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20 September 2009 @ 03:22 pm
A Love Letter To My First Fandom - The Batverse  
I've been feeling rather nostalgic lately for my first true fandom. I'm not sure why, but that old longing of yore has crept up on me. You see, before there was Buffy/Spike there was Batman/Catwoman and Nightwing/Oracle. Here's a brief history on how I got into them  - TV and comics brought me to fanfic - the first fic stories that made an impression on me, an it's similarities to why I heart certain Buffyverse characters and my own writing.

My love of Batman/Catwoman was an early love. When I was 6, Fox started running Batman: The Animated Series on TV after school and it was a love affair from the get go. Gotham and its crime fighting residents were dark and beautiful and twisted. Cearly content a 6 year old would enjoy (Wha?). Even at that early age, I think I appreciated the complexity of Batman - he's fucked up, he's angry, and goddamnit, he's not going to take it anymore. His is a 'verse full of characters with serious psychological Issues. It turns out I still like characters with issues! (See Buffy & Faith <3) But there was one character that stood out from the assortment of damaged and emotionally stunted adults. In the space between his demented, psychotic rogues gallery and his trusted allies there was Catwoman, who fit "morally gray" to a T. She was strong, beautiful, sexual, smart, snarky and somehow always got one over on Batman. And she wasn't bad. Not really. No evil in her heart, just in it for herself, seeking personal profit, but not interested in hurting others or world domination. And he was fascinated with her. Didn't know what to think about a woman that didn't fit into his black and white world of criminals and violence and illegal doings. Sounds a bit like Buffy and Spike, doesn't it? But with a bit of gender reversal. I admired her and, on some little girl level, wanted to be her. I remember going to the comic store with my dad and sometimes my grandfather and I would buy issues of Catwoman just so I could look at the pictures and dream.

By the time I got to middle school, I was in full comics mode. In 1999 at the age of 13 I was going through a closet and stumbled onto boxes of my dad's old comics. One such box had nearly the entire run of Batman: Knightfall in it, a seminal story arc published in 1993 where Bruce Wayne's back is severely broken by an arch villain and he has to stop being Batman for over a year as he heals. At the time this originally came out, we had bought a book on tape of the comic arc. I came down with a fever and remember hallucinating that I was Batman and woke up screaming, "I don't want to be Batman anymore!" So, Batman: Knightfall and I have a lot of history.

That first introduction was all the push I needed. I gobbled up every major Batman storyarc I could find. I'm sure between 1999 - 2005 I spent thousands of dollars on comic books. I couldn't get enough.  I skipped my 8th grade camping trip so that I could go to a signing at the now defunct Warner Brothers Store on 57th and 5th for Batman: War on Crime graphic novel that was written by Paul Dini (famous creator of the animated series, the character Harley Quinn, and has gone on to write episodes of Lost and Smallville) and Alex Ross, possibly the most successful commercial comic book artist ever. Check out his website here. His work is breath taking.  

And through it all I couldn't stop loving Batman/Catwoman. 2002-2003 marked the release of the 12-issue arc of Batman:Hush where Batman/Catwoman develop a romance and Batman reveals his identity to Selina. Plus, lots of hot kissing. A 'shippers dream, truly.

Concurrently, my interest in the Batverse expanded and, after reading both the Nightwing and Birds of Prey comics, I fell in love with the beautiful relationship that was Nightwing/Oracle. Oracle aka Barbara Gordon is Commissioner Gordon's daughter (actually adopted niece) and the former Batgirl. In Batman: The Killing Joke, which was written by Alan Moore (of Watchmen and V for Vendetta fame) and originally published in 1985, one evening the Joker catches Babs unaware in her apartment and shoots her through the spine, paralyzing her from the waist down. After her recovery, she later became known as Oracle, a knowledge resource to the superheroes. She's a computer hacker, research maven, comm specialist, etc.Her character is defined by her brillance, her inner strength, and yes, she's beautiful, too. She's such a great role model because while she is physically handicapped, the writer's never let that define her.

