Hannibal was the little queer horror show that tried, but still ended up canceled from NBC’s lineup in 2015. More of a wannabe horror house art film than the crime procedural it was presented as, Hannibal was never a ratings knockout. That being said, the fandom has been nothing short of extremely passionate in continuing to support the show, cast, and crew. There was a petition to renew Hannibal, fans clamoring to move the show to other networks, and an outpouring of fan works. Not just fanart and fanfiction, but crafts, jewelry, makeup, books, and more. I sat down with Aimee Fleck, who, with partner Tea Fougner, created the RAW Fanthology, an anthology of Hannibal fanworks by fans, for fans.
Hello Aimee, thank you for taking the time to speak with WWAC. Can you tell our readers a little about yourself, and an overview of what RAW is?
I’m an illustrator, designer and publisher living in Brooklyn, New York. I graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art with a BFA in Illustration, but have since done work in a variety of art fields—most prominently, I’ve done both cover and comic work for Boom! Comics, and design work for both Penguin Random House and my publishing day-job at Workman Publishing. I’ve been in fandom in one way or another all my life, and am really passionate about the worth and validity of fanwork, which is part of why I put together RAW, and why I’m starting my own publishing imprint focusing on fandom and fanworks, Bad Influence Press!
RAW itself is an anthology tribute to the relationship between Will Graham & Hannibal Lecter as portrayed in the television show Hannibal, featuring over 200 pages of art, comics, and fiction by 50 different contributors, and edited by myself and Tea Fougner.
What was the inspiration behind RAW?
A few different things! The previous year I had run a much smaller fanbook called BROOKLYN, with just art, and I really enjoyed doing it—even aside from the final product, I met a lot of wonderful people and felt like I had really gotten to contribute to fandom in a way I hadn’t previously been doing.
At the launch event for that zine I was lucky enough to see some older fanzines, brought in by Deb Walsh, and several things about those really struck me—I loved that they had fiction in them, I loved the way that looking at them was like having a window into fandom history, and I wanted to make something like that, where people would want to keep it and treasure it, and because of that it would be preserved.
I had no specific plans for what or when, but when I got seriously back into Hannibal, I started considering doing a Hannibal book—and then after the finale, it felt fitting to do a fan anthology for it—fan anthologies and fanfiction having originally and often been a critique of media for their lack of representation of queer or fluid sexuality, and now having come around to a point where those relationships people were asking for are actually being shown in television, and getting to use the format of the fan anthology to celebrate that.
What sort of response were you expecting from people when you first planning the project?
I wasn’t sure—I knew when we got way more applications than I had gotten for BROOKLYN that it was definitely going to be bigger than that, but not how much bigger. I tried to stick as close to the amount raised in similar Hannibal projects as possible, with our Kickstarter goal.
How has the Kickstarter gone? Were you expecting such a supportive response?
Unimaginably well! We raised a total of $97,002 dollars over 29 days, and had over 2400 people back the project. I was absolutely not expecting it—I was concerned that $16,000 was too much to ask for the project, and I had spent days getting our budget that low. We went through and said, well, if every contributor sells 12 copies, we can make our goal, and that sounded doable, if difficult! To raise as much as we did in as little time was honestly shocking. It actually made the Kickstarter harder—we had to do a lot of planning on the fly! I’m pretty sure I worked out our final stretch goals on the subway on the way home from work the evening before we had to announce them.
What were some of the challenges involved in putting together this anthology?
For how off the wall the Kickstarter ended up being, the entire thing has been going pretty smoothly—our contributors have been wonderful to work with, and people have been very generous with their time and advice! Primarily, the difficulties were ones inherent in running a Kickstarter and publishing a book with a two-person team. What my partner Tea and I did, with the help of a few very generous friends, would be done by a team of at least 10 people at the publishing house where I work: we were our own project managers, art department, sales team, editors, marketing people, accountants. The challenge was mostly just getting it done!
There have been other Hannibal inspired books and the fandom appears very driven to create. What would you say it is about Hannibal that brings this out in people?
While I adore the Hannibal fandom, and am proud to be a part of it, I think that to say that it’s more driven to create than other fandoms based on the several books that have been published for it isn’t necessarily showing the whole picture.
I think that the thing that separates Hannibal from other fandoms—at least as far as fan publishing and visible fandom creation—is not the content itself, but the acceptance of and excitement about fanwork on the part of the show’s creators. I don’t think I would have been able to do a book like this for another fandom, right now. I felt like it was possible because of the openness of the shows creators about accepting and validating fanwork. I think that fans have felt a lot of respect and understanding from the cast and crew of Hannibal as to what we do and why we do it, and that is what has made fan projects like RAW possible.
Where does RAW go from here?
The books will be mailed out in May, so mostly we’re preparing for that! All the files are at the printer and they’re being printed right now—they should arrive late April. In the meanwhile, I’m ordering all the backer rewards and shipping supplies, and just last week got a storage unit to hold everything in!
Does Bryan Fuller want a copy?
I assume so… since he backed the Kickstarter! Seeing his name on the list of backers was definitely one of the highlights of the Kickstarter for all of us, and I’m really looking forward to mailing him his copy!