Small Fandom Culture


@markasssus on instagram

Art work for the All for the Game fandom featuring Nicky Hemmick, Aaron and Andrew Minyard.

Brianne Leber, Journalist

Big fandoms are cool, but have you ever experienced the epic highs and lows of small fandom life? A good way to describe it is with something Fleurbot on Tumblr said. Being part of a small fandom is loving something so much, but it being held together by “approximately six other people and a shoelace.”

Most of my small fandoms aren’t that small, but there is a significant decrease in content compared to more mainstream fandoms.

This is easy to see when you look at the number of posts to a hashtag on instagram. #harrypotter has over 28 million posts; #marvel exceeds that at 38 million posts. But then to get to YA book hashtag #sixofcrows, the hashtag for one of the more popular series, is reaching around 204 thousand posts. The fandom I am most heavily integrated with (#allforthegame) is reaching 37.7 thousand posts.

All for the Game textpost made by @ringenthusiast on tumblr (@ringenthusiast on tumblr)

You can also see the difference on Archive of Our Own (Ao3), a fanfiction site. They catalog the number of works for a specific fandom. Ao3 currently houses 270,458 fictions for Harry Potter compared to the 7,280 under All For The Game (AFTG). This is not even accounting for the fact that the main fanfiction platform during the high time of Harry Potter was Wattpad.

Rodney Colleman, a writer, told me that the hardest part of being in a small fandom is how “you are the sole creator for your own canon.” Canon is a term used in fandoms to reference source material. It contrasts fanon, fan made source material.

The cool thing about being part of a small fandom is the dedication of the fans. People who have never created fan content will begin because of their fandom. People are more likely to recognize each other across social media platforms. Fandom group chats will include both content creators and content consumers. All of this is because there is a much smaller web. Harry Potter fans are the equivalent of living in New York City  while smaller fandoms are a tiny town.

Caspian Estevez, a blogger and artist, explain how one of the best pros of small fandom life is how “you find a small community to be a part of and it’s very easy to know who’s who and help each other.”

Estevez has helped me on more than one occasion with fact checking my bookish rants, recommending the best fanfiction, or even just letting me vent about every day things. Estevez told me that his group chats are “the highlight of my day to share posts and ideas with them. I’ve come to think of them as friends in the months that I’ve known them.”

More art from @markassus on Instagram featuring Andrew Minyard and Neil Josten (@markassus on Instagram)

Rodney Colleman told me that all of his best friends were found through fandom. He explained by saying “it’s a different connection because of this small base.” He even told me about how he and his husband had hosted a party for many years with all their fandom friends where everyone shows up in full costume and cosplay.

Tom Barnes, writer and blogger, furthered his point by saying “small fandom is like a family. There is a sense of camaraderie and belonging that you don’t get many other places.”

I have many fun stories about coincidences of being a small fandom but my favorite has to do with one of my tumblr posts. I posted on tumblr, one of my favorite Instagram accounts reposted my original post, one of my friends sent it to my group chat, my group chat all told me that is something I would say. Imagine their shock when I told them I was the original poster. Almost all people that are highly active in a small fandom have had this kind of encounter.

A mural I made using manga panels and art from different fandoms. (Brianne Leber)

A fandom content consumer, Hana Fares, told me that “in a lot of ways small fandoms are more rewarding…when the fandom is small, it is so hard to find people to scream about it with you, but I think because of that people are more passionate.” My favorite think Fares said was “names are recognizable in the AFTG fandom because we all care so much (about the content) which by extension means we all care about each other.”

Hana really went face first into my motivation for writing this article. We are currently living through a very trying time where human connection is at a low but fandoms are thriving as more people have time to invest.

Mia Down, a small content creator, stressed that “no matter if you’re involved in a big fandom or small, coming together for a mutual interest and discussing and creating further content is something that sits at the base of all fandoms.”

Community can be found everywhere, so why not with six other people tied together by a shoe string?