I came to the ‘Verse pretty late in the game. I’d never been a fan of Buffy or Angel (I remember refusing to watch the former because it wasn’t Kristy Swanson in the title role), so I wasn’t an automatic viewer of anything Joss Whedon did just because it was Joss Whedon. I was first introduced to the world that would forever change my life in the summer of 2005. I attended my very first convention (Hobbystar’s Fan Expo), and went there all by myself because none of my friends even knew it existed. But I got to meet Elijah Wood, along with a slew of other amazing guests that year, one of whom was Adam Baldwin (Jayne Cobb).
I’d seen him in a few things, but had never seen an episode of that Firefly show everyone was so excited about. I did, however, know that a related feature film, Serenity, was due out that fall, and that Baldwin was there to promote it. I watched him all weekend, meeting his fans, laughing, posing for pictures, signing photo after photo in what was never a very long line, but was a line that never seemed to end. He seemed to be really friendly with everyone, and even though he was kind of a giant, he looked like a really nice guy, and by Sunday, the last day of the con, I’d decided to spend my last bit of cash on his autograph. I wanted to support that kind of “approachability”, even though I’d never seen his show. Still, there was always the chance that I’d go see his movie, and if it ended up being awesome, I wanted to have met someone associated with it already, since I’d had the chance.
Adam Baldwin was every bit as friendly with me as he’d seemed to be with everyone all weekend long, and I left my first convention a very happy Sue, indeed. What’s more, I got to work on Monday, and found that one of my co-workers was not only a huge Firefly fan, but he was willing to burn me copies of his DVD’s so that I could watch the show and be all caught up before the film came out. I took them home and watched one episode right after the other, every free moment I had. I couldn’t even watch just one episode at a time…if I watched one, I had to finish the disc. Firefly took hold of me from the start, and it never let go. I loved the cast of characters, I loved the world in which they exist, and inside of myself, I found that I exist there, too. That futuristic band of misfits made me a part of their family – I sit with them at their table, I fly around in their spaceship with them, I worry for their safety, I laugh with them, cry with them, and love with them. I bought my own set of DVD’s immediately, and it became my standard gift to everyone I could manage, including my mom and brother, with whom I’ve been especially delighted to share the ‘Verse and all it’s wrought.
And by the time Serenity was finally released on the big screen, I was there opening night, semi-stalking the Browncoats I’d met online but had yet to speak to in person, and dragging two friends who hadn’t seen Firefly yet along for the ride. Somewhere in there, I became a Browncoat. I plastered the guerilla marketing 11th Hour posters all over my desk at work, and offered to buy tickets for people willing to come see the film with me…any of the 9 times I saw it in the theatre during its run. For awhile there, I couldn’t seem to go to the theatre to see anything else. No other film interested me. I’d start craving the ‘Verse – time with my Big Damn Heroes – and no other movie would do. I even ordered my first (of what would become many) Browncoat t-shirts online.
It would be another full year before I would get up the courage to actually attend a shindig and meet other Browncoats in person. In planning to attend my 2nd Fan Expo, I was delighted to learn that not only would I be meeting Carrie Fisher – someone I’d looked up to for almost the whole of my life – but also, Ms Morena Baccarin (Inara Serra) would also be in attendance. AND she decided to bring a friend – the incredible Christina Hendricks (Yo/Saff/Bridge) – along for the weekend! A shindig was planned for the Saturday night of the con, just down the street at East Side Mario’s. I’d dragged another friend along for the weekend, and had her videotape much of my convention experience, including the first time Morena remembered my name. She accompanied me to the shindig, as well, and caught some of the new peeps we were meeing on film. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I would meet two of the most important people in my life that night and, not long later, another of my new Browncoat family would be added to the mix. The four of us would become inseparable for awhile, and even though we don’t see one another as much anymore, they are still my BC family. B-Dog, T-Dog, and that bandana-stealing/winning foreigner R-Dog – I miss and love you guys. ❤
They would be the ones to see my Browncoat passion raised to whole new levels. A trip to California for what was to be my first US convention – and my first themed con, at that – ended up turning into a life-changing event all on its own. The convention was cancelled while we were en route, and 500 Browncoats from all over the world assembled in the hotel lobby to share in our despair. But something – miraculous – happened. The Bedlam Bards were there playing, keeping the peace. Then suddenly Adam Baldwin was there, fresh off a day of shooting, wanting to hang in the bar, have a beer, and chat with everyone. By the next morning, the California Browncoats had come together and started planning an incredible Backup Bash. For us. Before we knew it, WE were the guests at our own con.
