I’ve been fortunate to attend Comic Con every year since the end of “Supernatural” season four in 2009, minus 2017 (family conflict). In 2009, the panel happened in Room 6BCDF, which has one sixth the capacity of Hall H. Jared and Jensen didn’t even go that year. The panel consisted of Misha Collins, Jim Beaver, Sera Gamble, Ben Edlund, and Eric Kripke. If anyone reads my press reports at that time, I went a little fangirlish. How could I not? It was a rather surreal experience for me at the time. The title was simple, “Who Let the Fangirl into the Supernatural Press Room?”
Yeah, well things have come full circle for this Accidental Fangirl. Here it is ten years later (11 Comic Cons) and this will be my last. I’ve been very fortunate through the years, getting to interview and socialize with a wide array of television actors and producers, thanks to not only The Winchester Family Business but my other now defunct site, TV For the Rest of Us. Life has taken control of my circumstances and my blogging days will end when “Supernatural” does.
My tone has changed through the years for sure. It’s impossible to maintain that fangirl glow some multitude of episodes and seasons later, watching the show I fell in love slowly with degrade in quality. My love of the show has waned, but I never cease to be amazed by this fandom. This last Comic Con reinforced that amazement. I still experienced some fangirl moments. Two of them came at the panel, and a big one came from someone whose work has meant a great deal to me.
My Last Supernatural Panel
I had a really nice surprise when I arrived to the panel (thanks to Nightsky for saving my seat). The person in the seat next to mine just happened to be Osric Chau! We have been here before. Back at the panel just before season eight, Osric was attending his first Comic Con, right after his character’s big premiere at the end of season seven. We met in the VIP line before the panel and he sat with me in the VIP section. I had to explain a few things to him during the panel, like Destiel! He had no idea what that meant. His reaction to my explanation was priceless. So, for me to be next to him here at his last SPN panel after being there for his first, well, it felt like closure. My report on that Comic Con can be found here.
(Me and Osric, 2012)
(Me, Osric, and Nightsky, 2019)
The second thrill came at the end of the panel, when they put up a surprise video about Baby and the genius work of Rick Blevins, a classic Impala restorer in Kansas that has restored more than a dozen classic black 1967 Impalas for fans all across the country and Canada too! I saw his work first hand a few times, but more recently in Austin at the Family Business Beer company during the annual Haunting of the Impalas gathering. The video revealed that a Baby replica restored by Blevins was being given away to a member of the audience! When Rick was asked to stand, imagine my shock was he was sitting on the other side of me! I was a little floored given my love of all things Baby. After the panel I got tell him how much I love his work and got to see his genius in Austin. He wondered if I had an Impala of my own. Nope, I just flew to Austin from Columbus just to see the cars. He was impressed with that, understanding the love. I was really impressed when he said he will be the one restoring Jensen’s Baby and will help get it to Austin. It needs plenty of love right now! He said he’s been to Vancouver a few times to work on the cars. Just wow. I was truly in awe.
As for the panel itself, all the reports are true. It was a more subdued, bittersweet panel. It had occurred to me when I sat in that giant room waiting for everything to begin that I’ve only missed two “Supernatural” panels in the years I attended Comic Con. The first time I intentionally skipped, but with a great reason. I wanted to be part of the final “Smallville” press room in 2010, which happened the same time as the “Supernatural” panel. Considering I had a personal freak out interviewing my childhood TV hero John Schneider (he was a surprise guest) and I got the meet Tom Welling in what was the only time he ever attended a Comic Con press room, it was worth it! The second time I missed a panel there was a short supply of VIP tickets that year and there was no way I was wasting my day in the Hall H wristband line. It was a really hot year.
