Discussion: Your entry point to Star Wars fandom?

It’s been a while since we had an (intentional) discussion post, and this went over gangbusters when I asked it offhand on Twitter the other day, so: What was your entry point into fandom? Not the Star Wars movies or books themselves, but the/an actual community? When did you become social with your fandom, and begin to interact with other fans, beyond just your immediate pals?

Answers on Twitter ranged from various message boards, to cons, costuming, games, fanfic and even Twitter itself. So where did you come in?

40 thoughts on “Discussion: Your entry point to Star Wars fandom?

  1. Andrew

    When it comes to the Star Wars universe, it was A New Hope, when it was released as a special edition.

    For the novels, I think it was Courtship of Princess Leia, or Heirs of the Force, the first Young Jedi Knight book. I enjoyed them, but it wasn’t until around a year later when I came across the Jedi Academy Trilogy and the Thrawn trilogy that I’d really got into things.

  2. Annalee

    For me it was fanfic and costumes; fandom via TFN and costumes mostly through Padawan’s Guide.

    I didn’t really feel like I had a fandom ‘home’ though until I started hanging around on the A Larger World message boards. I was very sad they went away.

    Now I’m mostly out of the fanfic community (no drama, just not a priority for me anymore), and my costume interests have largely drifted towards historical. So this blog has become my biggest fandom connection, aside from LJ/DW.

  3. Lin

    Tragic circumstances in my family – the loss of a child, even though she was grown – had me seeking therapy. I didn’t find the help I needed until I saw the prequels. My involvement grew and grew from there….found fan forums, attended my first Celebration. They all changed my world for the better – with a new hope.

  4. Dunc Post author

    Andrew: The fandom, not the movies or books themselves. For instance, I started reading the books in 1991, but I never really knew anyone who read them (aside from my parents, who bought the first few) until I got online in 95/96. I certainly didn’t know anyone who cared about the same things I did until I found the forums on AOL.

    I know, AOL. Hey, it was pretty much the only way we knew of to get online in my corner of suburbia. I spent WAY too much time (and money, this was during the hourly days) online, but it led to so much more. It’s how I met the Jaders, how I found out about fanfic (though technically we weren’t allowed to discuss it,) how I started my first fandom newsletter/site…

    (Though I found out, DECADES later via Facebook, of all things, that the long-defunct coffee shop we hung out at used to have Star Wars nights. I SO would have gone.)

  5. Chris

    My first entry point into Star Wars fandom was an RPG website called “The Holocron.” It has since been renamed “Gal-Com,” but it’s the same core group of people I first met more than a decade ago. It was fun roleplaying bounty hunters and Yuuzhan Vong! It was my first taste of anything like that.

    My entry point into Star Wars EU discussion was the Jedi Council Forums, but I lurked a great deal. I was way too intimidated to post much, as it felt like my posts were often lost in a sea of responses. So I ended up finding NJOE, which had a much smaller and more tight-knit group of regular posters.

  6. Matthew Rushing

    I was 8 and we rented all 3 original films and got to watch them all in one night, I was hooked! And I woke up in the middle of the night and watched Empire again and it’s been my favorite ever since.

  7. MattDoc

    I think there were a couple of things for me. In 2001 I started a new job (same one I have now) where there were a lot of other Star Wars fans. As a result, there were a lot of Star Wars items around the office. When ATOC came out, a huge group of us did the midnight showing/party thing. It was pretty cool. Around those same times I tried getting involved online via the starwars.com forums. But those were discouraging and unfun so I gave up there pretty quickly. I attended CIII but didn’t really interact online with anyone before or after the show.
    I’d say that I really started to get involved online was in the year prior to CV. I got on the TFN forums and started following other SW fans on Twitter.

  8. barbiejedi

    I vaguely remember AOL chat rooms, and the screen name “Thrawn6000″ or something like that, in… 97? 98? Middle School, definitely. And then in early high school, message boards on the website of whoever it was that had the SW:CCG, then later finding and joining TFN’s message boards, mostly for Lit and Costuming and EU Community.

