Well, this is really dandy. Hat tip Robot 6.
Posts Tagged ‘Fandom’
Fans aren’t the problem.
Let me repeat that. Fans aren’t the problem.
Fans are never the problem.
If you hear a pro (like me) grumbling about some odd incident, or some stalker, or someone coming out of the blue claiming they created our stuff, or whatever, you may hear us refer to a crazy fan. But that’s not true.
Fans don’t do these things. Aspiring pros do. Frustrated pros do. Angry ambitious creators do.
But fans? Never.
I have never in my entire life had a serious problem with ANY fan. Never a serious harsh word, never a grope or grab, never an inappropriate attempt to force a relationship. Every single serious problem I have ever had in my entire career has come from someone trying to get in the business, social climb, cement their position, or play power games with the position they already have.
But fans? Never.
Fans want to watch the movie, listen to the music, look at the pretty pictures, read the story. They are not looking to assimilate, they are not looking for power. Fans who are looking for power in fandom, are looking for status. They are not true fans.
*True Fans enjoy. True Fans experience.
But some people out there aren’t satisfied with that, or are not very happy that they can’t be a central part of the world they admire. It’s not even that these people are truly creators themselves. They simply want the cache of appearing to be creators. They want to have been creators more than they want to create. Which is why they latch on to creators for dear life, and conflate the attachment for all it’s worth.
A fan who actually wants to write for pleasure, and create fanfic, will happily do that without spending all their time running around accusing people of plagiarizing their stuff, or stealing their thunder. Or trying to cozy up to pros to steal their thunder or credit, or get power via proximity. A fan seeking power and status doesn’t necessarily have to produce very much, but they often have complaints about how someone has taken the glory to which they are entitled.
When I mention a bad experience, it’s not about you. I’m not worried you are going to do something. I’ve a very short list of bad experiences in my career. 90% of my problems have come from a tiny fraction of a percentage of the people I’ve met. They were aspiring pros or pros. But never fans.
I am a lot better about establishing boundaries and sensing the avarice and desperation from an aspiring pro that means trouble. So, I don’t have the troubles I used to so much anymore.
But fans? You have never, ever been a problem.
I just wanted you to know that, and to know I appreciate you.
ADDENDUM: A reader on twitter (paquito) wanted me to clarify that this post is not to mean fans who have the purest of motives and never want to be pros are the only REAL fans.
You can be a fan. You can be an aspiring pro. You can be a fan AND a pro, which is why I am now re-watching all seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in chronological order. You can be an aspiring pro who never does any of the things I put in this post. Most of you are.
You should pursue your dreams. You should absolutely, positively want to make money on your work.
What this post is about is pros tend to recognize behaviors of a certain type of person who is angry, frustrated, insecure, looking to move up, or looking to dig in. And this is far more likely to be a pro than a fan.
It’s not about hampering your dreams.
There are reasons why many pros won’t look at manuscripts, or read fanfic, or why they are reluctant to look at portfolios.
It doesn’t mean that every pro or aspiring pro behaves like this. Not even close. It means the very, very small percentage that do causes almost all of the problems you will ever have. And that is why many pros tread lightly around people they don’t know well.
It’s not about how fans have universally pure motives. Wanting to make a living from your art is not an impure motive. Almost everything on my blog is dedicated to helping aspiring creators. Look at the sidebar. And I’ve hired people I knew in fandom over and over again. Wow, what an elitist!
It’s silly to interpret this as, “Oh, she’s afraid of losing her job! So she’s trying to discourage aspiring pros,” which is how one person read this. You’ve gotta be kidding me.
You can’t take my job, I own my own work. What you can do is sue me, stalk me, or simply claim you do all the creative work for me, after I hired you to pack and ship books in my warehouse. I spent over $24,000 defending myself from the bizarre legal campaign of a stalker, a published writer, who demanded over and over that I hire him. I just don’t get that kind of treatment from someone who simply wants an autograph.
That’s why, when I post something about this, I want fans to know, “I am not afraid of you. This is not about you.”
Aspiring pros. This is not about you either, wanting to get into the biz. This is about extreme behaviors. Read the links. They tell the story.
