I Mean It This Time... Maybe

By | Monday, July 09, 2007 1 comment
I have been toying with the idea of writing a book about comic book fans for WAAAAY too long. I've been interested in comic fandom for several years now and have been devouring as much material on the subject as I can. Which, let me tell you, isn't easy! There just isn't that much to devour. In fact, it's more of slow grazing at best.

My first attempt at creating something about fandom was an essay I wrote in 2003 that was to be used in a book about collectors and collecting. It was a largely personal account called "From Fanboy to Scholar" detailing how I was then breaking down fandom into sections. In retrospect, it's absurdly simplistic and I'll even admit some mild embarrassment over parts of it. (How I wrote it, that is, not the personal history it describes. I actually like the overall "hook" of the piece and I think my approach works well for this format. But, however well it hold together as a narrative, it doesn't hold up nearly as well from a more academic viewpoint.) The book, ultimately, was never published because of issues with some of the other contributors and this has largely sat languishing on my hard drive since. Even as little as a year later, though, I could see there was still quite a lot I needed to learn.

I tried doing an ongoing column in 2004, but for various reasons that never made it past the first installment. My idea was that I could use the shorter column format to A) allow me to study smaller aspects of fandom rather than tackling the whole ball of wax at once, and B) bring the notion of fandom studies to a broader population. I was really thrilled to be able to interview Jerry Bails and my follow-up was to be John Morrow, who I did actually interview, but the piece was never finalized or published. Since the column fell through, I spent the next couple of years reading what I could and thinking about different ideas.

Last December, my friend Gregg died. Not surprisingly, it got me thinking about our friendship and specifically how that friendship was forged through comic fandom. It only then really started to sink in. What is fandom? Why is fandom? I started to finally "get" this whole notion of how fandom is built and by whom. The long-held concern I had about not being able to write about fandom -- well, to really understand fandom enough to write about it well -- suddenly started disapating.

I started jotting some notes down. Hand-written and mental. I've got most of an outline formed in my head right now. But my perennial problem is getting the motivation to start. I know myself well enough to know that I'll only be able prepare for writing this book so much. I need to really just dive in, sink my teeth into and start working.

When I threw the idea past my editor/publisher at Jack Kirby Collector, he responded with the notion that, to make it saleable at all, it would have to be THE book about comic book fandom. The fandom equivalent of Understanding Comics. A tall order, especially to someone as comparatively inexperienced as I am as a professional writer. But I think I'm finally getting psyched up enough to start it. I just need to get all my materials together in one place and start writing. Let it flow, and then figure out what's working and what isn't. I need to write it for myself first, for Gregg second, and for anyone else third. Editorial revisions can come later, I just need to write this damn thing!
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Anonymous said...

I didn't really see this as a subject until I read one little essay by Dave Fiore -- and then suddenly the penny dropped. I think it's bloody fascinating now. Good luck with this, Sean.