Justice For Allura

This blog post is CB Mako’s reply to a fan project created on tumblr called #JusticeForAllura

“Shipping, Fanart, and the Woman of Colour” was originally published in Koru Mag Issue 2 on June 23, 2017.

Shipping, Fanart, and the Woman of Colour

by CB Mako

The word ‘ship’ was one of nine over-used words in 2016 (Garcia, 2016), and according to author Kathleen Smith  of ‘The Fangirl Life’, it’s okay to ship.

By 2017, ‘shipping’ had reached mainstream status that Vanity Fair and EW have included shipping in their articles. (Robinson, 2017; Serrao, 2017). I grew up watching Voltron, an Americanised, mashed-up version of two Japanese animations called Beast King GoLion and Dairugger V.  
I fangirl Voltron and ship Keith and Allura. It’s a “het” ship and recently labeled as a ‘rare pair’ by the new online fans of Dreamworks Netflix’s 2016 animation, Voltron Legendary Defender

Voltron has had a few reincarnations since 1984: an early computer generated (CG) animation called Voltron Third Dimension (1998), and Voltron Force (2011), the latter of which was animated by Toon City in the Philippines. 

Voltron Force was broadcast in Australia on free-to-air television via ABC3, and by 2012, Australia came out with an exclusive  box set of that series, which made me one happy fangirl. 

In this 2011 reincarnation, the two Voltron pilots I shipped—Commander Keith and Princess Allura—were older.  It was amazing to see that my two favourite 80s cartoon characters had matured with the fans.


Voltron Character Chart compiled by adrenalineRush1996

———-

I joined the online fandom community in late 2012, gushing about Voltron Force’s Keith and Allura. I was the eager, enthusiastic newbie inside existing discussion groups that had been around for decades. I also found myself lost and confused when navigating the nuances, the inner hierarchies, and jargon.

As an outsider, the discussions in USA-centric forums appeared odd, different. I pushed away the thought that American fans of Japanese anime were not xenophobic. Were they?

Some fans couldn’t even believe I was tweeting, emailing, and chatting with them in real time, all the way from Australia. The seasoned fans seemed to think that the Voltron fandom was only in the USA. Were they unaware that there were fans outside the USA?

My interactions seemed too enthusiastic, bubbly, and happy for their liking.  I was too irreverent, disrupting their staunchly-held hierarchical spaces.

I also had difficulty understanding why fans didn’t like Voltron Force.  Despite sharing the same ship, fans complained about minute details such as Keith and Allura’s change of eye colour.  The artwork, the redesigned uniforms, and even the story became subjects for scepticism and debate. Some of the fans even mentioned that Voltron Force’s Keith was simply…too dark.

They didn’t know I had the same skin colour as Keith’s.

My pen name didn’t reveal was that I was a fangirl of colour.

———–

In 2016, Netflix launched a new series from Dreamworks Animation: Voltron Legendary Defender, which is a reimagining of 80s cartoons Voltron. Adapted from the pair of anime series—Toei Animation robot anime: Beast King GoLion and Armored Fleet Dairugger XV—the 80s Voltron story centred on five young pilots who fight against an evil empire of alien conquerors with the help of five mechanized lions that combine to form a giant robot. I was relieved when the 80s Voltron fans—who previously hated Voltron Force—enjoyed watching the Dreamworks Netflix version. But there was one thing that was missing. The seasoned Voltron fans were not shipping Keith and Allura.

Confused, I decided to draw Keith and Allura’s from Voltron’s three different versions using the same pose. Using a digital drawing app called Sketchbook Pro on my mobile phone, I captured the exact colour palette used in each of the animation series.

Left Panel:  80’s Voltron Keith and Allura skin tones were nearly similar.  
Middle panel:  Voltron Force version Keith and Allura’s different skin tones more apparent.
Right panel:  Allura transformed from a blonde and blue-eyed princess to a woman of colour
.

