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[personal profile] ali_wildgoose
There was a secret on [livejournal.com profile] fandomsecrets the other day that...didn't BOTHER me so much as struck me as vaguely ominous with regards to my own situation. And got me thinking. It was about one of the various Buffy comics, and suggested that authors of tie-ins should "leave fan fic to the fan fic writers. They aren't in it for the money, and will (typically) do the story justice."

My thoughts, in bullet points for all of our convenience:

• I write fanfic AND official tie-ins. So where does that put me? Is the integrity of my fic compromised by the professional work? Is the professional work automatically of lower quality than the fic, even though it was written by the same person? I realize I'm being a little facetious with this, but seriously. CAUGHT BETWEEN TWO WORLDS, THE DRAMA!, etc.

• While I will freely admit that writing licensed work and adaptations provided nearly ALL of my income last year, I would stress that said income was laughably small, as in just barely above the poverty line. The work included several dozen pages of comics at a standard rate, half of two graphic novels and an adapted screenplay (that I'm still working on oh god so much to do) and I don't know if packing much more in would have been feasible. Any one who's "in this for the money" should have their head examined as it's not exactly lucrative.

• It's absolutely true that many tie-ins and adaptations are terrible, often because of the constraints of the project or a lack of caring on the part of the authors and artists creating the licensed work. But then, plenty of licensed work is AWESOME, like the Simpsons comics that Nina Matsumoto's worked on in the past. As with so many things, they're only as good as the effort the people involved are willing to invest. But has the reputation of tie-ins been so thoroughly tarnished that there's no point in trying to redeem them? I'm so biased for a whole host of reasons that I can't really stand back and consider the issue objectively. How would I feel about the Zuko!Prequel if I hadn't written it?

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-26 09:21 pm (UTC)
ext_2023: (Default)
From: [identity profile] etrangere.livejournal.com
I think you're paying more attention to what people say on fandomsecrets that it deserves.

They are terrible ties in and terrible fanfics, and they are awesome ties in and awesome fanfics. Quality obviously isn't much tied to the state of publication.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-26 09:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ali-wildgoose.livejournal.com
I think it's less that I want to give much credibility to a random fandom secret, and more that I can't help wondering how pervasive this outlook is? Like...is this essentially the attitude that most of fandom holds? I kind of suspect it is?

Not that the fandom majority's opinion matters a whole lot, but I'll still have to deal with the fallout that results. :/

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-26 09:34 pm (UTC)
ext_2023: (Default)
From: [identity profile] etrangere.livejournal.com
Hmmm. Now I kinda want to see a poll on this. I admit, I've been pretty much prejudiced against tie in myself or at least have avoided buying / reading most of the time on the assumption that I wouldn't like them; whereas I don't have this position with fanfics (well, I had it before I started reading fanfics).
I don't think you're the only fanficcer who also write tie in (or vice verca) though; and at the same time I'm not sure they have the same audience exactly. Really, it's a good question, and tangential to some of the problematic asked in fandom previously on (there's this tie in writer who often attack fanficcers because he views them as unfair competition - he's a twit, but that PoV is relevant to that discussion). Must investigate further.
Edited Date: 2010-04-26 09:35 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-26 09:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] suzukiblu.livejournal.com
Well, I know how I'd feel about the Zuko prequel if you hadn't written it. Like SETTING IT ON FIRE.

Generally, I assume all tie-ins and adaptations are going to be crap, because so many of the ones I've read and seen have been done by people with no love for the original material and an incomplete understanding of it or more concern for fitting in their personal point of view than preserving the actual point. A lot of the time I get the feeling the creator/s just looked over the original once and went crazy from there--like I'm reading a stranger's OCs wearing the names and faces of characters I love. :/

So yeah, usually I go into adaptations with the lowest expectations I can, and if it turns out to be good, that's great, and if it turns out to be great, that's awesome. I just don't expect anything from them, and most of the time don't even bother.

But I trust you as a writer and a fan of the series, and I am buying the Zuko prequel without reservations. The special place in my heart and on my bookshelf has already been reserved.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-26 09:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ali-wildgoose.livejournal.com
But I trust you as a writer and a fan of the series, and I am buying the Zuko prequel without reservations. The special place in my heart and on my bookshelf has already been reserved.

Aww <3

See, the sane part of me is all, "Hooray! I'm so glad!" And the less sane part is all, "OH GOD I HOPE PEOPLE AREN'T DISAPPOINTED KAjdfkurisjdkfhsdjfhsd DOOM." Because of course Dave and I tried our best, but we had an insane schedule that didn't allow for tons of revisions and we're only human, after all.

Although I CAN say with absolutely no reservations whatsoever that Nina knocked the artwork clean out of the park. It's fucking gorgeous, I am in AWE.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-26 09:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kyoto-idol.livejournal.com
May I just say this:

YOU > KEVIN J. ANDERSON.

That is all.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-26 09:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ali-wildgoose.livejournal.com
HAH

thx bb <3

(is there some ~*~history~*~ to this guy?)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-26 09:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] scrabble.livejournal.com
I'm laughing a little bit here because the title of that issue of Buffy is literally: "Them Fucking." The entire issue is devoted to Buffy and Angel banging it out. So I think that is why there's the fic secret for it - only in fic do you really see entire stories dedicated to two characters getting it on (apart from erotica, of course, but I'm talking about established series here anyway).

I don't think that tie-ins are considered bad by default. Star Wars novels often end up on the bestseller lists. It seems to me that tie-ins do pretty well in manga. I honestly feel that much of the time people who are not interested in tie-ins only feel that way because it doesn't fit with what they personally think should happen next (or have happened beforehand). When it's not the original source material presenting the story line, it's very easy to say, "Well, that just wouldn't happen!" People can blame their problems with the story on the writer since they weren't originally involved. If the exact same plot were presented within the original canon it would more than likely be accepted. While I guess it is in some way due to people being dubious of tie-ins, I think it's more, "No, this is what I think happens!" I also think it's more prevalent in fans who are into fanfic because they've already written/read lots of things about what they think should happen next. Your non-fic writing fan (which, let's face it, is most fans) is probably more accepting of a tie-in.

I don't know that this was a helpful comment at all, but in short: tie-ins are frequently accepted!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-26 11:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ali-wildgoose.livejournal.com
Man, you make some excellent points. Particularly with regards to the "if the show had done this exact thing, those same folks wouldn't have complained." It's true that folks are far more forgiving of canon deviating from their expectations, although of course that's for understandable reasons. The canon has presumably earned their trust already -- I (or another tie-in author) have not.

And you're also probably right that fandom/fanfic types are probably far more touchy about these things, in ways more casual fans wouldn't be. And of course, dedicated fandom is almost always the minority when we're talking about the general audience of a given work.

Your thoughts are articulate and appreciated! <3

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-26 09:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] invaderk.livejournal.com
As one who feels open hostility towards the writers of spin-offs who do a crappier job than a fan could have...
You have nothing to worry about.

While I sometimes feel that fic writers could do a better job than some who get the opportunity, in your case I feel just the opposite. It kind of sucks when these sorts of things are written by people not so dedicated (or if the plot is godawful and unsalvagable by even the most talented writers).

As for the Zuko Prequel... I couldn't be more excited, mostly because I know it's in good hands! You (and all parties involved) have been with us through the whole A:tLA experience, and know the characters as if they're your babies. So it's a give and take. Sometimes it doesn't work, and sometimes it does. However, I don't think it's fair to say that ALL licensed adaptations/spinoffs should be burned rather than read.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-26 11:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ali-wildgoose.livejournal.com
Yeah, you know...in my (admittedly limited) experience, it seems like there are BROADLY SPEAKING two kinds of people who do work like this: people like me, who're huge over-invested nerds, and "career" tie-in authors who work on a wide variety of properties they aren't necessarily familiar with beforehand. And you know, not everyone in the first category is going to necessarily do good work, and not everyone in the latter category will churn out barely-recognizable dreck.

I think, for instance, that the folks who've written the existing ATLA adaptations did a pretty decent job overall (the ones I read, anyway) and obviously tried to do the show justice. But the authors were just as obviously at something of a disadvantage compared to someone like me, who's spent absurd amounts of time thinking and writing about the characters and their world.

BUT ON THE OTHER HAND, I have to be careful with this kind of professional work, because MY relationship with the world is much closer and way better informed than is the case for your average reader -- it's tempting to, say, pitch a bunch of ideas about minor characters having adventures that fill gaps in the show's plot, but only other hardcore fans will care about that kind of thing, so it isn't exactly commercial.

TL;DR: I'M GLAD YOU DON'T THINK I SHOULD WORRY <3

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-26 09:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] beesandbrews.livejournal.com
The last tie in series of books I paid any attention to was Torchwood and they were to a book awful. Honestly, I've both written and read fanfic that was better plotted and characterized.

Before that, there were Buffy novels and most of them were pretty dire as well.

