Saturday was one of the busiest days of Sci-Fi Valley Con, with one of the biggest draws being the Supernatural panel that evening. But, it was truly a hodgepodge of fandoms collectively enjoying everything the convention had to offer. It is not everyday that you see Bowser checking in at registration, Stan Lee with a group of Marvel Characters, or someone making a deal with the devil, but that and more happened on an incredible second day.
Everyone was welcomed upon entrance to the convention by friendly volunteers, and everyone you passed seemed happy to be there. While Sci Fi Valley Con is a smaller convention, there were more people in attendance than appeared upon first glance, and yet nothing was overcrowded – and that is including the fact that there were two full vendor rooms. The people milling about the convention center ranged from young to old, across all fandoms and lovers of all things sci-fi, with a wide array of meticulous, creative cosplay.
The talent seemed relaxed and in good spirits, and well taken care of by staff, who seemed to go above and beyond to help both talent and fans alike. Two overflowing vendor rooms offered pretty much anything nerdy you could think of, from Supernatural to Game of Thrones to Marvel, and everything in between. Even one or two small food vendors could be found amidst the vendors’ tables, which was a very nice and personal touch to have, considering how easy it is to forget to eat while attending weekend-long conventions.
There was a lot to be explored at the convention, that three days is definitely needed to catch it all. The Retro Arcade, one of four gaming rooms, was a fun area of classic, nostalgia-inducing gaming consoles. It was like traveling down the line of the history of gaming. If you wanted to know more about the consoles, there was a history sheet next to them which included the original price, the price with inflation, and information about the console.
Games ranged, too, and quite a few consoles had several options. You could play Super Mario Bros. on the original Nintendo system. Crash Bandicoot could be found about halfway down the line. If you ever wondered what it was like to play a certain system, or wanted to revisit the past, this was the place to do it. It was a fun area for getting away to play a classic game solo, or with a group!
The weather was beautiful on the lawn where Medieval Battle Games Demos were held. The demos were presented by the local units Wolves of Asgard and Iron Horse Irregulars. As they battled, they were watched by spectators sitting on the lawn enjoying the breeze.
The schedule was easy to follow for when a celebrity guest would be at their table for autographs, or doing a photo op. The celebrity guest experiences were relaxed and not rushed, and it never felt like I was ever in a line too long (I have waited in line for hours for an autograph before so this was a highly pleasant contrast to that experience!) It was a truly laid-back, fun vibe that helped create unique, memorable experiences.
The Supernatural panel grew a large crowd of fans to watch as Adam Fergus, David Haydn-Jones, and Mark Pellegrino (the first time these three have ever been in a panel together) answer audience questions. They had the audience laughing almost the entire time with their camaraderie. The panel began on the topic of the Slinky, a toy steeped in Pennsylvania’s history, and how you could even find it in the trunk of Thor the Impala. Which of course led to the discussion of how one would be able to kill with a Slinky (David believes you could just bore them to death.)
The questions were fun! One of the first ones asked was what was one thing they were good at, but embarrassed about it. David is really good at biting his nails, Mark is really good at macramé and air guitar, and Adam is really good at mowing the lawn. The inspiring moment was when they each gave tips on becoming an actor, and the audience member made a “deal with the devil” to promise to always say “I can.” Read, play, treat it like a craft, and try to recreate scenes in your own way!
Needless to say, they’ve liked working with everyone on the set of Supernatural. Mark always believed that everything was finite, except Supernatural. And then joked that the show could always die in season 15, then come back in season 16 (ironically like a Winchester.) If you ever wondered what their favorite colors are, Adam loves orange, Mark loves the absence of color (black), and David loves the rainbow!
Mark got the chance to talk about working in the set of Lost, and the sweet cast he got to work with. And a fun story of how Evangeline Lilly just started playing with his hair! And speaking of sets, each of them have many memories from the Supernatural set, that of course also includes stories of Jared’s farting (you should definitely be wary if they roll the windows of the Impala up!)
Instruments they can play sparked unexpected answers..in a good way! Adam doesn’t play any, but has played the tin whistle. David is “serviceable” on the piano, but was also 1st trumpet in a Jazz band. Also, be on the lookout for their upcoming duo Skin Whistle & Trouser Trumpet! Mark can play guitar, but it has been years.
