Fandom–John White, Sam Johnson, Shane Felux, Tim Russ and the creative spark

John White Star Wars Age 9 art

When does the creative spark begin, and when do you follow through with it?

We chat at each week about some of the best artists, authors, writers, actors, makers and doers around.  Every creator is at a different place in a spectrum between wanting to do something and accomplishing their goals.  Some may want to be the best out there.  Some may want to get that first project in the hands of readers and viewers.  Whether you’re trying to get that first comic book published, the first novel in the hands of an agent, the first movie playing on the big screen, everyone has to start somewhere.  One route many people take is creating fan versions of existing properties.  Some succeed by starting with fan fiction–either by writing a short story with the further adventures of a popular character, making a full comic book story, or a full-length novel.  For legal reasons these won’t make you money, but they will allow you to work on the creating process.  If you’re really successful at fan fiction you may just end up being noticed–noticed by someone who may give you more opportunities to do what you like to do, or better yet, your big break.

We found four fan works you might not have seen before that we think are worth taking a look at.  First up, a long time ago in a small village in Ireland… there was a nine-year-old Star Wars fan named John White.  Today John has two one-of-a-kind websites, one focusing on a 200-page comic book he wrote as a kid adapting Star Wars to comic book form in Star Wars: Age 9, and the other adapting Alien to comic book form in Alien: Age 11.  Before you brush off the idea as “yeah, my kid does stuff like that” actually take a look at John’s knowledge and talent with layout, color, and design at such a young age (like the panel of the Millennium Falcon above).  John has also filled in the gaps as a grown-up with new work and his new work could easily be found in the pages of today’s DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Dark Horse, etc.  Check this out from one of what I’ll call his “special edition” pages from Star Wars: Age 9:

Johniwhitedotcom original Star Wars adaptation

And how about this stunner John-as-adult added to his Alien: Age 11:

johniwhitedotcom original Alien adaptation

He was good then and his work is great now.  I will only say this–if one of our readers in the comic book publishing industry (say, at Dark Horse or Dynamite) sees these pages and signs John, I just want credit for putting you both together.  I know I’ll be buying his first book.  John’s spark was ignited at 9 years old.

Star Trek New Beginnings

Sam Johnson, one of my friends you might have seen sporting a “red shirt” with me meeting Joss Whedon at Comic-Con last year, teamed up with his college friends this past year to make a new online audio fan-fiction series: Star Trek: New Beginnings.  Sam was influenced by old radio plays like the 1970s Star Wars recordings, as well as Star Trek fan fiction work like New Voyages and Tim Russ’s Of Gods and Men.  With friend Bernard Kyer and a crew of other friends they write episodes, read dialogue with a full cast of actors and then edit in familiar sci-fi sounds and music with Skype equipment and headphones.   Although they’d love to do visual work, as students they just can’t afford the equipment and sets necessary–yet.  Thirteen episodes are in the works for their first season and they’ve gotten off to a great start.

Check out all of the ongoing voyages of the Excelsior class starship Cochrane NCC-37819 here, and this first voyage:

And follow the Star Trek: New Beginnings project at their Facebook page here.  Sam and his friends are creating some great audio work.

Star Wars Revelations

One Star Wars fan film that has received a lot of attention is Star Wars: Revelations, which has one of the longest screen-times of any visual fan work at 47 minutes.  It’s an example of what you can do when you have more resources–not the resources for a multi-million dollar Hollywood production, but nearly 200 members of cast and crew and $15-20,000, enough to give viewers your vision in an awesome way.  It has a very Attack of the Clones vibe, interesting costumes, lots of digital effects, and you could see the new Disney Star Wars efforts taking story direction in similar places to Revelations.  And I think the holograms and lightsaber work is particularly incredible, especially for a fan-made production.

Director Shane Felux had a similar spark as John and Sam.  In a article he wrote:  “You could trace everything back to 1977 where sitting in a darkened theater I was whisked away into Star Wars.  It’s what led me to majoring in directing and acting.  You could maybe even say it was Kevin Rubio’s Troops that brought that spark, that desire to make a film into being again because it was Troops that brought on the new wave of fan films.  Films I had watched and decided would be a great stepping stone back into the world of directing.  I thought about it for awhile and realized that there would never be a “good” time to do it.  There was a full time job, a spouse, and now a child. It was only going to get harder.”  Read more at here.

Here is the trailer for Star Wars: Revelations:

And you can watch the entire film here:

The computer effects look like something out of the video game Star Wars 1313 that was due out from LucasArts that we previewed here.  Unfortunately with Disney dismantling the LucasArts division Star Wars 1313 seems to be in jeopardy.  Maybe someone like Shane could help get more projects like this going at the new Star Wars wing at Disney?

STOGAM poster

Probably the best Star Trek fan film and best fan production of any franchise might be Tim Russ’s Star Trek: Of Gods and Men.  Although it incorporates well-done original series story sets, props, and costumes, the real punch with Of Gods and Men is the willingness of so many former Star Trek actors to return to either reprise characters they originally played or take on new roles.  First and foremost is Nichelle Nichols returning as Uhura, Walter Koenig returning as Chekov, Tim Russ as Tuvok and Alan Ruck as Captain Harriman.  It also starred Star Trek’s Garrett Wang, Chase Masterson, J.G. Hertzler, Gary Graham, Ethan Phillips and Cirroc Lofton.  The story itself even has elements that were later seen in the Star Trek 2009 reboot film.  The ships, other special effects and sound track are also well done.  And because it is a fan film you can watch the three-part sci-fi drama online for free at the production website here or watch it all right now here:

The parallel universe Evil Captain Harriman is the best part.

Director Tim Russ was already a Hollywood professional–a successful actor in both Star Trek Voyager and Star Trek Generations, yet he still wanted to make a fan film.  And he made it happen.

As with all fan fiction, you have to remember these are made by fans, so they aren’t of the final quality you’d see on TV or at a theater so set your expectations accordingly.  Yet for the love of the worlds they explore they show off some great skills and illustrate what talented people can do when they come together, whether or not they are professionals.  And if there is something you want to do, whether it’s write, draw, paint, sing, build, or make, clear the way of whatever is holding you back and get started!

C.J. Bunce

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