I was doing research on the cartoon strip "Marmaduke," the huge dog, for my MONK novel (Monk loves Marmaduke), when I stumbled on this entertaining discussion of fandom at Websnark. He illustrates his ideas by describing what Marmaduke fandom might be like:
The Marmaduke fandom, on the other hand, spends a significant amount of time
on the Marmaduke forum (the Marmaduchy, let’s call it). They have many different
discussions on Marmaduke, and on things that have nothing to do with Marmaduke
— to the point that the Marmaduke forum moderators had to create a specific
topic for off-topic posts, and have to kick folks there whenever they stray.
They trade LJ icons and forum avatars based on Marmaduke art. They collect pithy
Marmaduke sayings. They affirm each other and their common love of Marmaduke,
and they find close friends through Marmaduke — friends that mean a lot to them
far beyond Marmaduke. This is what the Marmaduke Fandom has given them, and it
means everything to them.
The idea, for many of the Marmaducets and duchesses (so clever, those
Marmaduke fans — the guys naming themselves after currency and the girls making
a delightful play on Marmaduke’s name), is not so much the individual Marmaduke
strips themselves, but the zeitgeist of all that is Marmaduke. It’s the
attitude. It’s how Marmaduke makes them feel, and how much they can amplify that
feeling in the company of others. It can be terrifically empowering and it can
be terrifically satisfying. Right here, in this little community on the
internet, Marmaduke is the coolest thing around, and by showing your love for
Marmaduke, you’re cool too. And as for Marmaduke-creator Brad Anderson? The
Marmaduchy provides feedback and, more importantly, validation. It’s damn hard
to be a cartoonist — or a creator of any stripe. It takes effort and ego and
skill and talent, and you spend a huge amount of time wondering if anyone gives
a fuck. The Marmaduchy tells Anderson "yes. Yes, we give a fuck. We give many
fucks. In fact, if you want us to, several of us will in fact have sex with you
if you want, because you have brought so much pleasure to our lives that we
would dearly love to repay you."
The dark side of fandom, he says, is Fan Entitlement, which he describes like this:
Almost all fandom members feel a certain sense of entitlement. This is
normal. This is healthy. This is even slightly legitimate. The overall feeling
is "I have invested something of myself into Marmaduke. I evangalize Marmaduke.
I spend a portion of my day on Marmadukish things. I affirm Brad Anderson. I
deserve some recognition for this." And yeah, they do deserve some recognition.
They certainly deserve Brad Anderson saying "guys, thank you so much for
supporting Marmaduke. It means a lot to me that you like the strip."
And… well, that’s about it. They’re already getting Marmaduke for free (or
for the cost of their newspaper). They don’t get part-ownership of Marmaduke by
virtue of liking to read it. And if they offer Brad Anderson sex and he takes
it, that just means that Brad Anderson got some. It doesn’t mean they get to
dictate what Marmaduke would or wouldn’t do. The majority of Fandom members get
There is a minority, however, that dives into Entitlement, butt naked and way
over their heads. They do own Marmaduke, damn it! They’ve been loyal and
they’ve been true, and Brad Anderson is a total asshole who doesn’t really give
a fuck about Marmaduke or great danes in general! If he did, he’d do the strip
the way we want him to! Dammit! Someone should be able to take Marmaduke
away from him, so that Marmaduke could be done right! This can mean
anything from Marmaduke doing nothing but cat loving (or cat hating) jokes to
redesigning Marmaduke to be female with human breasts, depending on the person
in question. This minority is always there, lurking under the Fandom’s surface,
waiting for prey… and the moment any kind of deviation from the norm happens,
they break surface, ready to devour.
Having experienced this first hand on SEAQUEST and a number of other
series (as well as my DIAGNOSIS MURDER books), I know he’s right.