One of the things I love most about science fiction and fantasy is the franchises. Sure there are great standalone stories but some of the greatest stories are part of large franchises. Between films, television episodes, books, comics and more, there is often more material than fans can take in. Star Trek is a prime example of this. There are so many things that fans can get into. If people want to cosplay they have five TV series and twelve motion pictures full of characters to choose from, with hundreds if not thousands of possible costume ideas. It’s a geek’s dream come true.
But if these major franchises are a geek’s dream come true, then why are there those geeks who latch on to franchises that don’t have this overwhelming back catalog of material from which to pull. Are they mentally ill? Do they not know that there are much greater treasure troves out there from which to fulfill their geek fantasies? In my humble (or perhaps not so humble) opinion I actually think there is something very commendable about these folks and their attachment to these “lesser” franchises. They are willing to go out there and show off what they love even when there isn’t quite as much of it.
I think my favorite example of this is the fan base for Ghostbusters. With only two movies and a handful of comics, there isn’t a whole lot to work with, yet Ghostbuster fans are some of the most dedicated fans I’ve met. Not only do they carry around homemade proton packs, which require considerable amounts of time and effort to put together properly, but any self-respecting Ghostbusters group must have their own Ecto-1. That’s right, these people have to have their own custom car. That is way more of an investment than a set of stormtrooper armor or a red shirt costume. And not only do they have these cars, but they insist that everything be absolutely perfect on both the costumes and the car. I’ve even heard a story of one Ghostbusters fan that stayed overnight at his job at a print shop so he could print out a full sized Vigo painting. He barely got any sleep because he was constantly checking it to ensure that Vigo printed correctly. Now that is some serious devotion.
Not only is it commendable that these fans show such devotion to things they love, but in many ways it’s also quite difficult. If I really feel like it, I can cover the entirety of the Firefly universe in under a day. This includes the show, movie and comics. To be honest, there are only so many conversations that can be had about the same fourteen episodes—and far too many of them revolve around the show being cancelled too early or about bringing it back. But this doesn’t stop us from having the conversations. This repetition is not just restricted to conversations. Take The Fifth Element for example. I’ve gone to numerous conventions and seen people dressed up as all the various characters from the film, in varying degrees of success. The real difficulty is doing it the best you can and adding your own little touches to the costumes. What can you do to make yourself stand out from the throngs of other bottle red heads in thermal bandages? Maybe you adopt the character’s persona. Maybe you make sure that your costume is as accurate as possible.
So what is a fan to do? I would have to say that a fan must be true to themselves. There is no need to jump on the Star Trek or Star Wars bandwagons just because there is more material to work with. Some of the most impressive costumes I have seen and most interesting conversations I have had revolve around the smaller arenas of fandom. The most important thing is to be true to yourself and just have fun. After all, if you’re not enjoying your leisure activities, then they just aren’t worth it.