HEROES

The Fan Fiction Fanzine

Editorial: Fanfic’s Most Influential People of the Decade

By • Feb 8th, 2010 • Category: Features, Lead Story

Yes, this editorial is a little late for all the “best of” lists we saw near the end of 2009.  I won’t argue that.  Honestly, I wasn’t considering writing anything like this until last week, after having a couple conversations and reading a few posts.  It wasn’t even anything about this particular idea.  I couldn’t trace it to any one thing, but I got thinking about it.

Before I get started, there’s a few disclaimers to go with this.  Number one, these are my opinions.  Naturally, my opinions will differ from yours in more ways than one.  I don’t consider myself an expert on the history of the HEROES corner of the mighty fanfiction world.  That said, I do have a lot of experience in the community.  I joined Marvel-X at 15 years old, and am currently 26.  There are a few active members of the community that have been around longer than me, but only a few.  I’ve also been a member of many of the major groups within the HEROES network of sites.  In other words, I’ve been around.

Number two, this list is purely intended to be about writers and editors who have made an lasting impact.  The biggest example of this is Sophism.  They showed up in 2001, made a splash with their blunt reviews, and then vanished.  Very few of them made any sort of lasting impact as anything but reviewers, especially within the community as a whole.

Lastly, not all of these people are well-liked.  Get it through your head right now that this isn’t a list of most likeable or most fun.  I don’t even like everyone on the list.  In fact, I despise the person I call the most influential, but there’s no denying his influence.

So, let’s get crackin’ shall we?

Writers

Brent Lambert

When I first thought about writing this editorial, the first thing I thought of was “who is the most prolific writer in the community?”  Three names popped into my head.  The first, thanks to my massive ego ( J ), was Tony Thornley.  I could write pages about that magnificent human being, but I won’t.  The other two though were more worth writing about than me.

Whether you like his work or not, Brent Lambert is undeniably one of the most prolific in our community.  He has worked at nearly every Marvel-based site, and a few of the DC ones.  On top of that, he’s grown tremendously as a writer and been consistently good for some time.  It’s obvious that he thinks through every issue, and he plays ball with each group.

Josh Reynolds

I really couldn’t pick between calling Brent or Josh the most prolific writer in the community, and really, why not both?  It’s my list anyways.  Josh is a professional writer and that quality shows in each of his stories.

On top of that, Josh doesn’t have a niche.  He’s written the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the Secret Six, Midnight Sons and Heroes for Hire.  That’s just a small sample, but it truly shows his range.

Mick Edwards

He’s probably the most controversial pick in the list, but there’s no denying that Mick Edwards is influential.  The best way I can describe him is the community’s shock jock.  Between his feuds with Cory Weigel or Dino Pollard, his blunt opinions and the fact that he’s still around despite the general disdain towards him, he’s the community’s biggest unifier.  Of course, most are unified in their dislike of him, but that’s beside the point.

The thing is, most of the time, he has a point.  You may not like him, you may not like how he said it, but he has a point.  On top of that, he’s actually grown as a writer, something that many others haven’t done in years.

Barry Reese

Barry isn’t as active in the community as he used to be, but he’s still there, like a snake, coiled and ready to strike.  Kind of.  Barry is another guy that’s been around the block, and he’s the best example of an old workhorse.  The biggest reason he’s on the list is that he’s the “second string guy.”

He was one of the first to expand the smallest of characters into their own little world.  He took an old Marvel UK series, and turned it into not only the longest running series in the community (Pendragons) but also one of the most fun and unique sites out there.  He showed everyone that there’s potential in every character that’s well worth exploiting.

Hunter Lambright

Honestly, before Hunter showed up, the best way to describe the HEROES community was incestuous.  The same five guys were writing for every site, and every site had five guys writing all their important titles.  Hunter led the second generation into the community and gave HEROES a shot in the arm.

Hunter was one of the first to write about Marvel’s newest concepts when the New Warriors and Generation X gave way to the Young Avengers and Runaways.  He blended the old and the new, and gave everyone a wake-up call to the cool concepts out there that many were ignoring.

Editors

Curt Fernlund

Curt is one of the most quiet forces in the community, but there’s no doubt that he carries a lot of influence.  As the leader of JLU2001 for several years, Curt has shown the Marvel-heavy community that not only can a DC site succeed in the world of Wolverines and Hulk, it can flourish.  This has been done with Curt in the background for the most part, quietly managing and organizing JLU2001 into a powerhouse name in the community.

Cory Weigel

Cory is on this list for one major reason.  After “the great DigitallyMystic” crash, several sites were essentially dead, and the most notable name on the list was Marvel 2000.  Suddenly, Cory picked the site up, and through sheer force of will revived the site.  Cory is the best example of how a single personality can drive a site on the edge of death to one of the community’s best.