Did the change of skin colour, the difference of skin tones reflect the negative feedback about the characters?

——–

Fansplaining—a podcast by, about, and for fandom—had a brilliant two-part episode #22 with ‘Race and Fandom’. Podcast hosts Elizabeth Minkel and Flourish Klink had invited fans from diverse backgrounds as part of this podcast and asked key questions such as,

Do you see racism underlying fandom’s pairing preferences? How have fandom’s attitudes on race affected you personally?”

The podcast was an eye-opener for me.  It confirmed something I couldn’t pinpoint, name, nor understand inside my own fandom.

Using statistical reference of a specific fandom and fanfiction from Archive of our Own, Rukmini Pande  (2015)  noted that,

“Most English language fanfiction, whether it involves straight or queer relationships, remains concerned with white characters… it is a worrying trend that even when non-white characters have significant roles in a canonical work, fanfiction very often fails to register this – or worse, undercuts it… characters of colour receive significantly less attention than their white counterparts. In Marvel Cinematic Universe fanfiction, characters of colour receive significantly less attention than their white counterparts. Clearly, interracial pairings (red) receive far less attention.”

Meanwhile, in the realm of comic book entertainment,  the hit CW series The Flash underwent a similar change for one of its core characters. Iris West, traditionally depicted as a pale-skinned brunette or redhead, was now played by Candice Patton, a woman of colour.  

“When the geek community is asked to empathize with characters who don’t look like them, the backlash can be severe… Perhaps this reveals the heart of the matter—that white viewers are forced to empathize with characters that don’t look like them in a genre they thought they owned.”  (Bastien, 2016).

Fansplaining’s podcast episode #22B also mentioned that generally, people have different reasons and excuses why they don’t like shipping women of colour (Klink and Minkel, 2016).
Citings from Klink and Minkel, Pande, and Bastien confirmed what was happening inside my specific ship. When Voltron Legendary Defender presented Allura as a woman of colour, the ‘80s-era Voltron shippers from the USA didn’t like the change. They sent long emails inside the Yahoo group, explaining and defending their own reasons. Did the thirty-two year gap between the original Voltron series (1984) versus Voltron Legendary Defender (2016) represent and reflect society’s outlook in real life?  (Pyun, 2017)

———–

Before 2016 ended, the mega-fandom Star Wars mourned the passing of Carrie Fisher who played the iconic character Princess-General Leia Organa.

I couldn’t help but reflect on my fandom’s own iconic princess, Allura.   

Growing up in the 80s, under the watchful eyes of autocratic parents, I viewed Leia in the cinemas, and Allura on the telly every week, reflecting on what I wanted to be when I grew up: A strong, capable individual, who could do anything and still be loved by someone. And just like Allura, I wanted my own Keith by my side, and soldier on.

But the narrative seemed to shift recently.

Leslie Loftis, a lawyer and a writer for The Federalist, who fangirled both Star Wars and Voltron, wrote about Star Wars: The Force Awakens (TFA),

“Princess General Leia in TFA, she is a ruler without a planet, a daughter without parents, a sister without a brother, a wife without a husband, and a mother without her child. Any one of those could, and has, broken a woman. Any combo of two would see a real woman struggle. But carrying all of them, Leia is still quipping. Because that’s what we are told strong women do — endure everything, on our own.
And then we wonder why women are so exhausted. We do as we are told and chase the impossible with no option of grace.
Hollywood writers don’t recognize what makes heroines iconic to the fans. They pay attention to the feminist formula for the Strong Independent Woman (TM) and write guys who happen to be female. They often modify women to give them mystical powers in order to explain why they can hang with the men in battle.
The heroine shouldn’t be too beautiful and certainly not sexy … and she can’t be dependent in any way or men. No rescuing. No romance. Either she does it all on her own or it doesn’t count.”

