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snickfic: [A+X] Fantomex shooting across the snow (Fantomex)
[personal profile] snickfic
[livejournal.com profile] rahirah asked me a question that I thought merited its own post, because it's a question that I'm always interested in seeing other people answer, too: What attracts you to fandoms where you write fic, as opposed to fandoms where you may just read/watch?

I used to think there was some complicated and mysterious alchemy that determined what my next fandom would be, but in fact it seems to boil down to two things:

1. A character I obsess over. This character has so far always been male, which might surprise some of you given my enthusiasm the last few years for female characters. Historically, though, my pattern is: fall in love with male character, get into fandom, eventually switch allegiances primarily to female characters. (Who knows what this bodes in terms of hockey fandom.)

Now, why some male characters do this for me and not others is mysterious; there are some similarities that can be drawn between Spike and Dean Winchester, but my most recent obsession is character/RL person Evgeni Malkin, who has basically no similarities with either of the other two.

2. Lots of fic already existing about said character. It turns out that I can love a character to bits and pieces, but if there isn't tons of fic to feed my interest, it withers and dies. And what's more, I need all that fic to play off of when I start writing my own, which is what rahirah really asked. Writing fic for a small/non-existent fandom is hard work, as far as I'm concerned - much harder than writing for a larger fandom. I'm not great at inventing the wheel; I will never be one of those authors on the forefront of a new fandom, blazing the trail. I need a fandom to be in conversation with.

--

Now, the exception to all this for me is Marvel comics.

Marvel superhero comics fandom is a weird and squirrelly thing. For one thing, the canon is this huge, sprawling disaster of 70 years worth of continuity and retcons and character reboots, of amazing artistic achievements and oceans of utter dreck. (And the Dr. Who fans think they have it bad.) There is no hope of reading everything. If your fave character is one of the biggies, then it'd be a mighty slog just to read everything written about them, and some of it you really shouldn't waste your time on. (You think you want everything Black Widow? You don't want the Richard K. Morgan minis. You just don't.)

By extension, that means it's hard to build the critical mass of fannish community and conversation that I find necessary for fic. You could easily have five Marvel fans who between them have absolutely nothing to say to one another. I'm a recent fan who mostly reads female characters and dabbles in old X-Men. Person B loooves the Punisher and has read every Punisher comic ever written. Person C is a Jack Kirby fan with a particular affection for classic Fantastic Four. Person D reads current comics but can't be bothered with any title that doesn't contribute to the big picture of the Marvel universe, which is to say that right now they're sticking largely to Uncanny Avengers, Hickman's Avengers stuff, some tentpole solo titles, and the events. And person E is really only interested in the Ultimates, which is a canonical parallel universe with its own handful of titles.

Obviously those examples are a bit extreme and there's liable to be more overlap than I implied, but what it means is that even in the unlikely event that all those people wrote fic, probably none of them would want to read each other's!

The size of the canon also makes fic tricky for most characters. Even if you have read everything Natasha has ever appeared in, your readers haven't. The more obscure the canon you draw on, the less accessible your fic will be. Also, a lot of that canon will probably contradict each other! Not to mention that at some point you need to contend with Marvel's rolling timeline: Kitty Pryde was 13 when she was introduced in 1980 and has aged maybe 7 years or so since then. Do you assume that everything that's happened to her in the past 34 years did in fact happen? Do you decide to just ignore some stuff? (This is the kind of question that drives me batty, personally.)

Despite all those obstacles, there are some pockets of thriving Marvel fic activity, largely centered around specific titles that are self-contained enough to avoid the huge backstory conundrums. Young Avengers volume 2 and Hawkeye are both depend very little on previous canon (much to some long-time fans' annoyance), and both have enough fic on AO3 to qualify for Not Prime Time. Loki's recent canon (Gillen's Journey into Mystery, Gillen's YA, Ewing's Loki: Agent of Asgard) is also apparently approachable enough to attract a fandom.