Dino Pollard

Dino is the most polarizing person in the community.  Although he’s a relatively prolific writer, the quality of his stories vary widely, from the entertaining and engaging Thunderbolts to a disastrous single issue of Amazing Spider-Man that caused a falling-out with several long-time writers.  His strength in his writing is plotting, not scripting.  That’s why he’s not on the writer side of this list.

The administrator of several sites, Dino built the largest group in the community from the ashes of Marvel-X.  He’s helped several prominent writers in the community get their start, while alienating others.  Today, Marvel Omega is a juggernaut, and most of the credit goes to Dino.  While he may not be well-liked, there’s no denying the community wouldn’t be the same without him.

Doug Bookey

No one has done more for building a sense of community than Doug Bookey.  From the sites he runs- Altered Visions, Marvel Reborn, Ultimate DC- to the HEROES fanzine itself, Doug has been the biggest cheerleader of turning this group of people with a common interest into a genuine community, a word I’ve used so often in this piece.

The best part is, he’s succeeded, on a small scale with AV and a large scale in HEROES itself.

Mike Hintze

Mike is a relative newcomer to the editorial side of things, but he earned his spot here for one revolutionary idea.  He looked at DC’s upcoming series 52 and said “Why don’t I build a group around that?”  And you know what?  It worked.

For one fantastic year, DC Infinity updated every week with a new issue of 52 and a strong compliment of ongoing titles.  Although DCI’s momentum slowed after 52 ended, the series itself is a crowning achievement in fanfiction, and the group around it is proof that you can do something unique and succeed.

Fanfic’s Most Influential Person of the Last Decade

Eric Moreels

Many of you out there are going to read that name and ask “Who?” and you have a point.  Everyone else on this list is still somewhat active in some form today.  Eric hasn’t been active since 2001.  Simply put, group fanfic wouldn’t be the same today without Eric Moreels.  He showed all wannabes what to do, and what not to do.  In 1999, Eric founded Marvel-X as X-Men based counter programming to MV1, which was heavily Avengers based at the time.  MX was the second major Marvel group the HEROES community saw and was the launching pad for numerous writers such as myself.  Although fanfic groups existed for a few years prior to MX’s formation, Eric took the formula and perfected it.

Before he showed up, the EIC was more of a passive entity, editors were more webmasters, and continuity was weak and, at times, confusing.  Eric was a driving force for the early days of MX.  He organized the staff and titles, led discussions, offered input on stories, and was omnipresent in everything MX.  He worked closely with editors to ensure everything was going smoothly and assist in any way possible.  He acted as moderator in arguments, and was active in everything he could be.

Although that might sound like glowing praise, he had some major faults.  He was too involved in some arguments, leading to several people quitting the site.  He would make major edits to stories without consulting the author.  At one point he left the site, and initiated a takeover when one of the Co-EIC’s left, ousting several editors and the other Co-EIC.

Simply put, if you’ve written for a site within the HEROES community in the last 10 years, you’ve felt his influence, whether you knew it or not.

So, what do you think?  Agree, disagree?  Your picks?

4 Responses »

  1. I agree with the list for the most part as I have similar opinions on some of these writers and editors. Though, I never imagined myself as the Mark Millar of the HEROES Community, lol.

  2. Really interesting topic, Tony. I wanted to chip in some thoughts (posted on your LJ, but at your request also pasted in here), but first I really need to define “influential” as I’m thinking of it: in my own response here, when I talk about who I think has been influential, I mean that they’ve had a significant and identifiable impact on how we write fanfic (that’s comics-derived fanfic in the Heroes community) or on how we present and maintain it on the internet.

    With that as my definition, I honestly don’t think any one person has had major impact just as a writer…that is, I can’t think of anyone who’s appeared on the scene, only to have their specific style or methods emulated by others in even semi-widespread fashion. Sure some writers have been gifted, and these might have had the more general impact of inspiring others to work harder at their own offerings, but I honestly don’t think any one writer I’ve seen in my 7+ years in Heroes has heavily influenced the way the community as a whole (or even a large segment of it) writes. I think we get more of that influence from the fields of fiction, movies, and comics themselves. To repeat, though: certain writers we’ve been lucky enough to have (or still have in some cases) totally exemplify “talent.”

    Real influence on fanfic as a whole, though… Well, Moreels was before my time, but based on what I’ve consistently heard, he did have the kind of impact we’re talking about. Alex Maggi is another guy whose presence and departure predated my own arrival, but I hear similar things said about him. I agree with you that guys like Cory, Dino, Curt, Doug, and now Hunter all deserve the editorial nod, and for the reasons you cite, and while I don’t know Mike Hintze as well, I can feel his presence just by being around Heroes channels, so that’s a fair enough call, too, if a bit more recent. I think Dale Glaser has quietly maintained the DC side of things at FauxDC in much the same way Curt has at JLU2001, although if pressed I’d say that yeah, JLU seems maybe a bit “bigger” and “more active” overall. Both of those guys are awesome gents, too, by the way — good writers, and great people! I also think Dave Golightly brought a lot of energy in with him when he hit fanfic, and helped fan the activity flames at M2K (among others), and deserves some mention here for that.

