The Universality of Fandom: The Nerd

Fanfiction is fan labour in which fans of an original work write about the characters and settings they love so much in that work. It is a fan based force, meaning all the works in fanfiction are written by fans, rather than any external influence from the writer of the original work. Fanfiction is rarely permitted by the authors of the works that get used, so the fans are essentially stealing, or appropriating, the works they wish to write on. It is also rarely ever published, and is simply meant as an outlet for the fans to present their ideas, and is used as a kind of social network for fans of specific works. Fanfiction exists for almost every notable work from Spiderman, as we saw on our midterm, to Harry Potter, to Don Quixote; if you are a fan or any book, movie, TV show, comic, graphic novel, game, cartoon, and basically anything else, almost guaranteed there will be someone writing fanfiction on it. What is interesting about fanfiction is that it offered a new, refreshing take on the original text, one that is often outside the box, but can help in understanding the original work.

The 2 Spiderman fanfiction pieces that we looked at on our second midterm were analyses of Spiderman during his teenage years. They helped to shed light on a side of Spiderman adolescence that was not illuminated in the comics. Fanfiction works much in this way: although the content typically seems humorous and a bit out to left field, it is typically meant to help the reader further comprehend the work. And, as I have stated, fanfiction can be found on nearly any medium, so long as it engages with an audience. This makes fanfiction an broad community of “nerds”, in their own fields, and brings different art forms together. It can spark interest in mediums that would otherwise not have been browsed by some due to the interconnectivity of the genre. For example, if someone goes to find fanfiction on Twilight, perhaps they will be lead to fanfiction on “30 Days of Night” and from there “The Walking Dead”; soon they will be a graphic novel junkie!

Believe it or not, there is a fanfiction website – – where one can search through an encyclopedia of fanfiction on nearly any work. The most popular work on the website, meaning it has the most fanfiction written on it, it Harry Potter. The books, not the movies. Harry Potter has 640, 073 fanfiction pieces written about it, which is about twice as many as “Naruto” (a Manga series; also the runner up), 3 times as many as Twilight and 20 times the amount written for Star Wars, the most popular movie. It is also about 60 times more popular than the most popular comic, being X-Men. Why is Harry Potter so popular? Well, because he’s awesome. But the point of saying all this is to establish the idea that being a nerd is not designated only for comic book lovers: being a nerd is a cross-medium title. This is actually a really good thing, because, as I have said, it means there can be an overlap in people’s interests. This can lead to, and I believe has lead to, an increase in interest in comics and graphic novels and a renewed success in the industry. Fanfiction can help pave a way for comics and graphic novels into the future, helping sustain it, ensuring that comics and graphic novels will continue to me a medium well into the future.

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3 Responses to The Universality of Fandom: The Nerd

  1. Megan Kakoske says:

    In one of my post I discussed how it can be difficult to approach comics as a new reader, and I think that fanfiction can be an interesting way to branch into comics. They can be a way to ease into knowing the plot and characters without having to worry about where to begin. I also agree that being a nerd is not reserved for just comics, in fact I would argue that comics have now become so trendy that fans cannot be considered nerds.

  2. McKinley Wiens says:

    I only have one major problem with your piece, but this is personal opinion so feel free to disagree.

    I’d argue that fanfiction is not a gateway to other genres, but rather that other genres are a gateway to fanfiction. I believe that most people who read or write fanfiction do so for fan communities that they are already fond of, and consider themselves part of. This is because they want to read or write stories that expand on the worlds and character they have come to admire.

    Often, even as seen in the examples from class, an understanding of the show, or book etc. that the fanfiction is based on is required to understand fully the fan product itself. I have never heard of someone getting into something as a result of reading fanfiction, but often see it go the other way around. This can also be a result of the fact that fanfiction is often packed full of hints and jokes from the subject of its fandom, that outside readers and viewers would not understand. Characters are not explained in fanfiction, they are expanded on, which could cause great confusion for a reader not up to date with the original characters.

    I do not mean to be the bearer of bad news, but I simply do not see how fanfiction specifically benefits the comic books community. Perhaps fan communities, through events and fundraisers may bring in some attention, but the fanfiction itself is often reserved for, and understood, only by current members of a fan community.

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