Fan vitriol

Being one of the creators of Darths & Droids, I take some time every now and then to trawl forums and blogs for new comments and reviews of the comic. The comments are generally good, although there are the odd few people who say, “I looked at it, it sucks.” But we can live with those.

One interesting trend I’ve noticed is just how much people seem to hate the Star Wars prequels. I mean not just dislike but actively hate. As in they think George Lucas went back in time and raped their childhood and shot their dog and the prequel films should be burnt, stabbed through the heart with a stake, and buried at a crossroads.

The slightly disturbing thing about this (besides that these people should try directing their passion into something positive for a change) is that it’s instantly leapt to when Darths & Droids is mentioned. A typical mention goes something like this:

Hey, check out this webcomic. It’s hilarious and it actually makes the prequels entertaining. This is the only possible justification for the existence of the prequels. Ha ha! look at the fun they’re poking of the stupid prequels! Hilarious!

Now, while it’s nice to have a reason why people like our comic, this actually worries me a bit. Because another thing that many of these posts seem to do is assume that we’re making fun of the prequels. As in just the prequels. I fear that many people haven’t read the FAQ, in which we state that we have a storyline plotted for all six movies.

What’s going to happen when we reach the end of Episode III, and start on Episode IV? Are people suddenly going to think we’ve stopped poking fun at the hated prequels and are now desecrating the original classics? I don’t know.

I’m not poking fun at the prequels because I hate them. They’re not masterpieces, and there are certainly groanworthy moments that are difficult to watch, but they’re still fun if you don’t treat them like they’re supposed to be the ultimate expression of cinema. I prefer the original trilogy, but I wonder how much of that is just nostalgia. There are also cringeworthy moments in those films.

As a resource for making the comics, we drew up a list of “Stupid things we need to explain” for each movie. People seem to think it’s hilarious when we point out how stupid something is in one of the prequels. Plot holes, bizarre character actions, ridiculous technology that defies physics and/or common sense, and so on. But you know what? We have lists of pretty much the same length of things just as stupid in each of the original trilogy films. When we use these to point out something silly in the original films and make jokes about it, what are the readers going to think?

Honestly, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if our readership dropped by half or more when we move from the prequels to the original trilogy. I hope it doesn’t, and that the story we are telling keeps readers hooked, and that the majority of people approach it with the same view of affectionate parody that we’re actually aiming for in the prequels, and stay to enjoy it. But I’m not sure that will happen. We’ll just have to wait and see.

5 Responses to “Fan vitriol”

  1. Alexander says:

    I have never got Star Wars fandom. Indeed I struggle to get fandom at all. There are many things I adore, or get upset if they are not as good as they used to be. For example, I feel that Doctor Who has become worse in recent years. Am I upset? Sure. Have I lost something precious? Well, no, because there is so much stuff out there that if a show turns bad, you go watch something else.

    Not that all that has much to do with your post. I think most of what you said is accurate, but as for your audience drop, there I disagree. Making fun of the original trilogy is an age old tradition. They are not sacred cows. Well, they are, to some people, but those people are rarer than their shouting makes them seem.

  2. Alex says:

    I wonder how many people decried DM of the Rings for poking fun at that sacred cow? I think more of your readers appreciate the “affectionate parody” in Darths and Droids than perhaps you think. :)
    Speaking as someone who loves both Lord of the Rings and the original Star Wars trilogy (despite being too young to have ever seen it in cinemas) I’m looking forward to seeing what you guys make of it.

  3. This is just a guess based on my personal feelings, but I think that while explaining stupid things in the prequels is what gets many people to start reading Darths & Droids, it’s not why we keep reading it. If that was all you were doing, people would get bored after a while. What makes us come back is the story, the characters, the universe.

    I found Darths & Droids through a link from TVTropes (“Look, here’s a webcomic which talks about the whole silly ’14 year old elected queen’ thing from Episode One!”). And yeah, that was a funny explanation of something that didn’t really make sense in the movie. But that’s not why I read the entire archive of comics, or why I’m still reading it. I’m reading Darths & Droids because of Jim, Ben, Sally, Pete, Annie and the GM. They’re great characters, and they are what really got me hooked on D&D.

    But then, I’m not a big Star Wars fan. Realized while reading the last couple of hundred pages that I remember absolutely nothing from Episode Two. And until a couple of weeks ago I hadn’t even seen Episode Three (can’t wait to see how you explain the whole thing where Obi-Wan and Anakin are jumping around on a sea of lava). And I still consider Back to the Future to be the best movie trilogy ever made. So perhaps I’m not the right person to ask.

    Still, I think that most of your readers will follow you when you get to the original trilogy. How can we not, and never find out what happens with Jim and Annie and all that stuff?

  4. John Pack Lambert says:

    Well, I am another reader of Darths and Droids who plans to stick with it into the originals. I may bash the prequels, but I can also see inconsistencies in the originals. I think most people who read it like the story development. There may be a few who think the original star wars films are sacrosanct, but I think most of us see them as parrodiable just as much as the prequels.

  5. herdthinner says:

    It never occurred to me to stop reading. The OT has been parodied for decades, and it should continue! I was hooked from the first D&D strip, where Jim and Ben wouldn’t start the game till getting past the usual RPG obsessions (equipment, money, searching for “treasure,” and looking for things to kill). I haven’t played RPG in 20 years but still get every joke, and look forward to many, many more. Thank you!

    For the record, when I recommend the strip, I describe it the way I believe was its actual intent: based on the concept that SW only exists as an RPG, and goes from there. No “…and they bash the prequels, yayyyy!” editorializing.

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