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Adam Casey On Siegel and Shuster and Superman and The Fan’s Place In All Of That
posted August 20, 2009
I generally agree with the tone and spirit of your rebuttal of the editorial about the Superman copyright suits.
One issue I struggle with is one that appeared to draw your ire was the concept of fan (or more broadly, "public") ownership/investment of characters and stories.
On the one hand, I question if art can exist in a vacuum. If no one sees it, is it art? And, comics being a commercial enterprise, isn't there a Schroedinger's cat element to the product? That is, the act of observation affects the outcome of the experiment. If fans/readers/consumers approve of something, it's continued to be published. If it doesn't latch on with the public, then its publication is ceased or the direction, tone, creative personnel, etc. are changed. (Pet projects not withstanding.)
On the other hand, no one is forcing the public to observe or consume the work, and if they do partake of it and don't like it, so what? "You don't like it, don't buy it."
I credit Star Wars for changing how genre fiction fans approach published works. George Lucas' monkeying with the original films to suit his long term vision gave rise to the fanboy's "raped my childhood" mantra. Meanwhile, the litany of ancillary Star Wars stories has given professional, semi-professional, aspiring professional and amateur writers a chance to contribute to the saga in novels, short stories, comics, video games, and role play guides. If other people have a say in Star Wars, why not you? You've read, seen, and purchased everything! (For comics, it doesn't help when creators give interviews about wanting to tell "their" Avengers stories with their favorite characters and have been working on it since they were a kid in the 70s.)
Where's that genre nerd hierarchy diagram when you need it?