The Irony of Me Hating Fan Fiction
Not really a fan of fan fiction.
I think it comes from two different schools from me:
I’ve read too much bad fan fiction in the early years of the internet back on Usenet. Sure, there were great ones (I was particularly fond of Star Warners, the Animaniacs-flavored Star Wars parody written long before the final Pinky and the Brain version of the same story) and if you look hard enough, you’ll find more great fan-made stories, but a lot of them were either just sexed-up versions of familiar stories or poorly-conceived stories with familiar characters.
Also, I’m uncomfortable messing with other people’s creations. I create characters and worlds and write stories around both. I’ve created way too many universes that I have notebooks filled with pages of story, continuity, designs, from years of just putting them out of my head. I love creating stories. As long as I have a functioning mind, I hope to keep creating stories. My discomfort with working with other characters and worlds stems from the fact that in the end, I’m disappointed.
No, I’m not disappointed that the story’s going to be bad or anything. I’m disappointed that it’s not “real.” It’s real in the sense that you can read it, but it’s not “real.” It’s just an unofficial version of something somebody else owns and make a lot of money selling. It’s out of canon, and like the points on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, it doesn’t matter.
Then again, a lot of stories fall out of continuity and don’t matter over the years, but at least those creators wrote, drew, animated, and performed these stories for a reason and for profit. I’d be lucky if I don’t get sued for copyright infringement for doing a derivative work based on a copyrighted production. I know copyright holders that get sticky over fan-made works, Disney and Lucasfilms.
In the end, that’s why I absolutely hate fan fiction.
And yet, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working on scripts for a series based on an origin revision of a character created by DC Comics and owned by the monolithic entertainment conglomerate that is Time Warner. In the past two weeks, I’ve written four scripts of an hour-long series (with commercial breaks). I’ve been writing it out to see if I could do it. As I said before, I hate working with other people’s characters without permission, but this is all stemming from the same origin revival I wrote out.
So, is it an original series based on an original reimagined origin story or is this a derivative work based on a derivative work of a copyrighted property?
I created the story itself, but I used other people’s creations. It’s kind of like one of those dioramas I used to make in grade school where I wrote a paper, molded an Indian village out of paper mache and construction paper, and used plastic Indian figures and plastic fences bought from the drugstore. Either that, or playing with action figures on the floor in my bedroom at the age of seven and making up stories with them. I think the latter’s a more apt comparison. Figures of different sizes fighting, plotting, and creating chaos and heroic moments.
You know something? I think I was doing fan fiction before I even knew what it was. I’d still rather make my own stories though.