Flannel, Abaddon, and Angel Wings: A Tribute to the Supernatural Fandom
Executive Director/Producer doesn't rule out a return for Charlie ...
What better way to pregame the Halloween spirit than to attend a Supernatural convention, right? After all, the show is about the things that go bump in the night, live under your bed and in your closet, and could possibly be currently possessing your bestie, your mom, or your dog, Spot.
I’m no stranger to conventions and convention life. I run Artist Alley tables at comic-cons and anime cons, I’ve run some panels, and I sometimes attend with the express purpose of writing about the convention later. Creation Entertainment’s Supernatural Official Convention is, in many ways, similar to those other experiences: fans pay to attend a convention for the privilege of interacting with other fans, creators, actors, writers, etc. You buy a badge to support the things you love, that inspire you to create, think, and socially interact with others who enjoy the same things as you. In that regard, the Supernatural convention was a lot of the same, comfortable vibe one only gets from publicly geeking out, cosplaying, and socializing with people who feel as passionately as you do about a particular thing.
At an anime conventions, there are fans of Death Note, Fullmetal Alchemist, Naruto, Sailor Moon, Attack on Titan, etc. The genre of “anime” is nearly as diverse as “entertainment” in general. There are sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary, sports, horror, and epic anime, and all are welcome at an anime convention. At a comic-con or pop culture convention, you’ll find fans dressed up as characters from The Walking Dead, Marvel, Supernatural, Harry Potter, Labyrinth, Batman, etc. For that matter, these days anime and other conventions overlap a lot. It’s not weird to see Batman at an anime con, or see Sailor Moon at a comic-con—or to see Castiel from Supernatural absolutely all over the place.
Where the Supernatural convention is particularly interesting is in its focus on one show. This focus helps to reveal the incredible diversity of the fandom for the show and casts an interesting light on how fandom often works. I know the lingo of fandom: we ship, we pair, we have OTPs, and that is part of how many of us consume our media. We watch and then are inspired creatively to write the ending out the way WE would have wanted it, or we decide to make jewelry or clothing that reflect our choices within our fandom. I bought a charm bracelet that had a little moose, squirrel, angel wing, bullet, and pistol hanging from it. To me, those items are symbolic of some of my favorite characters on the show. In retrospect, I should have chosen an Impala charm, too. Oh, well. There’s always next year.
Everywhere I turned, I saw fans dressed in the plaid flannel shirts favored by the Brothers Winchester. Somewhere, someone who sells tan trench coats is wondering why their sales have skyrocketed. Trucker hats like those worn by popular character Bobby Singer, black angel wings, blue neckties, t-shirts that declare the wearer a “Dean girl,” a “Sam girl,” an angel, a demon, and even fandom in-jokes like an actual Moose suit abound. I have included below some pictures of some of the more creative fan endeavors in the area of cosplay:
There was so much creative cosplay at this convention, and that only serves as a physical reminder of how many ways we can slice the orange of fandom, when a single television show generates this much distinct cosplay. My personal favorites were Salt and Burn personified under an evil Morton umbrella, The Nutcracker, Moving Wings Castiel, 1950s Abaddon, and the Impala Scooter, but every single person who decided to cosplay and get creative deserves mention as a visible, important part of fandom!
So, what is it like to be at a Supernatural convention? That depends—if you ask Richard Speight, Jr. (Gabriel, Trickster) and house band Louden Swain—on whether you are a Friday Person, one of the Saturday People, or … a Sunday Person. Louden Swain is a rock band made up of lead singer Rob Benedict (Chuck Shurley on Supernatural), Michael Borja on bass, Billy Moran on lead guitar, and Stephen Norton on drums. The band performs throughout the convention, and Benedict and Speight do a lot of emcee duty for the convention, introducing the guests, keeping things moving along, and rocking out at the Friday Night Karaoke Kings Party. At the start of the convention, Richard Speight explained his love of Friday People, starting out by saying, “I admire your blatant disregard for employment.” A man after my own heart!
