Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The 12 Levels of Comic Book Fan Agreement

Now, I know we all vary on this list depending on the combination of personalities and series discusses, but it would be nice to understand how easily people get on each others nerves when discussing their favorite series. Just knowing what level you're at could be a great help in avoiding (and finding!) fights.

To that end, I propose the following 12 Levels of Comic Book Fan Agreement:

I. Your favorite series is my favorite series, for much the same reasons. -- This is the friendliest you can get. People on this level of agreement in geekdom tend to spend their days trading theories (in essay or fiction form), making series-pertinent jokes, and teaming up during arguments to overpower someone from a different level of agreement.

II. I like your favorite series, but for a different reason. -- There is a divergence, but its still friendly and in addition to all of the above activities, two fans on this level of agreement will debate their favorite aspects of the series, and try to win each other over.

III. Your favorite series is fun, but would be better this way -- There's potential for insult here, but as there is still a common ground between the two fans so this is a friendly level of agreement. This is the first level where the presence of fanfiction about the series becomes a modifier on the fan relationship, depending on how the new idea is presented and received. If the idea isn't well-received to begin with, presenting the change in fiction form can be an even greater irritant (conversely, if well-done it can win the other over). Since there's still a lot of common ground and goodwill, it tends to be only a mild irritation if its an irritation at all.

IV. I don't get your favorite series at all/I dislike your favorite series for my own perfectly valid reasons. -- While on the surface a perfectly viable argument, it can still hurts a fan a little bit when someone doesn't share her tastes. Its stupid to take it personally, but we are all fanatics. Different common ground can easily make up for this.

V. I like your favorite series, but only for a reason that grates on your nerves. -- This is where friendliness starts to break down, as every discussion of the series in question brings up the one part of that series that one person can not stand. They start to associate the other person with that one little annoyance, which leads to a foul relationship.

VI. I like your favorite series, but only for a reason that really grates on your nerves, and I write fanfiction based entirely on that reason. -- There's a chance that a well-written story can turn around someone's ideas on a concept, but in my experience that's pretty rare. Usually it just makes things much worse, and the two fans on this level should avoid each other.

VII. I don't like your favorite series, because I think it would be better this way, and I won't even bother to try it at all unless someone makes it that way. -- A reasonable disinterest or aversion after reading one issue/hearing the concept is one thing, but this is insulting because it insists on changing something that a person enjoys very much, just to suit someone's personal tastes. The problem here is that, if it were to be changed to suit one person, what the other person loved about it would be gone. Two fans who find themselves at this level of agreement had best find another subject to discuss.

VIII. I don't like or understand the basic premise of your favorite series, I've never read it, and I won't be bothered to actually read it, but I write fanfiction about it anyway. -- This should be self-explanatory, but here goes. If you enjoy something very much, and someone comes along with this attitude, insists they know better than you, and writes their desires in a fictional format (which, as we're discussing fictional series, only makes those ideas clearer and more solid to the reader) and has absolutely no idea what makes it desirable to you, it might get on your nerves more than someone saying "I think it might be better this way," "It doesn't interest me" or simply writing a "what if" fanfiction story that diverges greatly from the concept you love, but still has a basic love for what your loved.

IX. I don't get your favorite series at all/I dislike your favorite series for my own perfectly valid reasons, and you're a fucking idiot for disagreeing with me. -- Anytime someone gets snotty, things are much worse.

X. I think your favorite series would be better this way, I won't even look at it until its changed to be that way, and you're a fucking idiot for disagreeing with me. -- See the unfortunate mixture?

XI. I think your favorite series would be better this way, I won't even look at it until its changed to be that way, you're a fucking idiot for disagreeing with me, and I write fanfiction to demonstrate the rightness of my way. -- Stubbornness, snottiness, and those ideas made concrete by a fiction format. Bad combination.

XII. I think your favorite series would be better this way, I won't even look at it until its changed to be that way, you're a fucking idiot for disagreeing with me, and I write terrible fanfiction to demonstrate the rightness of my way with a thinly veiled self-insertion character, and a character from another series that I felt was fucked up unless written my way too. Oh, and if you think my fanfic is bad/un-entertaining/uninteresting/not as good as your favorite series, you must personally hate me and everyone who shares my interests. -- I think you all get the picture.

Now, did I leave anything out?

15 comments:

  1. I think 13 is:

    'Your favorite series is garbage because everything produced by (COMPANY X) is garbage.'

    14 would be:

    'Your favorite series is garbage because only manga/superhero comics/indy comics/Cerebrus is any good.'

    15 is the level of David Sim with anyone female.

