Is fandom dead?

This post on ExtremeTech suggests that fandom is dead.

Fandom, in this case, applies to extreme cases of collecting mania for a movie, book, game or other franchise, searching through multiple stores and driving across the city (or state) to find that ONE…LAST…ITEM, and more recently, sitting in lines for hours or days on end to celebrate the release of a movie, book or video game console.

I used to be that guy. I nearly bought, sight unseen, a signed, platinum copy of Death: The High Cost of Living when the artist of the comic, Chris Bachalo, came through San Antonio and signed everything people shoved in front of him. I still have a quick sketch of Death that he did (after seeing him do the same for another fan) and I drove across the city to get him to sign stuff at two different store signings. I stood in line and sat through opening-night showings of the X-Files movie, all three Lord of the Rings movies (even lying to a girl and telling her I’d see one of them with her 2 days after it was released – forget that!), and countless others. I took days off to play Civilization 2 when it came out, also to wait in line for Episode One tickets (hey, it was a good blast with a bunch of other Star Wars geeks and their very patient girlfriends). I even have plush versions of the Alien facehugger and chestburster.

I wasn’t as ‘bad’ as some other fanboys – I haven’t gotten any tatoos of comic book characters or slogans, I don’t have a huge collection of Aliens space ships (although I wouldn’t mind…), I have sold off major portions of my comic collection in times of financial desperation (was a really bad idea, I didn’t get anything close to fair value) and to my eternal regret I skipped going to the San Diego ComicCon when I lived in Orange County for 7 years.

However…now it’s just too easy to be a fanboy. ‘Fanboy’ doesn’t even mean what it used to mean, anyway. Nowadays it’s a moniker people attach to Windows power users or Xbox 360 freaks, it just doesn’t apply to me any more.

Plus, with the internet, eBay, ‘retro’ shirt companies and stickers, it’s far too easy to look like an OG (that’s Original Gangsta) of…pick your franchise: Transformers, Nintendo, Pac-Man, the Grateful Dead, whatever. For instance, I want a Transformers shirt, I used to be a big fan of the show when I was a kid and when I heard a movie was being made I actually thought to myself, ‘damn, I should get a shirt soon because soon every skater/emo kid in town is going to have a retro shirt like they actually watched it in the 80’s.’ So I put off getting the shirt and now I’ve seen the movie and I had an opportunity to get a pretty nice-looking shirt last weekend but passed.

I’ll tell you how much of a solid fanboy I am: I won’t even buy a cool NES gamepad belt buckle, even though I’d like one, because I never actually owned an NES. I didn’t really know too much about consoles as a kid and my dad would have never bought one anyway. I’ve seen cool, funky NES shirts I’d like to get, but no – I’m a purist. I won’t wear the shirt or the buckle. Commodore 64/128, hells yeah, though! My folks sprung for a 128 way back when and I’d spend hours playing copied games and stuff. I even did quite a bit of typing and writing on the word processor.

Anyway, I don’t think fandom is dead. If anything, it’s bigger than ever, as companies have cashed in on marketing and licensing rights, cracked down on copyright violations and released loads and loads of ‘authorized’ versions of absolutely everywhere. I was reading the Kevin Smith blog last week and although I know he’s milking the fandom with every non-action figure or t-shirt he releases, he’s living every comic geek’s dream.

I used to be a Kevin Smith fanboy too. 🙂

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