Is “Fanservice” A Good Or A Bad Thing In Comics?

2014 Artwork Not canon sketch

First of all, I’ll only be talking about whether fanservice is a good or a bad thing in dramatic and narrative terms. So, don’t worry, this article won’t be a moralistic lecture or anything like that.

I’ll also try to make sure that this article is suitable for a more general audience, so I’ll probably be using a ridiculous number of euphemisms in it and only be using rather tame examples too.

If you’re not sure what “fanservice” means, it basically refers to a writer and/or artist adding a few risque scenes and/or illustrations to their comics purely to provide some added “enjoyment” for the readers.

“Fanservice” doesn’t refer to romantic and/or risque scenes that are a necessary and integral part of the story, but only to scenes which are (for want of a better and less miserable-sounding word) “gratuitous” in the technical sense of the word.

If you’re making a comic, then there are certain practical questions which you’ll have to think about if you want to add any fanservice to your comic. Generally, a good rule with fanservice is that – if you’re going to include it – then be subtle and tactful about it. No, I’m not being prudish or miserable here – there’s a good practical reason for keeping things fairly subtle.

The reason why you should keep your fanservice fairly subtle is because, by it’s very nature, fanservice doesn’t work for everyone. Everyone has different tastes and what might be scintillatingly sensual for one reader might just be boring for another reader.

In other words, if you have lots of scantily-clad women in your comic, then it’ll only really be interesting to people who are attracted to women. And, conversely, if you have lots of scantily-clad men in your comic, then it’ll only really be interesting to people who are attracted to men.

If you keep things fairly subtle and tasteful then, if your fanservice doesn’t work for some of your readers (and it won’t), it is a lot easier for those readers to just ignore it or skip over it and still enjoy the rest of your comic. So, by keeping it subtle, you open up your work to a much wider audience. Yes, your comic may primarily be aimed at a particular audience but that doesn’t mean that other audiences might not be interested in it too.

However, you could just (if you feel like being gratuitous) include a wide range of different types of fanservice in your comic, so that there’s something for everyone.

Another issue to think about with regard to fanservice is context. Your fanservice should at least make some level of sense in regard to where and when it is happening. For example, an attractive character can wear nothing but a pair of shorts or a bikini if they’re on a beach. This is fairly realistic and it doesn’t really take anything away from the story.

However, if your attractive character is wearing next to nothing when they’re visiting a library or buying a lawnmower- then it will stand out as obvious fanservice and it will distract your readers from the story that you’re trying to tell (regardless of whether the character interests them or not).

The classic example of obvious fanservice without regard to context can be found in many fantasy comics and videogames where (usually female) warriors wear ludicrously small amounts of armour.

Just think about it (no, not that way…) – if someone was realistically going into battle, then they probably wouldn’t want to leave most of their body unarmoured.

Of course, if someone is visiting a tavern, then that’s an entirely different matter altogether…..

Finally, you should think about how often you add fanservice to your comic. Every time you add fanservice to your comic, you will temporarily distract at least some of your readers from the story that you’re trying to tell. Even if you distract them in a very enjoyable way, you are still distracting your readers.

If you only do this very occasionally, then this won’t really “dilute” your main story too much. But, if you do it on every page, then some of your readers may end up being more interested in the fanservice than the story you’re telling.

Think of adding fanservice as being like adding a commercial break to your comic – if a TV show has adverts every fifteen minutes, then this isn’t too much of a distraction. However, if a TV show has adverts ever fifteen seconds, then only the most dedicated fans of the show will probably want to keep watching it.

All in all, fanservice isn’t an inherently “bad” thing. If you keep it fairly subtle, don’t include too much of it and make sure that it makes sense in context, then it can be a valuable addition to your comic. Just remember that not all of your readers will find it as interesting as you do though.

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Anyway, I hope that this article has been useful 🙂

One comment on “Is “Fanservice” A Good Or A Bad Thing In Comics?

  1. […] Idea“ – “Four Very Basic Tips For Bringing A Classic Story Up To Date“ – “Is ‘Fanservice’ A Good Or A Bad Thing In Comics?“ – “The Best Free Resource For Artists“ – ” Failure Can Be A Sign That […]

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