For many people, fan fiction is as much a part of their reading as commercial literature. Fan fiction websites and archives provide readers with novels, serials, novellas, romantic and erotic stories, non-romantic stories, experimental literature, video and visual art, etc. While fan writers and readers are certainly not exclusively interested in romance, fan writing frequently explores the romantic potential between two characters and fan fiction is often built on romantic foundations. The shift to digital publishing and reading is having a dramatic impact on commercial romance literature. However, what about the kinds of romantic and erotic stories fans produce? How is fan work being affected by the rise in digital publishing? The Fandom Then/Now project is designed to facilitate fan conversations and collect ideas from fans about fan fiction’s past and future.
What do you notice in the data from 2008? What do you think about the intersections between fan fiction and romantic storytelling? Now, in 2014, what has and hasn’t changed about fans’ reading and writing practices?
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The first 12 minutes of Backyard Blockbusters, a documentary on fan films. Contains some interesting discussion on what people think makes a fan film “fannish”, exactly. (by ZTeamProductions)
Fan studies journal Transformative Works and Cultures has published its thirteenth issue on comics fandom. Here are links to all the articles, on topics ranging from women in comics fandom to fans on 4chan to Captain America and various other Avengers-related things. Enjoy! As usual, we’ll be posting some good quotes from the articles too.
Matthew J. Costello: The super politics of comic book fandom
Symposium (short articles):
Forrest Phillips: Captain America and fans’ political activity
Amanda Odom: Professionalism: Hyperrealism and play
Rebecca Lucy Busker: Fandom and male privilege: Seven years later
Ora C. McWilliams: Who is afraid of a black Spider(-Man)?
Matthew J. Costello: Interview with comics artist Lee Weeks
Kate Roddy, Carlen Lavigne, Suzanne Scott: Toward a feminist superhero: An interview with Will Brooker, Sarah Zaidan, and Suze Shore
The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction is currently in its third edition and encompasses over 4 million words about all things SF. It is published online in collaboration with Gollancz and the SF Gateway.
This new version follows thirty-five years of work (on and off), and is heavily expanded from previous editions. The first being under the GeneralEditorship of Peter Nicholls in 1979; and the 1993 Second Edition, being edited by John Clute (the most prolific contributor to date) and Peter Nicholls. The third edition is based on the 1995 CD-Rom “printing” and it has David Langford as the primary technical editor as well as a contributor.
As a resource for fan studies, the encyclopedia is useful because it includes a whole section titled “Culture” including separate categories/tags for “Publication”, “Fan”, “Award”, and “International”. It is by no means comprehensive but it does offer information not always found elsewhere, especially regarding SF fanzines and Big Name Fans (of literature especially).
The Comic Market was dominated by women from the beginning (90 percent of its first participants were female), but in 1981, thanks to lolicon, male participants numbered the same as female participants for the first time in Comike’s history. With almost ten thousand participants, Comic Market was now Japan’s biggest dōjinshi event and the center of dōjinshi culture. It grew big enough that the nineteenth Comic Market, in the winter of 1981, was held in the International Exhibition Center in Harumi. A year later, a convention catalogue was sold for the first time, both to help visitors to find their favorite circles in the crowd of almost a thousand circles and to help finance Comic Market’s expansion. Comike also encouraged the many fan-related companies to include advertisements in the catalog.
Internal conflicts on the Comike planning committee underlay some of these developments: they marked the ascendancy of the faction led by Yonezawa Yoshihiro, who favored Comike’s unlimited expansion. Though he was criticized for purportedly selling dōjinshi out to commercialism, Yonezawa couched his plans for Comike in terms of a collective organization of the convention by all participants, including staff, circles, and visitors. Whatever the underlying reality, these public principles remain little changed today.
Both websites are primarily concerned with the history of long-term “traditional” science fiction fandom, such as that associated with Worldcon.
In their own words, “The Fanac, The Fan History Project” is:
devoted to the preservation and distribution of information about science fiction and science fiction fandom. Here you might find your favorite fanzine, pictures of Walt Willis in Ireland or Harlan Ellison at the 1955 Worldcon. You can also find the words to an early filk song, information about an SF con near you AND all sorts of strange and wonderful information about fandom’s past. And the present, too, because that’s tomorrow’s past.
