My question is a fairly vague question, but I am going to use specific examples to get the point across. In general, can you be of fan of something if you have never seen the source material, or possibly don’t even like the source material?
Can you be an Avengers fan if you’ve never read an Avengers comic book? Let’s say that you saw all of the Marvel Studios movies and loved them. You saw The Avengers opening day, then multiple times afterwards. You bought merchandise featuring your favorite characters, and maybe even some collectibles. Yet, you’ve never read an Avengers comic book. Have no desire to. Are you a fan of the Avengers?
What if you watched the shit out of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, had all of the toys, and got ridiculously excited when you found out that there was a second movie coming out, while all the well not even knowing it was based on a comic book? Are you not a fan?
Does not liking the source material mean that you are not really a fan? But let’s expand that idea. It is easy to see something represented in a different medium as an adaptation, but aren’t different versions on the initial source material just adaptations as well? The Avengers in comics today are not the same as they were back in the 1960s. They are a variation. If you’ve never read the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby Avengers but have all of Brian Michael Bendis’ run, does that mean that you’re not really a fan of The Avengers? I mean, sure you like the most recent version of it, but don’t have have to like the source material to be a fan?
Are you really a Doctor Who fan if you’ve never watched anything made before 2006?
Are you a transformers fan if you don’t like Generation 1?
Are you a Star Trek fan if you’ve only enjoyed The Next Generation?
I say the answer is yes. I was that little kid that loved TMNT. Sure, a young me eventually found a collection of the first 8 issues or so at a Dollar Tree, but even then I wasn’t aware that it came first. I bought it because I was a fan of the cartoon. Not because I felt like I needed to see where it came from.
You can’t put a monopoly on fandom. You shouldn’t even be trying to. What’s the goal you’re trying to accomplish by pointing out that someone isn’t really a fan because they don’t meet your definition of what a fan should be? Let’s go back to The Avengers movie. It made over $1 billion dollars. I don’t know how many different people saw the movie, but I’d be willing to bet that it is far, far, far greater than the number of different people that read an Avengers book. Or something like Smallville. It got 1-2 million viewers per week, whereas the Superman books were selling in the 50,000 range. Now, I’m no mathematician, but 1,000,000 is greater than 50,000. So, in the majority of people’s minds, the comics may not even be the definitive version of the character.
And you can say, ‘well those people are wrong,’ all you want. The fact remains that it doesn’t matter. You arguing about “fake fans” doesn’t actually accomplish anything, other than making yourself appear pathetic. Why does it matter to you? Why can’t you just enjoy what you enjoy, and let others enjoy what they enjoy?