Picture the characters from your favorite television show, movie or book. Now, imagine how you feel when that show, movie or book ends. You feel pretty sad, right? Downright depressed? Well the world of fan fiction makes sure the fun never ends!
Fan fiction is a written document or illustration that takes an author’s well-known literary creations and retells/expands the original work, creating a whole new story using the conventions of the original author. Written by fans, the works often badly written, hyper-sexualized, and offensive to the original author. It is, nonetheless, enthralling.
Just about every pop culture phenomena has been chewed up and spit out by the fanfic phenomena. Pages and pages have been written using characters from Harry Potter, Law & Order, Star Trek, the Bible; if you can dream it, you can read a dirty story written about it. Some people mark the rise of fan fiction, aided and abetted by the internet, as the death of contemporary originality and instead fuels our cultural obsession with pop culture, celebrity, and the narcissism embedded in those movements.
The roots of fan fiction are not in the era of the internet, though; the Bronte sisters were some of the earliest recorded fan authors, penning many stories about Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, and his two sons Arthur and Charles. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes was also a favorite victim of early fanfic authors.
While the rise of fan fiction itself has been disturbing scholars, in modern times it has begun to escape the confines of the internet. The mega-popular 50 Shades of Grey series began as a piece of Twilight fan fiction; a few name changes is all author EL James needed to ‘create’ the genre of literature dubbed ‘mommy porn’. Naomi Novik, author of a popular series of books featuring self-aware dragons honed her writing skills in the fanfic universe.
My comic relates to the need to fill gaps in another author’s work – the work being history at large. The crude drawing style references the ‘common’ origins of fan fiction as well as the ideas of common people that have been left out of the historical record. Eleanor Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart were both lesbians, facts which have been obscured and edited out of the historical records to ‘protect’ their reputations. It is also a historical fact that Earhart used to take Roosevelt on joy rides in her airplane, setting up the scenario for the above illustration to play out. The comic serves to retell the original story, as well as to reveal a greater truth about two of America’s greatest female icons. Whether it remains poorly drawn potty humor or transcendentalist commentary on the nature of selective history is up to the flamers on the world wide web.
For more information on fanfic check out the following articles, particularly the first, a great Guardian article by Ewan Morrison: