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  1. #1
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    Default Charcter Ownership - Creators versus the Fans

    I hope this doesn't upset anyone, but I thought that Eve Ewing really had nothing to do with the point I was trying to make or the ideas I was trying to flush out, so maybe I will try this again and it will not meltdown into a broad discussion on race and politics in America.

    It has been said and generally understood in Sports Radio that the fans take the sport more seriously that the players or the teams. The players have their own concerns. They want to get paid. They are training. Team owners trade players to pursue profits. But for fans, it is quite simple. They attend games and root for their favorite players, and can get more upset over the strike out on a 3-2 curveball than a player can afford to.

    Now, over generations, we have dozens of characters which seemingly have taken a life of their own. They are cultural icons, such as Superman, Batman, Spider-man, and Wolverine, etc.

    It can be argued that fans are better keepers of their characters place in literature than even the creators of these works. Clearly we have had cases which editors and writers have seemingly done damage to characters which in the end alienate fans, even destroying the market value os these characters. These writers enter into agreement to work on titles, and they often have little background on the characters, and a mandate to pump out new material every month. This is direct conflict with fandom which cherishes titles, and characters and expect a constant standard in the product and character.

    Who then is the better steward of the comic characters that are being created? The writers and artists? The editors and corporate? Or the fans?

  2. #2
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    It has been said and generally understood in Sports Radio that the fans take the sport more seriously that the players or the teams. The players have their own concerns. They want to get paid. They are training. Team owners trade players to pursue profits. But for fans, it is quite simple. They attend games and root for their favorite players, and can get more upset over the strike out on a 3-2 curveball than a player can afford to.
    Welp, let's replace the line-up and coaches of a major sports team with a bunch of fans, and see how well they do.

    Now, over generations, we have dozens of characters which seemingly have taken a life of their own. They are cultural icons, such as Superman, Batman, Spider-man, and Wolverine, etc.
    But they haven't taken on a life of their own at all. Creators have given them life. Never has there been a fandom without a creator first having created the subject of the fandom.

    It can be argued that fans are better keepers of their characters place in literature than even the creators of these works.
    It can't be argued very well.

    Clearly we have had cases which editors and writers have seemingly done damage to characters which in the end alienate fans, even destroying the market value os these characters.
    The issue here is corporate interests. When there has to be a new issue of Stupendous Man every month, every year, every decade, some stinkers are going to be made, regardless of whether it's creators or fans who are shepherding the property.

    Of course, the properties you mention have not been shepherded by creators in decades. They're shepherded by corporations.

  3. #3
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    I'd start out by questioning the entire divide here. Historically, mythologies, legends, and tales have been created in a constant rotation where listeners/readers retell the stories, embellish them, and let them live on to in turn be retold and recrafted. Good or resonant stories live on, poor stories are forgotten.

    The divide into canonical stories, or as the author as something distinct from the reader, is a rather modern innovation. (The year is 2018 AD. All storytelling is entirely controlled by the forces of copyright. Well, not entirely… One small indomitable fan group still holds out against the copyright forces. And life is not easy for the lawyers who garrison the fortified camps of Disney, Warner Brothers, Sony, and Fox…)

    And even lone authors in full control of their legacy have often managed to hurt the way their stories and characters are percevied, without any help from corporations. Robert Jordan arguably lost control of his plot and writing, focusing far more on the minutiae of worldbuilding and crafting puzzles in the latter stages of Wheel of Time (though here it might be fan contacts that helped put him on the wrong path). Heinlein and Asimov both made ill-advised returns to their old books and settings.

    The problem here is that this is all a set of immense grey zones that now is made absolute due to the way publishing works in our times. But what might be the issue is probably the idea that fanon and canon are two different things. Rather, a canon is a fanon that has been set aside and made special by forces extrinsic to the creative endeavour.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjn View Post
    I'd start out by questioning the entire divide here. Historically, mythologies, legends, and tales have been created in a constant rotation where listeners/readers retell the stories, embellish them, and let them live on to in turn be retold and recrafted. Good or resonant stories live on, poor stories are forgotten.

    The divide into canonical stories, or as the author as something distinct from the reader, is a rather modern innovation. (The year is 2018 AD. All storytelling is entirely controlled by the forces of copyright. Well, not entirely… One small indomitable fan group still holds out against the copyright forces. And life is not easy for the lawyers who garrison the fortified camps of Disney, Warner Brothers, Sony, and Fox…)
    I think you uncover a large aspect of this issue (and the idea of copyright altogether). Once you release something to the public, you have agreed to share the mindshare of that creation with the audience. This gets to the heart of the human condition. We have a shared mind with aspects that are private. All of our creations are dependent on a broader sociological context, and nobody is truly independent. We are conduits for our social existence. In the modern context, we roughly have three constituencies within the context of any fictional contrivance. We have the editor who has to usher a work into a context that succeeds at the specific goals of the publishing organization, which includes economic assets and goals. Then you have the storytellers themselves, who might also be the creators of the character, or just a steward. The final group is obviously the fans or the audience.

    The interaction among these groups was much easier, obviously, in ancient history or in hunting and gathering societies. Any individual would come upon a work of mythology, and fix it according to there understanding of the story. Stories themselves take a life of their own over generations, being told orally, one generation to the next. The audience and the creator overlaps, and all own a product after it is created. We don't really have that luxury in a modern society. We have all but either standardized a piece to be immutable, or assigned the retelling and extension to a professional class.

