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Gail Simone Wants to Know if People Think There’s a Difference Between Comics Fans and “Tumblr Fans”

Is that even actually a thing?


On her Tumblr yesterday, Gail Simone brought up the interesting notion of “Tumblr fans” or people whose only interaction with and appreciation for comics characters comes through stuff they’ve seen reblogged on Tumblr, rather than actually having read a comic book.

It all stemmed from a discussion she had with a fellow comic industry professional at Emerald City Comicon:

I asked what [the professional] meant, and she said that she felt there was a growing group of fans who love the characters and love MOMENTS of stories, but don’t read the actual comics ever. She said that they will buy a CHARACTER X t-shirt in a heartbeat, but don’t own any graphic novels.They will reblog a scene they like from a comic, but never go to an actual comics shop to get that same book.

Simone makes it clear that she doesn’t judge how fans interact with stories:

I’m just curious about the phenomenon. I am not someone who judges people for HOW they like these stories and characters. If you like ARROW or AGENTS OF SHIELD and that’s how you embrace these characters, that’s fine with me, it’s perfectly valid.

But specifically, is there such a thing as a “Tumblr comics fan?” And if so, how does someone like that differ from any other comics fan?

What’s more, Simone wants her fans to let her know if 1) this phenomenon even exists, 2) if they feel it applies to them, and 3) how one type of fandom differs from another.

Personally, while I understand people reblogging and becoming fans of the image of a character or a scene, I think they may be doing themselves a disservice by not following up that initial interest with some reading or watching. I’d equate it to someone like Che Guevarra, who means different things to different people depending on one’s politics – but who has ended up on t-shirts as a generic symbol for revolution, and has become a fashionable commodity (which he probably would’ve hated, given his politics) despite the fact that many people who wear the t-shirts have no real knowledge of the cause for which he was fighting.

The meaning of art changes with context. For example, if an artist draws a flower – it could just be a drawing of a beautiful flower. But then, if you hear that the artist’s dead mother used to request bouquets of that particular flower at her bedside while she was battling cancer – suddenly that drawing of that flower means something else entirely. It’s amazing how profound things can become with context.

Obviously, people become fans of whatever they want however they want. I just hope that when people fall in love with images of comics characters or scenes out of comic books that they do some investigating into the stories themselves. Because sure, an image of a superhero can be a powerful thing – but the experience can only be enhanced by context.

What do you all think? Tell Gail Simone on her Tumblr, or tell us in the comments below!

(image via Loren Javier)

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Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former Mary Sue assistant editor from 2015-18. Teresa's returned to play in the TMS sandbox as a freelancer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.