Fandom to professionalism and pandering

To be fair, this isn’t unique to geek fandoms and industries as the more ‘normie’ ones like football, fashion and pop music have this to some extent, though the main difference is that these three attract a bigger audience perhaps far bigger than the one for say superhero comic books. That’s because they also attract more casual fans to boot and that most people don’t read comics, let alone superhero comics that regularly. So it feels less inbred than the one for superhero comics, where it seems at this point almost every superhero writer or artist was and still is a diehard fan of something.

As with many things, the pioneers of anything like superheroes or football weren’t fans of something but rather the originators who help create the rules and conventions of what is to come. The only real difference is that football has far more casual fans than superhero comics do, which means a lot of people are into football without being big fans of the sport (and certain athletes). This can be applied to any popular sport, whereas the vast majority of superhero media (comics and increasingly television) caters to a cult audience.

With that cult audience comes a degree of narrative inbreeding, that’s if those fans ever start working on something that wasn’t so hugely popular to begin with. One good recent example of a superhero fan turned professional would be Jay Edidin, who’s behind one such X-Men fansite called Xplain the X-Men or something and since then have been portrayed in one of the X-Men comics and has written a story about Cyclops (one of the X-Men). The earliest superhero comics fan turned professional would be Roy Thomas, who has written superhero comics since then.

While the advantage is that they’d feel a lot of enthusiasm for the stories and characters they like, there’s also the risk of feeling too fannish when it comes to understanding fannish in-jokes and fanfiction stereotypes and conventions. This has happened to Arrow before where the writers and producers began pandering to a subset of fans who wanted a pairing between one character and Oliver Queen, one person compared this to prioritising an obscure Harry Potter over the main ones except that Harry Potter’s far better known than Green Arrow and has sold far more copies.

So it’s safe to say that even to those who haven’t read the books and watched the films (like myself) are familiar with Harry Potter on some level, so much so that those adapting the stories will do their hardest not to tamper with the source material as it’s so well-known to many people. That’s something the Green Arrow comics will never get, being rather semi-obscure and not much of a bestseller even when compared to other kinds of comics.

For most of the part this makes the fandom relationship between Arrow and Oliciters far more intimate than the one for Harry Potter when it comes to fan pairings, the closest Harry Potter got is to have a black woman play Hermione (who’s sometimes portrayed as black by some fans) in one play. Perhaps significantly more intimate in that Arrow doesn’t have that much viewers as Harry Potter does, so it doesn’t have as many casual watchers and readers as HP does too.

It may not always be the case, but it does speak volumes about things fans know very well. Especially if it’s something that’s not regularly consumed by a lot more people, that makes the relationship between fans and their objects of fandom all the more intimate.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s