Saturday people lack convention context, not having been there from the beginning, and Sunday people … well, Speight joked that the Sunday people are clearly only there for the J2 experience. This was an unexpected little piece of hilarity, as it was pretty obvious that he wasn’t actually hating on anyone, just making a thing out of Sunday People for amusement. He also explained the convention rules thoroughly while Louden Swain jammed in the background and told the fans that he encouraged the taking of photos and videos and the tagging and sharing of those photos and videos, but cautioned us not to take vertical video—even if you’re trying to capture Jared.
This gentle ribbing was pretty much par for the course among the cast and band—because Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles don’t have their big panel and photo ops until Sunday, they have all weekend to make fun of them. Between Benedict and Speight, they had some pretty great J2 impressions! I am one of Speight’s chosen “Friday People,” and while his joking about “Sunday People and Saturday People” is hilarious, it’s also a little bit true. I feel that being there for all three days is a completely different experience than only being there for one or two. You start to feel like you’re getting to know some of the cast members, especially if you attend the Karaoke Party and get called up to sing. You then find yourself on stage with the band and cast, singing classic rock from the show, Backstreet Boys because why the heck not, and belting out Proud Mary while Briana Buckmaster rocks that absolute daylights out of it. I’m in agreement with Speight: we Friday People have more convention continuity and context, and I believe I had a better time than I would have if I only zoomed in for the last day and left.
Some of the Best Quotes and Nuggets of Information from the Panels
Tyler Johnston (Samandriel/Matthew Pike:
- When a fan asked him if Chuck (Rob Benedict) is God: “Chuck … the TV show? Is Chuck a new character? Yes, Rob is God!”
- “Rob is never going to talk to me again. I thought I’d made a friend!”
- When asked by a fan what his character’s theme song would be: “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
- When asked by a fan, “Did you get to keep your Wiener Hut hat?” – he forgot he was wearing it and wore it around for a bit.
Osric Chau (Kevin)
- When asked what the weirdest thing he’s ever been sent by a fan was – a picture of poop. Really. “Don’t send me pictures of your poop. Unless … it’s really … different. Or, like, in a bowling alley and it’s really long …”
- He loves cute animal videos and finds them soothing.
- They’re not allowed to wrestle on set anymore because he broke Jared’s arm while they were horsing around.
Briana Buckmaster and Kim Rhodes (Sheriffs Donna Hanscum and Jody Mills):
- A small child with a British accent steps up and starts to ask Kim a question. She interrupts and says, “Yes, anything you want!” The child asked if she will do karaoke with them, and Kim says yes.
- Briana cusses a LOT. And it’s amazingly hilarious!
- They spoke of the constant fear that the next script holds death. They compared the script to a Death Note.
- When referring to her character Jody Mills and how long she’s stayed alive, Kim says that she reads the scripts backwards, looking for key phrases like, “Jody’s body” to prepare herself in case she dies. She said, “This is the scene where Jody – no it isn’t! You can’t catch me!” *runs around the stage, avoiding death*
- Kim wants to do an episode where Jody and Donna switch personalities!
- They start a chant of, “Still Alive! Still Alive!” <3
- Advice to fans from Kim: “Be you now.” She was tired of pleasing others, and bleached her hair white and dyed it blue. “I’m a unicorn!” After embracing how she wanted to look and be, she has never worked more than she has in the last six months!
- On kissing Bobby Singer: They only kissed once, so they purposely messed it up a lot. His beard is soft.
- Briana: “Onscreen kissing is great!” She says it’s a great way to master kissing in an environment where you can actually ask people how it looked and if you’re doing it weird. “Is this what I look like?” “Kissing is just the fuckin’ best.”
- Briana on Jared Padalecki’s high kicks: He likes to laugh at having made you laugh. “He has a great butt, though!”
- Kim: “Take a moment to imagine Jody and Bobby’s sex life.”