The people most likely to give you a hard time, either looking for a personal or a professional relationship, have issues. From an interview with J Michael Straczynski:
And I still have to be fairly ruthless in enforcing the no-story-ideas thing, because it’s just too dangerous to do otherwise. Marion Zimmer Bradley had to abandon one of her books because a fanfic writer thought it was based on that work, I almost scuttled one of my own scripts after someone posted a similar idea online and I was afraid I might get sued, and others have had similar experiences. People think “Well, it’s just me, why can’t you read my idea/story/script, why are you being such a dick about it?” Because it’s not “just you,” it’s the ten thousand other guys standing behind you asking the same thing, many of whom are prepared to launch lawyers if I ever do a story similar to that in future. Ain’t worth it.
We live in a world where people sue at the drop of a hat, and reading fanfic in 1994 means being sued over it in 2013. It’s sad and frustrating. It is about the tiny little percentage of people out there who do some not very nice things, or jockey for position and power in fandom or prodom.
I hate that many fans feel that pros have to keep their distance because they’re worried that writer or artist or actor thinks they’re being “that guy”.
Fans are never “that guy”.
Pros are rarely “that guy”.
But if you ever meet “that guy”, in my experience, he’s an angry, frustrated creator. And as my friend the art director Val Trullinger once said to me, there is no more destructive force on Earth than the thwarted ambition of a creator. They can get pretty creative about it.
And my school of hard knocks tuition was $24,000 in legal bills.
*Glossary: TRUFAN or TRUE FAN is an old, complimentary SF fandom term. No, it does not mean spiritual purity for pursuit of only fannish activities, any more than FEELTHY PRO means a paid writer is a filthy sell out.
A TRUFAN is simply someone who is well-regarded for their activities in fandom. That’s all.
Dated 1938, this gem is a time capsule of the attitude toward women creators back in the day. Note that it is signed by a woman.
I got into comics as a professional in the 1980′s and by then, things had not really changed much. There were a few women who had status, some grizzled vets who performed as dragon ladies at the gate, and a handful of hopefuls who knew that they weren’t competing with men for every gig or attention, since most jobs didn’t go to women. So there was some female competition going on that wasn’t very pleasant.
Interesting running into young girls today who go on and on about how there’s just no discrimination in comics because they never experienced it.
You don’t experience it, because what was once a hard road was paved for you.
This letter has been circulating for some time, and I double checked with snopes.com to make sure it was real. It is, though a number of online pundists questioned it, what with it being so amazingly sexist and all. During WWII, the male work force dwindled, and animator positions for women began to open up at Disney.
While a few women had jobs as animators prior to WWII, as the letter correctly states, most of the gigs went to men.
A fan just informed me that a man claims he was “employed as an unpaid personal assistant who inked backgrounds,” for me in the 1990′s.
This is simply false.
This man was not an inker on ANY background work and spotting blacks is not inking. He not only did very little spotting of blacks on my work, but my mother did almost all of it until about the year 2005. He was hired primarily to pack and ship books, and was brought in at the last minute to help lay down tone sheets when my mother was unable to. That is not inking and that is not creative work of any kind.
Moreover, this man also was paid more than $800 cash for his work packing and shipping books, and for his brief hours cutting and pasting tone sheets. I also purchased convention display space for him so he could sell collectibles, and allowed him to store his collectibles and personal belongings in my office rental space for no fee, which I had to continue to rent long after the space was no longer useful to me for months until he deigned to remove his property.
I have had nothing to do with him since 1996, since his behavior toward me was completely inappropriate, culminating in his tearful marriage proposal while he was driving me to Fedex when my car was in the shop. For the record, I’d never even held his hand.
In addition to paying him $800 cash, I paid for his gas and meals whenever he worked with me, only to find out this to him meant “girlfriend”. He has no right to any acknowledgement in my work, any more than any other office assistant does, nor does any other non-creative assistant generally get. I’ve also worked, uncredited as a grunt, on more books than I can count.
If anyone is confused, spotting blacks for about 4 hours is not inking.