Nightwing aka Dick Grayson was the first Robin. If you're thinking of the kid in shortpants that was Batman's ward back in the day, it's him. What I love about Dick is he actually isn't fucked up. All the Bat characters are the way they are because of terrible traumas in their lives, but somehow Dick was able to overcome his parents murder and lead an emotionally healthy existence. I was obsessed with him. I would seek out comics where he was either shown undressed, kissing or sexually involved with other super heroes. I dare say that Nightwing was my sexual awakening, if I had to pin that honor onto a fictional character. He's a compassionate, upstanding guy, courageous, a bit of a man whore, and utterly infatuated with Barbara, though she was too scared to take it anywhere because of her own insecurities.

And then there was fanfiction. Babs and Dick broke up in the comics, but I still wanted to read about them. I used to lurk on the DCU message boards and I remember once following a link that was posted. This was in 2000. It lead my to this fic - Oracle and Nightwing by Jody Revenson. It's a really gorgeous character study of the two of them, and, well, not surprisngly HOT AS HELL. Though there's just a hint of purple prose, it's still a great fic that I thoroughly enjojyed after rediscovering it about a week ago. I encourage you all to take a peek. You don't really need to know anything about them to get this story. Something that occurred to me while reading this was certain thematic similarities to my own work - one of the character's is physically injured, another is emotionally injured, the circumstance of mutual injury creates situational intimacy that builds on preexisting feelings, which leads to sex and a certain amount of emotional healing at the story's conclusion. Hm, sounds like half the stuff I write. As a side note, my first fanfiction was a story I wrote at 14 using an original character that I suppose would now be considered a Mary Sue. I wrote her as a love interest for Nightwing and I never did post it publically. It was for this bit of fanfic that I originally met Gus, who was going to illustrate portions of it for me. Hee.

Though I don't have much interest in slash in the Buffyverse, I did slash Nightwing/Arsenal when I was a wee lass. At the time, the author 'rith was a pretty big Titans writer and I remember coming across this story by her - On Target. It's not something I would read now. What can I say? My 13 year old self was just too surprised by the content of the story to carefully critique the writing. 'Rith now writes under kerithwyn on LJ. Another standout fic I read around the same time period was Truth or Dare by Aya & Tboarder. It's a rather long story in which all the team members of the Titans (Nighting was the leader) play an epic game of truth or dare and hijinks that ensue. I was digging through some old folders last weekend and came across a printed version of this fic. It made me laugh because I distinctly remember bringing it to school with me and reading excerpts of it to my friends in hushed whispers punctuated by naughty giggles.

There used to be a fic archive called the Grey Archive, which was home to tons of comic-related smutty fic. Some years ago it changed to this weird porn pay-site, which bummed me out since there were a number of fics there that I lost, including  this epic Batverse fic that was incredible and a rather memorable porny Spiderman/OC fic where they had sex on the ceiling.

Eventually, my interest in comic fanfiction waned and I started in on Buffy stuff over at fanfiction.net in 2002 or so. And the the rest is history. I was never part of a fannish community on LJ during my DCU years. It was all very solitary. Most of my geeking happened in my local comic store where I usually spent 3-4 hours after school every Wednesday hanging out with the owner and other patrons. Those were some good times. I even met one of my first boyfriend there!

So, I've shown you mine. Why not show me yours? What was your first fandom and, if you read fanfiction for it, can you remember the first story you read or one that made a major impression on you?

I will also happily accept recs for Batman/Catwoman or Nightwing/Oracle fanfiction. *holds out hands imploringly*
The Mezzaninedeird1 on September 20th, 2009 07:52 pm (UTC)
Oooh, how interesting.

I'd love to tell you all about my first real fandom - but you're looking at it! Never really got into anything pre-Buffy.