I understand that in some 'verses there is a lot of involvement by the source material production staff - I recall Peter David saying that they sent him a FILING CABINET full of stuff that he was required to read and review (and possibly take a test on) before he was allowed to write for Star Wars, but regrettably that isn't the norm.

So yeah, in many corners, tie in material is to be approached with a degree of trepidation. And actually, the fact you write fanfiction would give you substantial cred in some circles.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-26 11:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ali-wildgoose.livejournal.com
Yeah, it does seem that the Star Wars novels (and to a lesser degree, the Star Trek ones) are in a class all their own when it comes to tie-ins. The people behind those books have admittedly worked very hard over many years to win that respect, and anecdotes like the one you shared above are a perfect example of why they deserve it. I really envy those series, in a way, for having won themselves the time and space to be done correctly. The theme of most of the tie-in work I've done has been NOW NOW NOW -- if I weren't so personally dedicated to the series the books tied in to (C:KND and ATLA) then it would've been near impossible to do quality work in that amount of time.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-26 09:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nenimo.livejournal.com
I think in western media the line between fanfic and canon is far more of a legal issue than a creative one. With many major IPs having dozens or even hundreds of people contributing to them over the years it really gets hard to say what is canon and not.

To use Avatar as an example. I think most people would agree that everything you and Dave did in the comics is canon. It's all officially licensed and blahblahblah. And if Mike & Bryan did something unofficial outside of nickelodeon channels most people would still agree that it's still canon (like JK Rowling saying Dumbledor is gay even if it wasn't said in the books). Even if they sold all right to nickelodeon and had no control over avatar in the slightest the creator worshiping fans would still take most anything they said as unofficial canon. So what if Aaron Ehasz did something? would that be considered canon? he wrote much of the avatar world and if he said "when I wrote this scene I was showing X and Y is true without explicitly saying it" would that be considered canon? Since it's still referencing official licensed Avatar stuff most people would probably think it's canon. But where does stuff like Johanne Matte's Water Tribe come in? She worked on Avatar but is touching on a subject left alone by official canon and most avatar fans would say her water tribe comics are as close to canon as fanfic can get (and I wouldn't be surprised if future avatar stuff referenced it as canon, assuming any future avatar stuff ever gets made). So is it really still fanfic if most people consider it canon? And if one fanfic gets called canon then where does the rest fit in and where do you draw the line?
Honestly in this situation, where an IP is handled by so many people I'd say canon is really nothing more than what you (the fan) want it to be. You pick and choose where the story starts and where it ends for you. So if drunken friday night Zutara fanfic is your canon, well all the more power to you.
In Japanese media things are totally different though. Look at Bleach. Tite Kubo has written/penciled every comic so far, he's signed off on all anime episodes and game plots. It becomes very easy to define canon vs. fanfic in Japanese comics because it all has one voice. This also exists in western media too but generally to a much smaller extent.
Anyways, I think I've gone on way too much and may have missed the point entirely.

tl;dr Canon is whatever you want it to be.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-26 10:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kyatto.livejournal.com
It honestly depends on your perspective. Not all fans have the same mentality as the person behind the Secret. Though, I'd suppose it'd be a general consensus that fans might prefer it if another fan were the one to work on spin-offs and other material- as opposed to some random Joe who might or might not know next to nothing about what they're working on aside from what the suits have told them.

There's good and bad everywhere. Just as there are bad!fics, there's bad published material. Hell, even things in canon itself have come out worse than they probably intended. It's rather obtuse and bold of them to state that all published material is crap and fans do it better. It goes hand in hand with folks who say all the fans' works are crap and canon can only do it right. That's not how the universe works.

For example, there are things where there's a fine, fine, fine line between canon and not. Doctor Who has a major problem with this. Between the original Classic series, the New series, all the books, the films, the audio stories. There's been fanworks that have been grandfathered in, and official publications that have been deemed not canon at all. It's proof enough that there really is no standing ground for such an argument. At least TLA is pretty clear about what their canon is from the get go.

In short, if I were you I wouldn't worry. You were a fan first, and not only do you have knowledge of the film's world, but you've got the cartoon's canon to back you up as well. If fandom teaches people anything it's that it is impossible to please everyone. So long as what you do makes at least one person happy, you're doing a good job. Especially if that person is yourself.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-26 10:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rufftoon.livejournal.com
Well said! Better than I could.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-26 10:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rufftoon.livejournal.com
I would like to compare, in sheer numbers, the amount of fanfics or various fanworks VS official, licensed product.
Let's imagine it's 5000 to 1 in case of Avatar.
How much of that 5000 is work that would be deemed print worthy quality?
Not only that, as you said a fanfic writer has not a lot of constraints: no editors, no deadline dates.