    I talked my mother into going to Dragon*Con the year I turned 17, because I had seen a tiny thing about it in the Insider because Anthony Daniels was going to be a guest of honor, and I begged because it was right around my birthday… and then just never stopped going. The best fandom friends I have, and the ones I’ve known the longest, I think I met through TFN, or at conventions, or some combination of the two, and they’re costuming or EU buddies or (more often) both.

  9. Erin

    After reading Betrayal, I had to talk to someone about Jacen going Sith. I lurked in TFN but never felt a sense of a community there. Eventually, I found a forum where I did: NJOE. And the rest is history.

  10. Dunc Post author

    Matthew: I forgive you. ;)

    The StarWars.com forums brought me back into the fold after some bad fansite experiences just before TPM. I never really left fandom in college – I still read the books and kept up with CJ and fanfic – but I definitely took a few steps back during that period from fandom at large. (Probably for the best, considering. And I’m SO glad I wasn’t involved with a news-based fansite during the spoiler wars.)

    I remember registering for the TFN forums in college (literally, between classes) but I mostly stuck to fanfic there.

    Then, they recruited some forum moderators off CJ for StarWars.com, I volunteered, and… Yeah. That was interesting. But it did kind of, sort of, indirectly lead to me pitching a blog to CJ…

  11. SarahSparrow

    I discovered Star Wars fandom in 2000 or 2001 when I discovered theforce.net and their forums. I was in fifth or sixth grade and we had just gotten the Internet. It was one of the first websites I ever went to. Three or four years after seeing the movies.

  12. Amberlee

    The early Internet pushed me into the social aspect through fan fiction. I lurked a lot at Usenet and I met people through MUDs. I attended my first Balticon in the early 90s and the rest was history.

  13. paul

    It really was The Forcecast and the community around it that brought me into the larger fandom. While I used to post on the AOL boards and the official site forums. It wasn’t until the ForceCast that I really felt part of the larger fandom.

  14. Lane

    Initially I got into the fandom through TFN’s fan fiction forums after reading through Stackpole and Allston’s X-Wing novels. Was looking for more stuff along that line. I think this was back in 2004 or 2005. Was active for several years, fell away for a while, then became active again in 2009 or 2010.

  15. Aaron

    I didn’t start getting involved in the fandom side of things until the late 90′s. I started in the official site forums just because there were fewer people there so it wasn’t as intimidating. I kept a pretty low profile there.
    It wasn’t until I started using Twitter and I attended Celebraton V that my involvement in fandom significantly accelerated.

  16. Dr. Gina M.-S.

    I’ve always been a fan and I just jumped right into it. Hit a lot of bumps along the way. Did the Twitter thing, left. Doing the Facebook and Google+ things and they could be better, but having fun is what’s important, with some standards of organization.

  17. Nanci

    I signed up for my first message board right after TPM came out in 1999. I spent way too much time discussing the prequels, then the EU once I found people who actually read (and liked) the books! This went on until 2005, when I went to CIII and met up (and roomed with!) with a bunch of people from that board. After the prequels ended, that board’s interest in SW started to wane, as did mine once certain characters turned into bugs and others were killed.

    Star Wars In Concert in 2009, and later CV in 2010, brought me back into fandom. I found the TFN fanfic boards, then started writing my own fics. I started reading the EU again. I became more active on Twitter, then I started writing for EUC, then I got sucked into doing a podcast/blog.

  18. Emily

    I’m fairly old school myself. TFN was one of the first things I found on the internet…once I discovered it with my first computer…June of ’99, I think.

    I made a small group of friends on the JC and eventually ventured over to the fanfic side after reading and reading for about a year or two. Fanfix.com was my library and, of course, knew about this place, too.

  19. Ruth Stewart

    AOL Star Ladies chat, RASSM, and trolling the Who Luke Should Marry Board. That was where I learned 1)that knitress and I were not the only adult female Star Wars fans in existence; 2) what MMs were (micro-machines) and 3) fan fic. I have to say that for me, the fannish experience really coalesced around fic — reading, writing, reviewing, and beta-ing. There were some really great and some really bad stories and they provided a rallying point and common framework for discussion. Club Jade was formed shortly thereafter. A lot of people found CJ through fan fic.

