South Park, the long-running cartoon satire favored among youth everywhere, is celebrating its gay fandoms by putting some fan art into its episodes. The fan art in question concerns South Park characters Tweek and Craig, affectionately known in the fandom as “Creek.” The earliest appearances of the gay fan art originated in 2005.
A recent episode featured the fan art of several artists for a storyline in which Tweek and Craig find that they’re the subject of the Yaoi fan art (“Yaoi” being a popular genre in anime and manga which depicts romantic relationships between two young men). Both Tweek and Craig insist on their heterosexuality, even though the entire town comes out in favor of their supposed relationship.
The episode is a show of South Park creators’ Matt Stone and Trey Parker support for their fans’ engagement in the show. Many authors, notably George R. R. Martin and Anne Rice, discourage fans from writing their own fanfiction because they worry about potential legal problems or simply because they do not want to see their characters in someone else’s hands. But others believe that fanfiction is “brilliant, beautiful, faithful to canon,” and that it’s an “independent collective experience for the people who write it.”
Regardless of how you feel about the legality—or integrity—of fanfiction, it’s stronger now in 2015 than it has been in the past, even when Harry Potter was still being written. South Park’s endorsement of such fan engagement is kind of like a thank-you letter to those fans, allowing them to continue to enjoy and interact with the show as they like.
“This is probably the greatest thing ever I just—I don’t have the words,” Parker and Stone wrote. “Keep drawing and never stop because holy shit there’s going to be even more opportunities like this for you.”
Draw and write on, fandom lovers—if done with respect, fanfiction and fan art are love letters to someone else’s work.