A lifetime of fandoms

A lot of time passionate fandom gets a bum rap. Like online dating participants and video game enthusiasts, the more "hardcore" fans are routinely presented by the media as hysterical teenage girls or anti-social, unemployable basement dwellers who are glued to their computer screens and one step short of a restraining order.

For sure there are the stereotypical nuts out there, but fandom - where the infatuation typically strikes as suddenly and unpredictably as any crush -  is also a powerful creative stimulus.

You may argue that the time spent fixating on, and creating content around, pre-existing intellectual properties is a waste of efforts that could be better applied to a person's own original creations. Personally though, I think creative output is creative output. And it is always better to be "doing" instead of simply sitting on your arse in front of a screen, mindlessly consuming.

The more I think about it, my life has consisted of a series of fandoms; some overlapping. Before school age, I certainly had my pop culture obsessions - The Wombles, Gummi Bears, SupermanThunderCats and Return to Oz are all standouts that immediately come to mind (there are many others). However, I can't really distinguish these as any different from the many films, comics and songs that all little kids fixate on and watch/listen to ad nauseam (sorry, Mom and Dad).

Once I was a bit older though, I became far more conscious of fandoms overwhelming me and consuming my thoughts and fantasies. In chronological order, these are the pop culture properties that had me drawing, writing and compulsively collecting all merchandise I could get my hands on.

I'm not entirely sure now why a 7 year old would think that "I hate Mondays" is so funny, but I was certainly a huge fan of the lazy, lasagne-loving, original grumpy cat - accumulating books, collecting posters, stationery and mugs, and religiously watching the TV series of course. The Garfield Christmas remains my favourite festive season TV special.

Teenage Mutant Ninja/Hero Turtles:
At one stage my 8 year old self was even considering changing my name to April O'Neil, or at least finding a husband who could give me the surname. Curiously, it wasn't until the Turtles came along that I ever touched pizza. Again, this was a collection-driven fandom: I had the toys, annuals, comics, colouring-in books, handheld video game, posters and I watched the animated series. At the time I remember being very critical of the differences between the cartoon and the first live-action film. A fussy fan even then.

Indiana Jones:
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was the first ever film that I watched at the cinema, back when I was 3. For weeks afterwards I couldn't stop talking about "the man with prawns on his head." (I actually meant horns). This said, the Indy obsession only really resurfaced in my tweens. I could recite Temple of Doom word-for-word and my big project of 1992 was redrawing the movie in comic form with my own original characters inserted into the story. You don't get any more Mary-Sue than that.

Batman and Catwoman:
It started with the release of Batman Returns in 1992. I drew comics; wrote fan fiction; adored the Animated Series; read novelisations and the characters' comics from Zero Hour into the mid 90s. I don't know why exactly this star-crossed, sexually-charged relationship captured my imagination as I entered puberty. However, I do know I retain a fondness for the two very different masked characters, whether they're apart... or together at that glorious grey intersection of moral black and white.

Michelle Pfeiffer:
My biggie fandom! Initiated by her wonderfully schizo-sexy (admittedly non-canon) portrayal of Catwoman in Batman Returns, I was an "active" pfan (pfangirl, get it?!)  from 1992 all the way into mid Noughties. I ran a fansite for 6 years, debated the most random hypotheticals on mailing lists and forums, and no doubt fuelled suspicions throughout my teenage years that I was gay.

Tomb Raider:
It's been almost a decade since I was last sucked in by a fandom, and I'm now in my thirties... but this year a video game captured my imagination. What can I say? Snarky pistol-packing archeologist and First Lady of Gaming Lara Croft reimagined as a pretty, but otherwise pretty real college graduate who discovers her inner strength? I really "clicked" with the character, resulting in my most well-read blog post to date, cosplay and ongoing fan fiction. Not to mention T-shirt and poster purchases.


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