Haxine (2016) raised that,

“…We shouldn’t be defending this trope in the name of feminism or defending the uncreative writers who are seemingly incapable of giving these female characters both romantic love and character depth… Men always receive stories where they are both in love and their character is fully fleshed out, so why do women have to choose between them when we can have both?”

To give concrete examples what Leslie Loftis and Haxine pointed out, I watched Voltron Legendary Defender seasons 1 and 2 on Netflix. Allura, the last woman survivor of a decimated planet, remained in the castle ship while the rest of the team went out on training and missions. It was a similar situation in the ongoing comics series Voltron Legendary Defender written by the same writers from the Netflix Dreamworks Animation team. In Volume 1, Allura was left alone in the castle recuperating while the rest of the Voltron Paladins were out in their space robot lions. Why didn’t they include Allura in the narrative?


(manip panel from Voltron Legendary Defender comics Volume 1, Issue 3)

Haxine (2016) mentioned the issue of a woman of colour not being seen as worthy of love, which media critic and writer, @Fangirl_Jeanne explained,

“WOC, black women especially, get coded as sexless caretakers, emotionless warriors, or hyper-sexual jezebels. What each of these racist tropes lacks is healthy, loving relationships. We don’t see women of color being loved, being cared for and thus struggle to see them as romantic partners, beyond sexual fetishization.
That has a damaging effect on women of color, both in how we view ourselves and how people dismiss their own racial bias as our fault. As well as contributing to the abusive ways our actual partners treat us because we’re strong we can take harsh treatment. They think we owe them more emotional labor and should be the caretaker. When we are emotional or upset, we are seen as aggressive.”

So, did Voltron fans react in the same way as fans from other fandoms when faced with central characters of colour? Did they stop shipping Keith and Allura because Allura is now a woman of colour?

Already, I’ve seen fan-artists create fan merchandise—charms, stickers et al—without Allura,  giving various excuses when asked why they’d omitted her in their designs. 

The challenge I’m keen to raise with The Powers That Be—now that Allura has been redesigned as a woman of colour—what  arc will the writers give  Allura? Would the Dreamworks team of writers buck Hollywood’s formulaic trope of a ‘strong’ woman, woman of colour—alone, angry, and aggressive—to evolve into a fully-fleshed out character, with a loving, healthy relationship?

After thirty-two years, I hope that this time around, the Dreamworks Voltron Legendary Defender writers  can finally provide fans something the show’s previous incarnations had neglected: a happily-ever-after ending for the iconic Princess Allura with Keith by her side.


Screen capture from Netflix Voltron Legendary Defender
Season 2, Episode 12 ‘Best Laid Plans’


References:

Angelica Jade Bastién. ‘For Women of Color, the Price of Fandom Can Be Too High’, New Republic,  (6 October 2016) <https://newrepublic.com/article/137489/women-color-price-fandom-can-high>

Patricia Garcia.  ‘These Were the 9 Most Overused Words on the Internet in 2016’,  Vogue, (28 Dec 2016) <http://www.vogue.com/13515918/overused-slang-words-2016/?mbid=social_onsite_twitter>

Haxine / Nerdy People of Color. ‘Do Love Interests Make a Film Less Feminist?’, Medium, (17 December 2016) <https://medium.com/@nerdypoc/do-love-interests-make-a-film-less-feminist-5d9ca205e014#.vc56ypnxq>

Flourish Klink & Elizabeth Minkel. ‘Episode 38, The Year in Fandom 2016’.  Fansplaining, (28 December 2016) <http://fansplaining.com/post/155076968818/episode-38-the-year-in-fandom-2016-elizabeth-and>

Flourish Klink & Elizabeth Minkel. ‘Podcast Episodes 22A and 22B Race and Fandom’.  Fansplaining,  (31 May 2016) <http://fansplaining.com/post/144557202888/episode-22a-race-and-fandom-part-1-flourish-and>

