back to 6.1-2

A Portrait of the Fan-Artist as a Young Woman: A Study of North American Cultural Influences on a Singaporean Fan Artist

by Soon Hao Jing

For this project, I interviewed a fellow university student, Samara Gan, about her hobby producing artworks that feature her takes on DC comic book characters such as Lois Lane, Superman, Black Canary, and others, published via various social media platforms or Internet sites under the alias “samarasketch.” (She has informed me in writing that she has no objection to this work being published as is.) In March 2017, I attended her presentation concerning the sexualization of female comic book characters. Later, we talked about how she came to dabble in producing fan artworks featuring comic book characters.

For this interview project, I sought to understand how Samara’s personal background and experiences with DC comic literature shaped the way she creates and shares her samarasketch fan art. In addition to observing some of her uploaded drawings and illustrations online, I also noted several distinct themes as I interviewed Samara.

I will first present an account of how Samara came to produce fan art and fan comics as a hobby. Next, I will discuss three themes that emerged from the interview, namely her navigation of online spaces such as DeviantArt, the relationship between her and her followers in relation to her fan art, and the possible influences and motivations behind her stated desire to depict strong female characters.

David Barton and Carmen Lee, in seeking to understand how literacies are shaped by technology, interviewed various persons and made observations of their online writings to produce “technobiographies.” These technobiographies detail how users  acquired their literacy skills and how they put them to use online. Similarly, Deborah Brandt studied the importance of “sponsors” in developing literacy, defining “sponsors” to be ”any agents, local or distant, concrete or abstract, who enable, support, teach, or model, as well as recruit, regulate, suppress, or withhold literacy – and gain advantage by it in some way” (166). In order to produce a conceptually similar technobiography for Samara’s case, I obtained information from Samara through an interview about how she came to develop her ability to create illustrations of DC Comics characters in her fan artwork. I also browsed through samarasketch galleries on DeviantArt, Tumblr, Facebook, and Instagram to glean any relevant information for this project, but most of the contents of this technobiography were drawn from the interview.

In our interview, Samara described how she had an interest in drawing since she was young and was surrounded by friends in primary school who wrote stories and drew very well. She first came into contact with the cartoon series Teen Titans, featuring some DC Comics characters, when she was in upper primary school and developed an interest in it together with friends. They engaged in role-playing as characters or writing stories about the characters as well. She also wrote fanfiction after being inspired by watching the show iCarly, but she stopped writing fanfiction in her third year because of lack of time and how she felt the activity “wasn’t going anywhere.” She also mentioned a fanfiction piece that she wrote, but later abandoned. She discovered that other persons were creating and sharing fan art online, and “being celebrated for putting up their pieces online,” and so she began to draw again.

She properly began reading comics during her junior college years, encountering Lois Lane, the love interest of Superman, and then Superman. She went on to discuss her preferred DC Comics characters. She first “experiment[ed] with the comic storytelling medium” by adapting a fanfiction written by another fan online into an 81-page comic series sometime during junior college, “and then [she] created [her] own comics after that.”

When asked about how she learned to produce her fan comics, she said that she was self-taught. She picked up skills and knowhow from a variety of sources, including online tutorials, borrowed books, referring to similar artwork by others, and guide books. She also cited Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud and How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by John Buscema and Stan Lee. She also attended workshops, both free and paid, but she did not feel that they were helpful for her, as she had progressed to an intermediate level of proficiency in drawing, and she could not seem to replicate the kind of drawings executed during those workshops afterwards. She was offered detailed feedback and suggestions for improvement in her drawing from personnel from the Organization of Illustrators Council, and received advice and tips, as well as encouragement, from artists whom she sought out at the artists’ alley at the Singapore Games, Toys and Comics Convention (STGCC).  Overall, she indicated her belief that self-practice was her main means of improvement.

Overview of ‘samarasketch’ Works
Works under the alias samarasketch have been uploaded to numerous social media platforms, namely DeviantArt, Tumblr, Facebook and Instagram, listed in the chronological order which Samara created her samarasketch accounts on those platforms. While she has posted only two items onto Instagram, as the account was recently established, her DeviantArt, Tumblr and Facebook pages display more of her works. I focused mainly on viewing the illustrations displayed on DeviantArt. No images from samarasketch have been shown in this work for three reasons: they are not essential to the discussion; permission had not been sought or given from the creator; and at least one illustration mentioned in this essay was not published to any of the four platforms mentioned above, possibly because of potential copyright or intellectual property (IP) infringement. (DC Comics owns the rights to all its comic book characters.) Samara also stated her concern that the “threat” of infringement lawsuits hung over her and said that “I always consider again and again, whether it’s okay to put pieces up.” However, hyperlinks to each of the platforms has been embedded in the platforms named above.