I had hoped to learn more about the upcoming season fifteen at the panel, but the end of the show talk dominated and the subsequent press room. It was a celebration for sure of the amazing accomplishments “Supernatural” has made through the years, but there were more tears than laughs as everyone on that panel had to tell the 6500 people in that room goodbye and thanks. Saying goodbye is hard. I’ll admit, it was all a blur for me. You see, there’s always an unexplainable magic in the room when these events happen. You can’t explain collective fan love when it all gets together in a large room like this. I just enjoy being flooded by all that. None of the Creation conventions are as big as Hall H, so I usually want to cling onto to this feeling as long as I can. 45 minutes of clips and questions for the panel is just not enough and moves too fast. It was kind of hard to believe though that after all these years of gathering in this room each July, this was it. I’ve always been good with accepting the inevitable though, so for me, I came out of this whole thing with more pride over all the achievements through the years rather than the notion that “Supernatural” was ending. It all really won’t hit me until the show is gone.
Among the goodbyes and tears, the part the stood out for me was Andrew Dabb’s wry little joke that he thinks a good 30% of the fans will love the finale. Even Jared had a quick comeback to an uneasy room, saying, “That means 7 out of 10 of you will be pissed.” Someone asked me though, “Was that a joke?” Yes, and no. Here’s what I’ve learned about Andrew Dabb through the years, and I don't mean this as a criticism. He isn’t kidding. He does well delivering such things in a joking manner, but he ain’t kidding. He has always written for the 30%, not the 100%. It’s how he sleeps at night. Perhaps he saw how much Eric Kripke stressed himself to death in the first five seasons. Perhaps he saw what happened to poor Sera Gamble after two years. Perhaps he figured out as soon as he got this job that killing a franchise based entirely on fan goodwill couldn’t happen and he could do what he wanted. But he writes for himself and always has. Again, I’m not saying that like it is a bad thing. Many writers have had long, successful careers using that philosophy. A writer must stay true to their creative vision and not once has Andrew ever backtracked on his decisions. He’s defended them more than once in our interviews through the years. But when outraged fans wonder why certain creative choices are made, there’s your answer. For the record, Dabb did revise his estimates in our press room interview. He’s now confident 35% of fans will enjoy it.
For those feeling deflated by that comment, I will tell you something that might help. In the press room our table got to talk to Andrew Dabb first, and then Bob Berens. Andrew gave us his thoughts about his time on the show and what to expect roughly for the upcoming season in his routine, polished way. Bob came to us and gave us a fanboy delivery of what’s to come, loaded with enthusiasm and glee, actually making us weary veteran writers who hear the same rhetoric each year somewhat intrigued by what might be coming. The writer to my right turned to me when the interview was over and said, “Boy, we know which one is a real fan of the show.” It did make me feel better that Bobo will be there in the EP discussions fighting for the fans.
My Comic Con Highlights
I only attended one panel and one press room, both “Supernatural.” I remember the years and years of me at Comic Con spending 4 1/2 days bouncing from one press room to one panel to one event after another, coming home with a crap ton of material to process that basically dominated my next month or two. It took me that 11 months to recover before the next one. I had resolved this time that I would enjoy myself and I did. I walked the entire main floor at my own pace, not cramming it in between a panel and a press room. No, I didn't score a "Supernatural" bag this year, but I did even better. I got the hottest bag of the con! I got to walk the main floor with this beauty strapped to my shoulders.
Lynn Zubernis said I could sell this for a good amount on eBay but no way! I watched this show for 8 seasons. I'm keeping it!
Speaking of bags, here's a lovely group of ladies I got to know in the line for the Warner Brothers party on Friday evening. They work for a designer who makes those dresses out of Comic Con bags (as well as other custom fitted outfits). They all have come from different parts of the country and do events nationwide like Comic Con four times a year showing off the fan based apparel like you see here. I have seen these outfits each year, but I particularly loved this design. The colorful ruffles made these particularly appealing. These dresses were form fitting with corsets on the back. Were they uncomfortable? Not at all they said. They were lined with cotton and fitted perfectly. I really loved what they did with the Doom Patrol bag!
For the rest of the time, I visited some of my favorite sites around San Diego. I walked along the harbor front enjoying some food, wine, and beautiful weather. Here's a photo of one of my happy places, the garden area at the Stone Brewery at Liberty Station. It was the very first stop as soon as we hit town. Gorgeous afternoon!