Leslie Loftis. ‘From Days of Long Ago… Or Netflix Attempts a Reboot’,  Medium, (10 June 2016) <https://medium.com/@AHLondonTX/from-days-of-long-ago-or-netflix-attempts-a-reboot-2d551071c761#.epo5n0xcf>

Rukmini Pande.  ‘Explainer: What is Fanfiction?’  The Conversation,  (7 October 2015) < https://theconversation.com/explainer-what-is-fanfiction-48150>

Sabrina Pyun. ‘Voltron Season 2: Still A Leader In Representation’  Comicsverse. (2 February 2017) < https://comicsverse.com/voltron-season-2-representation/>

Joanna Robinson. ‘How Online Fandom Is Shaping TV in 2017’, Vanity Fair, (19 January 2017)
<http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/01/online-fandom-tv-2017-riverdale-twin-peaks-better-call-saul-time-after-time>

Nivea Serrao. ‘Voltron: Legendary Defender EPs on season 2’s biggest moments’, Entertainment Weekly (20 January 2017) <http://ew.com/tv/2017/01/20/voltron-legendary-defender-season-2-postmortem/>

Kathleen Smith.  ‘Why I Will Never Stop Being a Shipper’, Medium,  (July 2016), <https://medium.com/@fangirltherapy/why-i-will-never-stop-being-a-shipper-6cf7656e30a8#.njokwkye9>

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Happy 20th Anniversary KAEX Yahoogroup

As we wait the final season of Voltron Legendary Defender, dropping on December 14, 2018, we would like to wish KAEX Yahoogroup a Happy 20th Anniversary! 

We thank all the Keith and Allura fanfiction writers and fanartists throughout the years;

We thank admin and moderator Lionesse for keeping the Yahoogroup alive online, so that K/A shippers continue to enjoy a safe space to ship one-true-pairing (OTP) Keith and Allura. 

We’ve seen different iterations, changes to our OTP’s portmanteau.  From K/A for Voltron84, to #KeithandAllura for Voltron Force 2011, and the latest version as #KAllura for Dreamworks Voltron Legendary Defender. 


We thank all the new fans, new friendships formed around the world, the fanartists who made fan merch available to enjoy our OTP. We are grateful and thankful for sharing your talent and skills to this corner of the universe. 

And no matter what the end game for the Netflix version, we remain faithful and supportive of KAEX Yahoogroup.  #KAlluraForever !

Like in other Voltron iterations, the final season of VLD is not an ending for us, but a beginning : it is the best time to create fanworks and continue to support Voltron official merchandise. 

In the meantime, we enjoy the ultimate Voltron experience – we waited thirty-plus years for this – continue building the intricate Voltron Lego 


VLD Thanksgiving Day 2018

To the entire creative team of Voltron Legendary Defender,

We dedicated Voltron fans made a conscious choice to upload this Thanksgiving blog post before the final season 8 is released. 

No matter what the ending,  we would like to thank you for this amazing journey which began in June 2016. 

Over these past few years, we forged new friendships across the world,  created fanworks showing our love for our giant robot and its paladins, and listened to Lets Voltron, the official Voltron podcast, for the latest Voltron updates. 

We thank you for linking both comic books and books to the Netflix series, giving us something that the fandom has always wanted: that the artwork be consistent to the animation.  Thank you for fulfilling our wish. 

We thank you for your convention panels, and especially for your patience and understanding despite the often negative discourse – at times directed at the VLD creators and voice actors themselves. You faced them with grace and class. 

As Voltron fans, we shall forge on long after VLD has left our screens.  And as we have always done across the years, we shall continue to support official merchandise.

Puzzle Book  (licensed merch, made in Melbourne, Australia)

VLD comics via Lion Forge 
DVD 

And to express our thanks, here are a few personal messages from VLD fans:

from: laurana7000

love, princessstaryknight on tumblr



VLD Thanksgiving from WindyC

Finally, apart from written messages, we also received fanart and fanvids to send to the entire creative team of Voltron Legendary Defender.

from megafangirl1734 on tumblr

from KAlluraLove on Twitter and Tumblr:

fanvid by KAlluralove on Tumblr

To conclude our Thanksgiving blogpost, we would like to share headcanon fanart from cb.mako and  fanvid from WindyC.   

headcanon fanvid by WindyC on Twitter

AUSTRALIA LOVES VOLTRON

Happy New Year and welcome to 2018!