Fancyclopedia begins with:
Science fiction fandom began in the 1930s, when readers of the pulp magazines began to write to each other. While fandom can be a very loose association, its members identify with fandom and with each other, and know many other fans.
Fancyclopedia 3 is a collective enterprise of all of fandom. Based on the previous works by Jack Speer (Fancyclopedia 1), Dick Eney (Fancyclopedia 2), and Rich Brown, it is written by fans who want to contribute.
It continues with:
Like most encyclopedias, Fancyclopedia contains articles on people, events and organizations. It has a Fanzines category. It contains a glossary of fanspeak which is referenced by any articles using fannish terms…
Articles should be relevant to science fiction fandom as such. While comix fandom, animé, and the Society for Creative Anachronism (as examples) arose from science fiction fandom, they are now largely independent. Articles on other fandoms should note their relationships with science fiction fandom and provide links to sites concerned with those fandoms.
Both resources offer a wealth of information to researchers of science fiction and fandom. They are particularly good at providing essential background information on the development of the diversity of contemporary fandoms.
When the Comic Market was first held, it was one among many well-known dōjinshi conventions such as Manga Communication or Nihon Manga Taikai (Japan Manga Convention), at which all kinds of groups producing manga-and anime-related fanworks could physically gather together in order to share, buy, and sell dōjinshi. Dōjinshi circles, anime fan societies and science fiction school clubs sat side-by-side exchanging dōjinshi and fanzines.
But no fan scene is immune to controversies and imbroglios, and the Japanese dōjinshi scene was no exception. In 1975, a woman who had made critical remarks about the Manga Taikai was excluded from that convention, and subsequently a firestorm of anger among fans produced a movement against the Manga Taikai led by the famous circle Meikyū (Labyrinth), which resulted in the conception of a new alternative convention. On December 21, 1975, the first Comic Market—”a fan event from fans for fans”—was held in Tokyo.
Comike’s underlying vision was of an open and unrestricted dōjinshi fair, offering a marketplace without limitations on content or access. At the time, manga and anime fandom was organized around formal circles (particularly the school clubs that charged membership fees and produced regular group publications), and conventions were gathering places for the groups—rather than that of individual fans. Crucially, and from the beginning, Comike attracted visitors who were not just circle or club members, and who did not necessarily themselves produce fanworks. This innovation created its now massive popularity in Japan and increasingly, with international fans as well. Comike was soon held three times a year, attracting ever-increasing numbers of groups and fans.
The European Fandom & Fan Studies Conference took place on November 10, 2012 at the University of Amsterdam. It was a relatively small one-day conference, but great in terms of content and people present. I was especially pleased to see so many researchers going beyond English-language online fandoms, tackling offline fan activities or doing comparative studies with other online fandoms that communicate in different languages. There was also a strong emphasis on how fans interact with media industries and deal with fannish activities that involve money, which is one of my favorite topics. I heard a ton of interesting ideas, and others clearly did too. But I’ll let our past selves speak for themselves. Here’s a Storify with all the tweets from the #eurofandom tag, grouped by presentation as much as possible. There were a couple of participants tweeting at least semi-regularly, and I’m surprised at how much of what happened at the conference comes across pretty well by looking at the tweets. With just a handful of Twitter-happy attendees plus Storify, it’s very easy to leave a permanent record of the goings-on at any conference for anyone who wants or needs to see what was said there. It’s not a perfect system. The technology has to work, obviously; I attend plenty of conferences were wifi is still not assumed to be necessary, and even at this one, the network was a bit troublesome. Conferences with parallel panels also need at least a small group to cover everything more or less thoroughly. There were a couple of presentations during which all the really active tweeters happened to be in a different room, or temporarily comatose because of jetlag in my case, and these presentations are conspicuously absent from the timeline. Perhaps conferences should make a bigger deal out of live-tweeting to encourage more people to pick up the slack? And designate a conference historian to make the Storify later on.