“Through the Eyes of a Fan”:

How Being a Fanboy Changes One’s Outlook Both In and Outside the World of Comics

I am not pessimist. Let me make that very clear before I begin this exposition. I am not some kind of troll who sits behind a computer screen, ready to pounce on the latest superhero franchise like a hungry wolf nor am I someone who wishes ill upon projects that do not produce stories that I do not believe to be suitable. On the contrary, I am a supporter, a fan, and someone who wants only the best for whatever work is being produced and whatever the artists of today put forth for me to enjoy. I spend my well earned money to see the films on opening night, I am there on Wednesdays to pick up the latest issue, and I speak highly about projects to those who are perhaps a little less educated about the world of comics than myself, and if certain projects do prove to be successful, I am the first one to come forward and express my gratitude. However, the real question that arises prior to the production of the projects is how does a loyal fan like myself assess something that includes characters and plots that one has been exposed to for most of their life? And, upon asking this question, I have found that there are only three ways of answering it.

The first is the ways in which you respond to something when you have deemed yourself as a fan. For example, when you watch a film that features your favourite superhero you are perceiving it with all the intricacies and vital points while all the while hoping that it can live up to your expectations. Then there is the ways in which you view them as moviegoer, as a passenger in the great ride that is entertainment. You are looking at the project within the medium and are assessing it based on its quality and how well you feel it represents the source material. You are not quite as concerned about what the characters do but you are instead a mere guest in someone else’s house and rather than asking about the meal you have been served, you simply shut up and eat it. Then there is the last way in which you perceive such things, and that is how you view it when you have embraced the fact that you are a writer and an artist. You are examining the piece by relying on the fundamentals by which you were educated on, thus making the viewing process, whether it be film, comic, or novel, all the more personal. No longer are you a fan sitting back and watching, but you instead acknowledge everything you see through your own artistic merit and seek to treat the project with the utmost care and respect, because you have now seen it for what it truly is: a work of great art.

This attitude becomes increasingly relevant when examining the promotion for upcoming films. Take for instance the approaching “Superman v Batman” film set to be released in 2016. This is a highly anticipated film that fans have been waiting for since they saw that the interwoven symbol of the Man of Steel encased Beneath The Dark Knight’s emblem on the screen at San Diego Comic Con in 2013. However, the moment the idea for this film was revealed fans that are eagerly awaiting the release are scouring their minds for ideas and possibilities, and it is during this scavenging process that the three viewing methods begin to surface. At first you are assessing the project as a fan: examining Superman and Batman as individual heroes, looking at their costumes, and various set pieces and comparing it to your own personal vision as well as the vision that has been demonstrated by your favourite artists. After this you then move onto the next point of assessment: how the project will work as a film. You begin to ask yourself whether you believe the direction be strong, will the cinematography be appropriate for the genre, and most importantly how will it compare to the other films that have been adapted in the past? Of course there are a number of questions that will arise yet none will be as important or as proponent as the feeling of hope that will be endowed upon you, and it is that feeling that it will attain the posterity and acclaim that the project needs in order to fulfill every expectation you had prior to seeing it. And finally, by looking at the movie through the eyes of another artist one will immediately begin to distinguish between what it is that they consider good and bad ideas; what does work and what does not work while hoping that whatever decisions are made will be for the best.

The same can also be said for the upcoming sequel to Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and The Dark Knight Strikes Again, The Dark Knight III: The Master Race, a new comic headlined by Brian Azzarello and icon Frank Miller. The book itself is an incredibly big deal and will include inevitable examinations that will ask whether the comic will be a new investigation into the Dark Knight mythology or a mere rehash of that which was already examined. People will ask whether the project will serve as another staple within the comic industry or whether it will have as much of an impact as Miller’s previous work or if The Dark Knight III can live up to its already impressive reputation. The methods by which we choose to embrace that which is excites us is a marvellous process and is determined not only by the ways we attempt to appreciate it, but also by the one thing we have the most control over, and that is our attitudes. There will always be something newer, something fresher, and hopefully, someday, something you have contributed your own thoughts to, because in the end it is the love of a fan that marks the first step towards a journey of success, a journey that can lead every fan toward hope, and help them to reach a level of fulfillment only something as a beautiful as a work of art can bring.

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Jarrett Mazza is a writer and teacher living in Canada. He attended Wilfrid Laurier University and received an Honours Bachelor’s Degree in English and Contemporary Studies as well as a Bachelor of Education from the prestigious Schulich School of Education. He is now in the process of earning an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College in Vermont. He has been fascinated by superheroes and stories for as long as he can remember and studied comic book writing and sequential storytelling from industry professionals Ty Templeton and Andy Schmidt. When he is not self-publishing his own comic books, he is working on his thesis novel, submitting short stories to publishers, obsessing about geek fandom, and looking for new things to read and write.

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