First, I’m lucky enough that Fernie Brae exists right here in my own Portland, OR. Second, thanks to a new friend connection, I was lucky enough to score a last-minute spot to an event that made my heart soar. Two nights ago, Fernie Brae hosted a Q&A panel with artists who worked on the incredible new series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance: Design Supervisor, Toby Froud (yes, The Toby Froud), and artists Maeve Callahan, Ben Adams, and Elsa Dye. There were Thra-ian? Thra-ish? treats, the making-of documentary playing in the background before the panel, nerds galore, exclusive photos from the design studio and filming set, a lot of laughs, and immeasurable magic. I came away with a lovely new brass and paua shell ring, a copy of A.C.H. Smith’s novelization of The Dark Crystal film, signatures and words of encouragement from the four panelists, and more effervescent inspiration than my cup could hold.
I’ve been unsure whether to connect or draw a hard line between the two worlds of what I write: Middle Grade and Young Adult novels on the one hand, my blog about Muppet songs and my Fraggle Rock comics on the other. Inner Critic/Monkey Mind/whatever-you-want-to-call-it says, Serious Writers who are trying to get their novels into the world through Traditional Publishing don’t write fanfiction or fan blogs. Serious Agents and Serious Editors in Serious Traditional Publishing automatically dismiss such nonsense and such nonsensical people.
Well, Inner Critic can eat my Fraggle tail, because we know this isn’t true.
Remakes, reboots, re-imaginings, spin-offs, sequels and prequels of old favorites—The Dark Crystal, Star Wars, She-Ra, Twin Peaks, every superhero movie ever, even the Archie comics for crying out loud—are so abundant that it’s hard to keep up. Reviving old fandoms sells, and industry professionals are well aware of this. And in every single case, someone has to write them.
When these revivals are written, produced, and crafted by true fans, it shows; nowhere have I seen it show so brilliantly as it does in Age of Resistance. The artists I saw on Friday confirmed: everyone working on this series was a genuine, awe-filled, geeky, dedicated fan.
In truth, there is no hard line to be drawn between serious art and fanfiction; as Reddit and Tumblr have taught us, many works we consider classics are fanfiction. There is no hard line I can draw between the stories and characters that come to life in my head. Gaudiloquence, Wembley, Jacinda, Deet. It’s all the same, all worthy of my time and attention and love.
When I asked the panelists how someone can transition from scribbling fan comics at home to working on The Real Thing™, their advice was mostly the same: keep going, keep making more, keep putting yourself out there, keep networking (“keep believing, keep pretending…”). Isn’t that how the advice usually goes?
Q: You make art! I make art, too! How do I art?
A: Art more.
Reading this sentiment in an interview online makes me smile and think, “Yeah, you’re right. Thanks, I needed that.” Hearing it in person from Toby Friggin’ Froud makes me dance my way home while I listen to covers of Fraggle Rock songs.
When I see an incredible movie in the theater, one that makes me laugh and cry and cheer and believe, I stay to watch the credits. I go from reading each name to letting them wash over me, letting the scrawl overwhelm me with humbled awe and appreciation. How many human beings it takes, all working in different ways on different pieces, yet with the same vision in mind, to create something so extraordinary!
And if they, why not me?
So be prepared for website updates as I fully integrate all that I write, all the stories that come bubbling out of me, into a more cohesive picture of what writer Beth Anna Cook has to offer.