    This breaks down though. Editors can not care about the integrity of a work. Owner/Creators are often their own worst enemy, because editors most often intervene on the behalf of the audience. Unchecked, works just go off the rail. Audiences, are hard to measure, and understanding the audience is a broad discussion of its own. But clearly a work like Star Trek would just not exist today if ownership of the program hadn't been al but taken over by the fans.

    And even lone authors in full control of their legacy have often managed to hurt the way their stories and characters are percevied, without any help from corporations. Robert Jordan arguably lost control of his plot and writing, focusing far more on the minutiae of worldbuilding and crafting puzzles in the latter stages of Wheel of Time (though here it might be fan contacts that helped put him on the wrong path). Heinlein and Asimov both made ill-advised returns to their old books and settings.

    The problem here is that this is all a set of immense grey zones that now is made absolute due to the way publishing works in our times. But what might be the issue is probably the idea that fanon and canon are two different things. Rather, a canon is a fanon that has been set aside and made special by forces extrinsic to the creative endeavour.
    Yes - and for my money, cannon has become a noose to storytelling.

  5. #5
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    There are two other factors that are huge here, and arguably more important than copyright.

    The first is mass production and distribution. Ever since the printing press was invented, our methods for spreading stories have become more effective and cheaper. This means that great, effective, or popular storytellers can reach larger and larger audiences. For a long time, this was tied with greater and greater infrastructure needs to achieve that distribution. This was arguably the commercial basis for our modern copyright.

    The second factor, and relatively modern, is the democratisation of distribution. That puts on back towards the pre-printing-press situation, where everyone could be a storyteller for a hundred people, but nowadays a person with a phone can reach millions over the entire world to with their stories.

    I'd argue that this second factor pushes back the control that big commercial conglomerations can keep over "their" characters and worlds. It might not impact film and tv that much (due to the resources and effort to make even a single film), but the rise of fanfic and webcomics both challenge other areas of the entertainment industry from different directions.

  6. #6

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    I usually see the creator of the character/story as the actual owner unless they sold the rights etc. I don't buy the whole fans as owners concept because they tend to play a more passive/reactive role in the creative process than a real contributor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by the illustrious mr. kenway View Post
    I usually see the creator of the character/story as the actual owner unless they sold the rights etc. I don't buy the whole fans as owners concept because they tend to play a more passive/reactive role in the creative process than a real contributor.
    I don't believe so and historically this is not supported. First of all, everything that was created is dirivitive of something else that was created.

    The fans and the public are the owner of any creative endeavor unless there is a limited right that is given under copyright. Creators never get anything out of it anyway. You see that over and over that creators have no ability to comericalize anything and when they gain control, projects all but bomb. Publishers always own the rights, as a practical matter, usually it is better that way because the creators, left to their own devises, destroy most works. The number of truly successful owner published works is near zero. If you want to run a title into the ground, let the artist and writier take over the books without editors or supervision.

    Mostly though, fans, IMO, are the most important and most informed as to how to make a work function, and the history and creative substance of any work. Without active fans, a title will just wither.
    Last edited by mrbrklyn; 09-22-2018 at 08:14 PM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjn View Post
    There are two other factors that are huge here, and arguably more important than copyright.

    The first is mass production and distribution. Ever since the printing press was invented, our methods for spreading stories have become more effective and cheaper. This means that great, effective, or popular storytellers can reach larger and larger audiences. For a long time, this was tied with greater and greater infrastructure needs to achieve that distribution. This was arguably the commercial basis for our modern copyright.
    Copyright starts with the Queen Anne grants. It was designed to control the flow of information and to protect the interest of those connected to the throne, or who paid the throne, by granting exclussive printing rights for the purpose of sale to specific parties. Even by the late 17th century, printing was so cheap that flooding the market and reducing costs to material threatened the exclussive controls of protected printing houses. To support the printing houses, the Queen gave exclussive printing rights.

    The second factor, and relatively modern, is the democratisation of distribution. That puts on back towards the pre-printing-press situation, where everyone could be a storyteller for a hundred people, but nowadays a person with a phone can reach millions over the entire world to with their stories.
    It was like that before facebook and wikipedea. The phone is designed to control access and the search engines today are all product placement.
    The day of the free wheeling internet is all but dead.

    I'd argue that this second factor pushes back the control that big commercial conglomerations can keep over "their" characters and worlds. It might not impact film and tv that much (due to the resources and effort to make even a single film), but the rise of fanfic and webcomics both challenge other areas of the entertainment industry from different directions.
    This is not the issue I was originally making in this thread, but fan created works were popular for decades. Tijuana Bibles and the independent comics, Crumb et al...

    It is better now? Not that I see.

    ~~reuvain

  9. #9
    Fantastic Member hishandmaiden's Avatar
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    I think character ownership belongs to the writers.
    Character enjoyment, though, belong to the fans.
    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son Jesus Christ, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrbrklyn View Post
    The number of truly successful owner published works is near zero. If you want to run a title into the ground, let the artist and writier take over the books without editors or supervision.
    Oh, really? What about the Walking Dead and Invincible? I'm pretty sure Mr. Kirkman has 100% control and ownership of his creations and they're virtually house-hold names these days. So, it seems you're mistaken, my friend.

    Creator owned properties are just better, because they aren't tied down by some editor, but only by the creator/writer's vision. I'd much rather see something made as intended over what some exec thinks.

  11. #11
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    The real problem is that fans do not recognize the reason why certain things were made or written in the first place. Hence why the answer to this question is always going to be anybody but the fans.

  12. #12
    MXAAGVNIEETRO IS RIGHT MyriVerse's Avatar
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    Eh. Fans? Never. I tend to favour corporate over creator.
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