Fuel for My Jetpack, Mead for My Dragon Supplement –

Fan to Pro by Steven Savage

A Review

The engineering major gazing at the movie screen, wishing he had been at the computers of WETA studios when Gandalf took on the Balrog.  The retired warehouse worker with his Steelers jersey, hat, socks, beer mug – and faded fantasies of being on the gridiron during the big game.  The overworked store manager who had been told her singing voice was angelic, but that her dreams of singing for the masses were impractical and childish.

From an early age, we are told that our various fandoms – be they for sports, entertainment, recreational sciences, art, whatever – are just silly wish-dreams that should be put aside for the rigors of the seemingly more practical day-in-day-out of work.  We may find no joy in ‘work’, in fact, we may even hate it – yet, we attend our duties faithfully while dreaming of more desirable activities.

Why do we do this?  Sure, we have to keep from starving, but why are people always encouraged to relegate their fandoms to their off hours, always warned against turning their passions into paychecks?  Are we obligated to condemn that which brings us happiness the joyless realm of Never-Everland?

Fan-to-Pro: Unlocking Career Insights With Your Hobbies is a work that doesn’t merely seek the answer to that question; author Steven Savage and editor Jessica Hardy intend to help you get past it.

Fan-to-Pro is a book that revels, praises, exults, and joyfully rolls around in the world of fandom.  Though he has a background in science-fiction and fantasy fandom (as well as extensive experience in IT and career recruiting), Savage makes it clear that fandom covers any number of celebrated subjects, from the aforementioned sci-fi, to sports, and even art.

As the title implies, Fan to Pro refers to turning your hobby into a career that you would love.  What makes the book special is how much it puts itself in the corner of the fan.  A touching element of Chapter 3 is where Savage delves into “Fandom Edges”.  These would be common traits seen among die-hard fans that give them a particular advantage when striving for their goal.  In these fans, Savage sees qualities such as experience, knowledge and passion, tools inherent in any successful artist, football player or entrepreneur.  The goal is to get the reader to recognize these qualities in themselves and fan them into confidence to move forward, improve their skills, and excel in their endeavors.

The book lends itself well to being read.  It is written in a straightforward, informal and funny tone in which it presents sage advice and several exercises meant to help the reader get past the common hurdles, both physical and mental, of making their dream come true.  It’s not simply focusing on what you like that matters; it’s important to look at what you like from different perspectives and see practical ways to turn it into a profession.

The reader is implored to turn away from the disheartening, ultimately empty criticisms of how futile and unprofitable fandom can be, and instead is advised to focus on the actually pragmatic benefits fandom can provide.  Organizing a convention would be a fantastic way to network, for example.  The author himself mentions that his math skills were greatly enhanced from having to work with math while playing RPGs in college.

Fan to Pro, however, is not simply a warm-fuzzy meant to make you feel that all the hours you spend chatting on a Skyrim forum is actual work.  In addition to the exercises mentioned, important topics such as learning about the industries you’re interested in, connecting with others, and even the particularly tricky subject of relocating is thoroughly addressed.

Savage and Hardy have comprised this short (127 pages) work from a series of blogs that had explored the world of fandom and fandom-based careers thoroughly. Through gentle, good-natured humor and encouragement, the reader is instructed to take their passions seriously.  History has proven repeatedly that no great writer, inventor, physician, linebacker – geeks all, in their own way – could have ever made it otherwise.

Fan-to-Pro: Unlocking Career Insights With Your Hobbies is available to order from www.fantoprobook.com in print, Kindle, ePub and PDF format.  To see the blog that brought about the book, check out www.fantopro.com.

Check out Steven Savage’s additional work at seventhsanctum.com and stevensavage.com.  Point your browser to the following for his other books.



Of Horny Appliances and Comic Books Well-Done

A few years ago, I had my first exposure to a small-press and comics convention. It is called SPACE, it is held in my hometown and is well-thought of and attended. While it was far from the aesthetic and performance Freak-Show that a typical Sci-Fi Con is, SPACE was,in its smaller and marginally saner way, a touching and determined triumph of independent artistry and spirit.
It takes all sorts, to populate the Earth and to create art. SPACE was full of a strange,arresting and engaging crew of creators,fans and those striving to move from the latter to the former. Some were already accomplished in their artistry,with viable and identifiable oeuvres;others were in the awakening,floundering stages of finding their voice,their line or their milieu.
For most, these weekend gatherings represent not just a venue to showcase wares and services;they act as a wellspring of strength and camaraderie. Art is famously and accurately pursued solo. Mingling with others is usually reserved for the after-product pastimes of networking and selling, begging and whoring. When, whether by passionate choice or practical necessity, one pursuits their artistic path through The Small Press World, that sense of supportive community attains deeper importance.
During that particular weekend, a young woman from Michigan occupied the table across from ours. We were giving away copies of our arts magazine, as part of a wider promotional campaign. She was trying,with a talkative desperation,to interest anyone in her little self-produced comic book. It could, with charity,be classified as the crudest kind of zine–a primitive kitchen table affair,copied on a public machine and held together with staples. The asking price,early on, was fifty cents. Mid-way through,she was giving copies away,
She had, after paying the set-up fee,traveled a few hundred miles for the privilege of handing out,gratis,her artistic products to mostly uninterested strangers. Attendant upon accepting her comic zine was the awkward requirement of hearing a shred or two of her uncomfortably sad life story. Bluntly, all that the 20-something had of value was her art,which was the most awkward subject of all. I still have my copy tucked away in a box somewhere yet consultation is unnecessary:I remember it well.
Her tiny comic told the painfully unfunny story of the sex lives of a group of kitchen appliances ( a toaster,a coffee pot and, I believe, a blender). Further elucidation would be pointless. I initially felt sorry for the sad girl, whose bewildered, loving father had made the trip South with her. Upon deeper reflection, I saw it from a different angle;an angle that has, along with many other varied experiences, including my own,helped to inform and shape my life’s mission.
Creators must,at any cost, however lonely or painful, create. That is what the Michigan girl was doing. Her zine was obviously self-medication as well as self-expression. Yet,instead of crafting her art in secret,and keeping it there,she chose the bold and liberating step of placing it in the world,however fragile the task. Art is art by the very act of creation-slim talent and poor reception make it no less important. Taste, ability and renown wildly vary from one artist to the next;passion and dedication are much more constant.
In contrast to the now-nameless girl, there were many independent artists of acclaim, respectability and esteem in attendance. To the right of us sat a comic book artist of brilliance,originality and, evidently, poor time management skills, as he showed up hours into the affair. No matter. There was a small band of fans waiting for his arrival. Word quickly spread–he was soon mobbed by followers of his very specific artistic cult. The average American would not recognize his name or know of his existence but his rabid readers and,likely,bank balance show a very different story.
A surprising number of artists and writers showing at that edition of SPACE were able to, with hard-wrought freedom, earn their living by brush or pen. They did so in true Small Press fashion,by avidly disseminating their art, and that of others,through old-fashion leg work:by personally attending trade shows and conventions,selling their product on the Internet, and publishing in Indie and self-produced periodicals.
The Michigan girl and the brilliant artist are on opposite ends of the spectrum but they, and many other artists who share the poles or exist somewhere in between the extremes,tread the same road of artistic sovereignty,fulfillment and freedom.