  20. Aaron

    For me it was a tiny Star Wars message board that hadn’t long to live, then a slightly bigger one, then I got offered an admin position on a tiny German news site, then we merged with a bigger one, and since then I’ve been stuck with it, 11 years and counting. And since you mention the Spoiler Wars, Dunc: Actually those were pretty hilarious. Lots of backstabbing people fighting out ego battles, lots of tiny bits and pieces of AOTC coming out on an almost daily basis. Idiotic, but somehow very enjoyable. :P

  21. Kelly

    I got into fandom through the AOL Star Wars fan club. Met “Uncle Owen” and Mary Franklin and tons of other great people. Played trivia twice a week as Qwi Xux and dominated the competition. Read the message boards religiously. It really opened up the world to me, finding other people who loved the trilogy as much I as did.

  22. Dr. Gina M.-S.

    @Dunc my true first experience was in 1984 at ComicCon where we talked about what happened to all the OT characters based on BanthaTracks – dating myself, oh well. When full online experiences became available after my trip to the Dark Side, I guess 2000 at TFN, but I found it overwhelming so I left. The newest is Web2.0 social media (FB, Twitter, G+). Does that make sense?

  23. Amaranthine

    Wookieepedia was my entry point, sad to say. I spent a lot of time on there, because I couldn’t imagine there WERE any other Star Wars fan websites. Then, I checked out the “Friends of Wookieepedia” links and was brought here. :) It was awesome, because I didn’t know any other Star Wars (especially Expanded Universe) female fans.

  24. jSarek

    My first few years on the internet were spent interacting more with Trek fandom than SW (as my handle would indicate), particularly the Star Trek CCG community. Among the people I met on Decipher’s boards for that game (sister boards to the SWCCG boards mentioned by barbiejedi up above) were a couple of fellows named James T. Skywalker and Dogbert (aka Kaelis Tuar), both of whom were mods on the Official Site message boards. Since I frequently participated in Star Wars-related discussions on the STCCG boards, they regularly tried convincing me to post over there. I resisted for a while, not wanting to get involved on yet another message board, but finally succumbed, and the rest is history.

  25. Amanda Jane

    Entry into online fandom for me was a combo of the AOL chatrooms and the SW forums in the late 90′s. I doubt I ever actually conversed on AOL; I think I just read. I commented on the SW forums, mostly in the Books sections and lurked in the Cantina. I used to think J.T.S was the greatest thing since peanut butter back in the day ;).

    I quit lurking/commenting in forums in the early 2000′s but never quit reading news posts on TFN, etc.

  26. eliz

    When I started college, some friends got me an account on our network. Then they explained USENET, and asked me what I really liked. I said “Star Wars”, they pulled up the original RASS, and my introduction to fandom began. I was no longer alone and I was able to finally know for certain that I had not dreamed up the Holiday Special as I had thought. No, no that was real. Not sure if this was a positive thing or not really. RASS got me to Club Jade and I’ve been thrilled ever since.

  27. Caitlin

    January 1996, my family got AOL. I found the Star Wars section/folder shortly thereafter, and I started posting up a storm because I was *desperate* for people to discuss the books with. The Who Should Luke Marry? folder led me to the Star Ladies and from there to Club Jade. Oh, WSLM. Still friends with a lot of folks from there. :)

  28. jawajames

    i guess about the same time as eliz when i first started college and the internet, i discovered RASS on Usenet, and connected a little bit on that – as i went on exchange to Hong Kong at the same time that the first action figures were coming out when hasbro started doing them again, i had an in on helping connect collectors with toys. even had my own star wars fan page of random stuff.

    then dropped off for a few years, (though got into the SWCCG community online), found my way to FanForce around 2002 when our local chapter started up during the leadup to AOTC, met some others at C2, etc. poked around the TF.N and official forums in the EU sections as well. ended up an elected officer in my local fanforce, ran trivia panels at C3 and Comic Con,
    some friends from the local Star Trek CCG community got me linked into club jade a few years back. started writing for this blog. then dunc posted pictures of me posing with cupcakes. was crowned the King of Desserts.

