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rahirah asked me a question that I thought merited its own post, because it's a question that I'm always interested in seeing other people answer, too: What attracts you to fandoms where you write fic, as opposed to fandoms where you may just read/watch?

I used to think there was some complicated and mysterious alchemy that determined what my next fandom would be, but in fact it seems to boil down to two things:

1. A character I obsess over. This character has so far always been male, which might surprise some of you given my enthusiasm the last few years for female characters. Historically, though, my pattern is: fall in love with male character, get into fandom, eventually switch allegiances primarily to female characters. (Who knows what this bodes in terms of hockey fandom.)

Now, why some male characters do this for me and not others is mysterious; there are some similarities that can be drawn between Spike and Dean Winchester, but my most recent obsession is character/RL person Evgeni Malkin, who has basically no similarities with either of the other two.

2. Lots of fic already existing about said character. It turns out that I can love a character to bits and pieces, but if there isn't tons of fic to feed my interest, it withers and dies. And what's more, I need all that fic to play off of when I start writing my own, which is what rahirah really asked. Writing fic for a small/non-existent fandom is hard work, as far as I'm concerned - much harder than writing for a larger fandom. I'm not great at inventing the wheel; I will never be one of those authors on the forefront of a new fandom, blazing the trail. I need a fandom to be in conversation with.


Now, the exception to all this for me is Marvel comics.

Marvel superhero comics fandom is a weird and squirrelly thing. For one thing, the canon is this huge, sprawling disaster of 70 years worth of continuity and retcons and character reboots, of amazing artistic achievements and oceans of utter dreck. (And the Dr. Who fans think they have it bad.) There is no hope of reading everything. If your fave character is one of the biggies, then it'd be a mighty slog just to read everything written about them, and some of it you really shouldn't waste your time on. (You think you want everything Black Widow? You don't want the Richard K. Morgan minis. You just don't.)

By extension, that means it's hard to build the critical mass of fannish community and conversation that I find necessary for fic. You could easily have five Marvel fans who between them have absolutely nothing to say to one another. I'm a recent fan who mostly reads female characters and dabbles in old X-Men. Person B loooves the Punisher and has read every Punisher comic ever written. Person C is a Jack Kirby fan with a particular affection for classic Fantastic Four. Person D reads current comics but can't be bothered with any title that doesn't contribute to the big picture of the Marvel universe, which is to say that right now they're sticking largely to Uncanny Avengers, Hickman's Avengers stuff, some tentpole solo titles, and the events. And person E is really only interested in the Ultimates, which is a canonical parallel universe with its own handful of titles.

Obviously those examples are a bit extreme and there's liable to be more overlap than I implied, but what it means is that even in the unlikely event that all those people wrote fic, probably none of them would want to read each other's!

The size of the canon also makes fic tricky for most characters. Even if you have read everything Natasha has ever appeared in, your readers haven't. The more obscure the canon you draw on, the less accessible your fic will be. Also, a lot of that canon will probably contradict each other! Not to mention that at some point you need to contend with Marvel's rolling timeline: Kitty Pryde was 13 when she was introduced in 1980 and has aged maybe 7 years or so since then. Do you assume that everything that's happened to her in the past 34 years did in fact happen? Do you decide to just ignore some stuff? (This is the kind of question that drives me batty, personally.)

Despite all those obstacles, there are some pockets of thriving Marvel fic activity, largely centered around specific titles that are self-contained enough to avoid the huge backstory conundrums. Young Avengers volume 2 and Hawkeye are both depend very little on previous canon (much to some long-time fans' annoyance), and both have enough fic on AO3 to qualify for Not Prime Time. Loki's recent canon (Gillen's Journey into Mystery, Gillen's YA, Ewing's Loki: Agent of Asgard) is also apparently approachable enough to attract a fandom.

Farther back, Whedon's Astonishing X-Men is widely recced as a good way to get into the X-Men and not coincidentally seems to have had quite a fair bit of fic activity back in the day. X-Men in general seems to have been doing quite well back in the late 90s - perhaps some of my more veteran X-Men people could weight in there? All I know is I think Rogue/Gambit was a thing. And while sources vary about the advent of Steve/Tony fandom (which started in comics before the MCU was anything but a gleam in some exec's eye), it was a huge deal around the time of Marvel's Civil War event.