Farther back, Whedon's Astonishing X-Men is widely recced as a good way to get into the X-Men and not coincidentally seems to have had quite a fair bit of fic activity back in the day. X-Men in general seems to have been doing quite well back in the late 90s - perhaps some of my more veteran X-Men people could weight in there? All I know is I think Rogue/Gambit was a thing. And while sources vary about the advent of Steve/Tony fandom (which started in comics before the MCU was anything but a gleam in some exec's eye), it was a huge deal around the time of Marvel's Civil War event.

Having given you all that background, Marvel comics really does not look like the fandom for me, does it? Current fannish communities and fic are clustered largely around a handful of titles I'm not fannishly invested in, and the only male character I care all that much about, Fantomex, has like five fics on AO3.

And yet, like I said, Marvel comics are the exception to all my fannish patterns, because I've loved the female characters right from the start and because I continue to love the canon so much that I keep offering various pieces of it in exchanges and trying my hand at it. I'm pretty sure Marvel comics is never going to be my main fic fandom, because there just isn't enough concentrated community and fic. (This means when I write fic, there aren't a ton of people interested, either.) But apparently I'm going to keep plugging away nonetheless.

--

Now that I've said all that: What does it take for a canon to move you to writing fic/making art/getting fannishly creative? What are the secret ingredients?

Date: 2014-07-27 02:01 pm (UTC)
glinda: clint & natash from the avengers walking into battle (clint/natasha)
From: [personal profile] glinda
Usually, I need a character or pairing that I adore and can get obsessively fixated on. If its just the one character then they probably won't be the 'lead character' (I'm much more interested in the 'best friend' or 'side-kick' character than the 'hero') and if its a pairing it'll either not be canon or one of those will-they-won't-they only get together at the end of canon pairings. I like writing in the gaps of canon's, the day-to-day friendship/relationship stuff that rarely makes it on screen, the stories behind throw away lines in dialogue.

The older I get the more I focus on teams and found families, so I prefer an ensemble cast (See, Leverage, Pushing Daisies, Firefly, The Mechanisms and the MCU...) because I like having as many character combinations as possible to play with.

Sometimes though, I'll just love a world and want to play in it. This is especially true of small closed canons, where we get a perfectly enclosed world that I can fall in love with and always long for more from it. This does mean that there's quite a lot of fandoms where I've written one fic for the fandom and that's it, I had lots of feelings I needed to process and this fic deals with them, that's all I had to say about that piece of media. (My fic for Chronicles of Narnia, Big Bang Theory, Rivers of London and Beautiful Thing all fall into that category.) However, it also means that there are a couple of tiny fandoms (and far more obscure pairings) where almost all the fic was written by me. I spent quite a while only writing small fandoms or if writing in bigger fandoms writing minor characters and obscure pairings, where I was essentially writing either for myself or for a tiny audience of people I mostly knew, so now its weird writing in bigger fandoms.

Having said all that, I am amused that given that Marvel really doesn't fit the profile of what either of us usually go for in fandoms that that should be the place where our fannish interest intersect. (I might be spoiling myself rotten for the current run of Black Widow by reading your reviews, but it'll be ages before the trade comes out - and I don't buy the individual issues - so I need my fix!)

Date: 2014-07-27 11:00 pm (UTC)
glinda: clint & natash from the avengers walking into battle (clint/natasha)
From: [personal profile] glinda
It is such an odd disparate fandom, I like that description, lots of small fandoms clumped together. (My first fandom was Dr Who and between classic who and the various extended canons, I thought I was prepared for a giant canon complete with time travel, alternative timelines, continuity issues, contradictory backstories, parrallel universes, character resurrections and writers having hissy fits, but no Marvel - and I presume DC is just as bad - is a whole other kettle of fish!)

Oooh oooh that's exciting, I'll need to track that down in that case. I haven't checked out the comic book store here, so I think that may be an excellent excuse to do so. I really appreciate the reviews as, much as I love Natasha, I've always been somewhat hesitant to dive into her back story without first having a reccomendation that the writer in question won't have done things to her that will make me want to beat him round the head with the trade...(hence I will be following your advice and avoiding the Richard K Morgan minis...)