The next morning, according to the new plan, we were all to assemble in the lobby to learn the details of what was coming up for the weekend. While having breakfast ahead of time, it was announced that we had “a Badger in the lobby”. Mark Sheppard was there, hanging out and posing for pictures. He would become a staple for much of the experience, in fact. That night, we got all dressed up and took over the hotel bar one so that we could still have the cocktail party we were denied by the con-cancellers. Mark was back, and Jonathan Woodward (Tracy) also turned up for the evening. Then suddenly, our Captain, Nathan Fillion (Malcolm Reynolds) was there, handing out items from his own house as prizes and to make us feel better about being there. I guess he didn’t realize that all it took to make us happy was for him to show up. 🙂
Turns out Capt’n was distracting us so that Alan Tudyk (Wash) and Christina Hendricks could sneak in through the back. NOW we’ve got a party! Nathan (who was actually pretty under the weather) and Alan stood for hours in the courtyard, ignoring the slight drizzle of rain, and posed for photos with group after group of Browncoats, while Christina, Woodward and Mark all chatted with people inside. The weekend continued to get more and more amazing, including an evening spent with most of the cast of Firefly at an exclusive club in downtown Hollywood, run by Claire Kramer (Glory from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, etc) and her husband, and a hall where our vendors could set up their wares and not return home with everything they’d arrived with – and I like to think I helped them out with that, actually. I bought something from every booth there was! Guest after guest arrived to see us and spend time with us, we had buses taking us to secret locations, we had wristbands, we had buttons with the new Browncoats’ Backup Bash logo, and we had Church with the Reverend Johnny Wallet (Woodward). And all of it was due to the hard work and extreme generosity of strangers. Browncoats had been donating their own money online to help cover expenses and give us a convention unlike any other. My heart would have challenged the Grinch’s when he broke that x-ray frame thingy on Christmas morning in Whoville. Just sayin’.
I made the decision that weekend that I was going to go on the Browncoat Cruise the following year. I had never wanted to go on a Cruise before, but I knew without a doubt that I wanted to be around these people – Browncoats – any chance I got from then on. Once again, I teamed up with my Browncoat family (minus one who had to bring education to New Zealanders at the time) and got a shiny suite on the ship we’d naturally dubbed Serenity. The night before we set out, there was a registration table/party in the hotel bar/lobby area, and it was there that I met the woman of my dreams. From the moment we shook hands, I couldn’t take my eyes, mind or heart off her. Six years later, and I still can’t – nor do I want to. We are Conjoined, you see – an unbreakable bond holds us together, even when time, space, and douchebags tear us apart. It’s love, in point of fact.
This year marks Firefly’s 10th anniversary, and though I have only been on board for 7 of those years, it’s still been a journey that has changed – and continues to change – my life. There are annual charity screenings held around the globe that still bring new members to the fold. Fans everywhere continue to create and consume any ‘Verse-related products we can get our hands on. Bands of Browncoats assemble in regular shindigs, dress in costume, and flock to conventions for more time with those who brought us this amazing show and its follow-up film. Hundreds of us joined Joss Whedon and hoardes of his talented friends to march in solidarity outside of Fox Studios in Los Angeles (how ironic, really) in support of the writers during the strike. (And to thank us, the man threw us a BBQ). Ten years later, the fandom continues to grow, and during the reunion panel at San Diego’s Comic Con this summer, Joss said it best when he observed that Firefly is alive. It’s alive because we all keep it that way. I don’t know anyone who didn’t get at least a little misty-eyed at the Browncoats Unite special that just aired recently – or, if you’re me, you were outright sobbing.
Oh Firefly – you’ve given me so much over the years, and you just keep finding new ways to give me more. Through you, I’ve had such incredible happiness, and unbearable sadness; I’ve had unforgettable experiences that I never would have even considered before I met you. You’ve shown me love, and grace, and the kindness of strangers. You’ve given me instant friends for life. You’ve healed us, and held us together. You’ve kept us in the air when we ought to have fallen. Together, we continue to do the impossible – and that makes us mighty. Stay shiny, keep flyin’, and thank you.
PS Nathan Fillion – you will always be my Captain. Joss will always be boss. And Kimie – you will always be my match, my Sarah, my BTS, my CToT, my heart. xo
I am a Browncoat forever.