Having given you all that background, Marvel comics really does not look like the fandom for me, does it? Current fannish communities and fic are clustered largely around a handful of titles I'm not fannishly invested in, and the only male character I care all that much about, Fantomex, has like five fics on AO3.

And yet, like I said, Marvel comics are the exception to all my fannish patterns, because I've loved the female characters right from the start and because I continue to love the canon so much that I keep offering various pieces of it in exchanges and trying my hand at it. I'm pretty sure Marvel comics is never going to be my main fic fandom, because there just isn't enough concentrated community and fic. (This means when I write fic, there aren't a ton of people interested, either.) But apparently I'm going to keep plugging away nonetheless.


Now that I've said all that: What does it take for a canon to move you to writing fic/making art/getting fannishly creative? What are the secret ingredients?

Crossposted from Dreamwidth. Comment here or there. (comment count unavailable DW replies)


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 26th, 2014 01:17 pm (UTC)
LOL What does it take for me to be inspired? Hard to say, really, since BtVS is really my only fandom. I'd say it was a combination of one character I really, really loved (Spike) and a canon that offered so many possibilities and other layered characters to explore. The only other fandom that has come close is Torchwood - ditto for exciting main character and layered and interesting secondary characters. But I only wrote it twice - and Spike was there the first time and Spike, Buffy and Faith were all there the second time. So I'm not sure that counts. It was really a crossover. If/when I think about writing Grimm fan fic, it's always a crossover. And it hasn't happened yet.

While there are worlds I enjoy visiting (LotR, Star Wars, etc) I've never been inspired to write about them.
Jul. 26th, 2014 02:00 pm (UTC)

Yeah, that deep love of one particular character is something I can't predict, either. I've poked at various canons before, hoping to stumble into a new fandom, and it never seems to work. I just have to wait to let it happen to me!
Jul. 26th, 2014 02:16 pm (UTC)
Pretty much how I feel. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't... the world will not end. :)
Jul. 26th, 2014 01:38 pm (UTC)
the advent of Steve/Tony fandom (which started in comics before the MCU was anything but a gleam in some exec's eye), it was a huge deal around the time of Marvel's Civil War event.

Hahaha Civil War, I remember what a clusterfuck that was. At least, according to my Marvel friend who shipped Steve/Tony at the time. Gosh that seems like so long ago.

I usually only get fannishly creative when I'm dissatisfied with canon- I'm a "fix-it" ficcer obsessed with happy endings. I started writing Spuffy because I needed a headcanon that would put Buffy and Spike back together after AtS S5 and give the Scoobies a happy ending. I liked SPN S1 and S2, but I didn't start obsessing and thinking up plot bunnies until S3 and all my Bela/Dean hopes were dashed. In that vein, I also need a pairing (usually it's not just a single character, since I don't really write gen). Years ago before I even knew that posting fanfic online was a thing I was writing fix-it fic just for myself, like for Enterprise (worst finale in the history of ever) and X-Men: The Last Stand (I still remember spending hours digging through Wiki pages to learn about various X-Men characters that I could use in my fic).

There are a few other canons I'm fannish/obsessive over, obviously, like The Walking Dead, but I feel almost zero desire to write (or read) fic if I'm content with canon. I did write non-fix-it HP fic briefly btw books 5 and 6, but that was when I first discovered fanfic as a genre and was blown away by the possibility that I could ~create my own version while waiting for the next book. I'm not into reading or writing HP fic now even though Harry's my One True Love because I'm perfectly happy with the way the series ended.
Jul. 26th, 2014 02:02 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I am grateful that I wasn't into comics at the time and have no particular investment in any of the main players, although I suppose if I continue with the backreading, I will run into it sooner or later. :P

I'm a "fix-it" ficcer obsessed with happy endings.