(Looking back, though, the first major indication of my fannish tendencies probably popped up back in my Dawson's Creek days. When I wasn't watching the show for the plotline nearly so much as the directing. Had I been on LJ back then, I probably would have written lots of meta about it.)
ClawofCat: comics: kitty want getclawofcat on September 20th, 2009 08:26 pm (UTC)
Oooh, how interesting.
Yes. Imagine my annoyance when Marvel and DC starting pumping out all their comic movies and I was like, "Hey! I was into this stuff before it was cool, okay?" Most of the movies have little bearing on the comics, really. They might as well be AUs. But I do think the Chris Nolan Batman movies are great! Much better than the Tim Burton and early '90s sequels.

Looking back, though, the first major indication of my fannish tendencies probably popped up back in my Dawson's Creek days.
Oh, so with you. I loved Dawson's Creek. I think it followed Buffy its first season? I recently rewatched a number of S1 eps that I'd taped off TV when they originally aired. They didn't really hold up like I thought they would, but they still were highly entertaining and omg! so racy. I never thought so at the time, but damn. All of them having sex with teachers, and Jenn's sordid past and how are they supposed to be 15!?.

I'd be interested in a meta about the directing. I never really thought about it one way or another. What stood out about it on the show?
The Mezzanine: Pacey/Joey rememberdeird1 on September 20th, 2009 10:22 pm (UTC)
Largely seasons 3 and 4 (especially season 4). It starts getting really cleverly directed in many, many ways. (Which I must go into more detail about, sometime.)

I mostly have seasons 1 and 2 for the silly fun, seasons 3 and 4 because they're fascinating... and try to pretend that seasons 5 and 6 never ever happened.
ClawofCat: comics: babs not amusedclawofcat on September 20th, 2009 11:28 pm (UTC)
Most of Dawson's Creek is a muddle for me. Somewhere down the line I remember it got ridiculous and I had to stop watching when I started throwing things at the TV screen. I'll need a refresh on the story arcs of S3 and S4. Andy and Jack?

I did watch the last episode though and totally cried. Poor Jen. And yay Doug and Jack!
The Mezzaninedeird1 on September 20th, 2009 11:33 pm (UTC)
Um... let's see.

Andy going crazy is in season 2, so by season 3 her and Pacey have broken up - so have Joey and Dawson.

Most of season 3 is a big long sequence of Joey and Pacey falling in love with each other behind Dawson's back.

Then, in season 4 Dawson is going out with Pacey's sister, and hanging out with really-old-film-director-guy, and Andy goes off to Rome, and Jack gets a groovy boyfriend with glasses.

Seasons 5 and 6 are set in college, and really really crap.
ClawofCat: Seriously?clawofcat on September 20th, 2009 11:37 pm (UTC)
Wow, I must have checked out after S3 then because the rest of that doesn't sound familiar at all.
(Deleted comment)
ClawofCat: comics: catbat kissclawofcat on September 20th, 2009 08:55 pm (UTC)
believe me when I say it was an all-consuming obsession.
Isn't it always? You just must have it ALL. I don't think I've been as enthusiastic about any fannish thing since Buffy ended. I had a brief explosion of interest in Spock/Uhura after the Star Trek reboot came out, but that died after a few weeks.

I was first introduced to fandom when I stumbled upon theforce.net at age 13 due to searching for Thrawn fanfiction.
I'll be really interested to see how old other people were when they first got into fannish pursuits. Awhile back I made a post called When Were You First Corrupted? and, not surprisingly, a lot of well known books and erotic literature were what opened youngsters eyes to the world of sex and porn. It seemed most people had exposure at around age 10 or so.

Side note: I remember Batman: The Animated Series, that was an awesome show.
Yes it was! I have all the DVDs and too many lithographs, collector plates and other memorabilia to name. *sigh* Miss it so much. Really do.

Thanks for sharing your own Star Wars love and brief history of fandoms. It's so neat to hear how people got into all this.
V. Wishes: babs sexyviciouswishes on September 21st, 2009 01:26 am (UTC)
I have a few DC fanfic recs.

I also loved Catwoman/Batman when I was younger. Now I'm mostly about the femslash in the Batverse.
ClawofCat: comics: nightwing flyingclawofcat on September 21st, 2009 01:43 am (UTC)
Wait. Hold up. glossing wrote DCU fic? Shiiiit. I gotta check that out. Thanks for the recs. I'm gonna be all over that Batman/Catwoman one.

