Welcome to SBC’s The Panel, a chance for you to put your burning questions – comics-related or otherwise – to a group of comics professionals.

The Panel lives or dies by your contributions; please email them to panel@silverbulletcomicbooks.com and we’ll add them to the list…

This week’s question is as follows:-

“What do creators think of fanfic? And the writers who write it? Do editors regard fanfic as a useful training ground for new writers or are the writers ripping off the company?”

Vito Delsante:

Well, personally, I don’t have a problem with it as I have dipped my pen in the fanfic ink once or twice before. I think it can be looked at as a compliment…someone loves your creation (or your property) so much that they want their chance to write them, but I understand why it is looked down upon. Companies like Marvel and DC have strict guidelines as to how their characters are to be portrayed, and they pay good money to have them portrayed as such. I understand why they get upset or up in arms about it, but I should hope they have a little leniency in the future. Shutting down sites is like going after a fly with an elephant gun.

Vito Delsante’s creator owned mini-series, “The Mercury Chronicles”, with artist Jim Muniz, is now in development with Image Comics and will hit stands late this year. “Batman Adventures Vol 2: Shadows and Masks” (DC Comics) is out now! He will next be seen in Reflux Comics #3 (August) and in X-Men Unlimited #5 (October).

Roberta Gregory:

I rather like the concept of fan fiction myself, but I have not had that many readers do take-offs on my work. One of my readers did a great text-piece for my 30th issue of Naughty Bits, but that is about all that exists, to my knowledge, besides the occasional attempts by other people to draw Bitchy Bitch. I think I would be a bit flattered that a reader was so interested in my story and characters that they wanted to venture into their own territory with it. As long as they weren’t making money off it… I think then it would run into a copyright violation. Where is the line drawn on that issue?

I think it makes all the difference that I am still free to create Material of my own. (The animation company really did…. uhh, their own version of “Bitchy Bitch” when they adapted it for television, but I was still writing and drawing my own Bitchy stories.)

It would be different, say, if I had created a character or universe for a large publisher and then the job of writing and drawing was given over to others. And because of something in the contract, I could not do anything more with that material.

Roberta Gregory is the creator of “Bitchy Bitch”, who not only stars in Roberta’s Naughty Bits comic book (ex from Fantagraphics), but also appears on television worldwide in animated adventures, the latest being the “Life’s a Bitch” series on the Oxygen Network.

Donna Barr:


Fanfic is fun.

When people do Desert Peach or Stinz fanfic, it cracks me up.

I’ve even helped people write it.

It’s a hoot!

Donna Barr has books and original art at www.stinz.com, webcomics at www.moderntales.com, www.girlamatic.com, and has POD at www.booksurge.com Nothing she won’t try, at least once…including writing a column for SBC at this link!

Stephen Holland:

Is that the stuff that has Robbie Williams snogging Michael Portillo?

Oh right, just generally using copyrighted characters for non-profit pleasure.

Not something I’ve had contact with, but anyone who makes the effort to punch their keyboards, use their imagination and the English language is doing a lot more than sitting mesmerised in front of their TV or smacking their pads to PS2 Games.

If you don’t hear from me in the next few weeks, it has nothing to do Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

Though I’ll be gutted if there’s no Maurice Chavez.

Stephen Holland runs Page 45 – a comic shop in Nottingham – with Mark Simpson and Tom Rosin. He can also be found, monthly, in Comics International.

Jesse Leon McCann:

I’ve never read any fan fiction, sorry. I suppose it’s good exercise for amateur writers.

Jesse Leon McCann is a New York Times Best-selling Author. He’s currently editing the fourth Simpsons TV Episode Guide for Bongo Comics/Harper Perennial, and writing stories for DC Comics’ Looney Tunes and Cartoon Cartoons.

Vince Moore:

Well, in this day and age of excessive branding, I’m sure many companies think of fanfic as copyright infringement and as damaging to the trademarks the companies own. Me, I’ve never engaged in creating fanfic. I know it goes on and it was always a curiosity to me, not something I really sampled.

That being said, all potential writers have to start somewhere. There’s nothing wrong with learning the craft of writing by playing with your favorite characters. Hell, I think that most of us creators, from wannabes and newbies to old timers, created tales of our favorite characters. Either overtly or covertly, through the art of reimagining a character. Superman becomes Hyperdude and you’re off to the races, telling your own grand adventures of your version of your favorite hero.

As long as no one writing fanfic tries to sell their stories, I don’t think any real harm is being done.

Vince Moore is the editor for DarkStorm Studios, a comics company started by Kevin Grevioux of Underworld fame.

Bart Thompson:

On the topic, this reminds me of a topic that was brought to my attention about Hasbro shutting down a Transformers erotica web site. The fact that one existed blew my mind… erotica with robots? I can’t wrap my brain around the concept, but apparently it had a wide audience. Personally, I’d think that Hasbro would/should like the fact that there are a group of people (consumers who BUY their stuff) would love one of their properties so much that they imagine having sex with them. I’m pretty sure the makers of Tomb Raider know about the bazillion of nude Laura Croft fan sites/pics out there and they probably smile and chuckle knowing that someone loves their creation that much and took time, energy, and brainpower to produce such work and has devoted fantasy time to it. I’m pretty sure they target those fans in particular when they go to market new Tomb Raider products.

For me, as long as there is a disclaimer saying something like “So & So /Creation is © & TM by So and So/Creator, All Rights Reserved. This site is in no relation to So and So and is a site created by fans for fans for personal enjoyment, not monetary gain. The pictures, text, and views contained are in no way sanctioned by the Son So/company, but a shrine of love and devotion to their creation and their works”… you know, something up that line of thinking. So if a Vampires Unlimited (one of my main properties) fan out there wants to do a website devoted to Doll and Chase having sex with all the other VU characters and each other, I would not care. I’d actually be amused and a bit honored.

So ending this section of my answer, I’d like to say at the end of the day that though I don’t understand a lot of fetishes out there, whatever people do to get off in their own homes is not my responsibility. More power to them. As long as people aren’t stepping over the rights and boundaries of other people and it’s a healthy relationship with other consenting adults, whatever makes them feel good, do it!

To wrap this all up, I think all of us as creators started off doing fanfic type things in our early stages. When we first picked up an X-Men comic we all wanted to learn to draw like Jim Lee and write like Chris Claremont (okay, that was me, but I’m sure you all had similar experiences). It’s all a natural part of the creative process. As long as the person grows from the experience is what matters. Hell, work for hire is pretty much paid fanfic, right (*grin*)?

Bart Thompson is the founder of Approbation Comics and creator of “Vampires Unlimited”, “the Metamutoids”, “ChiSai”, and “Chaos Campus: Sorority Girls vs Zombies”.

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