cry, and thanking us repeatedly for all we do to keep the show on the air and keep them employed. Everyone went out of their way to be gracious and interactive. Even Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki and Misha Collins, the big guns themselves, took the time to talk for a moment when going through autograph lines, to comment on anything show-specific you were wearing or to ask how your con was going, and they even tried to accommodate even the silliest of photo requests. I never felt rushed and it never felt impersonal. I asked my questions, got my moments, and I made great memories. And I have the photos to prove it. (Professional Fan Tip? When attending a con, wear custom t-shirts that you make yourself, especially with your favorite quotes or character names on them. The stars will love the effort you put into them, and they are instant line ice-breakers.)
Click images to enlarge
The weekend was jam packed with memorable moments. Some of my personal highlights were:
Osric Chau (Kevin Tran) dressing up as Rapunzel and handing out birthday cupcakes
Singing “Carry On Wayward Son” with hundreds of other rabid SPN fans at karaoke
Misha Collins getting his nails painted by cast members as he answered audience questions
Hugging the King of Hell himself, Mark Sheppard, in a photo op
Jared Padalecki answering my question about shirtless scenes during the gold panel event
Felicia Day’s entire irreverent, adorable panel presentation which concluded with a brotherly hug from Jensen Ackles
Meeting and getting a hug and kiss from one of my favorite adorkable people, DJ Qualls
Seeing Jared’s reaction to my Sam Winchester convert t-shirt
The retiring of Richard’s karaoke costume (Dean Winchester’s gym coach outfit from the series) during Jared and Jensen’s panel, and Jensen’s hilarious reaction
Seeing Jared, Jensen and Misha holding (or, in Misha’s case, licking) Sweatpants & Coffee Mugs
When I initially signed up to attend this con, I thought I would go once and “get it out of my system.” That seems hilarious to me now. If anything, attending this con made me a bigger fan of the show and the fandom itself. As crazy as it sounds, I felt like a part of something at the con. Something bigger than the mutual love of a handsome, talented actor or a quirky cool TV show. I truly did feel like part of a family with people from all around the world, hell bent on spending 72 hours indulging in something and enjoying each other. It was a unique and magical weekend I will remember for the rest of my life.
Oh, also, there was this