By the time Sam and Dean Winchester hit the stage, the auditorium in the Plano Center was packed with 2,500 “Supernatural” fans, the majority of whom were women. The roar that accompanied ‘the boys” entrance was loud and high pitched. But it was nothing that hadn’t been heard before during the three-day “Salute to Supernatural” convention, which drew fans of the popular CW sci-fi/fantasy series to Texas.
Sam and Dean — or Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, if one insists on using the actors’ real names — were the main draw, but every cast member was greeted with applause and an outpouring of love. And yes, that’s not just hyperbole. There was a genuine bond between the actors and the fans.
That is the thing about a good convention. The people who attend — many of whom had paid a goodly sum for the pleasure — are more than just there to see a celebrity. They are there to find a place among “family.”
And the cast of “Supernatural,” which was celebrating the show’s 10th anniversary as well as the 50th convention, played their parts well. There was no condescension among the actors. They talked often about the close-knit set — almost always citing the stars for creating a welcoming atmosphere — and all seemed genuinely grateful for the fan support.
With a couple of 13-year olds in tow, it was fascinating to see the show through their eyes (Disclaimer: I have watched and enjoyed a good few of the episodes, but my geekdom goes more to Doctor Who, so I was able to be more the objective witness to the event).
Ruth Connell stole the first day. The diminutive Scottish actress plays Rowena, a centuries-old witch and mother to the King of Hell (more of him later). She was self effacing and funny, and more importantly, she really knew how to hold the room during an hour-long question and answer. In fact, she was so good that we made time to see her the next morning as well and she did not disappoint.
The next highlight was Mark Sheppard who plays Crowley, the aforementioned King of Hell. He was rude and curt, treating all the questioners with disdain, often berating them for the quality of their questions. The audience absolutely ate it up. Only the King of Hell could get away with it, and Sheppard played the whole session with his tongue firmly in his cheek.
Misha Collins plays the angel Castiel, probably the biggest star outside of the two leads. He treated the audience to anecdotes from the set, career advice and was exactly as nice as the audience expected him to be. At one point a fan’s phone rang and Collins leaped from the stage to talk to the girl’s father, whom he had on speaker phone.
Unlike Comicpalooza or ComicCon or other nerdfests, the “Supernatural” convention is short on vendors — the ones who are there mainly cater to the show. Don’t expect to see a bunch of side panels. When the cast members are on stage, they know — and the audience knows — exactly why they are there. It’s “Supernatural” all the way.
As someone who has been to several different fan conventions, there is something special about the single mindedeness of the fans. It is like Deadheads following the Grateful Dead around the country. Indeed, one woman had been to several SPN cons, including Vancouver, this summer alone.
Sunday was the time for the main event. No more sneaking into a seat near the front. The place was packed and it was loud.
Sam and Dean, brothers in “Supernatural” arms, held the room in the palms of their hands. Questioners often were struggling to keep back tears of excitement. And they were generous, funny, self-effacing, complimentary to their fans. They were the celebrities that we wish all celebrities could be like.
So what is the appeal of the show. Well, it really is about family. It is simply two brothers fighting off demons that consistently try to break them apart — and destroy the world, but that is, surprisingly, the least compelling point of the show.
As 13-year-old Daisy said, we all have our demons to fight, and no matter who might try to deny them, they are real to whomever is fighting them. Sam and Dean, with a little help from their friends, overcome through their love for each other, through the bond of family.
That’s the point of fandom, whether it be TV shows, music or gaming. It’s a chance to connect to a “family” who understands. It is easy to look from the outside and laugh at the people geeking out to a show. But they share a community, a family, and that’s not to be laughed at.
For fans of the show, the boys and the rest of the group will be in Houston in the spring.
For information, visit www.creationent .com.
By Andy Coughlan