  29. Paula

    I was assigned to Jefferson City, Missouri. I had no “hanging out” type friends there. So I bought a computer and joined AOL. (This is how we a vast majority of people were introduced to the internet at that time, boys and girls.)

    I first only hung out on the Star Trek forums because I didn’t think there was anything Star Wars to be had. (Not sure why, really.) Finally, on a particularly boring Friday night, I decided to search for Star Wars.

    This is where I found the “Who Should Luke Marry?” board. I got to know Mary Franklin, who invited me to write the book column for the AOL Star Wars Newsletter. I also got to know several other women who would eventually become the Star Ladies that led me to Club Jade.

    I tried the TFN Boards for a while, but they started taking all the fun out of it for me. Club Jade became the most Star Wars online interaction. But TFN did lead me to FanForce, which has allowed me to make local Star Wars friends.

  30. SarahK

    Good old AOL Star Wars boards. I started the “Who Should Luke Marry” thread, as I had developed a strong opinion on the matter. *coughMaracough* Never looked back. (:

  31. Doyle

    I sort of fell into larger fandom by chance. I always had a lot of friends who were also into Star Wars (though none of them really read the books as I did), but there was a day one summer where I went out to my local comic shop and found it closed. Bored and looking for something to do, I biked across town to Nerd Row (so-called because it was a city block where there was a comic shop, a tabletop gaming store, a place that catered to toy collectors, a used book store, and an arcade all one after the other with only a tiny Mexican restaurant to break them up) and walked into the comic shop just as Jeremy Bulloch was setting up to do a signing.

    I’d never been to a signing before, so I picked up one of the Boba Fett comics that they had in stock and got it signed and while I was talking to him he asked me if I was going to the convention (I can’t even remember the name of my first con’, how sad is that?) in San Francisco that weekend.

    I had no idea what he was talking about, but I told him that of course I was going…and I did. Some friends and I conscripted a parent and–completely without the benefit of the internet–we drove into the city that weekend, found the convention center, gaped at the door prices, and had a great time at this wonderfully large and almost completely Star Wars-centric convention.

    And things have been spiraling wildly out of control ever since.

  32. Ian Miller

    Started out on Rebelpilots.com, for the fic. Sad day when it was gone. I then found TFN fanfic, and read it through the early NJO. Then came college, and I stopped doing a lot in Star Wars fandom (leaving for a year completely – no books, movies, anything – when Mara died). Slowly got back in, finally becoming more active on the boards and sites in the past two years. Still at TFN :), but also other sites.

  33. Sammygirl

    Oh man, I can’t quite remember. I joined a mailing list for Princess Leia fans & fanfiction about 1997. Organa-zation, I think. For the first time I could talk about my favorite movies and characters with a large group of like minds, instead of just hoping I’d meet the odd fellow fan lurking in the science fiction section of the college library. Sometimes I wonder if younger fans know what it’s like, being a lonely fan for a long time and then suddenly a whole community comes together and starts talking through the mailing list. It was like rain in the desert.

    I spent a lot of time in 1999 lurking on TFN, refreshing the page and waiting, waiting, waiting for it to load.

    Life intruded after that and I drifted away from active fandom for several years. Just beginning to participate again.

  34. Nancy K

    I discovered SW fandom via LJ. I followed a few fan groups, participated in one of those “friending” discussion posts (I think that’s what they’re called?), took part in a few trivia contests, and thereby gained a few SW internet friends, several of whom I’ve since met in real life. I’m not sure where in that timeline I discovered CJ but it quickly became my go-to source for SW news and everything.

    SW was something I kept very much to myself for a long time. I even hid my (growing) book collection under my bed so my parents and friends wouldn’t see how much of a geek I was. Since then I’ve become more comfortable in my own skin and with wearing my geekness on my sleeve (and SW has become more mainstream, which makes it easier to do so…very chicken or the egg for me, I guess). It’s great having SW friends and keeping tabs on the to-ings and fro-ings of fandom, and I love going to Celebrations and other cons and geeking out with other fans.

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