We kick off the first day of the 2018 greeting KAEX Yahoogroup a Happy 20th Anniversary!

kaex yahoogroup logo

And it’s never too late to be a Voltron fan, especially if / when you’re keen to write stories–including fanfiction.  Let ageism be gone from your vocabulary as we share a timely, new, and brilliant New York Times column from author and essayist Roxane Gay about writing.

We begin our blog post by showing you what  Voltron fans across the continent  (yes, Australia is a continent) shared in 2017:

From the state of Victoria (east side of the continent of Australia), Robert shared a pic of Funko Pop Voltron aboard his cargobike :

voltron funkopop on cargobike

 

Anna Hackett, Science Fiction-Romance (SFR) author from Western Australia, sent us a copy of a kids magazine with Voltron Legendary Defender on the front cover, and a two-page spread inside.  We’ve featured Anna Hackett in a previous blogpost and she even gifted us a fanfic which we share every March, during our fan blog’s anniversary.  When you explore the SFR worlds, which Anna Hackett created, you’ll notice Keith and Allura attributes in many of her books.

Voltron catalogue pic 1.jpg

Voltron catalogue pic 2

Also, there was the much-awaited appearance of Voltron Legendary Defender toys in Toys ‘R Us stores, as featured in their catalogue on September-October 2017:

Voltron catalogue pic 3

Meanwhile,  CB Mako was busy in Melbourne—the city awarded the most livable city in the world in the seventh year in a row and a UNESCO City of Literature—sharing fanfiction and fandom topics at the following literary festivals:

Emerging Writers Festival 2017

EWF17 poster.PNG

EWF17 Fanfiction Panel

At the National Writers Conference (L-R) Danielle BinksJes Layton, and CB Mako during the Emerging Writers Festival,  18th June 2017 at State Library of Victoria.  (picture credit to Claire Parnell)

Digital Writers Festival 2017

Panelists Nalini Haynes, Ella Donald, and CB Mako—in cosplay mode as VLD Allura—appeared on a digital panel, an online conversation across three Australian cities of Canberra, Brisbane, and Melbourne, to discuss ‘Representation in FanFic’ :

VVVVVVVVVVVVV

As it’s summer Down Under, we would like thank Netflix ANZ for airing Voltron Legendary Defender in Australia and New Zealand.

Netflix VLD screen capture.PNG

Also, thank you for comic books by Lion Forge and chapter books by Simon and Schuster.    This is what Voltron fans have been awaiting all these years:  that the comics and chapter books share the same story line as the animation, all written by the same team who created the Voltron Legendary Defender universe.

Amazon Kindle screencapture.jpg

We are grateful that these are available at comic book stores, the official Voltron Store, and as digital download via Comixology and Amazon Kindle.

And even though Australia is so far from Voltron Legendary Defender’s headquarters (whether Dreamworks Animation or World Events Productions), we would like to thank Voltron’s official podcast Let’s Voltron and podcaster  / host Marc Morrell.

Lets Voltron podcast logo.PNG

Happy 4th year anniversary, Let’s Voltron Podcast!  Thank you for making it possible for fans outside the USA to receive timely updates from various comic-con panels we could only dream of attending.

Voltron is truly a global fandom and this is the best time to be a Voltron fan!

 

 

vvvvvvvvvv


Comics Review: Voltron From The Ashes

While patiently waiting for June 10, 2016, the debut of VoltronLegendaryDefender on  Netflix,  we would like to turn your attention to a Voltron comic miniseries by Dynamite Comics.