First Fan Comic: “The Possibilities of Forever,” adapted from fanfic by Sir Alwick
Samara’s first fan comic’s pages, uploaded to DeviantArt in installments from late July 2014 until February 2015, occupy a sizeable portion of the 190 submissions numbered and displayed on her DeviantArt gallery. The pages are in black and white, most panels contain depictions of Teen Titan characters, rendered with thick outlines without elaborate shading, with faces broadly similar to how these are shown on the cartoon show. The panels appear rather minimalistic and mostly do not show much background, unless it seems necessary. There are not more than five panels per page. Dialogue is shown in Comic Sans font in speech bubbles, and perhaps due to the nature of the story, there are no elaborate fight scenes that one might expect from comics.

Overall, Samara DeviantArt gallery is made up mostly of stand-alone colored illustrations of characters done to varying degrees of sophistication (judged in terms of the extent of realism in the characters’ faces). About two-thirds of the gallery’s items are occupied by “BBRae”-themed fan art or fan comics, referring to the imagined romance between the Teen Titans characters, Beast Boy and Raven. The progression from black-and-white to color illustrations and the increase in sophistication in illustrations compared to the more simplistic renderings in the fan comic suggest some degree of technical improvement or maturation over time. Other publicly displayed statistics on the samarasketch profile on DeviantArt indicated there had been over 2,100 comments and 50,000 views on her work.

Brief Discussion of Upbringing
During our interview, Samara shared briefly some details about her upbringing, stating,

I think there should be strong female characters . . . you know to inspire other strong female women in the world today. My mom is a strong female character. Sometimes I feel that my parents are like Lois Lane and Superman, ‘cause my dad is always out there and trying to do his part with community service, and my mom … works in the weekdays, she comes back home and she takes care of us at night, but our grandparents take care of us mostly, but our mom is kinda capable in that sense, she takes care of us, she’s always been like the woman of the household. I guess to grow up with that kind of strong role model; I wanna bring that to women as well.  … I’m in a so-called privileged position, I’m from a okayish income group … but I’m privileged, so I have the time, I have the money, I’m not like impoverished …. I’m Chinese, in Singapore, I’m privileged in that sense as well. So, with all that privilege, what can I do? I can try my best to make this, you know, heard, in a you know, a mildly sexist Singaporean community, but of course I wanna go beyond that. I’m kind of Americanish in that sense as well, the kind of ideas that I have, and I think that feminism is not something that should be limited to America or Singapore, it’s something that can be applied everywhere.

One gets the impression that Samara, having been nurtured in a stable family with strong role models and with some means, has in part been inspired or enabled, perhaps even “sponsored” as Brandt might put it, to bring “strong female characters” as role models to women readers of fan comics.

She explained her self-identified stance as a feminist by discussing in some detail her view of the deficiencies in comic art representations of female characters as “Mary Sues”, referring to idealized, flawless, unrealistic comic book characters. The Vox fan-jargon glossary provides a description of Mary Sues as being “heavily mocked both inside and outside fandoms because they’re usually characterized by unrealistic amounts of perfection — prettiest looks, highest grades, strongest athletic ability, etc” (Romano). Female characters in comics also tend to be hypersexualized, though she mentions good examples of artists such as Babs Tarr, or Jorge Jimenez of DC Comics, who avoid this in depicting female characters.  There are also factors outside of comics, including problematic tropes occurring in Korean dramas, where women are shown to be bullied by men, but this is somehow portrayed positively as if women liked it.

Theme 1: Navigating Online Spaces

Samara mentioned the drawbacks and difficulties with using DeviantArt as a platform for submissions and reaching out to audiences. She commented that it appeared “hobbyish” compared to Tumblr, whereas she used the word “professional” several times during the interview; it required account holders to use one account for all their posts and interactions, whereas Tumblr permitted her to set up a personal account separate from her art-related samarasketch account. DeviantArt necessitated frequent activity and posts in order to be noticeable to other DeviantArt users, and it required her to join groups, whereas Tumblr and other platforms did not. Furthermore, her pieces on DeviantArt related to the BBRae theme were not easily searchable on Google, which seemed a source of frustration to her.

