I’m biased, but if I had to choose a breakout fandom of the year for San Diego Comic Con, it would be the fannibals. For those unfamiliar with the term, fannibals are fans of the NBC show Hannibal. Even now the ripples caused by their presence at Comic Con carry on as we head toward the second half of the HeAteUs and eagerly await the third season.
How did Hannibal steal the show?
First, the focus on the fans blows all other fandoms out of the water. I’ll fight to uphold that statement. The great thing about Hannibal is that it isn’t just the fans talking to a wall. A lot of the time in fandom, while fans may get some minor interaction from the cast and crew, fans are left to their own devices. They write, create art, dress up, and amuse themselves. Somewhere the television gods are watching and enjoying it, but there is rarely ever that give-and-take feedback that fans crave.
Hannibal goes out of its way to embrace the fans. For example, Twitter. From the production company down to the writer’s room and the actors, most people involved with Hannibal are active on Twitter. They don’t just have accounts, either. They live tweet the show. They interact with fans. They re-tweet art and other expressions of adoration. DeLaurentiis Co goes out of its way to make sure the fans feel loved and appreciated.
It is the only fandom I’ve ever encountered where the interaction is practically direct.
The panel reflected this fan-oriented way of running a show. All of the actors who were available happily joked with the fans and each other as questions were asked. They marveled over the costumes. The cast looked on in awe at their fans as their fans looked right back at them. Not only that, but Bryan Fuller and Martha DeLaurentiis were hooking up attendees with all sorts of awesome swag. I’m sorry, but what other fandom was handing out signed scripts at their panels? Did anyone else’s show-runner decoupage a Funko Pop! Vinyl figure to give away? No, I didn’t think so.
— Bryan Fuller (@BryanFuller) July 12, 2014
The second way Hannibal stole the show took place outside of the panel and signings. If you search on tumblr and through twitter you’ll find story after story of people running into the cast. One that really sticks in my mind was a young woman on tumblr who saw the cast members coming out of a building and took a picture from a distance. When Aaron Abrams (Brian Zeller) saw her, he approached her and asked if she’d like a picture. Not only did he take a picture with her, but he called over the other cast members to join in and she got a great picture and story to take with her.
All of the cast members embraced the San Diego Comic Con culture and dove head first into making their fans happy. They made people happy. They made dreams come true. If you want to get on my good side in this world, all you have to do is make someone’s day brighter. That’s what this cast does, that’s what Bryan Fuller instills in his show, and that’s what DeLaurentiis Co backs. More than anything, the people behind the show make the show worth loving because they turn around and love on their fans.
Finally, the third way Hannibal stole the show was through its fans. Sure, every fandom (every group, for that matter) has its problems. There are trials and rough patches and people who get into fights over silly things. However, in the end, the Hannibal fandom is one of the best I’ve ever seen.
This was ultimately demonstrated in Tattle-Crime’s presence at the con. Talk about making people’s dreams come true. Tattle-Crime (which I’ve written about before) is a role-play blog that has become an entity of its own. It is a role-play blog that is actually embraced by DeLaurentiis Co, Bryan Fuller, and the crew. The gal who runs it? Well, she’s a real life Freddie Lounds and even though she couldn’t be at the convention she sent some people and made their dreams come true. She had a vision, and maybe one day I’ll get to talk with the mind behind the vision because I adore what she does for people, but her vision as a fan has stretched far beyond her role-playing.
The fans look out for each other. They don’t get angry when someone gets to meet someone and another person does it. The fans rejoice and get excited for each other. They try to make it so everyone is included. Hannibal has a fandom that prides itself on inclusion, and that’s what makes it truly steal the show. Above the actors, the show-runner, and the production company, the show has created a space where people can come together and enjoy something that’s a little outside of the ordinary and feel accepted.
It is a blast to see people from all of the various social media sites meeting each other and immediately clicking. Fans who have been with it from the beginning gladly mingle with new fans. The people who loved the books share their insight with people who loved the show.
And everyone wears flower crowns and laughs about cannibal jokes. What more could you want?
So, Hannibal stole the show at San Diego Comic Con for me. I didn’t even attend and I was thrilled with what I got to witness from my home in Oregon. All the people involved in the show, from the cast and crew all the way down to the fans, are fantastic. They allowed dreams to come true and happily embraced all of the eccentricities that come out of fandom.
Like I said, the only thing you have to do to win me over is love people unconditionally, and in its own way the Hannibal universe has that in spades.