HOW TO FAN
AMBER LOVE 23-MARCH-2015 The internet lexicon allows us to manipulate language pretty much any way a user sees fit. “How to cat,” “how to adult,” “I can haz…” – all things you can understand if you’ve spent a week online. Let’s discuss “how to fan” according to the power structures within the pop culture community.
Over the past week, we’ve seen passionate outrage on opposing sides regarding the BATGIRL #41 Joker variant cover. What you learn from those rage moments is that fans and creators care an awful lot about these characters, stories, and brands. During the Batgirl upheaval, I had someone on Facebook tell me to “get over it” because THE KILLING JOKE story happened decades ago. People don’t just “get over” things. If a story hasn’t moved you at some point – made you laugh, cry, scream in anger – you haven’t found the storytellers that speak to your entertainment needs.
DEATH IN FICTION
Temporary “deaths” are not to be shrugged off. Did you cry when Dobby died in HARRY POTTER? I did. No regrets either.
I cried when Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting killed Captain America, Steve Rogers. I went into the comic shop and cried. Over-zealous? I suppose so. Embarrassing? Absolutely not. I cared about that title and that character, both of which were relatively new to me. I hadn’t been reading Marvel Comics long at that point. It was 2007 and I had only been a subscriber for a year or less.
My first pull list included BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, Season 8, the continuation from the show. Back when the show was in full force on TV, they “killed” a few characters, including Buffy. She was later brought bad through dark magick. It was intended to be the ending of the show, but when the networks changed and the story needed to continue, they had to come up with something so they resurrected her – a typical trope of heroic characters. However, it was when Tara died that I mourned deeply. I loved Tara. I wanted Willow to treat her better. I wanted Tara to be as strong a witch as I felt she could be if only she had the confidence. But Tara was gone and I know I’m not alone in how much that hurt.
This morning, I didn’t appreciate seeing elitist attitude coming from comics veterans including Gail Simone. Her point was to say “get over it” regarding whatever she considers a temporary change like a costume, mantle of a character, or death. However, if these stories are going to continue, if places like Marvel and DC aren’t going to close their doors, then everything is temporary and that means nothing should affect the readers because they should “get over it.”
When I said telling fans to get over something she thinks is temporary is no different than the assholes that said fans should get over THE KILLING JOKE, Barbara Gordon being paralyzed, then Barbara miraculously being healed, Simone got defensive. But I guess when you’re one of the writers pulling those strings and making those changes that hurt fans, you can say whatever you want. She said “temporary.” Why does she or anyone get to tell fans when anything is temporary since these properties exist indefinitely? And what she said was condescending with “are we new to comics?” Ya know what? Today someone is new to comics just like I was when Captain America “died.”
I think “are we new to comics?” was a terrible thing to say. I’ve been reading comics regularly since 2006 so I’m still considered “new” to some people even though I write my own damn comics now.
SMALL CHANGES = BIG IMPACT
When a reader hasn’t been in the comic trenches for 30 years, even a small change can have a big impact. Let’s look at the Wonder Woman in pants fiasco of the new 52. First off, a lot of us just felt it was an ugly outfit and weren’t “anti-pants.” They also pushed back the clock of Diana and other characters to make them younger. Diana was back to being so naive that no one could picture her becoming a leader that the world should turn to. Changing her look was huge impact because it occurred in tandem with major story changes (one could argue also temporary since they’re rebooting again). Creators at DC Comics aren’t just putting pants on Diana. There’s always bigger impact.
When the costume changes, that also changes what someone was attached to in terms of forming a relationship to a product they trusted. Remember New Coke? What a damn nightmare! Don’t delude yourself into thinking brand loyalty doesn’t apply to things like costume changes. If Batman was suddenly without a cape, what the hell would his logo mean? Small change – big impact. Bat logos are everywhere and are embraced by more people outside of comics than inside comics.
The comic veteran attitude could use a big adjustment. Telling people how to fan is gatekeeping whether you want to admit it or not. I don’t particularly like zealous screaming anime fans at conventions, but I don’t tell them what they feel or do is incorrect or that they shouldn’t care so much or to get over it if something happens to a character they love.
Don’t tell me to get over it.
Don’t tell me how to fan.
Don’t tell me death in fiction means nothing.
I’m not throwing down a gauntlet either. I’m once again putting up a shield to protect myself from the attitude that people who care about these characters shouldn’t. And it’s real easy to get to me to not care – I simply won’t ever buy your books.