The Beat highlighted some interesting dialogue out of the ICv2 Graphic Novel Conference:
Ira Rubenstein (Marvel): But Dave, I think there’s a difference. No one can write about Spider-Man or X-Men except for us.
Dave Roman (Nickelodeon Magazine:) I disagree.
Stuart Levy (Tokyopop:) Totally.
Rubenstein: Those are our characters. How could someone else write another Spider-Man story?
Roman: Because fan fiction is becoming so powerful. I’ve seen the power of fan fiction. Working at Nickelodeon, there are people out there doing ‘Avatar’ comics that are soooooo much better…
Rubenstein: But that’s like saying YouTube is a real entertainment channel. It’s not.
Roman/Levy/like five people in the audience: It is.
Rubenstein is not only a VP, he’s the VP of Marvel’s Global Digital Media Group. Which means that knowledge of the various internet subcultures would be, I’m guessing, a part of his job. And you know what fanfic fandom is full of? The great untapped audience of women. It’s true for the generally boy-tastic Star Wars fandom, and I don’t doubt the numbers are similar for Marvel properties. And no guys, it’s not all an exploration of Iron Man/Captain America slash. (Though some of it is. Deal. Hell, use it. A panel or two of awkward dialogue will get you buzz. And that means sales. Because shippers are crazy. Trust me: I used to be one.)
On the one hand, I know some folks (in Star Wars fandom) who avoid fanfic because “it’s not the real story;” On the other hand, I’ve known dozens, if not hundreds of people for whom fan fiction is nothing less than the driving force of their fandom activity. And you know what that means? Interest. Pageviews. Sales. See, all those people who will sit there are bitch about the latest storyline? At least some of them are going to actually buy it, even if only so they can write a thousand-page epic on how things should have gone.
As for the Youtube bit… Sheesh. I can understand not knowing about fanfic, but Youtube? But here’s a tip: Fan fiction and Youtube are free. And in this economic climate, that means they are some pretty fierce competition. Know them, know their appeal. The fanfic community might not be as much of a usable resource as Youtube, (Buzz!) but it’s still an audience. You can’t afford ignorance.