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Is making fan comics a bad idea?

Banes at 12:00AM, Sept. 3, 2020

Guest post by Genejoke

In the time I've been making comics, until recently that is, I'd never made a fan comic. It's something I've considered but always felt more comfortable doing my own thing, much like Banes talked about in his newspost a couple of weeks back.

That changed during lockdown as I watched loads of star trek. I found myself really getting into the lore and background, and the new trek shows have left me a little unsatisfied. I wanted to know more about what happened after voyager and wasn't overly keen on some of the story elements in Picard. After digging into the lore and getting inspired by a two part story in voyager I decided to make a comic that hopefully fills that gap.

It occurred to me that working on something with so much established lore and a dedicated fan base I felt I had a duty to do it justice. I didn't want to just play in the sandbox, or revisit characters, but to do something both new and familiar and stay faithful to the source as if I was making an official star trek project.

It's a large undertaking, I know the lore somewhat but it's so expansive, there's 50 years of history to the show, there's unfilmed scripts, abandoned projects, official books and comics. Where do I draw inspiration from? Where do I stop researching?

I've watched every star trek film and TV show and I've read wiki pages about show canon and the expanded media. I've played a little star trek online and read more about it. I've read numerous online sources for information on ships and watched a hell of a lot of YouTube videos about trek lore and the ships and I think that's about enough, beyond checking specific things as and when required.
It has been an absolute joy doing it. Even though I'm not building the world, it feels like world building. Taking all the bits of lore, official and unofficial and fitting it all together to get my starting point.

It started with a collection of vague ideas, all pulled from the star trek shows. There's a vast galaxy and a wealth of unexplored ideas, what could I add to that? During research I finalised the concept and began writing.
Anyone that has read my comics knows full well my output is a far cry from star trek. Full of gore, swearing, horror and god knows what else. Writing something so different has been a fantastic learning experience. It's forced me to approach writing differently from my usual free form approach.
There's been a similar effect on how I approach designs as well.
All in all it has been a fantastic journey so far and I'm glad I decided to make a fan comic rather than create a homage.

Is it better to make fan comics or your own thing? No doubt there are many pros and cons to both.
Ultimately I think going your own way has more going for it, however I hope some of you find my experience of it an interesting counterpoint.

Have any of you made fan comics? What sort of response has it had from other fans of the source material?

Thanks to Genejoke for this Newspost you can read his Star Trek comic, Albion here:



plymayer at 5:47AM, Sept. 4, 2020

I've enjoying your comics over the years and am I big fan. :) Looking forward to Albion's journeys.

plymayer at 5:46AM, Sept. 4, 2020

Fan fiction is often better than what the "professionals" are doing today. Maybe because the fans are more in love with the material. They aren't doing it to get paid. There are all kinds of reasons to do fan fiction and to not do it.

plymayer at 5:44AM, Sept. 4, 2020

I'm pretty sure Solo was fan fiction.

bravo1102 at 1:18AM, Sept. 4, 2020

And there is the writing exercise of doing a fan fiction, getting through the story and THEN changing all the settings and characters to your own vision. Sometimes in the middle of it all you may find you strayed far from the franchise and to make the story work it should be your own world.

Ozoneocean at 9:51PM, Sept. 3, 2020

There are a lot of good reasons to do fan stories- it's fun, you can get invested in it, all the world building and stuff is already done so you can just plug in a lot of ready made stuff, even characters, there's a built in fan-base so you can use it to make yourself popular or just easily get feedback, the stuff is recognisable so you can even suck in non-fans who recognise stuff, you can also have a lot more of a play with character types and structure since this is work you can't sell... so you may as well just go for it with a character insert character, mothpiece characters, mary sues etc. The disadvantage is the stigma and you can invest too much work and time in it without it being largely wasted because it can't be sold or even shown in a lot of places and the IP owners can ask you work to be taken down at any time. That said millions of big authors got their star doing fan-fiction, not just the Twilight lady or 50 shades of grey person, I'm talking many of the famous names.

