On September 14, 2005 two demon hunters stepped onto the screen of the WB Network. Eric Kripke’s Supernatural came barreling onto the screen like a demonic version of Kerouac’s On The Road. Complete with a jet black 1967 Impala, Sam and Dean Winchester have battled leviathan, angels, demons, monsters, and each other for almost a decade on screen. It was only natural that the popular show would develop a following. But what happens when that following includes academics? Fan Phenomena: Supernatural, edited by Lynn Zubernis and Katherine Larsen answers just that. As a licensed psychologist and Assistant Professor at West Chester University, Lynn Zubernis has a focus on the idea of “fandoms,” or close knit groups of fanatics of certain TV programs, movies or books. As the Associate Editor of the Journal of Fandom Studies and co-editor of Fan Culture: Theory, Zubernis knows what she’s talking about. Katherine Larsen, with a Doctorate in Early Modern British Literature, teaches courses on fame, celebrity and fandom at George Washington University. Together, they have compiled a collection of essays and interviews all pertaining to Supernatural.
Fan Phenomena: Supernatural, features articles on Supernatural’s fandom spreading through social media, the power of fandom, the concept of the 4th wall and a fascinating article on the concept of gender roles. However, the book isn’t all academic material. Misha Collins (Castiel) and Richard Speight Jr. (Loki), both actors on the show, make guest appearances in the book with their writing. Misha Collins describes how the fandom has created good through gathering for a cause and Richard Speight Jr. describes the true power of a fan convention. Interviews with a fan who makes videos pertaining to Supernatural and Serge Ladouceur, the Cinematographer of Supernatural, add a good distraction from serious matters.
Fan Phenomena: Supernatural is a fascinating read complete with pictures and personal anecdotes. Readers should be warned that if they are not entirely caught up through the eighth season of the show, there will be some spoilers included in the book. Richard Speight Jr. even pokes fun at the concept of spoilers. The book is available now from Intellect Books, an imprint of University of Chicago Press.