Currently browsing tag

professional creators

[QUOTE] From Lawrence Lessig, Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy

As one reflects upon the history of culture in the twentieth century, at least within what we call the “developed world,” it’s hard not to conclude that Sousa was right (to fear in 1906 that creation by regular people was becoming less central to culture). Never before in the history of human culture had the production of culture been as professionalized. Never before had its production become as concentrated. Never before had the “vocal cords” of ordinary citizens been as effectively displaced, and displaced, as Sousa feared, by these “infernal machines.” The twentieth century was the first time in the history of human culture when popular culture had become professionalized, and when the people were taught to defer to the professional.

Lawrence Lessig, Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy

[LINK] Fanworks Inc. directory of pro writers’ policies on fan fiction

A large directory of pro writers’ policies on fan fiction, including mostly authors who write in English. The directory links to direct quotes or other sources that indicate the authors’ opinions on fan fiction about their works. The directory is somewhat outdated but still a very interesting resource, especially since it seems to include some authors who aren’t mentioned on Fanlore’s Professional Author Fanfic Policies page yet.

The owner of the Fanworks Inc. site has indicated in May this year that they may take the whole site down, so best grab the information on here soon if you need it.

[META] New issue of Transformative Works and Cultures on comics fandom

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


Suzanne Scott: Fangirls in refrigerators: The politics of (in)visibility in comic book culture


Catherine Coker: Earth 616, Earth 1610, Earth 3490—Wait, what universe is this again? The creation and evolution of the Avengers and Captain America/Iron Man fandom

Lyndsay Brown: Pornographic space-time and the potential of fantasy in comics and fan art

Tim Bavlnka: /Co/operation and /co/mmunity in /co/mics: 4chan’s Hypercrisis

Symposium (short articles):

Forrest Phillips: Captain America and fans’ political activity

Babak Zarin: The advocacy of Steve Rogers (aka Captain America), as seen in hetrez’s “Average Avengers Local Chapter 7 of New York”

Amanda Odom: Professionalism: Hyperrealism and play

Rebecca Lucy Busker: Fandom and male privilege: Seven years later

Kayley Thomas: Revisioning the smiling villain: Imagetexts and intertextual expression in representations of the filmic Loki on Tumblr

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


Daniel Stein: “Comic books and American cultural history: An anthology,” edited by Matthew Pustz

Drew Morton: “Of comics and men: A cultural history of American comic books,” by Jean-Paul Gabilliet

[QUOTE] From Fan-Yi Lam, Comic Market: How the World’s Biggest Amateur Comic Fair Shaped Japanese Dōjinshi Culture, p240-241

Since the 1980s, it has become common for talented dōjinshi creators to be recruited by professional companies and become popular on the mass market. Many famous artists have had a past in the dōjinshi scene or are still involved. Artists—including Ozaki Minami (1989–91, Zetsuai) or CLAMP (2003–9, Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle; 1992–present, X: 1999)—became famous in the dōjinshi world before conquering the professional market, and artists such as Koge-Donbo (1999–2003, Pitaten) and Hiroe Rei (2002–present, Black Lagoon) are still very active, regularly selling dōjinshi at fairs. Dōjinshi like Masamune Shirow’s Black Magic (1983) or Minekura Kazuya’s Saiyuki (1997–2002) were directly converted into popular professional works.

Professional artists selling dōjin products on the side have been a common practice for a long time. In the summer of 2004, 5 percent of all circles participating in Comike were headed by a professional mangaka or illustrator, while another 10 percent had some professional experience. Similarly, it is common for erotic game producers to allow their underpaid artists to sell their drafts and sketches as dōjinshi, giving the artists a second wage and the company free promotion.

[QUOTE] From Fan-Yi Lam, Comic Market: How the World’s Biggest Amateur Comic Fair Shaped Japanese Dōjinshi Culture, p242

(besides Type-Moon) Two other dōjin games, Higurashi no naku koro ni (2002–6, When they cry) by the circle 07th Expansion and Tōhō Project (1996–present, Orient project) by the Shanghai Alice Gengakudan circle, later became commercial hits of a similar or even surpassing scale. However, this phenomenon is not some kind of “amateur revolution.” Type-Moon’s Nasu Kinoko and Takeuchi Takashi and 07th Expansion’s Ryūkishi07 had already made steps into the professional industry before becoming famous in the dōjinshi scene. Much like Shinkai Makoto—the fan-creator of the OVA Voices of a Distant Star (2002, Hoshi no koe)—these creators already had made a career in the professional industry and were adored by fans for their passion and talents, rather than for their amateur status.


[META] Oprah Winfrey and Joss Whedon: Transformative Works from Within

Typically, I think that this space should be reserved for celebrating the achievements, creative works, and intellectual production of fans themselves, and not those of the incredibly rich owners of the media franchises that give us some of our most important raw material. But I’ve been thinking about Oprah all week, naturally, and I think that her audience-centered finale merits meta-fannish discussion. However, I also know that the Oprah franchise is controversial, perhaps even more so in circles that concern themselves with complex media representations generally than in the broader social world. And so, I thought I’d look at an isolated moment from her address in combination with a similar moment from one of Joss Whedon’s addresses to his fans, in order to draw out some crucial shared tendencies in these two promoters of women-centered media, who in so many other ways speak past each other.