TheDeeMan at 8:46PM, Sept. 3, 2020

Ugh! Fan fiction? Just say no. Dee - SC writer dude

hushicho at 12:28PM, Sept. 3, 2020

I think it's good to do either, depending on what suits you at the moment. I usually will do satire or homage, depending on how I feel about the source material, and develop it in my own direction, but that isn't to say it's for everyone. Sometimes the best thing to do is just to take the ideas you find good about something and do them better than the show or the book or the film does them. There are so many stories out there with good ideas and lacking execution, or that go very wrong at one point and never recover from the mistake. There's always worth in trying to salvage a good idea that wasn't done to satisfaction, whether you do it as a fan comic or something totally original!

Genejoke at 7:04AM, Sept. 3, 2020

@Andeas_Helixfinger. The copyright stuff and trying to do justice to well loved characters is a large part of why I said going your own way has more going for it, it's why I haven't done it before. With Albion I've largely avoided doing characters justice by not using much in the way of established characters.

PaulEberhardt at 7:03AM, Sept. 3, 2020

I very much prefer doing my own thing; whenever I screw up I can just pretend it's supposed to be that way. ;) This said, I've done lots of affectionate parodies in the past, and I've never been too sure where to draw the line between an affectionate parody and fanfic exactly. Long ago, when still at school, I actually drew some Star Trek parody comics that did involve some in-depth research into the characters and the ST-universe (I even spent some of my pocket money in the local internet café!). They're fortunately lost to posterity, as the box I stored them in was infested with mice at some point (pro tip: never store old art in your garage!). They were badly drawn and not all that clever, but I learned a lot doing them. This is why I can well imagine how fanfic can be a rewarding bit of practice. It's the same reason why I sometimes give "continue the story" writing tasks to students.

bravo1102 at 6:33AM, Sept. 3, 2020

I created my own universe and used various systems to game it, so there were no copyright issues. I even bent and rewrote rules to adjust the systems to my vision. So when I got around to turning my games into fiction it was a clean transition. But then few read my work due to the whole medium thing. But there are so many ways around infringement. I only used Star Trek because I wanted to do a tribute and playful take off on it.

Scott D at 5:07AM, Sept. 3, 2020

I don't see a problem with doing fan works. After all, it's just another way of showing your appreciation. I think so long as it's made clear what you're celebrating, on the off-chance you get readers who discovered yours first, and you're not personally profiting off it, then nobody gets hurt and everyone has fun. I've been told time and again that I should dramatise some of the tabletop campaigns I've run, although I'm personally more inclined to do my own stuff.

Andreas_Helixfinger at 1:41AM, Sept. 3, 2020

Well, I once wrote a comic script that was to be like a tribute to the Biker Mice from Mars Saturday Cartoon franchise. It was never finnished, never published, and it's probably the closest thing to anything fan made that I've ever approached. I'm just too invested in creating my own original thing and I get far too uncomfortable using well established, well known characters and settings that isn't my own. I feel like I'm just not enough of a fan of anything really to do anyone's work justice. And of course there's things like copyright and stuff, which I find too much of a flimsy, unstable ground to deal with. That's where I stand anywhere, but I think what you're doing sounds awesome and I wish you best of luck on this project of yours.

bravo1102 at 12:43AM, Sept. 3, 2020

Readers tell me that I made Star Trek my own. I have a messy universe and found a way to make the Federation a part of it. And having some fun with it along the way.

dpat57 at 12:18AM, Sept. 3, 2020

Go you! The world needs more Trek adventures. My Starship Captain comics (2 seasons thus far, with a 3rd being plotted) only attracted a handful of readers, but I put this down to the art style, not everyone's a fan of my low poly sh!t lol. And it isn't set in the true Trek universe. Could have, but wanted to do my own thing instead, yet have an echo. Albion *is* set in that universe, it also has more visual appeal and might have more legs, good luck with it!

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