Voltron From The Ashes is a six-issue miniseries and the story takes place two hundred years after the original Voltron.  To raise the mighty giant robot back to life, they needed a new set of five pilots.

Voltron TFA coverart 2

Cheetoy from the USA, Raiyenne from the Philippines, and C.B.Mako from Australia, fangirls across the globe, gathered together like Voltron and reviewed this comic series.

Voltron TFA coverart 1

1) What attracted you to the Voltron FTA comics?

Cheetoy (USA) –  I’ve been a comicbook fan since I was a kid. I used to steal my father’s comicbook collection, so he felt I should have my own. When I started getting my own, I was hooked.

Raiyenne (Philippines) –  After reading the Robotech/Voltron crossover, I was curious what the team will be facing in Voltron: From the Ashes, six-part issue.

C.B.Mako (Australia) – I wasn’t sure at first if I wanted to buy, let alone read comics that didn’t deal with Voltron’s original team.  But after listening to the Let’s Voltron podcast  where Marc Morrell interviewed both writer Cullen Bunn and artist Blacky Shepherd, I was curious and decided to give it a go.

2) What did you like about the comics series?

Cheetoy (USA) –  I love Voltron… Big mecha robot, space soap opera story (the only drama I could stand).. what’s not to love? Good or bad… I love having Voltron stuff.

Raiyenne (Philippines) – I liked that we got to see the original team once more.

C.B.Mako (Australia) – One word:  Voltron.   Because it is Voltron, I’d collect the comics in a heartbeat.   The colour palette of the series appeared that Arus is a hot, barren planet.

3) Any favorite issue / part among the six comics?

Cheetoy (USA) – The Robeast designs were monstrous as they should be. Some even resembled Robeasts from DoTU (Voltron’s Defender of The Universe 80s cartoons)

Raiyenne (Philippines) – My favorite issue was Issue 5 because of the cover artwork. And I liked seeing the original team as well.

C.B.Mako (Australia) – I found the artwork of Voltron vs multiple robeast battles fascinating.  Also, I loved the cover art of Issue 5.  Because Keith and Allura, front and centre.  IMHO, the series has the best cover art to date.  Drawn by Alex Milne and coloured by Josh Perez, I love the consistency of this cover collection. The artwork is so gorgeous, I’m tempted to frame each one and hang them on display.

4) How was your experience buying the comics? Did you buy the digital / printed or both? Why?

Cheetoy (USA) – I had no problems buying comics as I have a favorite comic book shop nearby (was one of the first things I looked for when I moved house). As for digital? I’m a solid printed gal. Like books, I love the feel of the pages.

Raiyenne (Philippines) –  I bought the comics online because comic books shops are too far from where I live. It’s very hard getting printed copies these days especially since the mall bookshops have been very selective what available titles the would stock in store. I liked reading online because I get to use the ‘guided view’ of the site, which lets me focus on what panel first and not let my attention roam everywhere on page.

C.B.Mako (Australia) – I bought both digital and printed copies.  I would wait for the release date, and the moment New York time zone reaches ten o’clock in the morning (midnight in Melbourne) I would purchase and download the digital edition on comixology straightaway.  As for printed copies of the comics, I cargobiked 12.6 km / 7.8 miles to All Star Comics to grab the latest copy of the comics series.

5) Where there any areas on the comics they could’ve improved or changed?

Cheetoy (USA) – I wanted to love this comic.. I really did. But I can’t figure where it failed exactly. I wrote a detailed answer on Live Journal 

Raiyenne (Philippines) – I was excited for issue 5 due to the cover artwork, (which I liked a lot). It led me to think, “Finally, the issue that will explain the rest of the original team’s story” and then I was disoriented once again because there wasn’t anything that resembled the cover art.  Throughout the issues, it may have been helpful if the flashbacks (the original team) were colored differently then I think the switching from their time to the present through the panels wouldn’t be too confusing. The passage of time would be visible too.