In a world where there can be as much, if not more, readership online as book buyers, the fine line where one can find material linked to a fandom becomes blurred. The level of expectation becomes multiplied, comparisons become common.
Heck, when I was a kid, I had no access whatsoever to fanfics or fancomics! None whatsoever!

Just a few food for thoughts.

I guess Shyamalan is in the same boat as you, ha ha! Except he has more money and MAKES more money. Unfair!
(and you end up adapting HIS adaptation!)

Remember: You Will Not Please everyone! Do NOT let a few bad comments (for there will be some) get to you personally. Know that there are also people who will adore what you did.
Yes, how would you feel about the Zuko!Prequel if you had not written it? Hmmm...I know I'm looking forward to it. It's possible I will think "oh, I would have done this or that differently", but that doesn't mean it is bad!

I'll chime in about WT since Nenimo mentioned it: It is pure, silly fanwork. Not cannon, never will be.
...
(though Aaron Ehasz did mention once that Zhao *may* have survived, but that was a one off comment said to me and in no way official. It was enough for me to wildly run away with it, ha ha!)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-05-21 01:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eiliem.livejournal.com
It was enough for me to wildly run away with it, ha ha

For which we are all deeply grateful. :D

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-26 10:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honestys-easy.livejournal.com
I do work with a lot of media tie-in books that I must say, suck. Whenever there's the Next Big Kids' Movie coming out, a million and one tie-in books are conjured up, mostly geared towards the kindergarten crowd, and they're so pedestrian I can't often see how kidergarteners would like them. Even lots of older bracket (juvenile and adult novelizations) books are pretty bad; I was particularly disappointed with the ALTA "Book Of (insert character here)" books where the authors just seemed to watch episodes of the show and write easy-to-read reaction paragraphs that I only understood because I've seen the episodes.

On the other hand, media tie-in books that diverge from the canon plot, or add to the plot like your Zuko Prequel will, are incredibly interesting, usually have quite a bit of creativity to them, and are engrossing (especially for someone who's only supposed to be cataloging and not reading...heh.) I had recc'ed that Monsters, Inc. graphic novel to you, even though it's from a publisher that's notoriously awful, because it was intriguing and had an entirely different adventure for the characters, while keeping with the personality and continuity of the canon. I anticipate that's what we're going to see with your work, which is much more along the lines of a gen fanfiction. Also, graphic novel adaptations tend to be of a higher quality than plain books, because it took the collaboration of writer and artist and thus more thought was put into the final product.

I think the biggest problem the Buffyverse has with the comic books is that, afaik, heavy shipping is involved in the comics that do not coincide with TV canon, and that can be problematic, especially for that fandom. Plus it's meant to be a continuation of canon in a God's Truth kind of way; adaptations seem to work best when they do act more like fanfiction, in that they're interesting, new ways to look at a setting or a character, but they don't have to be unfailingly regarded as that fandom's new canon.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-26 11:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honestys-easy.livejournal.com
And really, when we're talking comic books, wouldn't they all be considered "canon adaptations" by now? Stan Lee ain't writing the X-Men anymore: they've been through numerous hands through the decades, changing their plots, characterizations, and futures as each writer sees fit. But because they diverge from the original canon, would they be considered "worse than fanfic"?

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-26 11:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaina.livejournal.com
Tie-ins are often terrible, but--you know, so what? I'd much rather live in a world where there are still people like you trying to do their damndest to put out a good project. It's not like bad tie-ins somehow negate good fanfiction; aren't good fic + potentially good tie-ins better than good fic + guaranteed bad tie-ins?

Maybe it's limited to the rare diamond in shit, but still. A lot of the Star Wars tie-ins are crap, but that doesn't lessen my love for Heir to the Empire.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-27 05:46 am (UTC)
ext_2826: girl with mellow smile (* :| - secret garden)
From: [identity profile] gossymer.livejournal.com
I tend to stay clear of tie-ins, unless they are by known quantities - like say, an author, artist or mangaka I like/know of produces a story/comic/doujinshi. Alternatively if a tie in is recced by a friend and fellow fan in a shared fandom, I'll even special order it if I have to.

Personally, I'm leery about the voice and spirit of the tie-in being different from the source, wherein its either a shallow effort without much insight into characterization or one that has a focus/interest that doesn't coincide with my own (particularly in regards to ships). In that sense, I'd rather rely on fandom for expanding the 'verse.