She noted that the decision to join certain groups was not simple, because there were artists whose works seemed “amateur[ish] and not very pleasant looking,” and it was not easy to leave groups, so there was the risk of becoming associated with such artists of mediocre talents. She added that it was not easy to find out the existence of certain groups within the fandom unless one was close to that group, suggesting a lack of transparency and ease of mobility of DeviantArt. This would seem somewhat ironic for a site which is the largest online gathering of its kind for art enthusiasts globally.

Her other remarks also attest to a fragmented fandom, the possibility that fans form many distinct and separate communities online, which do not necessarily communicate or know of one another. While she discussed that at least some people, such as her followers, might accept her contributions of fan art as part of fanon, the “apocrypha” to the “Holy Writ” that is the body of comic art and literature published by DC Comics (known as “canon”) that is also widely accepted by fans to also be true. She acknowledged that everyone had different views, interpretations, and preferences when it came to accepting fan art as fanon or otherwise.

Samara also recounted the following work:

When I drew the latest Lois Lane piece, I actually asked my friend, “Hey, how do you feel about this piece?” And he was like, “Umm, actually I don’t think it looks like Lois Lane.” Then I got taken aback, because this Lois Lane is quite prominent in certain parts of the fandom. There have been Lois Lanes with long black hair, … short brown hair, and Lois Lanes with reddish, magenta-ish long hair, and middle-length hair, so different interpretations, right? So, I asked my friend, “So what do you think Lois Lane looks like?” And he told me, “Uhh, I think that Lois Lane looks … my ideal version of Lois Lane is the one in the Superman movie.” And I was like “Nope, that is not my Lois Lane.” … I guess I do take his opinion seriously, when I consider what other fans might think about my piece, like they might not recognize Lois immediately, but you know, this is my Lois Lane.

Recognizing that fans may not even agree on how a character looks, the use of the term fandom, a singular noun, to refer to fans at large, does ring hollow to some extent. Samara noted that “[t]here is no one fanon. Every fan has their own canon.”  In other words, fanon, and I would argue by extension fandom, is splintered into as many groups as there are preferences for a particular comic artist, character, title, and so on, and again into as many interpretations and views of each character, or title, and so on. This remark is also linked to what the glossary of fan-related terms provided by Vox’s Aja Romano defines as “headcanon”: ‘”A sub-branch of ‘fanon’ is actually called ‘headcanon.’ When someone invents a piece of fanon they really believe in, it may not be accepted as a general part of fandom, but it still stays tucked away inside its creator’s brain; it thus becomes his or her personal ‘headcanon’” (Romano).

In contrast to the deficient DeviantArt, Samara noted that on Tumblr,

the fandom is very alive in Tumblr, you can always find new posts about things, and you keep yourself updated, and … you don’t have to join groups and you don’t have to keep getting notifications from groups about things. It’s a very clean interface, just post and let it go. And they also allow you to view the metrics for like the number of followers you have, the number of notes you receive, which is your best post, what happened chronologically. I heard that was quite helpful as well. And I could have a personal account and my own art account, and manage both of them at the same time, so that was helpful, ‘cause sometimes I wanna like separate my personal things from my art things. So it helps in that sense, and I can still share my own art things on my own blog, and Tumblr is also a good place for me to build up a portfolio, in that sense, so it looks more professional.

She also remarked that she joined Facebook because there were also many other artists on Facebook, and there, she had not yet utilized the option of paying Facebook to promote her posts and artworks, because she did not feel ready for it, and she mainly viewed Facebook as a platform for her to keep her friends posted about her fan art-related activity. She had also been persuaded by a friend to set up an Instagram account for her fan art and to use hashtags in her posts, because it was easy on Instagram for artists to be discovered by users. Being visible or easily locatable on these online platforms would presumably be important for Samara, as she reported that few of her followers were from Singapore. She was not in any particular group or gathering of comic fans, and that she “[h]ardly” came across other female DC Comics fans here, noting that most other female comic fans in Singapore tended to follow Marvel (lines 470-472).

Theme 2: An Interdependent but Lopsided Relationship between Samarasketch and Followers
There appeared to me some element of interdependency between Samara and her followers on platforms like DeviantArt, in that Samara would produce fan art to be consumed by them, while receiving in return some recognition and praise from them, which afforded Samara some emotional satisfaction. Yet Samara tacitly acknowledges and shows more dependency on her followers than the other way around, as she noted that many of her followers were mainly interested in the BBRae-themed artwork and comic strips that she produced.