C.B.Mako (Australia) – I wanted to know what happened to Allura.  Arus was her planet, and as planetary ruler, she was the owner of Voltron.  Two of the new male pilots looked alike. Would it have helped to distinguish each one if hair colour or skin changed like blue or green? Or, not look human?

I’ve also noticed Dynamite Comics released the Trade Paperback (TPB) rather quickly. Surprised that both sixth issue and the TPB cover were both the same.  The TPB was unremarkable. Apart from the usually compiled cover art, there were no bonus pages.

6) What would you like to see in future Voltron comics?

Cheetoy (USA) – I wish I could have a graphic novel (or two) that dealt with the “hanging chads” of the many Voltron story arcs left in both comic and TV series. I don’t want it to be rushed either. That was how some of these story lines might have costed readers/viewers (IMO). Even the 30th anniversary book’s Epilogue comics didn’t feel like it offered a neat closer. I would like something that really said…”This arc is done.”

Raiyenne (Philippines) –  I would like to read / see a story of the original team battling mirror versions of themselves and Hagar’s behind it all. I don’t know if that was done in episodes, I hope.not yet. I think it would be cool to see how that will turn out.

C.B.Mako (Australia) – I would like a well-thought-out, well-written comics by  women writers.  All of Voltron’s comics were written by men. They’ve already changed the look of VLD Allura to that of a woman of colour, how about having women writers in future comics?

Also, if Robotech was able to give Rick Hunter and Lisa Hayes their wedding and even an offspring, why not Keith and Allura?  Surely, it’s not much to ask from Voltron’s devoted fans? We’d like to see a stand-alone comic novel or mini-series that could see #KeithandAllura fanshippers sated. After waiting for more than thirty years, surely we could give Voltron’s favourite canon couple their happy-ever-after ?

xoxoxoxo

xoxoxoxo

xoxoxoxo

VOLTRON TFA pic

Voltron From The Ashes
Comics and Trade Paperback 
via Voltron estore
Writer  : Cullen Bunn
Artist  : Blacky Shepherd
Colorist: Adriano Augusto
Cover art by : Alex Milne
Cover colors by : Josh Perez
Publisher : Dynamite Comics 
Publication run : September 2015 - February 2016
Trade Paperback : March 2016

 

 


International Fanworks Day

While patiently waiting for the new Voltron series  by Dreamworks Animation to be aired on Netflix in 2016, whether you’re having a fandom high or low moment,  wherever you are in the world, fans come together like Voltron to celebrate International Fanworks Day.

VOLTRON Mousemania

It’s 2016, and it’s the best time to be a fan.

In Australia,  in a span of a few weeks, there was a flurry of discussion about FanFiction. Anne Jamison, author of  Fic: Why Fanficiton is Taking Over The World,  was interviewed at ABC Radio’s RN Drive.  The Conversation followed with an explainer about FanFiction. HuffingtonPost Australia also jumped aboard the bandwagon of FanFiction discussion.

If you’re new to the world of fandom (or keen to broaden your fandom knowledge), I’d like to share my personal list, a few resources to kickstart your journey down the rabbit hole.

Academic Fans

This is my favourite first stop.  To admonish that lifted brow from stuffy literary types, let me introduce you to Fan Studies Network.  All the way from the UK, they hold annual conferences where scholars from around the world share and present their research studies.

Platforms

Apart from FanFiction.Net, Archive of Our Own, and Wattpad, there are other platforms to share your stories.   Kindle Worlds, Inkitt, and Penned to name a few. I’m particularly fond of Kindle Worlds, stories are complete, well-written, and even have book covers.

Podcasts

As a Voltron fan, it is imperative to listen to Let’s Voltron.  Hosted by Marc Morrell of Toonbarn, every Voltron fan who is keen to rekindle their love for the giant robot must listen to the fandom podcast.

