Thursday, August 28, 2014

Supernatural Fun At CONjure Orlando

With Dragon Con starting tomorrow, I guess I better wrap up our last convention: a little local event called CONjure.

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!


  1. "Sam" is to the left of the tophat. (Sam hair, plaid ruffles) and "Dean" is on the right. (Short haired girl) Both have a knife tucked in their garters.

    I'd love to know who the two on the right represent...Kevin? Ruby? So many choices.

    I think "Bobby" is my favorite...with "Sam" a close second.

    1. Drat...two on the left of the picture.

      Sorry, it's my new hands. I can't tell them apart. ;)

  2. I know it's bad for the vendors, but I would LOVE to go to a con with so few people. I'm jealous of your Doctor Who-infused up close and personal with Mark Sheppard. :P

    Cons usually don't draw many people the first year, and it sounds like they shot themselves in the foot trying to compete with two more well-established conventions

    1. Actually, CONjure was originally only competing with LeakyCon. Tampa Bay ComicCon booked months afterwards and put it on the same date as the two conventions in Orlando. They have the name and budget though, and out-advertised everyone. They drew HUGE numbers and many first time con attendees. It's a shame, because some of us went to all three cons that weekend and we all agreed that CONjure was our favorite.

  3. You caught our group! That is a great picture with Chad Rook, ours all turned out blurry. For the curious, the characters are Ruby 2.0, Charlie, Sam, Gabriel (who had seen Moulin Rouge a few too many times and had a bad idea) , Dean, Bobby and Crowley. Our Castiel and Abaddon couldn't make it to CONjure.

  4. CONjur sounds exactly like our TrekCon here in Springfield, MO back in May. It was the first and possibly last (fingers crossed it won't be!). They had a ton of Star Trek celebs, mostly from DS9, and Klingons (Robert O'Reilly and JG Hertzer)! They had some great activities and panels, but the turnout was so small. My husband worked as Aron Eisenberg's handler and said several of the guests agreed the con had a lot of potential, it just somehow missed on the attendance. My opinion is that they failed to advertise. I only knew about TrekCon because my husband is involved in an acting troupe that helped put it on. The only tv ads they had were on MeTV, which had only started broadcasting about a month beforehand and very few people were aware of yet. There was a news spot the day before it started, but that was at 6am and I only found it because TrekCon's FB posted a link.

    We've got a couple other itty-bitty cons in town that have somehow made it over the years, so I'm really hoping the TrekCon folks won't be disheartened by their first try and will give it another go next year. Everyone I know that went loved it. The hour I managed (anxiety caused me to leave in tears, stupid anxiety) was pretty great. I attended the Klingon panel; watching Martok (Robert O'Reilly) on stage was pretty amazing because he's part of my childhood!

    1. Why not try to get some names to talk about the con? Willing to bet if you tweeted or emailed Wil Wheaton, he'd retweet or mention it on his blog. Maybe even convince someone like him or Chris Hardwick to make a web site that lists nerd/sci-fi/comic conventions throughout the year. They seem like really decent guys, and any publicity is good, right?

    2. Wait, there was a TrekCon in Springfield? And I didn't hear about it? AUGH I'M HEARTBROKEN! (It's my hometown, ya see, and I frequently bemoan the lack of geeky happenings.)

    3. See?! They didn't advertise well at all! Our Springfield geek community is sort of like an underground community. This past weekend was Rublecon and in October is the first Game convention (like a mini GenCon). VisionCon moved out of town this year to Branson.

  5. Oh. As if I didn't love Mr. Sheppard already. <3 Wish I could have been there!

  6. I just wanted to say that I've been following your blog for a year now and I love it! I'm not usually a commenter, but I'm always back here loving your spot-on photography and appreciation of all things steampunk, geek, and squee!

    Also, although it's off-topic for this post, I thought I would give you a book recommendation: The Looking Glass Wars trilogy by Frank Beddor. If you like variations on Alice in Wonderland, you'll love this series.

    Thanks for all the fun! I'll be here lurking in the background! :)

  7. Love your sites so much! I wanted to ask, in the NerdHQ video, is it your doll that they're asking Mark Sheppard about? How cool!

    1. No, the cast made Mark a "doll" out of a paper cup & some tin foil during their panel at SDCC, and that's the one they're talking about. If you check Youtube I'm sure you'll find it; Mark played with his "doll" the whole panel, which was pretty hilarious. (He even brought it up when we gave him ours, saying he half wanted Funko to make his figure look like the paper cup one. ;))

  8. I hate when so many things are scheduled at the same time, especially so close in proximity to each other! A lot of people lose out because they can only be in one place at a time and we want to go to all the things!

  9. I'm just getting into Supernatural (I've seen the first six or seven episodes so far.) I remember the army guy motif from the episode where they were investigating a series of drownings; that's so cool that they repeat the motif five seasons later! Things like that are, I hear, one of the reasons it's such a great show.

  10. Man, after the overwhelming crowds at Dragon Con (I chickened out and left the vendor halls TWICE this weekend because it was just too stressful), I would LOVE to attend a little con like this! It looks absolutely heavenly. And Mark Sheppard? Sign me up! (I wish I knew how the heck to even find out about little cons like this--there HAVE to be some in my area, but if there are, no one I interact with seems to know about them!)

  11. Considering how many conventions go on in Florida in a year, by September people are probably burnt out from them plus they need to put away money for holiday shopping.


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