by Spencer Irwin
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Fandom can be a pretty horrifying thing sometimes. A shared passion is often an excuse to harass or belittle others fans, or sometimes even creators, over differences in taste, which is inexcusable, yet practically inescapable. This is far from the way things should be, and that’s something Marguerite Sauvage, Francis Portela, and MJ Kim reminded me of in Faith’s Winter Wonderland Special. Though it’s only a small thread in the issue, the ability of fandom and pop culture to help Faith make meaningful connections is by far the part of this story that resonated the strongest with me.
Faith’s Winter Wonderland Special finds Faith sucked into a version of Wonderland (as in, Alice In). Because of her childlike heart and her ability to follow her dreams, Faith is the only one who can rescue Alice from the darkness that’s consumed her, a darkness made up of corporate mandates and greed, choking out Alice’s ability to use her imagination and dream. I understand and appreciate what this portion of the story is attempting to say, but also don’t know if I fully agree with all its points. Adult responsibilities aren’t always the antithesis of childlike wonder and imagination (or, at least, they don’t have to be), and despite what Bill Watterson might have you believe, art and commercialism can coexist side-by-side. Art’s true worth should be measured separately from monetary value, of course, but corporate support is usually required to create and broadcast art, and talented artists (including the creators making these very comics) have found ways to balance the needs of both without compromising their vision for years.
It’s this issue’s framing story, then, that really connected with me. In Faith’s world, A Wonderland was a show she grew up adoring, and in a beautiful, smart move, Faith’s mother helped her express her admiration by writing letters to the show.
Fandom as it should be is all about creating connections based on shared pop culture passions, which can even include connecting with the property’s creators themselves. This is an ability that is sadly all too often abused in the social media age, but young Faith used it to express her love for the show, and it helped create a life-long friendship.
Whatever her struggles with her corporate sponsors may have been, the real-life Alice found, and continues to find, joy and fulfillment in the hearts of those her show has touched. Faith and Alice have both helped each other through tough times, all because of A Wonderland. That’s the power of pop-culture, of fandom, of pure connection done right, and more than flight or force fields, that’s Faith’s greatest strength.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?