The only people who have ever done any actual background inking for me are Michael Soneson and Tracy J Summerall (EDIT) and Richard Doran, and that was in 1987.
This man never has nor ever will be credited for creative work because he did not do any. Period. He was paid in full and in cash for packing and shipping books, and for the short hours he pasted tone sheets, the pasting of which would not constitute even one full day’s effort.
Long after I cut off my association with him, he continued to tell people he was still working for me.
That anyone would promote themselves over my mother, who is the one person whose countless hours of labor and dedication really keep me afloat, is an outrage. And even she gets paid. It is a complete lie that I have ever taken advantage of any creator for any reason. This man was paid for what small amount of labor he actually did.
I know several other creators who have had the unpleasant experience of having people who spotted blacks declare themselves inkers, but my God, it is almost 20 years later, and someone (I assume it to be him) is spreading this stupid story over his broken heart dreams. Good God. Utterly pathetic. If anyone gets any further info about this stupid thing, contact me, and I’ll turn it over to my lawyer.
This guy was a lying weasel then, and if he’s still lying, he’s in for a treat from my attorney.
For further details, my Facebook account has a long thread. It’s pretty sad that I hired this homeless guy who needed extra cash, and he paid me back with slander.
I had several people work for me off and on as assistants, including a man named Ken Talton. Ken Talton calls this person Doctor Lizardo. More info HERE.
I know the person in question. He worked in her mail room. I know this because I worked briefly in the mail room. I know this because he was briefly a business partner of mine and I spent a decade paying off the bills he left me with. I know this because he tried to frame a friend of mine for Kiddie Pr0n. (Read the whole thing.)
As far as I know the only contribution he made to the comic book was applying zipatone (badly), packing boxes, running a table at conventions and a lot of unwelcome drama. He was fired primarily for passing himself off as a creative contributor. This was a highly dishonorable and quite deliberate act. His termination was over a decade ago.
I’m not going to name the fink unless he attempts something else, but as my friend found out to his dismay, this fellow has a nasty habit of holding grudges and acting on them in a potentially very destructive and always quite passive aggressive manner. He is exceedingly good at passing himself off as harmless and likeable. He is neither.
So let me state that if you’ve encountered the claim that an affable, seemingly innocent fan is an uncredited contributor to A Distant Soil it is not in any way true and the gentleman’s affability is an astoundingly convincing mask concealing a dark dark soul.
Doctor Lizardo was quite the subject on my old blog, because one of Lizardo’s nastier acts of revenge was trying to frame a local comic book shop owner for kiddy porn, for no other reason than that he once owed the shop owner money. The shop owner helped this dude out when he was homeless, and also got a good bit of backstabbery for his pains. I wish I was making that up. This is another blog post by Ken Talton from 2006. It’s a long post, you’ll need to scroll down.
Fortunately, a friend of his we’ll call “Biff” (real name BOB) took him in loaned him $4,000 bucks, put him up for a year….helped get him a job (which was like pulling hens teeth)….got his car fixed…you know…”did stuff”. Dr. Lizardo repaid him by ….ummm….well he didn’t….he mooched and went to sci-fi cons and bought >$4000 dollars worth of stuff. “Biff “got quite justifiably peeved, demanded his money back and threw him out.
Meanwhile, Biff took over a failing comic book store, just as the comics market was collapsing… however, by diversifying and going big into anime, RPG’s and video rental….he completely transcended the odds and made it quite successful. (Full disclosure: He hired me as a clerk.) He also became quite a hub of local anime fandom as fan-clubs would meet at his shop.
Given that much of Doctor Lizardos Fanboy mojo came from video piracy (for “free” of course) this infuriated him more than the eviction did. He made a big deal of not patronizing the store. At the time I considered both “Biff” and “DL” friends so I just wracked it up to some fan thing.
So, almost every day I get letters from people asking me to expose some evil-doer, or tell the whole story about some whack job fan cult or whatever, like my word has magic power, and bad things will stop happening if I sprinkle the holy water of my blog on it.
Not only is there only so much I can do, but when it comes to fandom, some people really like drinking the Kool-Aid.
