Fandom begins when people who are fans of something want to take the next step by talking with other fans, which creates a fan community. Eventually, those discussions are not enough. Fans, then, often take on or participate in fan related activities. Rhonda has been talking about one of those activities, fanfic, including what it is and why people choose that means of participating in fandom. Fanfic, or fan fiction, can be both a solitary event and more of a social event. It can be solitary in that it is often written by one person and can be read by oneself. As long as a fan knows where to find it, one can go and read stories without anyone knowing anything about it. Yet, it can be social as well. Dialogues and discussions can and do happen in response to writing and reading stories involving the object of one’s fandom. What is interesting to me is that even the social aspect of fanfic is such that no one needs to leave the comfort of their homes in order to participate. Fans who write and respond to fanfic never have to be face-to-face. Now, of course, fanfic writers and readers can choose to be face-to-face but they don’t have to. This is also true for other creative means of expressing one’s fandom as well. If one produces art or remixes, for example, one does not need to do anything but share and participate via the online world. Face-to-face interaction is not necessary. Obviously, many fans are cool with that level of interaction. They just want to be in that fan community while online. They are satisfied with that. Other fans, though, don’t find that online interaction to be enough. For those fans, they seek face-to-face contact with other fans.
The in-person contact between fans can happen in a variety of ways. For fandoms like ours, they can and do happen at events. Most of those events surround concerts. Fans meet and get together when they attend a concert. At those events, the focus is always surrounding the show, which can and do include discussions about shows in terms of the music, the performance, etc., what fans are doing before and after the show and possibly about the crowd. Very little discussion about other subjects in the fan community are brought up. There just isn’t time. Other official events like last month’s screening of Unstaged could bring fans together in real life. Beyond those more official events that are created by the band itself, fans still try to get together in person. Sometimes, the get togethers are simply fans meeting up to have coffee or a drink at a local establishment. Sometimes, it is a small group of fans living in the same geographic region who get together for a night. It might even be a “slumber party” of sorts in that some fans stay overnight. These more local events do not include many fans and do not require much planning and cost besides the when and where of the event and what people need to buy to bring or to get there. These small, local events are informal and definitely not connected to the band at all. Again, for some fans, these kind of events as well as the shows/screenings are enough to satisfy their needs as a fan to discuss all things connected to their fandom. For others, though, they want more and they want something when those either band sponsored events or those informal get togethers aren’t happening or aren’t available to them.
This is where the fan convention comes in. According to the Free Dictionary online, a convention is, “A formal meeting of members, representatives, or delegates, as of a political party, fraternal society, profession, or industry.” Obviously, conventions don’t just happen for fandoms. They happen for things like political parties and professions. Yet, I think the key is that they are “a formal meeting”. This implies that there is planning of this get together of a specific group of people. Obviously, for my purpose, in my study of fandom, the group of people are fans. Wikipedia explains here by explaining that a fan convention is an event in which fans of something gather together to hold programs and to meet experts, famous people and each other. This isn’t all that different than a convention of teachers, for example. Teacher conventions hold various programs or presentations, have teacher experts and allow teachers to meet and interact with each other. Like conventions for teaching or politics, fan conventions have been around for decades and include some large ones and some not-so-large ones, some famous one and some not-so-famous ones.
In my research, the first fan convention I could find was World Con, which focused on science fiction and started in 1939. Soon, other fandoms began conventions, too. The comic book fandom began to plan conventions in the early 1960s. For those first comic book conventions, the fans met to trade and sell comic, show comic art, have a banquet and masquerade. As they expanded, they began including panels, screening of films, games, trivia, auctions, and even spoilers for media not yet released. Soon enough, celebrities began being included for autographs and photos. These same events occurred at with other fandoms connected to or similar to the comic book fandom. Of course, some of the most famous fan convention including the Star Trek ones and Comic Con, which occurs in San Diego every summer. Both the company that runs the majority of Star Trek conventions (Creation Entertainment) and the non-profit that runs Comic Con began in the early 1970s by a handful a people. Now, those conventions bring in thousands of fans and are well-known around the world. The Comic Con convention, in fact, has books and movies that focus on it. In the future, I plan on reviewing the Comic Con documentary as part of my continuing series of media representations of fandom. I also plan on diving deeper into the finer points of conventions, now that I have explained what they are and why they came into being. Some of those finer points, include the various activities conventions have and should those activities occur at all fan conventions, what brings people to come to convention including the activities, celebrities, travel, ticket cost, fan interaction and more, the role of celebrities for themselves and fans, and what Duran fans and other music fans would like their conventions to be.
Until I get to all of those other topics, I have a quick survey question for everyone:
Would you ever consider going to a fan convention?
B. Depends on when, where, what the activities are, and how much (Much will be said about this!)
C. Nope. As much as I am a big fan, I don’t need to meet other fans.
I would love to hear from each and every one of you! It would definitely help me with my research.