Here's my spirit animal, the California sea lion! I got to hang out at La Jolla Cove for a while and just walk among these creatures on the beach. I never tire of watching the sea lions. You don't get to see this in Ohio.
I have a huge love affair with San Diego, but I have resolved I will be back someday when it is NOT Comic Con. That is my dream now.
In Appreciation of Jeremy Carver
As I have mentioned numerous time before, I started blogging for “Supernatural” in season three. Back then, a new up and coming writer started, Jeremy Carver. I fell in love with his work, and it was his episode, “Mystery Spot,” that kickstarted my whole blogging career. To this day “Mystery Spot” remains my all time favorite episode. I started writing my “Supernatural” column for Blogcritics in season three and I found out in the summer between season three and four that my reviews had gotten attention at Warner Brothers. My positive reviews were actually forwarded to the writers at times. I didn’t believe it until Eric Kripke thanked me for my awesome reviews of his episodes when I interviewed him in season five. I thought that was really freaking cool.
Fast forward to season eight. I got to meet Jeremy Carver for the first time. I had my “Pig in a Poke” shirt on. I told him it was my all time favorite episode and he thanked me. But our encounter was brief that year. It wasn’t until before season ten that I got to actually got to talk to Jeremy in a social setting. He was with Andrew Dabb and Andrew’s fiancée. Jeremy stood there and explained in amazing detail everything about the Winchester Family Business to Andrew’s fiancée right in front of me. I was floored! At the time my reviews had taken a more critical turn, but Jeremy called them “fair.”
Oh, and for the record, it was that meeting that Jeremy resolved what was a long running passionate debate on the Winchester Family Business. What is the true meaning of “pig in a poke”? The answer...nothing. It was the name of a breakfast dish he found funny. There was no deep meaning behind it. That squashed a lot of theories!
I was there in the press room the next year interviewing Jeremy for “Frequency,” his new show after leaving “Supernatural.” It was the last press room of the day on a Saturday, which meant we the media were in a revolving cavalcade press rooms before this. Jeremy sat down and gave a great pitch about the show, but most at the table were staring him glassy eyed, you know, a deer in the headlights type of thing. After the press room he asked me what was happening and I had to explain. I told him while we were waiting many at the table said they had seen the preview for Frequency and really liked it, but their brains were pretty much melted by that time. That made him feel better.
I hadn’t seen Jeremy in a couple of years and was thrilled to see him at the Friday night Warner Brothers party. He welcomed me into his group conversation, which included a few people from his new show, “Doom Patrol.” Jeremy was way more relaxed than I had seen him in the past. He’s attending now as the established veteran producer of a string of successful TV shows. He wouldn’t admit that “Doom Patrol” was getting a second season, but he certainly wasn’t worried! I had heard it was already renewed, but the official announcement didn’t come until the DC panel the next day.
It was during our conversations that Jeremy told me something that knocked me off my feet (at least in my mind). He thanked me for those positive reviews and support during “Supernatural,” especially when he was just getting started in season three. As a young writer starting out in TV, those reviews were very encouraging and gave him a lot of confidence as he was breaking into the business. He knew he was doing something right. I just didn’t know what to say aside from “thank you”. To me, I was just expressing pure love of a TV show. I could have never imagined that my work had that sort of reach. Even for a long time blogger like me, it just goes to show as a writer in general, you have no idea what sort of impact you make.
As a funny side story, Diane Guerrero, lead actress for “Doom Patrol,” was part of our conversation as well. She was so sweet and so much fun to talk to. I had no idea who she was until I watched “The Daily Show” two weeks later when she was Trevor Noah’s guest for the evening. Go figure! So yes, this up and coming high profile actress just happens to know all about the Winchester Family Business now. It’s pretty cool.