Oprah organized her final show as a love letter to her fans, but she also used the opportunity to construct a narrative of the show’s history, and the way in which it inserted itself into the media landscape, ultimately effecting real changes in many lives. Not coincidentally, early on in this narrative, she explicitly addressed her own transition from passive consumer of the media landscape to creator, who, though still a consumer of others’ stories, took on an increasingly active role in shaping the way in which (and the extent to which) they could be heard by people who needed to hear them. She said,

“When I started this show, it was a revelation to all of us how much dysfunction there was in people’s lives. I grew up with Leave It to Beaver and Andy Griffith. I thought everybody’s family life was like that, even though I knew mine was not. Well this show, and our guests, began to paint a different picture and allowed us to drop the veil on all the pretense and do exactly what we envisioned in that first show: to let people know that you are not alone.” (transcript of the finale available here)

One of the most common criticisms I encounter about the Oprah franchise is that “it’s all about her.” But in moments like this, it’s most definitely not. Her openness about her life, especially about her own intellectual and personal growth over time, is what has made her show so relevant for so long. Certainly, there were many people who were profoundly aware of how much dysfunction there was “in the world” before Oprah, but there were more who lacked the vocabulary with which to contextualize their own experience of such dysfunction, and of these, some were able to connect with the stories that appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Obviously, it’s not enough. But coalition building has to start somewhere, and the more people who can hear a story of abuse without shutting down or getting defensive, the better.

In the introduction to Fray, his comic series about a future kick-ass slayer, Joss Whedon creates a narrative, not too dissimilar from Oprah’s, of his own transition from passive consumer into big name storyteller. Like Oprah, he starts with his childhood, speaking to the theme of girls and comics:

“Don’t get me wrong, there were certainly other things on my mind in my young adolescence. But almost certainly topping the list were girls and comics. More specifically girls in comics. Because, frustratingly, there weren’t that many. At least in the Marvel universe, where I made my nest, there were very few interesting girls young enough for a twelve year old to crush on. … Until Kitty Pryde… Cut to me grown up — yet somehow not remotely matured. The idea for Buffy the Vampire Slayer came from that same lack I felt as a child. Where are the girls? Girls who can fight, who can stand up for themselves, who have opinions and fears and cute outfits?”

And you say Oprah’s cheesy? No, just kidding. Obviously, I love both of them, cheese and all. This is a story about lack, and two authors’ attempts to fill a lack. There have been mistakes along the way, of course, for Whedon as much as for Oprah, but I think that both offer their stories to their fans with a specific mode of inspiration in mind. They are saying, “Look, when I grew up, I was given a story about what the social world looks like. I was also given a social world, and it didn’t look like that. Now, I actively seek out better stories, by creating them, and by creating space for them when they’re not mine to tell.”

A love letter is a very specific kind of writing, and one of the most beautiful things about it, I think, is that one is in no way obligated to respond, be grateful, reciprocate affection, or, and let me be clear about this, buy any associated paraphernalia. Oprah was very insistent on the idea that we all have a platform, and that, regardless of size, we ought to take advantage of it. With our opinions and fears and…cute outfits? Really? No, I’m sorry. But the opinions and fears part. For sure.

[META] Existing settings, existing characters

We are all familiar with the elements of fiction: plot, character, theme, setting, point of view.

When a writer decides to set a story in San Francisco in 1980, or in Bonn in 1950, or in her home town the year she was twenty, there’s research involved. What did the place look like? What were the landmarks? What was the weather like? What was under construction? What blooms in which seasons?

The more familiarity the writer has with the place, the better and more vivid the story.

And, no one thinks it’s cheating if a writer uses a real place for the setting of a story. Quite the reverse.

No one thinks it’s “better” or “more creative” to make up a setting from scratch instead of using an already existing city or countryside. (In fact, the genres where making up a setting from scratch is normally necessary, like SF or fantasy, are often dissed by lovers of literary fiction.)

A large part of the joy of reading, say, Robert Parker’s Spenser novels is enjoying Boston through his eyes. The entire genre of travel literature lets us all explore, fictionally and nonfictionally, places we already know and love.

Fan fiction does exactly this same thing, but with character instead of setting.

The last go-round, this spring, regarding the legitimacy and definitions of fan fiction (and this is a topic that comes around a lot on the guitar) seemed to be very focused on copyright restrictions and authorial control. The fantasy author Diana Gabaldon, in blog posts that were mostly, alas, deleted afterward, took serious offense at fan fiction and was soundly and elegantly rebutted by another author at Bookshop,, May 3, 2010.

Then, in related developments, the well-known blog BoingBoing listed a bunch of Pulitzer Prize winning works that can be defined as fan fiction, prompting cofax7 to offer a definition of the genre (, cofax7, May 28, 2010). If you read her post, do read the comments too, for more nuances and discussion. On the other hand, the BoingBoing comments are pretty funny! In the “oh no” sort of way.

(As a tangent: Bookshop also links to one of her own comments where she addresses succinctly what is one of the biggest misunderstandings in this perennial discussion: Many people seem to keep going all bzuh at the idea — central to fan fiction — of writing something and sharing it with a community, with no intention or desire to sell said piece of writing for money.)

Like Bookshop, I’m kind of bemused every time I have to have the conversation about why fan fiction is way okay. Aren’t we there yet? So maybe I can offer yet another way of making the argument: Any writing textbook lists those five elements of fiction. Why are the anti-fan fiction critics so hung up on the presumed necessity for original characters in the best-quality fiction, but see no necessity whatsoever for original settings?