Can Art And Webcomics Have Secondary Fandoms?

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Well, I thought that I’d talk about “secondary fandoms” today. This is the best term I can come up with to describe that bizarre experience where you find something really cool, that is a tiny part of something else (that you may or may not interested in).

For example, I’m not really a huge fan of the modern role-playing genre of computer games and my computer is probably considered “vintage” these days. So, I’m probably not going to play “Skyrim” and yet, thanks to numerous cover versions that I’ve heard on Youtube, I think that it’s theme tune is one of the most epic pieces of music ever invented. Even though I absolutely love the theme tune, I can’t exactly call myself a “Skyrim” fan. Hence, “secondary fandom”.

Although secondary fandoms don’t always lead to people joining the “main” fandom for something, they can certainly be a useful tool for building a fandom.

For example, I initially got vaguely interested in “Game Of Thrones” after I saw a really cool Youtube video of someone playing the show’s epic theme song using eight modified floppy disk drives as an instrument. When a relative later recommended the books to me and lent me one of them, I was curious enough to read the first hundred pages. Then I ended up watching some of the TV show, which got me interested in the books again, which got me interested in the TV show again etc… But, this may or may not have happened if I hadn’t heard a version of the show’s impressive theme tune on Youtube first.

But, it’s probably quite telling that the two examples that I’ve given have been computer games and TV shows. After all, due to the complex nature of these mediums, they’re going to contain many additional elements that can draw in a secondary fandom. After all, they also contain music, art (even if it’s just cover/ poster art), architecture/set design, costume design, catchphrases etc…

However, art and webcomics contain far fewer different elements. With comics, you’ve just got text and art. With art, you just have art. So, can these things actually have secondary fandoms?

In a word, yes. Although it’s probably more difficult than it is with things like TV shows and computer games.

With webcomics, you can probably gain a secondary fandom by producing interesting-looking stand-alone drawings or paintings of your characters. If this art looks like the kind of thing that people would want to use as a desktop background, the kind of thing that people would want to use as an online avatar etc… then there’s a good chance that you’ll gain a secondary fandom.

With art, the only real way to gain a secondary fandom is if your art appears in other contexts, or if one or two pieces of your art become more famous than the rest.

For example, I’ve been a massive fan of a band called Iron Maiden for at least a decade (after hearing one of their songs in a slightly old computer game when I was a teenager). Anyway, one thing that I loved about the band when I first discovered it was how cool all of the cover artwork for their old albums looked.

In fact, I even ended up accumulating quite a few Iron Maiden T-shirts purely because of the coolness of both the art and the band. However, it was only relatively recently that I learnt that all of the “classic” Iron Maiden artwork was made by an artist called Derek Riggs. I’d spent years being a fan of an artist whose name I didn’t even know!

Likewise, literally everyone knows what the Mona Lisa looks like. It’s widely considered to be one of the best and most valuable paintings ever made. And, yet, very few people can probably name or remember too many more of Leonardo Da Vinci’s paintings or drawings (except possibly The Last Supper and/or the Vitruvian Man). Although the Mona Lisa is just one of many pieces of art that Da Vinci made, it has a level of appeal and popularity which means that it’s audience consists of more than just Renaissance art experts.

So, yes, art and webcomics can gain a secondary fandom – even if it is more difficult than it probably is for TV shows, games, films etc…

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Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

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