Saturday, November 24, 2007

Comics Fandom

A long time ago I became an obsessive X-Men fan. I'm not sure how this happened, though it probably involved a crossover fanfic with another fandom I was following at the time. Either way, I did the same thing I do with any new fandom I'm interested: I went online and researched for weeks on end until I knew almost everything there was to know about the X-Men. Actually, nowadays I can't really remember much of my research, and in the end I think I only spent a few months obsessing before I had read every bit of decent fanfic that was available online. Sadly, by the time of my interest, most of the online fandom was disappearing- (at least the fandom that existed outside of LiveJournal, which I was still avoiding back then) and a lot of the really good authors had either quit writing altogether or had moved on to new fandoms. Still, before I realized that, I had quite a bit of fun, and would probably still have kept up my interest if the comics hadn't been so expensive. Also, back then comic scans were really troublesome to find for anyone who didn't already know where to find them, so that wasn't much of an option either (plus most of the ones I did find were in PDF format, and way too much work to read on a tiny computer screen). For the longest time, that was the entirety of my comic books experience (unless you count the fact that I used to obsessively collect the Sonic the Hedgehog comic books when I was little, or unless you count my manga collection).

This was life until back in June.

I was just starting to loose interest in my then-current fandom obsession Stargate: Atlantis (I'd read almost all the good fic, the season was ending, and I had read enough of it that I wasn't really finding anything all that special anymore), and was already going through all the other fandoms I follow looking for new fic or updates to old favorites. As per normal I dipped into a few of the fandoms I don't follow all that closely- mostly ones I was never fully obsessed with, started to reread old favorites, and occasionally took a peak at fandoms I've never been interested in before in hopes for a new bright and shiny universe to obsess over. It was about then that I chanced upon a fic that really caught my interest, written by an author who's work I'd followed before.

It was a Batman fic, and if it had been any less eye-catching that it was, that probably would have been the end of it. I have never been a huge fan of either Batman or Superman- and to be honest, I hadn't really been aware that they were just a small part of a greater DC-verse until then. Nevertheless, that particular fic held my interest enough that I bookmarked a few intro to the DC-verse sites, and glanced at some Wikipedia articles. It didn't take me long to realize what an incredibly daunting task I had set myself up for... but, by the time I had realized this it was too late: I kept on finding more and more fics that looked good. So, I continued researching until I came to the point where I realized that the only real way for me to be able to comprehend the decades on back-story for more characters that you could shake a stick at, over dozens of different inter-related comic book series, and be able to understand what everyone was talking about... I was going to have to go to the source. Luckily, comic-book scans are much easier to find these days (sadly, the publishers are also realizing this, so they probably won't be so easy to find for much longer) and I have been able to find almost everything I have looked for so far. Also, I am (un)lucky enough to live close to bookstore where I can buy trade-paperbacks for a whole lot less then it would cost me to buy individual comic books, so I actually have some real-life comics too.

Anyway, I still don't really like Batman or Superman, but there are all sorts of other characters I like. Unfortunately, most of them are currently dead, borderline crazy, or acting really stupid. Apparently, if what fandom has to say is true, in the past few years the entire DC-verse has taken a turn for the 'dramatic'- wherein 'drama' means ' excessive angst'. Still, comic-book characters never really stay dead, and eventually the writers and editors will get over their 'lets kill lots of well-liked characters' phase. That aside, if I had to choose, my favorite comic book series are: The Flash (I really liked Impulse too, until they decided to make him 'grow up' too quickly, then killed him off altogether recently), Green Arrow (I like Connor Hawke the best), and I really liked Young Justice before it was canceled and half it's cast moved on to Teen Titans and (for the most part) actually became less fun.

As for the fandom itself, there is some really great fic out there- though much of the recent stuff is fix-it or reactionary to recent cannon. It is a difficult fandom to just browse in, because most fic required at least some knowledge of 'what has gone before'. It's actually rather interesting to compare the fic people have written for the DCAU (the animated universe) and the comics-verse- especially for the cartoon 'Teen Titans' (which isn't actually officially part of the DCAU) and the comic. There are actually some interesting crossovers out there that deal with the differences between the two, but I think it would be really amusing to see the reaction of some poor fan of the cartoon stumbling onto the comics fandom and being completely lost. Heh.

All that aside, over the next few days I am going to be posting links to several of my favorite fanfics, complete with reviews.

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