I was flipping through old Birds of Prey earlier today and damn, they were really pushing the subtext with Dinah/Babs weren't they? I think there was one full page illustration in the Hunt for Oracle where B is injured and D is cradling her, but it's uber sexual. It was one of those "Huh!" moments.
V. Wishesviciouswishes on September 24th, 2009 06:54 pm (UTC)
Dinah/Babs were extremely slashy in those early Birds of Prey comics. And also when Dinah comes back with her daughter, which that parts is really OT3 with Helena.
Rebcake: hellorebcake on September 21st, 2009 07:23 am (UTC)
I've been a fan of many, many things, but never felt moved to read or write fanfiction before Buffy. I started obsessing with Star Trek, moved on to the Oz books (along with the many other literature series you'd expect), then the Beatles, and went all out for DC, which held my interest for a long time. I eventually wrote my undergraduate thesis on Lois Lane, so I guess that would be my first piece of meta.

I was a big fan of independent/alternative comics in the heyday, most especially Love & Rockets, which was a life-changer. I wrote and edited comics, as well as writing articles, but eventually slacked off due to my involvement with music, then child-rearing. After I discovered Buffy in Jan. 2006 or 2007, all my obsessive tendencies were inflamed. It doesn't seem to be diminishing.
ClawofCat: comics: cat illuminatedclawofcat on September 22nd, 2009 05:43 am (UTC)
I eventually wrote my undergraduate thesis on Lois Lane, so I guess that would be my first piece of meta.
Oh, what I would give to read that! What angle did you use for your analysis? When I was working at the paper, there was more than one female journalist I overheard wishing she were like Lois Lane.

I always say that comics helped me get into college. I wrote my college essay on their influence on me as a writer and aspiring journalist (references to hallucinatory ravings about me not wanting to be Batman anymore were included), specifically Spider Jerusalem from Transmetropolitan, whose a Hunter S. Thompson sort of lunatic/crusading urban journalist in the future. Maud would actually fit right into his world, come to think of it.

My first paid piece of writing was also a profile of my local comic shop for a business magazine, which eventually segue-wayed into the rise of comics in popular culture (the first Spiderman movie had just come out) and their effects on the entertainment industry/economy. I owe a lot to all those men and women in tights.

I was a big fan of independent/alternative comics in the heyday, most especially Love & Rockets, which was a life-changer. I wrote and edited comics, as well as writing articles
I've never read Love & Rockets, but had always heard good things about it. I should ask Gus whether he has a trade of it. And the more I hear about you and the comics, the more intrigued I get. What comics did you write/edit? Are you this crazy famous person and I just haven't realized? Are you Devin Grayson or Jo Duffy!? (Those are the only 2 female writers I can think of off the top of my head - go gender equality). Does your husband work in mainstream comics? All sort of personal questions, but... inquiring minds want to know! PM me if you don't want to answer in comments.
Rebcake: hellorebcake on September 22nd, 2009 06:37 am (UTC)
It's been awhile, but I know that a pretty big part of my thesis was that Lois' seemingly insane romantic pursuit of Superman was in fact a canny way to retain her independence. By setting her sights so publicly on an unattainable male, she didn't have to make herself available to someone who might have made an "honest" woman of her. In the 40s & 50s, it was no easy thing to be an independent, but not openly rebellious, woman. That was the first part, but the other parts I'd have to think on for a bit.

Definitely check out Love & Rockets if you get the chance. I'd start with the earlier stuff, if possible. Some of brother Gilbert's more recent work can be sort of nihilistic and brutal, which wasn't the case originally. The thing that stands out about Los Bros. Hernandez' work is the variety and realism of the female characters, which most of them are. This was incredibly rare in comics in the 80s, and is only marginally less so today in any type of media, alas. They always got the same questions Joss gets today, "Why do you write such strong female characters?" Which, duh, why wouldn't you? Have fun!