She discussed the relationship between the followers of her art and herself. She mentioned the need to periodically “bait” these followers by producing art and uploading it from time to time, to show she was still active:

I put them up there so that people know I’m doing something, that’s for DeviantArt and Tumblr and maybe Instagram. Sometimes, you have to do something to keep your account active, so that people you know, will keep on following you and stuff, and they won’t feel like, wah, this artist, is she still alive? So, you have to bait them. Yeah, you have to bait them. … Yeah, it’s like fishing you know? You have to tug and let it go, tug and let it go.

She also noted that “Facebook kind of works as a way for my friends to know what I’m doing.”

More interestingly, she described how she paid for polls on DeviantArt to know what art her followers wished to see from her:

There was a period of time when I was really active. I used [to] set up polls, because I paid for a premium account on DeviantArt. So, I set up a poll, I asked questions, I asked them what they wanted to see, and they gave me results, they told me “I want to see this,” “I want to see that.” That was fun, and I got a better idea of what they wanted to see, and how to you know, better cater to them. But sometimes it feels like fan service, so sometimes I reel back, I just do what I like, but once in a while I’ll throw out those pieces they wanted, [that] they want to see the most.

She also produced BBRae-themed art for a Valentine’s Day event.

I didn’t really want to do it, but I thought that you should capitalize on the Valentine’s Day event, and just do something, put it out there. But it got me the attention from those people who haven’t followed me …. So, you know, it’s still good for me.

In short, it can be said that Samara has had to choose between satisfying her followers with fan service in the form of BBRae-themed fan art or doing something else that caught her own fancy. However, looking at her posts on DeviantArt and Facebook, most illustrations are still focused on BBRae, although the latest posts include illustrations of Wonder Woman and Lois Lane, more in line with Samara’s stated desire to draw strong female characters, which will be discussed under the next section. However, producing fan art not to her followers’ liking remains a worry for her, as evidenced by a post by samarasketch on the DeviantArt page in February 2017, referring to an installment in her series “#RefugeInArkham”: “You guys don’t seem as excited about the latest page in #RefugeInArkham as you used to 😦 Have I lost you guys? >.<” (samarasketch).

I noticed in this some similarity with a phenomenon reported on Vox by its writer Caroline Framke, where TV creators and writers behind the show The 100 faced difficulties negotiating their relationship with fans of their TV series (Framke). These fans were vocal about their demands regarding what the show should be like, which could be said to impinge on the show creators’ freedom to craft the show’s content. Framke highlighted one of the causes of this newly emerging complication between artists and creators and their fanbases – instant communications between the two parties, afforded by the Internet, and fans’ ability to organize en masse thanks to the Internet. She wrote that “As the barriers between fans and creators get knocked down with hashtags and Tumblr questions, some creators are straight-up terrified by the new wave of interactive fandom that wants so much more from them than, say, a written fan letter might once have asked” (Framke).

While most comments that I read on the DeviantArt profile and posts were positive, it is an undeniable fact, at least to Samara, that her followers largely follow her for BBRae. They have indicated this interest before via poll, and, if she were to shift away from BBRae altogether, her followers might vote with their feet, figuratively speaking, even if they do not end up like the protesting fans of The 100, loudly demanding Samara produce fan art as they dictate.

In response to a question of when she had begun to move towards creating illustrations of strong female characters, Samara made the following choice of word in her comment: “Begun shifting, but more like expanding. Not going to move entirely away from BBRae because that’s where my fans mostly are.” Samara’s artistic freedom to choose the themes of her fan art is limited by the preferences of her followers, much like the TV show creators mentioned by Framke.

A February 26, 2017 status update also suggests that Samara pays attention to the comments, as well as their frequency and perhaps date of post, as feedback indicators to gauge the level of interest or viewership in her fan art. It can be inferred that while there is an interdependence between Samara and her followers, the fans would seem to have the upper hand. Even though they are mainly passive consumers of her fan art, she does not have the luxury of losing followers in the pursuit of other themes in her fan art when she recognizes she does not have thousands of followers or get thousands of likes as some envied DeviantArt or Instagram users can command.

