I can remember my gateway to joining fandoms incredibly clearly. It happened when I was twelve years old and first started watching the Teen Titans cartoon on Cartoon Network.
Teen Titans wasn’t like any cartoon I’d watched before. Everything looked brighter, somehow, and the style was cartoonishly exaggerated in a way I hadn’t yet experienced. And, most importantly, it was the first cartoon I’d ever watched that took my intelligence seriously.
After becoming a fan of the show – and by “becoming a fan,” I mean I memorized every episode title and number, did extensive learning about the Teen Titans comics on Titans Tower, and made up a variety of options of how the series might end – something strange and magical happened.
I discovered the world of fandom.
Before age twelve, before Teen Titans, I knew nothing about the magical universe that is FanFiction.net, nor did I know that fanart was a thing people did that had a name. I didn’t know what shipping was (though sometimes I wish I could go back to those days), and I didn’t know about the incredible sense of community that could be found in fandom.
Like many readers of this site, some of my closest friends are from fandoms – in fact, one of my most important friends is one I made when I first started reading and writing fanfiction in the Teen Titans fandom. In that way, I think of Teen Titans as my gateway drug: watching the cartoon led me to comics by way of looking for the characters I enjoyed so much, made me interested in anime and manga because of the similar art style, and led the to an online community of fans who proved I wasn’t so different after all.
Animation means different things to different people. For some, it’s a medium for children; for others, it’s a way to show things that would be impossible in reality. Sometimes, it’s an escape from real life into something bright and beautiful; other times, it’s a window into a different reality.
This month, we’ll explore many aspects of animation and culture. What does animation mean to you?
Feliza Casano founded Girls in Capes in 2013 and serves as editor in chief of the magazine. She writes for all sections of the site. Raven was once her favorite Titan, but Cyborg finally caught up. Follow Feliza on Twitter @FelizaCasano.