Fans have been in the press lately. Mainly the stories deal with them waiting weeks in line for some film. For a more balanced view of fans we have to look elsewhere.
The film Trekkies, co produced by Denise Crosby (Tasha Yar of Star Trek: The Next Generation), explores the world of Trek fandom. The film interviews the fans, the actors and the current Trek production staff. We see the fans at cons, club meetings, work, and in cities with a whole Trek theme (Vulcan, Alberta and Riverside, Iowa Kirk’s future birthplace). We see the casual fan, Klingons, costumers, filmmakers, propmakers, collectors and the fanzine writers.
Trekkies presents Trek fandom in a positive light. The film shows that even the most extreme fans while eccentric are OK. This is seen in the profiles of fans such as the woman who went to the White Water jury in her Next Generation uniform and the Orlando dentist who has his office decked out in Trek memorabilia. Fans like these are shown to be eccentric but they are also shown to be productive members of scoiety. The numerous community services and contributions to charity done by organized Trek fandom are also well featured. We also see a number of fans that were inspired to enter the engineering, medical, and artistic fields because of the show. The extreme side is also shown as well as seen with the fan that devotes his time to recreating Trek props and the writers of slash (erotic fan fiction) stories. These images are shown as aberrations. The film emphasizes the positive things Trek fandom has done.
The only irritating thing is the film’s implication that Trek fans came up with the idea of conventions themselves. A fact, which can disproved by such fan historians as Forrest Ackerman, Joe Siclari, Richard and Nicki Lynch. I am hoping that this film may be a success so that it may inspire another filmmaker to make a Ken Burns-ian documentary on literary science fiction and fandom.
In the comic Faans, one sees literary fans in action. Faans, written by T Campbell and drawn by Jason Waltrip, gives us a group of college SF fans, who like the fans in Fallen Angels are tasked with solving big problems. The club consists of: Katherine, club president and SCA Member, Rikk, the shy but passionate fan, Will, the costumer, Tim, the enthusiastic hacker and Rumiko, a budding artist. In the first issue something is causing fen all over the country to go berserk. They are looting, stealing, burning and causing general mayhem. The club is able to neutralize two such incidents before things get out of hand. Rikk convinces the others to find out what is actually happening.
T Campbell claims this is his gift to fandom. It is a pretty cool gift. Faans join the ranks with other fan-based fiction such as Fallen Angels, Alternate Worldcons and Time Pressure. Like those earlier works we see the various types of fans we have all known and loved throughout the years. We see them confronting the problems thrusted upon them and overcoming them in the traditional fannish style. There are various in jokes one can appreciate. Future issues promise cameos from well-known fans and pros, including a very outspoken writer form Sherman Oaks, California. The names and images will be changed to protect the guilty. Then again half the fun of works like these is trying to figure out who's who. For more information on Faans check out Faans.com.
DC gives us Fanboy, a six-issue mini-series by Mark Evanier and Sergio Aragones. We are presented with Finster, a comic fan. He works at comic shop and practices on being an artist in his spare time. Finster is confronted by bullies, shoplifters, fascist teachers, and anti comic community activists. While the crises occur he escapes to the world of comics (mainly in the DC universe). Here Finster finds himself fighting along with the Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), fighting against the Justice League when in a Hulk-like rage, patrolling in World War II Italy with Sgt. Rock and the Easy Company, and working on a case with the Batman. These intermissions also allow some of the most famous comic artists to guest in the book. Gil Kane, Bill Sienkiewicz, Bernie Wrightson, Dick Sprang, Neal Adams, and Frank Miller are among the many artists who appear in the book. Through these interludes he usually finds the answer to his problems. Thus demonstrating what Harlan Ellison said about comics in his Playboy article "Did Your Mother Throw Yours Out". That comics teach us about courage, ethics, good and evil, right from wrong and the value of friendship. Finster reminds us, like Marvels and Kingdom Come did earlier, the reasons we fell in love with these characters. It was not just for their power but because of their moral courage and humanity.
These comics and film gives a more balanced view of fandom than is presented in the six o'clock news sound bite. They show fandom at its best.
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