Theme 3: Creating Strong Female Characters as a Response to Sexism

In the interview, Samara talked about encountering sexualized, objectified and unrealistic female comic book characters and her own desire to create “strong female characters” to inspire other women. She mentioned the word hypersexualised four times while discussing the depictions of female comic characters, and described at some length how she preferred two artists, Babs Tarr and Jorge Jimenez, who drew Batgirl and Lois Lane respectively in ways she felt was not overtly sexualized, and how she had been influenced by these artists. In addition, she said,

drawing these characters is problematic, because you are putting them in a position that displays them … You are exhibiting them. It’s like they are pinup girls. … You’re already exhibiting them as some sort of objects; they are already objectified, but whether or not they are sexually objectified, that is another problem. I never draw my characters as sexually objectified…. Maybe the reason why they’re not is because I can’t really draw boobs or big butts or whatever, but … yeah, I’m just very conscious of these kinds of things when I draw them, and even if these characters show certain parts of their bodies, they will always be done from this … perspective, that they want to show themselves in that way, so it’s about having power over your own sexuality, and your own sexual exhibition.

She complained that there were too many “Mary Sues,” and that “you just get so fed up with them.” 

She also expressed her disdain for “chick flicks” and “romantic novels” with their depiction of women in a lesser position, as well as how “women are always bullied by men” in Korean dramas.

While her stated desire to create strong female characters may not manifest itself clearly in her online galleries of works so far, Samara has made some steps in that direction. She has illustrations depicting Lois Lane as a beautiful professional journalist looking engrossed as she works on a new scoop, and Wonder Woman without the usual voluptuous cleavage often depicted either in comic art or portrayed in movies. She also describes her depiction of the female superhero Black Canary, not uploaded online but shown at her March 2017 presentation:

I wanted to show her power, and how amazing her powers are. She’s drawn like in a corset, in a leather jacket and fishnet tights, that’s what she always wears, it’s part of her costume, but she’s not hypersexualized. I don’t draw her with exceptionally big boobs or exceptionally big butts or whatever, yeah. She’s drawn to be a strong character.

The phenomenon that Samara has reacted to, in attempting to counteract it, is all too real. There are statistical and qualitative indications that most female comic book characters are portrayed in sexualized manners, often in anatomically impossible “broke back” poses, so named because a real person would actually have to break their back in order to twist or contort their body to achieve the accentuated curves and sexual poses in which these female comic book characters are depicted (Cocca).

Comic editors, mainly male, might rely on the circular logic that there are few women reading their comics, and thus justify their policy of continuing to target male readers via the sexualization of female characters in comics (Robbins, qtd in Cocca). Vox writer Constance Grady cited a point from The New Statesman columnist Elizabeth Minkel, which is applicable here, although the quote referred to the TV series Sherlock and fanfiction surrounding it, not fan art or fan comics.

My preferred explanation is the idea that the vast majority of what we watch is from the male perspective – authored, directed, and filmed by men, and mostly straight white men at that. Fan fiction gives women and other marginalized groups the chance to subvert that perspective, to fracture a story and recast it in her own way. … It often feels as if there isn’t much space for difference in the dominant cultural narratives; in fandom, by design, there’s space for all. (Minkel, qtd in Grady)

Samara’s perceptions are very much representative of what a woman reading comic books would experience – a dearth of relatable female characters, and a constant reminder that comic art reflects the “male gaze” (term coined by Laura Mulvey in 1975).

Grady also discussed in her piece how fandom could be classified as curative, focusing on information and facts, and transformative, dealing with creative reinterpretations and adaptations based on canon; how there was a pronounced gender divide between male-dominated curative fandom and female-dominated transformative fandom, and how male fans discriminated against fans engaging in transformative fandom. She wrote that “transformative fandom is the most radical act of all, because it … takes a piece of media that may not have been designed for young women and makes it for young women.” She also examines the backlash of this fandom and that when men disparage fans for their transformative fandom, they are doing so because what these female fans engage in – fanfiction suggestive of non-heterosexual romances, for instance, and altering what is canon – infringes on (the ownership of) canon, which not only belongs to business interests, but also is made by and for straight men (Grady).

Perhaps it is unsurprising that Samara should not merely have identified as a feminist but also claimed to be privileged because she was Chinese in for the majority ethnic-Chinese Singapore  – “privileged” being a term which arose in America, and in the sense which W. E. B. Du Bois first coined as a term to refer to the condition of the dominant race in America. Samara makes it clear where she borrowed her notions of feminism and privilege from, in saying “I’m kind of Americanish in that sense as well, the kind of ideas that I have, and I think that feminism is not something that should be limited to America or Singapore, it’s something that can be applied everywhere.” I would suggest that the cause for her adoption of such American lenses to view the issue of sexism in her society is because of her immersion in DC Comics’ literature, with all its problematic depictions of women characters – which would appear to show the validity of feminist criticisms of comic art – and, also, because to some extent she observes the effect of men creating narratives that misrepresent women and strip women of their agency in other media, such as Korean dramas.

