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10 September 2007 @ 01:49 pm
Snark's SECOND Law of Fanfic (formerly the First)  
From FurryMUCK, this morning:

normanrafferty tries to remember the review he read of 'Torchwood'. "I think it said, 'Is it possible for something to be new material and fan-fiction at the same time?'"

Oh, you betcha. Let's codify this, in fact:

Snark's First Second Law of Fanfic (a.k.a. "Running the Asylum"):
A sufficiently established franchise is indistinguishable from fanfic.

When a fictional franchise has lasted long enough to induct its fandom into the ranks of its professional creators, the distinction between Canon and Fan Fic erodes. The new wave of creators start sneaking Fanon into official sources. Ret Cons abound. Writers will revisit old stories, instilling far more self-indulgent detail into the retellings than ever appeared in the original.

In short, the Inmates are Running The Asylum.

Sometimes, this can bring fresh, new life to the franchise. Other times, the same kind of in-fighting that erupts in fannish circles will play out between creative teams -- but now, the factions are all armed with Canon.
I feel: geekygeeky
doc_mysterydoc_mystery on September 10th, 2007 09:27 pm (UTC)
Hmm...sounds curiously as to what happened to the orignal Cthulhu Mythos from both the writings from the original Lovecraft circle and those provided by overlapping intergenerational waves of new contributors.

eggshellhammereggshellhammer on September 10th, 2007 09:40 pm (UTC)
Sometimes this can bring fresh new life to the franchise. Sometimes not. Which do you think happened in this instance?
doc_mysterydoc_mystery on September 10th, 2007 11:11 pm (UTC)
In this case, it cheapened it. The Mythos used to be be something scary, as in cosmic paranoia scary. It's been overused and misused so often through various fan incarnations and interpretations and re-interpretations that now the most successful part of the media franchise is the license used to sell plush toys.

The same thing happened to all the famous Universal Monsters (Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy, etc.), and then there were the sequels, and then the homage sequels to the sequels, and then the Abbott & Costello versions (A&C Meet Frankenstein, A&C Meet Dracula, etc.) and now that all the horror and terror have been completely wrung out are all only used to sell kiddie breakfast cereal.

Your Obedient Serpent: big ideasathelind on September 11th, 2007 01:14 am (UTC)
Alas, the real Shark Jump for the Mythos was early on, when Derleth snagged all of HPL's old notes and started doing "post-humous collaborations" that imposed a Good Scary Creepy Gods vs. Bad Scary Creepy Gods dualism on Lovecraft's Vast Indifferent Fortean Cosmos.

By the way, I wuv my widdle plush Cthulhu, and will brook no insult to his fuzzy little squamous head.
scarfman on September 10th, 2007 09:55 pm (UTC)

Mmm. I was just about to say that the only franchises I know of where this has happened is Doctor Who and superhero comics. So much for what I know.

Your Obedient Serpent: hoard potatoathelind on September 11th, 2007 01:09 am (UTC)
I'd add Star Trek to that list: it has a long history of fanzines, licensed novels*, RPG supplements treated as source material by later novelists and series writers, and even "official source material" of debatable canon status.

Just as one example, The Animated Series officially Doesn't Count, but references to it continually show up not only in licensed novels, but in the "real" shows itself. When they did the (brilliant) digital remastering of "Amok Time", they added the Vulcan city from the TAS episode "Yesteryear" in the background.

Meanwhile, nobody acknowledges the fifth movie.

*Thinking about it, "Running the Asylum" is really Snark's Second Law of Fanfic. The first dates back thirty years: "Star Trek novels exist because Paramount realized they weren't making any money on fanzines."
K. Pease: rtfmceruleanst on September 11th, 2007 02:25 am (UTC)
The Muppets.
Your Obedient Serpentathelind on September 11th, 2007 03:40 am (UTC)
The Muppets?
K. Pease: rtfmceruleanst on September 11th, 2007 04:30 am (UTC)
Everyone who joined the troupe post-Henson was a fan, and each got to impose their own new characters into the canon. Each writer hired for a new feature essentially got to take whatever they'd wanted to see the Muppets do and bring it to life. The retcon of Gonzo's origin in Muppets From Space was pretty well done, but it's the sort of hole that Henson would have happily left unfilled. Eventually, in It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, we got the Alternate Universe With Cage-Dancing Scooter, which you must admit has that certain flavor about it.
Shadow Dragonshdragon on September 11th, 2007 05:48 pm (UTC)
Wouldn't Star Wars be like this as well? There's a pile and a half of books for SW that are all supposedly "official" as well. Plus those animated shorts that happened between two of the prequels.

Though I guess it would be harder to say since Star Wars isn't an ongoing thing, so there can't be any "new" and "definitely official" stuff that could possibly refer back to any "fan" stuff to bump it up to "possibly official"
Your Obedient Serpentathelind on September 11th, 2007 11:27 pm (UTC)
It happens to ANY sufficiently established franchise.

Star Wars is an EXCELLENT example, really. For quite a while now, I've harbored the suspicion that it is popular not so much for the stories that Lucas decided to tell, but for the stories that COULD be told in the wider setting.

Certainly, I've read about Star Wars RPG campaigns that sounded FAR better than Episodes 1-3.
SilverClawbfdragon on September 10th, 2007 10:51 pm (UTC)
I think I have mentioned this before.. but it was when I saw a profiecnaly published and distributed *Star Trek / X - Men* crossover sitting on the shelf at Barns and Noble.. that the line between fan fiction and licened published work was not a devision of quality.
A random lazy cat: Eat Babies.twentythoughts on September 11th, 2007 01:01 pm (UTC)
Crossovers are ALWAYS fanfic-like. I have yet to read one crossover comic that doesn't feel like bad to half-decent fanfiction. Even while playing Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2, a majority of the worlds felt like halfassed insert-your-own-character-into-a-familiar-story fanfiction.

And this is because, well, it is fanfiction. That is, it's fanfiction when it's not an obvious cash-in. Because obviously the first thing that would happen if Spider-Man and Batman met, would be that they'd fight due to some bizarre misunderstanding before shaking hands and uniting against two villains from their own universes, who also may or may not have exchanged blows before deciding that working together works better.