I had a moment this morning where something occurred to me like a sort of epiphany. I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and saw that an illustrator I like had shared a new blog post of her A-Z Challenge where she has been drawing My Little Pony characters all month. When I was on Tumblr, I saw another professional artist–this one a comic book artist–had shared an adorable drawing of her favorite anime character. On DeviantArt, my entire message box was filled with postings from the professionals I watch, and half of them were fanart.
This is normal. In fact, I’d say that half the professionals I watch, I found because of their fanart. So . . . why is that fanfiction doesn’t get treated the same way? Why don’t I follow a single author because he or she wrote an awesome fanfiction about something we both like, and I liked how they told a story, so I bought their original works? Why don’t authors admit if they write fanfiction at all? If there are ones out there that admit it, I haven’t seen it yet. I inevitably see authors mostly ragging on the very IDEA of fanfiction, as if it’s the most offensive thing ever, but are utterly delighted with fanart.
So . . . why?
What is it that makes fanfiction offensive and fanart complimentary? Don’t tell me it’s because fanfiction is terrible and fanart is great. I’ve seen TERRIBLE fanart, and I’ve read STUNNING fanfiction. I’m going to hazard that in both fields you have more misses than hits, if only because both take hard work to reach a level of competency, but we only hear about cruddy fanfiction and spectacular fanart.
Just this morning, a friend linked me to a series of pieces a talented artist did of Disney characters in manga style. This is not a Disney artist, and therefore it is officially FANART, and yet it was being treated with reverence. I guarantee you I will never be linked to an article about some AMAZING Final Fantasy fanfiction that creates an alternate universe (AU) of a familiar world and does it in such a way you keep the original things you love but in a fresh style.
Hey, by the way? That exists. In fact, there a lot of them.
Where did this stigma come from? What made it perfectly acceptable for professionals to share their fanart but not fanfiction? Why do we tear apart anyone who dares say they write/read fanfiction but squeal happily when we see our favorite artist drew our favorite character?
Well, at the risk of ruining my reputation, I not only read fanfiction, I write it. I’ve been quite happily writing stories about my favorite worlds to share with my closest friends for years. Does that take away from my ability to create my own worlds? Of course not. It’s a craft, a learned skill across just shy of twenty years, and my ability to visit someone else’s world to spin a tale does not take away from my ability to make my own.
But, perhaps, some people don’t realize that fanfiction is technically a part of everyday media. May I dare hazard the thought that some of your favorite movies and books are, in some essences, fanfiction themselves? Let’s take Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare. Beloved tale, often misunderstood and maligned, yet still a part of common life. Well, wouldn’t it be fair to say Titanic is an AU R&J fanfiction written by John Cameron? What about West Side Story? Yep. R&J AU.
Before someone asks the inevitable question, SURE, I would be tickled if someone wrote a fanfiction about one of my books. As far as I’m concerned, it means I inspired you to think of something, to create something. And, like fanart, to inspire another artist is a hell of a compliment. I just wish more people saw it that way.
I would love your comments and analysis on these thoughts! Am I crazy? Do you know of professional authors who admit they write fanfiction? Please, keep comments respectful. No name-calling or mud-slinging. I do not tolerate trolls. (This Paladin carries a sword of smiting.) Know of any AMAZING fanfiction I should read, or AMAZING fanart I should see? Post a link!
If you love romance in the form of faerie tales with a modern twist, you should check out THE SHAUGHNESSY FILE (Kindle) (Nook). Prefer your romance with some high fantasy? Grab CHRONICLE OF DESTINY (Kindle) and it’s sequel, CHRONICLE OF SUMMER (Kindle). Read them and loved them? Give me a review! I love hearing from fans.