When it comes to superhero comics and actually Disney comics to an extent when it comes to Don Rosa and his positive feelings towards Carl Barks, there’s a tendency for some fans to eventually write the stories they grew up with. This is especially the case with DC and Marvel until recently to some extent, where for the last few decades you have fans writing stories featuring their favourite characters and stories.
Not that it’s a bad thing, but there’s a risk of having a strong fanfiction like quality to it. In the sense it’s full of what others call headcanons and fannish in-jokes written into the stories, a good example of this would be Stucky. That’s a fanmade pairing between Captain America (Steve Rogers) and his friend Bucky, which inspired an in-joke in one official Marvel Comics story or panel. A better example of this would be the pairing of Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn.
This started out as a fanmade pairing between two Batman characters, though one that eventually became canon in 2017 when the two characters kissed each other. In other stories, they even marry each other. This is also a good example of fan-pandering, not all Batman fans are into this pairing but when DC decides to pander to a specific sub-set of Batman fans who like this pairing very much that it feels rather incestuous to say the least.
Nonetheless, there are some cartoonists and writers doing superhero stories and even Marvel comics without having much of a big fannish background. Gabby Rivera, for instance, didn’t come from a comics background (she is a young adult writer) and her take on one Marvel character (Miss America) is rather decent. Interestingly, Peter Bagge (a man who doesn’t even like superheroes and especially Spider-Man) got to write a Spider-Man story where Spider-Man grew fat and old.
These are the two storytellers Marvel has employed that I can think of who don’t have much of a Marvel fandom background, which’s why their stories don’t have much fannish in-jokes and headcanon sentiments the way the more fannish writers do. Comes of think of it, the first generation of superhero cartoonists and storytellers weren’t fans of superheroes but rather those who stumbled upon and pioneer an emerging genre.
It’s not that they’re weren’t fans of something (I could say the same thing about Bagge and Rivera), but since they weren’t big fans of superheroes (though that’s when the genre just started) it does have a greenness that many of the fans turned writers lacked. The fans turned writers and artists emerged sometime in the mid to late 20th century, two of the earliest being Roy Thomas and Jim Shooter. The latter even got to write stories for his favourite–Legion of Superheroes.
These are the characters who brought in a fanfiction quality to the magazines they write for, while they didn’t necessarily exactly write fanfiction in their fanzine days their headcanons were written into the stories they wrote for anyways. It’s like how two Legion members, Light Lass and Element Lad, were speculated to be gay and eventually got to be written as such in some stories by two fanzine writers who went professional.
That’s a good example of fan-pandering and inserting fannish headcanons into professional stories, which’s something Rivera and Bagge would never (seem) to do and never will. It’s not necessarily wrong to be a fan of something, it’s even like that in sports where some sports fans do become athletes themselves and others go on as journalists. But having a non-fannish quality does help, especially in making something less inbred which’s a quality the fans-turned professionals lack.
Well maybe not to the same extent, but still when it comes to crafting stories that don’t reek of canonised fanfiction. Interestingly, this also exists outside of comics themselves where you can see this with Arrow. That’s one superhero programme where it was going to pair Oliver Queen with Black Canary, per comics, but ended up pandering to a certain fanbase who’re more interested in seeing him with somebody else.
I’m saying this as somebody who isn’t a fan of Arrow and Oliver Queen (I was a fan of Black Canary at some point), especially when you see this as a form of fan pandering where you have certain fans doing fanfictions of Oliver with Felicity before it got canonised. While some fans would say that it’s not fan pandering, but since I’m not a fan of Arrow it still reeks of fan pandering whether if they’re aware of it or not.
It’s not necessarily wrong to do the things you love and grew up with professionally, a good number of people in sports and music do this as well. But in the case with superhero programmes and comics (actually anything geeks like), there’s going to be a fanfiction stench to it. Especially when it comes to things that originate in fanfiction that make its way to professionally made stories and publications, that’s where it starts feeling inbred.
And that is the risk of having fans turned professionals around in superhero comics and programmes.