- Kim: “I ship Jody and everybody!”
- “Just because people are sweet and optimistic doesn’t mean they’re weak.” – Briana on Donna.
- “It’s not your job to change them. You can walk the fuck away.” – Kim
- Briana was asked about her character’s size, and how Donna’s size is important for representation. “I am more than my jeans size!” Briana had the audience repeat that. She said that she was done talking about/apologizing for women’s bodies.
- Kim said that “The conversation persists,” because for whatever reason it’s somehow okay to show a size 2 woman eating donuts but not a size 12. “
- Kim – “In their mind, they’re masturbating with a steak.” – on women who choose salad to conform to societal norms, not because they want to.
- Briana: “No more talk about women’s bodies. Now, let’s talk about men’s bodies!”
- “If I touch Sam’s penis of death …” Briana: “I’ll risk it!”
- Kim apologized to Jensen Ackles that she had made a joke at a con that objectified him, and he said, “I’d be mad if you didn’t objectify me.” Kim: “Sorry, I was distracted by your lips.”
Travis Aaron Wade (Cole Trenton):
- He was really sweet to kids – he hugged an 11-year-old who got nervous asking a question and recommended that hugs and breathing were the best way to combat nervousness.
- Someone remarked that he was nothing like his character, and he said, “Uh, I’m acting!”
- “Cole really loved his dad before he was a monster donut.”
- Like his character, he has a military background.
Richard Speight, Jr. (Gabriel, Trickster):
- #blamethemusk, Speight’s hashtag to make fun of Jared and Jensen and their effect on the fans. “It’s dangerous – like asbestos, only beautiful!”
Ruth Connell (Rowena):
- In her lovely Scottish accent, “There’s so many of ye!”
- She was double-fisting coffee. “I don’t even drink coffee!”
- “I’m supposed to answer them lucidly? I haven’t even brushed my hair!”
- Rewards question-askers with little things from her bag that she “stole” from hotel rooms on the convention circuit – sweetener packets, tiny shampoos, etc.
- When asked by a fan what she would like to play if she weren’t playing Rowena on the show: “An angel. A fallen angel!”
- To a fan: “Your husband’s in love with me? Where is he?”
- A fan asked her what animal she would turn Crowley into: “A fluffy, white pussy.”
Osric Chau and Kim Rhodes (Kevin and Jody Mills):
- Osric loves Avatar the Last Airbender and especially loves the combined animals, like Platypus Bears.
- Osric’s favorite cosplay to do currently is Ariel from The Little Mermaid.
- Kim considered coming to the convention in Sailor Moon cosplay. Or Death Note.
- Kim was, “trying not to swear so much she makes Osric uncomfortable.” He said, “d-bag” once, and she was very, very proud of him.
- Fans asked what movies they had seen/enjoyed recently: Kim loved Fury Road but was disappointed in Age of Ultron.
- Kim fantasizes about Robert Downey, Jr.
- Kim totally ships Jody/Bobby.
- Osric would like to cosplay Cinderella sometime. Kim says, “Cinderella is very pristine for someone who … works in a fireplace.”
- Osric: “Jody would keep me safe. She would not kill me.”
- Osric talks about how he felt when he read in the script about “Dean stares at Kevin’s lifeless body.” Apparently, Jared told Osric a while before it happened to help him not be surprised, but he still had to do cons burdened with the knowledge and unable to disclose it.
- Kim’s reaction to finding out Kevin was killed: “Are you fucking kidding me?!”
Mark Sheppard (Crowley):
- “You’ve already overspent. What’s one more Misha photo op? Go to the concert, where Misha won’t be.” – Mark Sheppard is playing the drums at the Saturday night concert.
- Some people left the room: “Cool. They’re gone. now I can steal their stuff.”
- Someone came in late for a front row seat. “Oooh, front row. You can come in late.”
- “I’m bored of the sound of my voice.” (addresses fan with question) “Who are you, and what do you want?”
