I have a very strong, very biased opinion on this subject, but it’s the opposite of what some folks think. You see, fan-fiction is something that fans who don’t write it really sometimes hate on, and it’s something that those who write it vehemently defend. But, in my opinion, it goes beyond the second point of view.
I think fan-fiction is good for a franchise.
First off, take my opinion with a grain of salt. I’m editor-in-chief of Marvel Omega, one of the premiere internal continuity-based fan-fiction sites on the internet. I’m kinda biased. But I think it’s important that writers get to explore the possibilities of things happening that can’t happen in the already-existing comic universe for whatever reason. A man named Meriades Rai wrote a Ghost Rider fan-fiction series a few years ago with a female Ghost Rider.
But I think the point isn’t that comics mirrored this rather simple idea from a fan-fiction series. The point is that the fan-fiction series was able to try it first, because Marvel was busy with their white male Ghost Riders at the time. It was a good testing ground, and Mr. Rai got some good mileage out of his stories before he stepped down off the character. Still, fan-fiction does its best to tell stories where mainstream comics can’t. Where else could you find a long-running series of stories about freakin’ USAgent? Where else would you find ongoing series about the Starjammers, the Wendigo, or Terror, Inc.? It’s not a wide world out there when it comes to publishing real comic books. I get that they do what they can, and they make books that sell, because certain concepts, no matter how well-written, won’t sell well based on how the public has received them in the past or based on how the public perceives the subject material from the word go.
So while DC jettisons continuity in favor of a new business plan and Marvel focuses all of its attention on the properties that will most likely be boosted by its movies, fan-fiction will maintain its own little world here. I love the real comics. Believe me, I do. But where else can you find stories motivated by nothing other than pure love for the characters?
No, really. I mean that. We are not motivated by money. We are not motivated to write what will sell. We write the best stories we possibly can and then we see what we can do from there. Scout’s honor.