While there are probably brilliant tie-ins around by unfamiliar authors, unless I can look them up on Good Reads or Library Thing, I'll probably borrow it from the library before risking spending money. Sometimes though, an hour at Barnes and Nobles reading the beginning is enough to convince me :D

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-28 06:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] engelen.livejournal.com
Hmmmmmmmmmm

I think we should consider this on a single-case basis... like... I AM excited about the Zuko prequel only because YOU were involved. Because I know you CARE.

I... I don't even know what to say because I'm sleepy D:
Sorry...

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-28 04:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vejgurl.livejournal.com
I think it's important to take these things on a case by case basis, despite the persistent concern that someone is going to butcher something you love. I don’t read Buffy or Avatar, but two of the first comic series I read were adaptations/tie-ins and they were perfect examples of the best and worst ways to do it:

Marvel's adaptation of Stephen King's work is practically perfect. They started with The Dark Tower, adapting one book, then spinning off and creating a whole new story that filled in a gap in time in the original books. They had King's assistant on as a consultant (and most of the people working on it were already fans of King, if not the Dark Tower) and got absolutely amazing artists working on it. Once that seemed to be humming along comfortably, they started adapting The Stand. A lot of people know the basic story from the TV movie, so they’re adapting the unabridged book, thereby ensuring there’s something new in there for anyone who has just seen the movie or read the original book. And, again, they got great artists. I wouldn't be surprised if those two series got a whole load of non-comic book reading Stephen King fans into comics because they're so well done (worked for me!).

Dabel Brothers' adaptation of The Warriors was just full of wrong. They adapted the movie. I love the movie, but the book is so different and so few people have read it (comparatively), that if they'd gone back to the original source, they would have given way more people a new look at things. By starting with source material that was limited by what was permitted in movie theaters in 1979, they seemed to have missed the point of what comics can do (e.g.: in the movie, the Warriors were a mixed race gang because the studio didn’t want a person of color as the protagonist. That never would have happened in real life at the time, nor was it the case in the book. Instead of taking the opportunity to present a more realistic version of what was happening at the time, Dabel Bros stuck with the semi white washed Hollywood version). They also didn’t have a reliable release schedule, which made following the comic a pain in the ass. For originality, they did create a tie-in series, Warriors Jailbreak. It was meant to be a sequel to The Warriors, so, naturally, they put it out concurrent with the original (WTF) and never got either of them out on time. To be fair, they only put out three issues of The Warriors and one of Jailbreak before they fell apart and Dynamite bought them, so this was probably the least of their worries.

Erm. Sorry that was so long. I think my point was that it takes two things to make a good adaptation/tie-in: dedication to the source material and some sense about the market.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-29 05:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ikyoto.livejournal.com
As not really a fandom person, maybe my comment will feel a little out-of-place here, but I feel like the older I've gotten the more willing I have been to leave a canon story where it ended regardless of the amount it has had all of the possible stories have been tied-up.

However, the ravenous youngester that I had been(that was able to read dozens of Boxcar Children and at least 100 Babysitter's Club books) is grateful when a respectful person such as yourself addresses the tie-ins for contemporary properties for the next generation.

That said, I eagerly await your Zuko prequel since I respect you as both an artist and a friend.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-05-21 01:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eiliem.livejournal.com
I had completely dismissed the Zuko!Prequel until I found out it was written by, not only fans, but fans I recognized from the lj Avatar community. ☆_☆

It was a flaily sparkly squeeful moment and now I can't wait to get my copy and share it with my tiny neighbours who love Avatar and were sad when season three finished.

(Incidentally, the eight year-old is a total Zuko fangirl I cannot wait for her reaction XD)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-05-21 04:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ali-wildgoose.livejournal.com
This comment really cheered the hell out of me, just so you know <3

(no subject)

Date: 2010-05-21 05:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eiliem.livejournal.com
I'm glad! &hearts

[livejournal.com profile] gossymer's post (http://community.livejournal.com/avatar_fans/3178817.html) over at [livejournal.com profile] avatar_fans was what made me go "Oh! I know them! They are fans! Whee~ \o/"

But it wasn't actually until today that I remembered why the name aliwildgoose was so familiar - back when I barely knew anything about lj I used to follow your ffnet account! I think I might have it bookmarked somewhere in the disaster that is my firefox bookmarks.

And I'm sorry to say that I rarely left reviews on ffnet (it seemed so impersonal) but I would now like to tell you that I absolutely love your fic and reread them whenever I needed an avatar fix. &hearts

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