Thursday, March 12, 2009

Calvin & Susie & Hobbes & Fans

It's 1:35 PM and I'm sitting at the back computer scanning and I've been here since 11:30ish this morning.

I've finished more than half the stack I started with. Only forty more documents left to scan. 'Course each document is between ten and a hundred pages, so it's longer than I want it to be. The real bitch of it is waiting for the damn documents to compile and separate. The more you have the longer it takes, but it's not a linear progression, but an exponential one; so, I'm limiting each scan group to ten documents.

I've been thinking about the nature of fandom a lot today. Mostly, what's okay for fans to create based on the things they like.

It started with me finding a post at Robot 6 where they linked to this picture (calling it too sweet) and this picture (which they think is creepy).

After reading that, I cross posted the pictures to What's Distracting Us? to see if those who look there thought the second one was creepy. Up to now (1:55), Otis and Heels have responded and both think it's creepy.

I don't. Maybe I've just read (or actually skimmed) too much really harsh slash fan fiction, but to me the strip was kind of sweet and an interesting comment on growing up. I understand why people think it's creepy; it just didn't effect me in the same way.

When I read Heels's response I then asked if this picture is creepy. She said:
I wouldn't say creepy, necessarily, but I still don't understand the point. Why do we need to see them all grown up? Why do we need to make presumptions about the futures of fictional characters? I'd rather not.
Which I hadn't thought about at all. Should we, the people who enjoy stories told in different media, not think about what happens to the characters after the end of the book (or book series), after the TV show gets pulled off the air, when the movie ends, or when the creator of a comic strip (or the creator's assistant) stops making new strips?

What happens to Will Parry after he returns home in The Amber Spyglass? How well did Lindsey's trip to see The Greatful Dead, at the end of Freaks and Geeks, go? Will the city, from Dark City, survive for long without The Strangers? And does Marcie make a move on Peppermint Patty in high school or simply pine away?

I've thought about answers to all of these questions, and many more, since I was little. (Sometimes, I still wonder if Sam and Gus are friends or what happened to the dog that kept asking if other dogs liked her hat.)

Heck, the fan fiction boom started with people wondering about the crew of the Enterprise did after the series ended. (Sure, it soon turned into stories about the love between Spock and Kirk, which gradually became more explicit, but that's not the point.) Some people wanted to explore the lives of intriguing characters, like the Romulan commander who tried to seduce Spock.

(Finally back at my desk. It's 3:54.)

I'm not saying that the endings out there aren't satisfying because, for the most part, they are. What I'm trying to say is that the best endings, for me, are the ones that make me want to know the future of characters. Whether it's the near future or the further future depends on the character. Maybe it's just me.

A commenter at Robot 6 wrote:
Ultimately for me, if Watterson didn’t draw it, it should be considered sacrilege. If you’ve got something you want to say about growing up as an artist, create it yourself. Don’t co-opt the characters you used to love... .
While it's hard to argue that people shouldn't create their own art from the ground up, I think that poster missed the point. None of these images would have been half as strong as they are if they hadn't used characters from Calvin & Hobbes. In pop-culture, Calvin & Hobbes is shorthand for the highs and lows and pure weirdness of being a kid. Without that shorthand, the first image and the comic strip wouldn't have the growing up impact that they have.

Other people out there just have a problem seeing beloved childhood characters doing grown-up things. At least they're drawn as teens, though, right? I mean I would think it was creepy if Susie and Calvin were kids in the strip. I never would have posted the picture and have tried to wipe the image from my mind forever. This one, with them at that age, I think is sweet.

At least, that's what I think.

In going through all of this stuff, I guess I can really appreciate that fans are as diverse as people are.


heels said...

I'm not saying that YOU can't contemplate future scenarios (besides- how would I ever stop you!!), I'm just saying that I prefer not to. I'd rather leave the characters where their writers had to leave them (either by choice or not) because, as unsatisfying as it may be to not have resolution at times, I find it MORE unsatisfying to theorize about the future but never really know.

ticknart said...

I wasn't trying to say that you didn't want me to think about stuff beyond the story, but you did use the word "we." You wrote, "Why do we need to make presumptions about the futures of fictional characters?" and I was trying to answer why I, and others, do.

Also, it had never, and would never have, occurred to me that there are people out there who'd rather have the characters stop where the story ends. I always just assumed everyone wanted to know more and went off into their own flights of fancy.

AE said...

I've often felt that what we've seen of fiction is a 'slice' of life and that, yeah, the story continues into its (happily/) ever after. Where does the story stop? When you quit believing.

I find neither of these images disturbing and believe they both continue the story very well.

Not to say I'm about to tack them to the ending of It's a Magical World but they both have the spirit of the strip.


ticknart said...

AE -- You wrote, "Not to say I'm about to tack them to the ending of It's a Magical World..."

Which is true. Does fan fiction, or these images, ruin the things that inspired them? No. And if a person feel like the original is ruined because of a fan's creation, maybe that person should re-evaluate his or her feeling for the original.

Jazz said...

Fan fiction has never done much for me, but I laughed out loud at that strip of Calvin getting it on. So no, I didn't find it creepy at all.

As for the other pic, it was, awwww-what-a cute-puppy-dog bleh. I tend to find saccharine cute um... pathetice. I don't like cute.

ticknart said...

Jazz -- Fan fiction is either something you enjoy, or you don't. Some is okay to good, but most is crap.

Glad to know that I'm not the only one who doesn't find the teen-age one creepy.

geewits said...

The only fan fiction I ever considered doing was for the TV show "Frasier," but I figured it would just bore most people. Better to keep it in my head. I didn't find the second cartoon creepy, I thought it was sort of funny. And like you, I always continue stories in my head. That's mostly after a good book or movie, although I do sort of wonder what will happen to the little sister in "For Better or Worse."

ticknart said...

Geewits -- I'm sure if you looked, and not even hard, you'd find a community for Frasier fan-fic. Hell, I bet most of it is brother on brother stuff.