Ghost stories also became an interesting topic. If you want to check out a haunted bed & breakfast, it sounds like the Victorian Rose is the place to be, at least according the experience Mark had! He felt a presence behind him and fingers tickling the back of his neck, only to flip and have nothing be there. Adam also had a very vivid dream (and doesn’t think he was awake) of legs being moved all around. But, as he explains, he was also in boarding school so it could’ve been the other kids!
In terms of favorite protagonist and antagonists, David’s are Dean and Ketch, Adam’s are Castiel and Lucifer, and Mark’s are Dean (he even got Dean in a personality quiz!) and after much thinking, Lucifer, though he also thought Metatron was a good antagonist. When asked about their character in other shows, movies, or games, it elicited very interesting responses. Ketch would have absolute freedom in Grand Theft Auto. Lucifer would hang out on Gilligan’s Island. And Mick would be on Naked & Afraid.
More laughter ensued when asked how they would stay sane in solitary for 6 months. David would do yoga and paint on the walls with blood from his cuticles (gross, no thank you!) Adam would exercise, but also break out. Mark would just go crazy. David loved that Ketch got to roll up like James abound in a Bentley and get to hold the grenade, while Adam also enjoys doing the technical fight stunts. Mark loves any scene he gets to mess with someone (so, basically all of them.)
The end of the panel showed that their favorites are pretty synced up with the fandom’s. All three of them love “Baby.” Mark loves a lot of the funnier episodes: “Ghost Facers,” “Yellow Fever” (especially when Dean screams), “French Mistake,” and “Bad Day at Black Rock.” David loves the meta and comedic episodes, like “Changing Channels.” The panel was a blast from start to finish!
An equally fantastic panel occurred with Seth Gilliam an hour later. It was very laid back and the questions covered many of his projects, like The Walking Dead, Teen Wolf, The Wire, and Starship Troopers. For The Walking Dead, it took 6 takes to film the “father, not the father” scene with Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Between Jeffrey and Norman Reedus, it sounds like set life can be a lot of fun! Seth also really enjoys playing Father Gabriel and would like to see more of his relationship with God and his flock. As a fan, Hershel’s death was the Hershel’s, but on set it was Bob and Tyreese’s. The one he was glad to see? Spencer’s.
A fun fact, Seth is not a fan of horror and hadn’t watched the show going in. He actually read for a high school guidance counselor with a mirroring storyline (as The Walking Dead can be very secretive.) After he got the part, he had three days to prepare, so he was going to watch the first episode to get the vibe of the show. The first four minutes turned into the first four seasons for Seth.
It is also interesting to note that Seth was filming The Walking Dead and Teen Wolf simultaneously. The heavier his role as Father Gabriel got, Jeff Davis (Teen Wolf) would write in more heroic moments for Deaton, making it a nice balance. A fun set story for Teen Wolf is that “the kids” would just fart on each other to try and break each other, right up until “action” was called.
For some of his other projects, Oz had a wonderful family atmosphere on set, with a lot of hugs. Starship Troopers was a blast to make. And speaking of sci-fi, Seth is a fan of the genre and loves Star Trek and anything Mars-related. Othello (Shakespeare) was one of his more challenging parts to play, but he takes pride in what he does and to tell the story of someone else. It was a truly fantastic panel.
As mentioned in Sydney’s last convention article, there is something to be said about smaller, more intimate conventions that offer a wide array of options with regard to activities and the interests of their attendees. Sci-Fi Valley Con gifted all of us the pleasure of seeing some of our favorite Supernatural stars (Mark Pellegrino, Adam Fergus, and David Haydn-Jones), the opportunity to interview David Haydn-Jones and Adam Fergus, and a healthy dose of nostalgia, due to the variety of voice actors from some of our favorite childhood shows. Among those were Rob Paulsen and Maurice Lamarch (Pinky and the Brain), Rodger Bumpass (Squidward from Spongebob), and Billy West (Futurama, Doug, The Ren & Stimpy Show), who all participated in panels to discuss their characters and answer fans’ questions. It was a perfect Saturday to be a nerd!