    Others definitely deserving:

    1) Chris Munn. When I hit fanfic myself, there was a definite movement afoot to inject superhero fiction with the tropes of the horror genre, and in a surprisingly mature (and often very skillful) way, and Chris was at the center of that movement. This was comparable to DC’s Vertigo line in many ways, but done with Marvel characters, which really hadn’t been done all that much at that point, even in the comics, which was surprising, given Vertigo’s success. Not only did Chris write some of the finer examples of that kind of material, he also a) inspired some seriously talented people to kick in more of the same (sadly, a lot of those writers are gone now), and b) he created and maintained the sites that hosted it, like Strange Tales and Marvel: Dark Design. Chris is also a very central and recognizable figure that seems known and liked by pretty much everyone. The Heroes community and its library would be very different today without Mr. Munn’s contributions.

    2) Jason Kenney. Before blogging sites (like LJ) and social networking sites appeared, all we had were things like Yahoo groups to stay connected, and at least to me, Jason was the face of the Heroes Yahoo group. He ran it with a fair hand, encouraged participation, participated himself, and helped provide a virtual meeting place where we could all congregate. That sense of community was very important back then. I understand why people roam around now to other venues (especially the ones where we can add pretty pictures to our jabber), but Jason was The Man for hosting our on-line bull sessions for as long as he did during a crucial era for our fanfic…

    3) Gary Dreslinski. “Gary D.” as he was (and still is, I guess) known, took the Avengers2000 site, and with the help of a few dedicated Assistant EiC’s, built it into a juggernaut the likes of which we haven’t seen since, and quite possibly won’t see again. Not only did Gary get the main site cranked up to impressive productivity and quality levels, but he also began adding on other, smaller sites whose creators couldn’t or wouldn’t maintain them any longer. Gary tacked on probably close to a half dozen other sites as imprints of AV2K, then even fired up a DC sister-site before he finally decided he’d spent his personal supply of fanfic energy. Some would argue (and some have…) that by its later days of Gary’s reign, AV2K had too much material and too many imprints to support its own weight, but for a fairly glorious and surprisingly lengthy stretch there, Gary made it all work. Whether or not we *should* ever have a site that big again is a whole different question, but at the time, I think AV2K affected the way the whole array of sites in the Heroes community was viewed — it sort of skewed the picture of how big/active a site “should” be, and standards were different back then because of that. Gary was also a pretty genial guy, and he made AV2K a friendly and upbeat and cooperative place to do some writing, by the way…

    4) The Frontier Three. Frontier Publishing was a website run by Mike McGee, Russ Anderson, and Mike Exner III. All three guys have to be listed as some of the top writing talent Heroes has ever hosted, in my own opinion (and yours, too, if you have any grasp on what’s what here), and when they banded together to offer up Frontier — a site for original fiction that served as an outlet for many of us in the Heroes community — it was truly inspiring. I think Frontier made everyone work hard to step up their own games, and in a good way. It opened up our eyes to possibilities, and some of the writers here produced some of the best work I think they ever posted. I miss Frontier, and I miss those guys — I mean, they still post on LJ, and they’re around, but I miss them being active Heroes writers. I understand about evolution and such, and it’s more than understandable that they’d move on to other things, but when they folded up Frontier and more or less left the community as writers, it left a big hole. I think some of the other writers I’d rank as upper echelon talent at the time also took that as a cue to leave, so it wasn’t just the main three guys we lost. I think our little fanfic realm as a whole took a monster hit the day Frontier closed its doors, and in some ways, I think Heroes is still working on recovering…

    Steve

  3. It’s no surprise that Chris Munn didn’t make the posted list (did make it to Steve’s, however). Which doesn’t mean he shouldn’t. He’s often the man behind the curtain. It’s rather unfortunate that a lot of his sites have disappeared because when he was running Strange Tales, MDD, RevX, they were consistently the best. Munn never allowed dips in quality. Screw that…he wouldn’t even let you in the door!

    Which isn’t to say you had to be an established “big gun” to impress him. He had a nose for talented, fresh blood like few others.

    Not to mention that beyond horror, there wasn’t ever a site that didn’t want him to come write for them. And he did, for a logn time just as much as anybody (except maybe Dino). Plus, he’s just that damned good telling his stories, too.

    Nev

  4. Let’s not forget the Future Shock boys who, in their heydey were as prolific as anybody, more talented than anybody and if memory serves, were the first guys around to do weekly postings of some stories.

    Oh, and, I’d like to give a nod to Sophism. If Mick can make the list for being a “shock-jock” (I’m not sure I’d glorify it that much) then somewhere, someplace, you have got to note Sophism. You think Mick flung the muck? He ain’t got nothing on the Sophism clan (incidentally, what happened to the Future Shock crew when they realised they were so damned talented).

    Nev

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