Samara’s identity as a female producer of fan art – not merely of BBRae but from recently onwards, of strong female characters that are no longer sexualized by men – and her refashioning of female comic characters, is in some sense a rebuke to the art that she has encountered, that is drawn by and for men. In attempting to reclaim female comic characters and reshape them as role models for women, she is carving out a space for female self-expression using her literacy skills in the comic arts domain to produce “encoded texts” (Lankshear and Knobel 40) that subvert the male-dominated body of comic art, whose female characters have been objectified and sexualized by straight men because sex sells.

Brandt, in examining the anecdotes of Carol White and Sarah Steele acquiring literacy skills through their employment to further their own ends, said that “We see in these accounts how individual acts of appropriation can divert and subvert the course of literacy’s history, how changes in individual literacy experience relate to larger scale transformations” (Brandt). While it may be ironic that DC Comics furnished Samara with the characters, storylines, and gaps in storylines, which permitted her to create her fan art and fanwork that subvert its intentions of selling comic books to men, Samara nonetheless does not have a free pass to produce fan art as she likes. DC Comics still retains some ability to place constraints on Samara’s freedom to express her works reinterpreting or refashioning female DC comic characters, by reserving the right to take legal action on her if she publishes works that violate DC Comics’ copyright or intellectual property rights over those female comic characters.

It is this constraint, among other reasons, that Samara cannot hope to make a living out of her fan art. She must even consider with every piece she produces whether to publish it online or not. However, she also noted that if she wanted to make art her career, she would have to create her own comic characters while building on the literacies she had gained through learning to create fan art.

Samara has adopted American notions of feminism and privilege in analyzing the problem of sexism that she encounters not only in DC Comics’ art, but also in her Asian/Singaporean context. She may not face an easy task ahead, if she persists in her efforts to create comic art that depicts strong female characters and avoids objectifying or sexualizing them. For one, she must align her fanwork to her followers’ preferences, or risk losing them; for another, she would need to gain more attention and followers on social media platforms and other sites to have traction. Finally, DC Comics, as the dominant sponsor of the encoded texts and the literacies that they give rise to, retains great influence in different ways – it can block or suppress fan art through the mere threat of litigation by suing some fan artists and turning them into an example, and they are the sole source of canon. At one point, Samara discusses the possibility of joining DC Comics as an illustrator (perhaps one way to “beat them” is first to “join them”?), which highlights the fact that while fan artists may reshape fanon, only DC Comics has the legitimacy to define what is canon. Yet DC Comics does not wield an authoritative pen over one narrative – that of Samara’s future endeavors.

Works Cited
Barton, David, and Carmen Lee. Language online: Investigating digital texts and practices. Routledge, 2013, pp.67-82

Brandt, Deborah. “Sponsors of literacy.” College Composition and Communication, vol. 49, no. 2, 1998, pp. 165-185.

Cocca, Carolyn. “The ‘Broke Back Test’: a quantitative and qualitative analysis of portrayals of women in mainstream superhero comics, 1993–2013.” Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, vol. 4, no. 4, 2014, pp. 411-428.

Framke, Caroline. “Creators of Popular Media are Becoming More Wary of Fans. That’s a Problem for Everyone.” Vox, 8 June 2016, Accessed March 30, 2017.

Gan, Samara. “Lois Lane: Star Reporter.” DeviantArt, 18 March 2017, Accessed March 30, 2017.

Gan, Samara. “The Possibilities of Forever.”DeviantArt, 2015, Accessed March 30, 2017.

Gan, Samara. “Wonder Woman: Heart of Gold.” DeviantArt, 18 February 2017, Accessed March 30, 2017.

Grady, Constance. “Why We’re Terrified of Fanfiction.” Vox, 2 June 2016, Accessed March 30, 2017.

Lankshear, Colin, and Michele Knobel. New literacies: Changing knowledge and classroom learning. Open University Press, 2003.

Romano, Aja. “Canon, fanon, shipping and more: a glossary of the tricky terminology that makes up fandom.” Vox, 7 June 2016,

Soon Hao Jing wrote this essay for a course offered by the University Scholars Programme, a multidisciplinary program at the National University of Singapore, where he is studying Chemical Engineering.

back to 6.1-2