Sure it’s poison to you, me and every other rational person on the planet, but everyone else isn’t rational. For example, a friend of mine directed me to a bizarre online thread for “Supernatural” fandom which consisted of over 9000 comments, all about how the stars of the show were secretly gay and how horrible it was that they had fake marriages and were actually having children just to keep their love in the closet. There was much awesome crazy in that thing, reams of misogyny directed at the women in the actor’s lives, and it is a perfect example of how cultish some fandoms can be. It’s sad to think how much life energy – not to mention how many hours of electrical energy – went into something so ridiculous, disrespectful of the real people involved, and unproductive. (EDIT: No, I don’t care if you ship your favorite characters. Yes, anyone should care if you attack actors and their families for not living up to your fantasies.)
You are never going to be able to convince some people that not only is what they’re doing nuts, but it’s self destructive. And frankly, some people come from such bad places, any affirmation or familial group is going to seem like an improvement to them, no matter how abusive it is.
This setting is a communal living situation in Southern California when a bunch of working professionals in their late 20s realize they need to find a new roommate after losing one to marriage. After an apparently rigorous screening process (over 500 inquiries, 150 applications and 17 interviews – did I mention rent was $500 a month including utilities?) they ended up with “Sarah,” a 27-year-old programmer whose only real blips seemed to be a boyfriend (who was out of town) and a few legal name changes. Naturally, it wasn’t until after she started getting a little weird that they discovered she a) was actually the head of a cult that believes they are reincarnations of characters from Suikoden, b) funded her living expenses by extracting donations from said cult members, and c) had legally changed her name to match that of her “soulbonded” character. That’s a twist you won’t find on The Real World.
Sure they’re “spiritual”, but so were Jim Jones and L Ron Hubbard.
That publisher/convention is awful and weird, you say? Getting noticed by a Real Publisher, no matter how penny ante or unprofessional the outfit is, is as good as it is ever going to get for some people.
I can’t spend my life cleaning out other people’s oubliettes. I have to pick my battles. And I can’t always fight yours. We are not all reasonable people here, and I guarantee you, people who think they can bond with cartoon characters and take spiritual guidance from same, are not rational, no matter how much they try to conflate the experience with whatever they read by Joseph Campbell. I don’t have the energy to deal with that level of crazy.
If you’re stuck in one of these bizarre groups or fandoms, the best thing you can do for yourself is just walk away. Yes, they will trash the hell out of you. Yes, some of them are stalkerish and destructive. Once you are not Of the Body, you become a Bad Person. That’s hard. I know from personal experience.
Accept that in this imperfect world, you will never have a perfect reputation. Accept that you can’t right every ship. Accept that any attempt to clean up the mess will bring a shitstorm on you. The miscreant will move on to other targets. Other people in fandom will happily send other victims in that direction. No matter how crazy, how abusive, and how deeply dishonest the abusers are, they will deny, obfuscate, and abuse further, all while wearing the friendly mask of whatever book, or comic, or movie you like best.
Hell, they’ll even sign petitions and boycott conventions which have bad reputations, while concealing their own long and sordid history of treating underage girls at conventions like their personal harem.
If there are criminal matters involved, if you don’t go to the police, I can’t do it for you. I am not a party to the action, and have no standing in the matter. Fandom needs to clean up its own mess. And most of the time, fandom does not want to clean up its own mess. They’ll spend time preaching about abuses in the Catholic church, while treating a con committee like the Holy See. Fandom will turn on anyone, no matter how right you are, rather than make fandom look bad.
It’s only been in the last few years that this has started to change.
If you are a witness to a crime, or you are involved in something that is ugly and abusive, then you are the one who must take action. Either you go to the authorities for help, or you get out of that fan group as quickly as your little legs will carry you.
If you can’t make what is happening to others stop, you can stop it happening to you. There are a lot of fandoms out there which are friendly, supportive, and operating with one foot firmly planted in the real world. Find one. You are not alone in having a bad experience in fandom, you are not betraying anyone if a group is uncomfortable for you and you leave. You have the right to leave any situation, for any reason, at any time.
Other people have the right to pick and choose their friends, and so do you.
You deserve better friends.