This was CONjure's first year of existence, and if I had to guess, I'd say also its last. Because despite having some great celebrity guests, a pleasant staff, and a hefty $1000 prize for the costume contest, almost no one showed up.
In fact, attendance was so dismal on Saturday that the con let everyone in for free on Sunday, hoping to draw more crowds. Even then, the vendor room was a ghost town for the few hours we were there, and it looked like some sellers didn't even bother coming back after Saturday's disappointing turnout.
A look at the vendor room from the main entrance.
I can't say for sure WHY no one was there, but I'd mostly blame timing; both Leaky Con *and* Tampa Comic Con were going on that weekend.
The main reason John and I were there, of course, was to see Mark Sheppard's panel and give him his custom figure, since we're big Supernatural fans. We wandered the vendor room twice working up the nerve to approach his table, and I stopped to take pics of this replica of Supernatural's own Impala:
The Impala's guardian invited me behind the caution tape for more pics, and I'm so glad she did. Check out the awesome details inside!
On the floor is a box of old classic rock cassettes, and on the seat, Dean's knife and their dad's notebook:
Beside the car in the back was a cooler topped with the boys' favorite brew and rock salt shotgun cartridges:
And the trunk... Ohhh, the trunk:
Propped on the side is a cigar box filled with Sam & Dean's fake IDs, burner phones, and other miscellanea:
Looks like they even ended up with Charlie's driving license. Ha!
But the best detail of all? Let's see if you can spot it:
Yes, it's the green army man wedged in the ash tray, made famous by the emotional season 5 finale. [sniffle]
After we gave Sheppard his figure and took a few pics together - at his suggestion - it was off to his panel.
Now, keep in mind, Sheppard had just come from San Diego Comic Con the previous weekend, packing out massive convention halls with thousands upon thousands of screaming fans. So when he walked out onto the stage of a big ballroom and saw maybe 50 of us scattered among the first few rows of chairs, you can forgive him for saying, "Is this it? You're joking."
There was no heat to it, though, just surprise. And I've gotta hand it to Sheppard; he recovered like a champ. He gave a mild "what're ya gonna do?" shrug, hopped off the stage, and strolled down to us to take questions face-to-face.
And when I say "Take questions," I mean Sheppard would listen to a question, and then talk about whatever the heck he wanted, related or not. It was kind of hilarious. I'm not exaggerating when I say he spent the first 35+ minutes of his hour panel talking about Doctor Who - what a great show it is, where newbies should start watching and why (with #11, if you're curious), the motivation and intricacies behind certain characters - the works.
When someone tried to derail him by asking about Supernatural, Sheppard blinked twice... and then resumed his Who fanboying. Like I said: kind of hilarious.
(Yes, that's a real bird in the background. It belonged to some of the attendees.)
Sheppard also had a way of reverse-heckling the audience. You want to know about on-set pranks? Do you KNOW how many times a day he's asked that question? Now, as he was saying about Doctor Who...
He personally greeted anyone who arrived late to the panel, inviting them in, asking how they were, where they'd been, that kind of thing. On the flip side, if you tried to leave early you got the same treatment. o.0
This lady asked the very first question, and as she was speaking Sheppard strolled over to her, getting closer and closer and kind of looming over her seat. She responded by standing up to face him, and guess who was taller then?
That got a good laugh out of the audience. :)
Sheppard is extremely soft-spoken, so everyone really had to lean in and hush up to hear him. I've never been in a panel quite like it: you could hear a pin drop when he paused for thought. I quickly had to stop taking pictures with my camera, too; the shutter click sounded like a gunshot in there.
I've had someone remark since this that Sheppard isn't very talkative in person, but I think - like most of us - you just have to get him started on something he's interested in. He's quick, extremely intelligent, and not terribly interested in faking enthusiasm. On the one hand that makes him a bit intimidating, but on the other, at least you know what you're getting is genuine.
For example, after the panel, when this group of Moulin Rouge/Supernatural inspired Can Can dancers lined up for Sheppard and lifted their skirts, he didn't so much as quirk an eyebrow:
Instead he looked them over, gave a grave nod, and said, "Very nice."
Another celeb there - Chad Rook - was more enthusiastic, diving in for a picture:
I can't tell which characters all the dancers are supposed to be, but the last two on the right are dressed as Bobby and Crowley:
Check out "Bobby's" little trucker hat fascinator - complete with small angel wings! [sob] BOBBYYY!!!
And Crowley's dress has a beautiful Devil's Trap on top of the circle skirt in red sequins - plus note she's wearing a red flame tiara. Appropriate for the king/queen of hell, no?
They told me they worked on these dresses for months, and with all those ruffles, I can see why!
A few days after CONjure I watched the Supernatural Nerd HQ panel, and it was quite a difference, seeing Mark have so much fun with the fans. Give it a watch here, if you haven't already; it's always great seeing the four guys tease each other nonstop. Heh.
And now that I'm caught up on convention coverage: Off to Dragon Con! See some of you soon!