*nod* Sometimes I need that, too. But then I didn't need it for SPN - I wrote my first SPN fic after watching about four episodes, and have really only written maybe 3-4 "happy ending" fics the whole time I've been in the fandom. (That may be an underestimate; I made it off the top of my head.)
Jul. 26th, 2014 01:47 pm (UTC)
Yeah, Marvel is really weird because it's a pretty big fandom, but it's so spread out that it can feel really small if the thing you're into isn't, say, MCU-comics fusion Steve/Tony. I think it's even more spread out than DC, since DC fandom is less involved with the movies and mostly Batman-focused.
Jul. 26th, 2014 02:03 pm (UTC)
Yeah, exactly. I reeeeally wish there was a central Marvel comics fannish community - I reckon it'd make it a lot easier for subgroups to form. As it is, it pretty much depends on some kind of critical mass developing on Tumblr for each title, and that's a terrible way to organize things. Woe.
Jul. 26th, 2014 02:13 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that would be nice.
Jul. 27th, 2014 12:11 pm (UTC)
I've only had three fandoms over ten years, and I'm not really sure what moved me into them except that they were large enough that there were people to talk to/large enough to have corners I liked and corners I could avoid, and that I was in the market, as it were. I'm extremely monofandom, so even if a series had all the ingredients I want from a fandom, I wouldn't jump for it unless I was ready to cut ties completely my current one. Which is why when, say, my friends move into a new fandom and they try to get me to come with, I'm always kind of like, guys, that does sound like a nice show/manga/whatever, but you're not going to win me over right now; I am not looking to be won!

That being said, I'm definitely a big, passionate, long-lived, sprawling canon kind of fandomer, because I like talkative fandom people, and also because if you have that kind of canon you can hop around within that fandom into different pools of people/interests, and there are all kinds of openings, loopholes, tags, etc. for writing purposes. Again, for SPN, so much has been said about Sam and Dean it means there's also so much more to be said and untangled. But there are also so many one-offs where so little has been said about them, it's ridiculously easy to create these massive swaths of instant headcanon for them. Like, all 30 seconds of Walt and Roy from 5x16? SO MUCH TO SAY! (Walt's mother is from Quebec and he actually does speak a bit of conversational French, though it's not to Meg's standards and she's not familiar with the accent, since she swears French sounded different last time she was topside. Not that she's picky. Or Linda Tran? I have headcanon for her spanning three continents and multiple generations.)

All my fandoms have centered around brother pairs as well, though I'm not sure how that figures in aside from my support for siblingship. Possibly because these canons tend to be less centered on love triangles?? Though I have a whole swath of ensemble cast shows that I adore and do not write for, most of which don't involve love triangles. But maybe they're lacking in other ways, idk. Six Feet Under is lacking because it is too perfect and phenomenal to touch, Firefly is possibly too short (and possibly too perfect??), Law and Order is too episodic/procedural and the idea of fandom and fic for it just seems preposterous to me--even though it's obviously not preposterous, since it exists! But now I'm just rambling.

In any case, thanks for the reflections on Marvel and Marvel fandom! They were really interesting to read, and I can definitely imagine that there's that point where something gets TOO sprawling to have that unifying core for a main fic fandom, even as it offers rich opportunities for all kinds of continuous ficcing inspiration and such.
Jul. 27th, 2014 12:34 pm (UTC)
How much would I love you to come and gush meta thoughts all over the MU? SO MUCH. SO MUCH I WOULD LOVE. Anyway, I am glad you enjoyed the Marvel universe descriptions. :)

I know exactly what you mean about all those canons that are great but don't inspire fic. Firefly's like that for me, too, and Carnivale, and Mad Men, and books. (I don't expect to ever ever have a book fandom outside of Yuletide.)

And I also know what you mean about being "in the market." All the times I have gotten into fandoms, I have indeed been in the market, and except for the first one, Buffy, I knew it. I had actually poked at a number of other canons before SPN, trying to find one that would be a good new fit for me after Buffy. Veronica Mars was one, but I think it was too close to Buffy, maybe. All my canons are also all really different from each other in tone and approach, if not in themes. And I kinda knew from the first episode of SPN that it was going to be my new home.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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