- Fan gets emotional, saying that he helped change her life and he insists that no, she changed her own life. “You changed your life.”
- Someone referred to his character as a villain: “I’m not a villain! I’m the good guy! I mean … they’re basically serial killers!”
- “Who are you cosplaying? Castiel? Never heard of him.”
- likes to tease Ruth Connell (Rowena) for being really short. Sang her “the short people song.”
- Loves to make fun of how much the fans love Misha and did Dean and Sam impressions that were fairly hilarious.
- When asked what his favorite job was outside of SPN, he answered that it was Battlestar.
Misha Collins (Castiel, Angel of the Lord):
- Took his meet and greet fans to the woods and got dirty. Had to take a fast shower in a staffer’s hotel room. Was worried that he might have found some poop in the woods and might have stepped in it. Called out, “Don’t use the small towel!” to the staffer. :-D
- *Looks at how long the question lines are* “Where does hope die in the line? Anybody back there still have hope? Well, you’re in the wrong part of the line, then!”
- Was really tired because an older gentleman told him on the plane that Misha’s seat was poking him in the tummy so he could not recline. “He said ‘tummy’ and I was powerless.”
- What Misha tells himself before conventions, “Misha, please don’t say anything that could land you in jail …”
Richard Speight, Jr.:
- Still loves his Friday People. “We share in jokes the Saturday and Sunday people will never understand. Friday people and us are kinda besties. But it’s totally innocent. I feel like Friday people and us have been together for a long time. Saturday and Sunday people – I won’t disrespect you. I did that yesterday.” And, “Rob’s the nice one. I’m the crotchety a-hole.”
Robert Singer, Executive Director/Producer:
- Fan question: What is it about SPN that brings fans of different generations together? “The show has a lot of heart.” This reminds him of Kripke’s favorite scene in Faith – a miracle right there. Also, “The core relationship between the brothers is the unifying factor.
- Fan asked about diversity issues with the casting: “Diversity – we’re pretty aware of it.” Charlie was not defined by her sexuality. They seek out diversity, but the nature of the show means that no one is safe. He wouldn’t rule out a return for Charlie, if Felicia Day’s schedule is amenable. No one is truly dead on SPN – Bobby, Kevin, Charlie, everyone.
- The character of Bobby sacrificed his “nice” heaven to help the boys. The fan who asked the question seemed upset, and Singer said, “Oops! Sorry!”
- It would have taken someone with Dean Winchester’s “heroism, stamina, and mental deficiency” to take the mark away from Dean.
- Demon eye color is like a rank of service. Black eyes for regular demons, red eyes for crossroads demons, etc.
- Fan asked what his favorite season is: He is very proud of Season 8.
- Feels lucky that Jared and Jensen had the right brotherly chemistry from the get-go.
- Fan asked about why there aren’t many tie-ins like video games, etc. for SPN. Robert Singer: “Why not make a feature?” He explained that the studio might be extra cautious about movies, tie-ins, etc. because the show is still so successful on TV.
- Took a moment to ask the fans, “Are you doing okay? I’d like to come back!”
- He also played harmonica and sang the blues with Louden Swain at the Saturday Night Concert!
The J2 Panel: Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles:
- Jared mentioned that on this day, 7 years ago, he took out one of the guest stars for lunch and that person was now his wife. He was convention-ing on his anniversary!
- Fan asked: “What do you think is the first rational thought to go through a fan’s mind when meeting you?” Jared: *sighs* “Oh, my God. You’re tall!” Jensen: “Look at his eyes.”
- What are your favorite parts of filming season 11 so far? Jared: Episodes 9 and 10. Jensen: Filming of Episode 4 – we’ve never done an episode shot like that before.
- A fan got emotional about how much the show and the actors mean to her. Jensen: “You guys change our lives too.”
- Fan: “How have the conventions changed?” Jared: “Old and young, short and … short.” *describing the fans* “I don’t feel lonely now.” Jensen: “They’re more personal now.”