I know a lot of people here were critical of the Carver years, but if he hadn’t agreed to come back and be the showrunner in season eight, the show would have been ended. That is a fact. Things were that bad in season seven and Jared and Jensen were on the brink of ending it. Was the Mark of Cain a great arc? Not really. But Carver and his team were trying to take risks and do something fresh. Maybe it was too much of a challenge for the team he was given, but their efforts allowed the show to continue. For that, I will always be grateful to Jeremy Carver. The title of “veteran producer” fits him well and I’m thrilled to see his hard work finally pay off. I was also absolutely thrilled to see this full circle moment:
So this moment happened: Three generations of #Supernatural showrunners, same place, same time. Gotta love Comic Con. A rare treat to run into @therealKripke & #JeremyCarver at the @EW party, hug over the final season, and get excited about their new shows. #SPNFamily #SDCC ❤️ pic.twitter.com/dajzZVOYbJ— Sera Gamble (@serathegamble) July 21, 2019
In Appreciation of Eugenie Ross-Leming
For anyone that’s read my stuff, watching the last three seasons has been pretty hard for me. I have not enjoyed the creative direction, but I’ve even gone beyond that. I’ve ranted, expressed my extreme frustration over the fact that my once favorite show doesn’t work for me anymore. Comic Con in the past has given me a fresh perspective, and this year was no different. “Supernatural” fans are often accused of self-entitled behavior because we have stuck with the show this long. We’d like a reward for that loyalty. We know what’s best for the show, why aren’t the writers listening to us? It becomes personal. This is the trap that I have fallen into and I got a big lesson at Comic Con to shut the hell up.
No one has been harder on the writers than me. I’ve offered a lot of praise through the years, but I’ve also offered a lot of harsh criticism. No doubt this was fresh on my mind while having a long, personal conversation with Eugenie Ross-Leming. I’ve met Eugenie before, but was my first chance to get to know her personally. Over cocktails and appetizers, we got to talk about a few things, but the big topic was what’s next. Eugenie isn’t ready to give it all up. That’s because she’s a writer. Any writer out there knows that once writing is in your blood it’s not something you can just quit. She’s been writing her entire adult life and she can’t imagine not writing now. She talked about how she’ll be in her hotel room somewhere and just start writing. She’s always full of ideas and it’s how she decompresses. It’s her heart, her passion. She even mentioned that even though she was there at Comic Con and in San Diego, she planned to isolate herself from all that for a bit and write. I found out a couple days later that’s exactly what she did.
Eugenie has given her heart and soul to “Supernatural.” She knows what she writes hasn’t always been well received, but she learned early on you can’t please everyone. It’s how she’s survived this long in a male dominated occupation. She’s been part of so many shows through the years, some good and some bad (she didn’t have very good words for “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman”), but she’s always given it her best. She also credited Brad Buckner for being there to help and guide when she got stuck. A lot of writers don’t have someone they can rely on like she does Brad and she’s grateful for that. She has some new projects in mind for the future, but for now, it’s time to focus on telling this final chapter of “Supernatural.” It hasn’t really hit everyone yet that this is the end. It probably won’t until the final script is written.
In our press room interview, Eugenie was the last person of the day we talked to. At that point we had seen everyone else and most of the media at our table had left. They weren’t interested in sticking around for Eugenie or Bob. The person next to me though very much wanted to interview Eugenie. She was the only female writer in the room. She knew of Eugenie’s history and wanted to talk about what it was like being the only female staff writer during her entire career. That’s what our interview was primarily about, a celebration of Eugenie’s long career. There’s a moment though where it got a bit uncomfortable. The person next to me asked Eugenie about her time at Second City and used part of her question to diss Chevy Chase, someone that Eugenie worked with at that time. She was hoping to get some soundbites from Eugenie blasting him, but Eugenie wouldn’t say a bad word. Anyone that’s been around in Hollywood long enough knows you don’t diss a colleague. She maintained her classy nature during the entire thing, even when the questions got pointed. That entire interview is below and I highly recommend watching. It is a great testament to her long career.
That other journalist and I had a nice conversation after the interview was over. I told her that myself and many “Supernatural” fans have not been too fond of Eugenie’s work on the show. She asked why. I told her that one thing that irked me was some of the tone deaf scripts, like “Man’s Best Friend With Benefits.” She raised the question that was it Eugenie’s idea to cast a black woman as the “dog” or was it a casting director? When the tone of the story goes campy, like it often has with Brad and Eugenie scripts, is that the fault of the writer or the director? I didn’t have a good answer for that. I remember that in the early episodes Kim Manners had a lot of control over the tone and that control disappeared after he passed away.