    --John Biles

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  2. KOTTAM! This is bound to smack the taste out of somebodies mouth.

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  3. I'd like to add:

    I didn't totally read what you said about your entry about your favorite series, but I'm going to make my opinion based on the couple of words I pulled out of it and attack you because of them...even though I've read what you've said totally out of context and/or missed the point entirely.

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  4. I think that you summed it all up quite neatly! Excellent.

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  5. I can match one person on the DC boards for each level. :D Mostly everyone on that board is a level II or III.

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  6. I've gotten the:

    You actually agree with me, but you chose to prepare a balanced discussion with positive and negatives on both sides, so I've only chosen to harp on the negatives about my view and ignore the positive things that you said.

    That's always fun. :)

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  7. Aren't you ever allowed to be indifferent to someone else's favourite? S

    omething like: Your favourite series does nothing for me but it's okay that you like it providing you don't expect me to hold an opinion on the subject.

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  8. Brilliant! Thanks.

    I know it's not technically a comic book fan involvement, but don't forget level zero: "You read comic books?"

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  9. I like this list -- although I'd suggest an additional, parallel track splitting off around point #6.

    It would go something like this:

    6a) I dislike your favorite series b/c the creators' take on it is diametrically opposed to what I think it should be -- and I've got a huge stack of silver/bronze age comics that 'prove' I'm right.

    You like this comic, therefore you are wrong...

    ...and, thus, you kinda suck.

    7a) I dislike your favorite series so much that it is ruining my enjoyment of the entire shared universe in which your series takes place. Your favorite series is making Marvel/DC too bright/dark and/or too adult/not adult enough.

    You like this series, therefore you are helping to ruin DC/Marvel comics for me.

    Thus, you suck.

    8a) I dislike your favorite series SO much that it is ruining my enjoyment of superhero comics as a whole. Your favorite series (and series like it) is too bright/dark and/or too adult/not adult enough.

    You like this series, therefore you are contributing to the ruination of the superhero genre for me.

    (Why can't you just read All-Star Superman instead?)

    Accordingly, you suck.

    9a) I dislike your favorite series SO MUCH that it (and other series like it) is ruining the continued viability of superhero comics. Your favorite series is too bright/dark and/or too adult/not adult enough.

    You like this series, therefore you are contributing to the ruination of the superhero genre for EVERYONE.

    (It's your fault Superman is crying all the time, dammit! Speedball is an emo cutter because of YOU! Ted Kord/Pantha/Hawkeye DIED FOR YOUR SINS! Kids can't read DC/Marvel comics because of freaks like you!

    Marvel Adventures? Johnny DC? What are those? Never heard of 'em.)

    You, and people like you, really suck.

    10a)I dislike your favorite series SO! MUCH! that the mere fact that it exists makes me ashamed to read comics.

    Don't get me wrong, I still love Fun Home/Persepolis/Watchmen/ All-Star Superman/(insert other 'widely acclaimed' comic here)...

    But, somehow, I'd love it even more if your favorite comic/shared universe/genre ceased to exist.

    (Death to superheroes/manga/ anything that doesn't meet the approval of the hipster crowd I live only to impress!)

    But it won't cease to exist b/c evil people like you continue to buy it.

    Therefore you really, really suck and I hate you.

    11a) I hate your favorite series SO! MUCH! (hateithateyoudiediedie!) that I am convinced that it's mere existence is KILLING COMICS.

    (Because you bought Civil War, the entire industry is in imminent danger of total destruction! How do you like THEM APPLES?!?)

    Thus, to defend comics I declare a NERD FATWA on you and your kind! I will now proceed to write an oh-so-cutting rant on my blog while brainstorming ways to turn remaindered copies of Jimmy Corrigan into IEDs! Vengeance will soon be mine!

    12a)www.beaucoupkevin.com/2007/02/we-need-to-talk.html

    (I kid, I kid! Well, mostly.)

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  10. You left out comparisons about Hitler and three-page tirades against Geoff Johns.

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  11. Mari -- That's Level 4, as it makes conversation impossible unless you find a different topic that puts you somewhere between 1 and 3.

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  12. Level 16: I write fanfiction.

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  13. How about corollary IA) We both hate the same series for the same reasons... etc? Isn't comic book fandom as much about mutual griping as it is mutual enjoyment?

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  14. Great list. The lower levels of interaction are why I stay out of mainstream fandom conversations and interactions. Interestingly, I have taught university students who had a similar sort of interaction with literature, they flat-out refused to read other literature in the genre that they had chosen to write their own fiction. How can you write well in any genre unless you know what else has been written in before you, and how do you know that you wont just be repeating what has been done before?

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