HealyG (healyg) wrote,
HealyG
healyg

Currently Reading Wednesdays 38: I give up and mostly talk about Gravity Falls instead

So! It's been a while since I've done this.

I actually finished this book a while ago (in fact, I first checked it out in February), but... currently I'm rereading Full of Secrets: Critical Approaches to Twin Peaks (edited by David Lavery), a book of essays on Twin Peaks, published a few years after its first run in the 90s. I first got it because I was making a Twin Peaks-inspired game for the Veeder Expo, and reading some books on the show would have been faster than actually watching all 30-something episodes of it. It's sort of a dry book; most of it is made up of essays on psycho-analytical and post-modern readings of the series. But there is one article that I keep coming back to: "'Do You Enjoy Making the Rest of Us Feel Stupid?': alt.tv.twinpeaks, the Trickster Author, and Viewer Mastery" by Henry Jenkins, a rough overview of the Twin Peaks fandom on Usenet. Theories of literary criticism, it seems, may come and go, but fandom ethnography is forever.

It was written when the internet was still in its infancy, so there's a lot about that feels like a time capsule (for example, most of the posters it talks about were university students or technology researchers or suchlike), but a lot of what it talked about reminded me of my time in the Gravity Falls fandom. The main point of the essay is that Twin Peaks fans regarded David Lynch (series co-creator Mark Frost isn't talked about as much) as a sort of trickster author, someone whose twists constantly undermined fan speculation, and this was partly how we viewed Alex Hirsch, too. In some cases, he was even more a trickster than Lynch, like the "leaked Author pic" hoax, or the Bill Cipher AMA, which was filled with misleading answers to fan questions. (Oh man, question number 4 here! Reads pretty differently now, huh?)

But most of what resonated with me was the description of hoopla and speculation that surrounded the mysteries of Twin Peaks, especially the big one, Who Killed Laura Palmer. That was us, with Gravity Falls! I remember the crackpot theories that started up pretty soon after the show first started, like that Stan was a werewolf, or any given theory about the wheel from the intro. And all our theories about the Author, too; I remember thinking that it would be better for him to remain a mystery, before we actually met the guy. The descriptions of how fans would band together during hiatuses to crack codes and puzzles and jokes, the over-analysis of trailers and other supplementary material, etc.,.

One thing I noticed that was different was that the boundaries between the female and male fanbase were much more permeable than they were in the 90s. True, interpretations of the series could be quite different between reddit and tumblr, to say the least, but the divide between male fans focused on cracking the codes and female fans concerned with the relationships between the characters wasn't nearly as pronounced as it apparently was for Twin Peaks. You'd see the more character-based fans worrying about what a certain fan theory might mean for their faves, and the code-cracking fans speculating on what, say, Dipper and Mabel's relationship between Stan might mean. It's a really interesting fandom, despite all it flaws, and I'm hoping to stay in it as long as I can.

I'm also reading The Simon and Kirby Library: Horror! (By Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, natch.) It's a bunch of horror stories written before the Comics Code kicked the industry in the keister. They're all weird and nightmarish in a way that kinda bridges the gap between the Golden and Silver Ages. It makes for an interesting contrast between the stories in The Jack Kirby Omnibus Volume One: Starring Green Arrow, which were all written post-Code. The stories in the former get to be gritty and rough in a way the latter never attempts to match. I think my favorite of the collection is a story called "The Head of the Family", which is... well, I'll try not to spoil it for you, but let's just say it's about one of those Kirby-esque weird families that really deserves their own ongoing series. Highly recommended.
Tags: cartoons, comics, currently reading wednesdays
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