There’s the still question of looseness with canon, but we didn’t dig further into that. I know that a lot of that continuity comes from producers notes, so the decision to let those go again doesn’t fall completely on the writers. Sure, some writers more than others do their homework, but ultimately was the breakdown in ignoring notes or never receiving them? We will never truly know, but the total package just can’t fall on one or two people.
Now that I’ve gotten this intimate aspect of Eugenie, will I like her episodes better? Absolutely not. But I have a greater appreciation of what went into them. She tried her best and it’s always possible that her creative vision wasn’t executed as intended. That’s something that not only myself but every fan needs to realize. After talking with several writers at Comic Con, it’s a staunch reminder that these writers do care, do pour their heart into the show, and they work very, very hard to produce what they do. They realistically know they can’t please every fan so they have to be true to their creative vision. Opinions are especially strong in this fandom and the downside of a long running show is that many fans have grandiose notions of the way things should be. I’m not going to offer fake or outlandish praise in my reviews, nor do these writers want me to. But yeah, I’ve got to do better to bridge my displeasure with a proper critical analysis. Fangirl needs to shut up.
The Future of The Winchester Family Business
This year’s visit to Comic Con was very unique to other years. In all my conversations with people, the topic of “what next?” came up a lot. I had this conversation with actors, producers, other bloggers, fans, and just about anyone who realized that the final season is ahead. I think everyone with some connection to the show came to San Diego with that philosophical mindset, even though the reality of the situation still didn’t hit many.
It wasn’t just me asking the “What next?” though. Several asked me that question as well. What's next for The Winchester Family Business, a fan site dedicated to a long running show that is ending? I was stunned by some of the people that asked me that. One was Jeremy Carver. I told Jeremy that one possibility was continuing to cover work of “Supernatural” alum like himself, doing reviews for his new shows. He didn’t think that was too bad an idea, but will the fans take interest? Good point. “Supernatural” fans tend to have a single minded focus. At that same party, another person who asked me that question was Misha Collins. I threw the future projects idea at him, but Misha was more interested in us continuing to cover his charity work. That seems to be his main priority going forward.
Numerous bloggers that I’ve gotten to know through the years asked me about our future. They, just like me, are focused first on getting through this season. But many of us were calling this our last Comic Con. Without that “Supernatural” connection, we aren’t on the radar for Comic Con events anymore. Sure, some will continue to cover other shows, but the loss of “Supernatural” after fifteen years will leave a very big hole. We shared a few fun memories, but all of us were in agreement. It was time. “Supernatural” has had a way better run than almost every show out there but all shows must end.
So what’s next? The Winchester Family Business grew and thrived on fan engagement. I’m not sure if that level can be maintained in a post “Supernatural” world. We haven’t had much success covering other “Supernatural adjacent” shows in the past and are skeptical about covering them in the future. I imagine that our writers are going to fall away due to lack of interest and real life, so aside from keeping up with news items, I see The Winchester Family Business thriving only in its archives - a time capsule perfectly capturing how engaged and active the #SPNFamily was during this time and what made this show and fandom experience so extraordinary. Maybe some fans that never heard of us will stumble upon it and smile as they read our stories. As long as server costs can be maintained on a yearly basis, I’ll keep it running as long as I can.
These last twelve years, ever since I discovered the show at the beginning of season three, have been the wildest ride of my life. I cherish every memory, but I’ve had enough to last me a lifetime. Like everyone on the show, it’s sad to hit this point but it’s also time for new adventures. I plan to embrace those new adventures with full force, but we’ve got a season 15 to get through first. It ain’t over yet. So in this case, “final” doesn’t mean “end.” But I'm glad that at least I could leave my final Comic Con with my head held high, just like my first one. The relationships I have made since I started this journey have been greater and richer than I could have ever imagined. Everything has come full circle for this fangirl and it's all good.