Date: 2014-07-29 07:44 pm (UTC)
glinda: compassion - dr who extended canon icon (compassion)
From: [personal profile] glinda
Yeah, for all that chunks of the canon were lost (*shakes fist at BBC*) it's probably a more do-able endeavour to consume the entire back catalogue than it would be for Marvel.

Oooh that looks really useful, I've only read Name of the Rose and Deadly Origins (which I see doesn't make that list, but I started there because it was Paul Cornell and I know him from Dr Who of old so I reckoned I was safe with him, and actually I really like what it does with reconciling Natasha's many different timelines.) but this will be really useful to take me forward with Natasha.

Date: 2014-07-27 07:53 pm (UTC)
next_to_normal: Steve Rogers from CA: TWS (Steve yellow)
From: [personal profile] next_to_normal
Yeah, I would say those are the same two factors that motivate me to write fic, as well. Although I think I would add one more - closed canon. I prefer to work with a known quantity, not because I'm afraid of getting Jossed, but more because I think I work better when I know the boundaries? Even if I plan to ignore them with a plot that goes AU or is set post-canon, it helps to know where they are as I'm blowing through them. :) Which is one of the reasons I have never been inspired to write Marvel fic. (Though I have no problem reading it!)

Ah, Marvel. As a reader, it's been an interesting adventure into fanfic. I started out sticking very close to MCU fic, thinking I would be lost reading a comics fic without having read the comics. But the more I read, the more I realized that probably 90% of MCU authors are drawing at least some characterization or backstory or villains from comics canon, or fandom osmosis of comics canon, even if they've never read the comics themselves (which is kind of fascinating from a meta perpective).

And now that I've read more comics, I've branched out even more, to the point that I feel pretty comfortable now reading fic based on comics I haven't read, because there always seems to be a sort of common baseline for the characters that transcends any particular storyline. And if there are references to events I don't know about or whatever, I just kind of treat it as part of the author's AU and go with it?

I still generally stick to fics that focus on the MCU line-up, plus some comics faves like Carol, Janet, Bobbi, Kate Bishop... okay, basically I like the MCU dudes but want more ladies, lol. But yeah, in general, I'm still mainly an Avengers girl, and I think having a critical mass around those characters because of MCU is definitely a factor in my fannishness. There's a kind of feedback loop that happens, where the more fic I read, the more excited about the fandom I get, so I want to read more fic? And you don't get that with a lot of the less popular Marvel line-ups, because the fic just isn't there. And, like you, I don't have the energy to blaze a new fandom trail.

Date: 2014-08-01 06:52 pm (UTC)
next_to_normal: Kate w/ bow and arrow (Kate Bishop)
From: [personal profile] next_to_normal
In particular, I love the Hawkeye comic and enjoyed the Young Avengers comic, but I have almost no desire to read fic for either, which limits me.

Bummer, because somehow reading this comment made me think about potential Hawkeye mpreg with Clint and Kate, with a Spike-and-Dawn-in-Seraph kind of vibe. And now I desperately want you to write it so I can read it. :)

Apparently my brain was still lingering on the Jeremy Renner mpreg interview.

Date: 2014-08-02 06:53 pm (UTC)
geckoholic: (Marvel: Clint+Kate)
From: [personal profile] geckoholic
Marvel comics fandom is indeed such a weird experience, compared to movies or TV. It really is messy as fuck and spread out, and even though I happen to me most active in Hawkeye/Young Avengers stuff and thereby ended up in one of the more crowded corners, it's still harder to find connections and people to talk to and babble about fic with than I'd like. Then again, you can hardly pick what gets the ball rolling in regards to fic, eh? But yeah, the ocean of canon that no other fan is likely to have read the same parts of you did is also driving me bonkers.

Date: 2014-08-08 12:59 pm (UTC)
geckoholic: (Default)
From: [personal profile] geckoholic
All valid options, yes, I'm doing that too. But sadly, yep, it's really more of a help yourself kinda fandom when it comes to fic. Which is kinda sad, but hey, at least it gets me writing. XD