Screenshot_2014-01-01-11-46-43-1

On a broader discussion, Fansplaining is my personal favourite.  Hosted by  Flourish Klink and Elizabeth Minkel,  I have never missed a podcast.

Fansplaining logo

Online Magazine

While we have Daily Dot and Medium for regular articles about fanfiction,  we welcome newcomer Fan/Fic Magazine  to the fray.

fanslashfic

Books

In 2015, I acquired two books that helped enrich my fangirl life.

Fic: Why Fanfiction Is Taking Over The World by Anne Jamison 

FIC BOOK COVER

The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs

FangirlsGuideToTheGalaxy

 

Fangirl Therapy

Confused having all the fandom feeling wreaking havoc on your sanity? Devastated about your fandom? Fangirls need not fret anymore. We now have Fangirl Therapy to help sort out our feels.

fangirltherapy

 

 

Finally, if you’re still not convinced that FanFiction  is now mainstream with that literary high brow still arched,  I’d like to share this piece by Elizabeth Monier-Williams  to help you ditch your disdain for FanFiction.

 


Medieval FanFiction

While The Powers That Be went off-tangent with a seasoned comics writer, creating another set of Voltron Force pilots,  among #KeithandAllura fanshippers, we continue our fan-ship adventure by looking for K/A in other realms of genre fiction.

When Voltron fanfiction writer Paulina Ann introduced fans to her fanfic arc Chivalry, where she sent K/A time-travelling back to medieval Arus, I was challenged to read more of knights, clad in suits of armour and wielding broadswords.  But I also wanted to read about kickass princesses / ladies of nobility wearing armour and wielding their own weapons to defend their realms and kingdoms.

While I had a blast reading sci-fi romance and regency romance through most of 2014, I decided to bravely step out of my comfort zone and read another romance sub-genre.  By the beginning of 2015, armed with my mobile Kindle app, I stumbled upon the ebooks of historical medieval romance author Kathryn Le Veque.

book cover

In Kathryn Le Veque’s medieval world, women are strong, smart, and capable of defending themselves.

Her medieval landscape was completely different to the polite society of Regency and Victorian historical romance. Her medieval world was bloody and brutal, which reminded me of Beast King GoLion, the original Japanese anime version of Voltron that was rife with blood, gore and dismemberment.   But once I got used to the medieval landscape, I was entranced, smitten even.

KA from nicktoons promotional pics

Keith and Allura from  Voltron Force 2011 animation version where their eye colour changed from the original 80s version

VF KA Elmer Damaso coloured eyes

One of Kathryn Le Veque’s novels I particularly loved was so close  to our favourite fandom couple. “Unending Love” is about a knight and his lady with physical attributes identical to Voltron Force Keith and Allura: handsome knight Maddoc du Bois had black hair and blue eyes;  And Adelind de Aston, an earl’s granddaughter with blonde hair and green eyes. The book cover had even a Black and Blue colour palette.

book cover of

Finding K/A-lookalike in medieval romance books

I loved the book so much, I even got the audiobook edition and would listen to it while doing the dishes or cooking dinner during arsenic hours. And yes, I even cried when I first read this book. (If this was a tweet I’d be hashtagging #hopelessromantic #sorrynotsorry).

Then, I realised, writing Voltron KA shippy fanfiction is indeed a mixture of sci-fi, romance, fantasy, paranormal, and even medieval.  Thus, my Voltron AU medieval KA fanfiction “Claiming His Princess Bride” was born as a reply to a KAEX Challenge raised by cheetoy called ‘Royal Twist’.  To date, the FanFic has grown to twenty-one chapters, and I will be adding the final set of chapters by the end of November 2015.

medieval KA book cover

New Cover Art by Artist Natalia Kuhta via @TheGeekiary

Coincidentally, on 29th October, Kathryn Le Veque is generously sharing her characters from one of her series The Wolfe Pack. She has opened the doors to writers who are keen to write and continue her characters’ journey through fanfiction on Kindle Worlds.


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