- “Keep it clean!” – Jensen
- Fan: What are the weirdest poses you’ve been asked to do during photo ops? Jensen: There have been some odd requests, props, etc. “Some you say yes, some you say … move along.”
- “I don’t know what this is from Harry Potter, but okay.” (on requests to hold props from other franchises) *author note* I think these requests are often about crossover fanfiction and fandom in-jokes.
- “We’re not the Lose-chesters. We’re the Win-chesters.” – Jared.
“Thanks, Padalecki.” Jensen
- Jensen on Robert Singer: “He could have retired years ago if he’s wanted to.” Introduced him as, “The Real Bobby Singer.”
- Jensen made Jared’s ringtone in Jensen’s phone a Michael Buble song. Makes fun of Jared’s music like Dean does Sam’s. Jared had the same message for a really, really long time. Made him change it, but Jared was having trouble. “Are you serious? It’s the speaker where the music comes out.” — Jensen to Jared. *Jared finally figures it out* Jensen – “Always keep fighting, buddy.”
- Jared- “Dean doesn’t have a middle name. It’s like Cher.”
- Fan: When the show ends (eventually) how do you think it should end? Jared wants it to end with the brothers sitting on the hood of the Impala looking up at the sky. Jensen suggests that the Winchester brothers keep fighting until they’re old, take a case at a retirement community and just … stay. (Either way, I’m cool.)
- Misha crashed their panel and Jensen said, “Oh, so you decided to fly in for a bit? Were you off on one of your trips somewhere? Basking in the sun?” Misha replied, “Well, you know what? I was informed by some very trustworthy people backstage that you had said some fairly disparaging things about my work ethic and I just wanted to come up here and defend my honor.” Jared: “Wait … you were willing to take a break from your break? To work?” *Jared and Jensen exchange a well-deserved high-five over this zinger.*
So, was it worth it to miss a day of work, (Friday People, baby!) and shell out for con tickets and a hotel for the Supernatural convention experience? I would say yes. I had fun, I met other fans, and had the experience of seeing and hearing things in person from the people who work on and create the show. Among the more die-hard SPN fans and convention go-ers, you hear mention of “The SPN Fandom Family” and other similar terms. After attending the convention, I’m no longer skeptical of that designation—it isn’t that people are paying to buy a false sense of connection to the cast of the show, it’s more that the fans themselves have formed a bond and work together to help each other at conventions, by contributing to charities dear to the cast, and by willing the show into existence by means of their love.
Without a viewership, there is no show, and the cast seems genuinely grateful for the continued fan interest in what is for them, their job, and for us, a show that inspires us creatively and imaginatively. Another angle to the “family” aspect of this show and its cast and fandom was mentioned by several cast members during their panels—many cast members didn’t actually get to work together on the show and got to know each other and build friendships with each others because of the conventions. Kim and Osric never got to film together, but now they even panel together as a result of the connection they built doing the conventions together. Jensen and Jared mentioned during their panel that over the decade they’ve worked on the show, the cast has shared marriages, births, friendships, and hard times together. So, when they say that the fans have changed their lives as well, it’s true. Without the interest of the fans, Supernatual would not be the longest-running genre TV show, and the relationships fostered by that time and by the convention circuit might never have happened. Thank you, and you’re welcome, you guys!
Please enjoy these additional videos and photos of the cast and fans having a blast at the Karaoke Party, Saturday Night Concert, and panels!
Sara Goodwin has a B.A. in Classical Civilization and an M.A. in Library Science from Indiana University. Once she went on an archaeological dig and found awesome ancient stuff. Sara enjoys a smorgasbord of pan-nerd entertainment such as Renaissance faires, anime conventions, steampunk, and science fiction and fantasy conventions. In her free time, she writes things like fairy tale haiku, fantasy novels, and terrible poetry about being stalked by one-eyed opossums. In her other spare time, she sells nerdware as With a Grain of Salt Designs, Tweets, and Tumbls.
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