WHAT IT IS
Comica Obscura is an obscure character fiction challenge, like While We Tell of Yuletide
Treasure ( yuletide), except with comics (and comics-based cartoon) characters only.
It is run by harriet_spy (Sarah T.) and liviapenn (Livia). It has an LJ
For Comica Obscura, each participant volunteers to write a story focusing on a character
requested by another participant; in return, another participant will write a story focusing on a
character which the first participant has requested. The result will be fun for all, and an archive
chock-full of stories focused on obscure characters.
"Obscurity" in this case is defined by the number of appearance in stories that characters have,
not their popularity in fandom or their ubiquity in the actual comics. The mods will be
determining whether any given character qualifies as obscure or not, and their decision is final.
HOW IT WORKS
First, there is a suggestion period, in which participants post the names of any characters who
they might be interested in reading or writing (see below for details). The suggestion period runs
from February 5th to February 10th, midnight EST. The mods will then post a list of all
suggested characters who qualify as obscure.
After the list is posted, participants will sign up by emailing the challenge email address,
firstname.lastname@example.org. (see below for details). The sign-up period runs to midnight on
Monday, April 10.
Participants will receive an email ontaining their assignment from the mods.
They will then have a month to write their stories and email them to the challenge email address
(see below for details). The stories will first be posted without
authors' names attached; after a week, the names will be revealed.
It's that simple!
Suggestions will not be binding on participants. In fact, we encourage you to range as widely as
possible, because we are going to use the list generated (after we vet everyone for obscurity) as
the basis for signups. A character who is not suggested will not be eligible to be requested during
signup, because someone has to at least be potentially willing to write him or her. A character
only needs to be suggested once.
If in doubt about obscurity (as defined by number of fic appearances), please go ahead and
include the character. Since obscurity is, in the end, a somewhat arbitrarily-determined condition,
we are willing to spend the time doing the research ourselves rather than see a character
someone really wanted and who would've met the requirement left out because that participant
wasn't sure he or she would qualify.
When you list the character, please include, as applicable, civilian name, code name, and a comic
for which he or she is well-known (you don't need to be exhaustive--this is just to help us place
the character, in case we don't recognize the name!). For example:
Jelene Anderson, "Adept," STRIKEFORCE: MORITURI
If you're suggesting multiple characters from one comic, though, it's fine to group them together
under a single heading if that's easier for you. For example:
TEEN TITANS (CARTOON)
Roy Harper, "Speedy"
At any rate, please use line breaks between characters, so that the mods don't go blind.
Unless otherwise specified, we will assume that you are referring to the comics, rather than the
toon, version of a character who appears in both. Therefore, if you're nominating a toon
character, please make that clear. (It's possible that either, both, or none of the versions of such
characters may qualify.) Except for the comic vs. toon distinction, we will not be distinguishing
between various "incarnations" of a single character within the mainstream universe, such as pre-
and post-Crisis versions, or versions from alternate Earths/Elseworlds. Different people who take
on the same character name can still be requested separately. I.e., Phoenix (Jean Grey) and
Phoenix II (Rachel Summers) are two completely different people with different histories and
you can suggest one or the other, but if you suggest Hal Jordan, that includes Green Lantern,
Parallax, the Spectre, whatever random Earth-2 variant he had, and whatever the heck they're
remaking him into now, and if you actually request him, you need to be able to accept any of
However, since Marvel is treating the Ultimate universe as a completely separate and
distinct universe and the Ultimate lines clearly have separate fandoms, Ultimate characters may
also be requested separately. (In an ideal world, people would be able to ask for Earth-4
Aquaman, but in order for us to have a realistic chance of actually matching people, we need to
keep the requests [and therefore the suggestions] from being too fine-grained.) When it's time to
make your requests, you can always ask for a specific version of a character in your detail field,
though your writer will not be bound by that.
Please do not suggest "any"; also, do not suggest pairings.
After the mods post the list of eligible characters, each participant must sign up by sending an
email to email@example.com. (You do not have to have made suggestions in order to
participate.) This email should contain the list of characters you would like to read as well as
the list of characters you are willing to write for. You must request three (no more, no less)
characters from Marvel and/or DC (including Vertigo and WildStorm) titles; you may request
one additional character from an independent title. Please list at least one title for which the
character is well-known; if more than one individual has used the same alias, please list his or
her civilian name, also, so that you don't get a story written for the wrong character. When
you make your request, you may also include (briefly) specific details you would like to
see (or not see) in the story (for example, a particular pairing, a particular time period of the
character's life, or particular story elements like character deaths). Although writers are
encouraged to honor the detail field, this is entirely optional for them.
You must volunteer to write at least three Marvel and/or DC (including Vertigo and WildStorm)
characters; you may volunteer to write independent characters as well. There is no upper limit on
the number of characters you may volunteer to write, and we encourage you to volunteer for all
the characters you think you could write; this will make it much easier for us to match
writers and readers.
We ask that you also include your name and an email address which we can use for all challenge-
related emails. If you like, you may list your website and/or blog; being able to see these may be
very helpful to the writer who gets assigned to you.
To sum up, a challenge sign-up should look like this:
Julie B. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Kremlin (EX MACHINA) -- I'd prefer gen
Shortpack (MYSTIQUE) -- Humor; no deaths, please
Alex (RUNAWAYS) -- A focus on his motives would be nice
Willing to write:
Rorschach, Nite Owl, Ozymandias, Silk Spectre (WATCHMEN)
Mina Murray, Invisible Man (LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN)
Swamp Thing (SWAMP THING)
Jack (FROM HELL)
WRITING THE STORY
Participants will each be sent the request of someone who has asked for at least one of the
characters which they offered to write. (If you are willing to write more than one of the
characters in your assigned reader's request, you can choose the character you would prefer, or
even write more than one story, if you're so inclined.) You will have a month to write the story
and email it to email@example.com.
Each story must be a minimum of 1000 words. The story must focus on the character who is
assigned. Of course, many of these characters have important familial, romantic, or professional
relationships with more popular characters; we are not asking you to ignore these. However, we
expect that no matter who else appears in the story, your assigned character will be the primary
focus. Otherwise, you have a free hand; you may write any genre, any pairing (het or slash),
from any time period in the character's career, in any style.
Participants are encouraged to look at the website or blog of their assigned reader (if available) in
order to get an idea of their tastes. They are also encouraged to consider fulfilling any details in
their reader's request; however, this is absolutely not mandatory.
Stories should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org (not the email address of your reader!) in text-only
format, using underscores (_) to indicate italics and asterisks (*) to indicate bolding. They may be
included in the body of the email or attached. Author's notes should not include any personally-
identifying information (including thanks to betas), since we want people to read the stories first
without knowing who the author is.
THE STORY ARCHIVE
The stories will be posted in their own archive shortly after the submission deadline. Watch this
space for the archive URL and exact release date. They will first be posted without authors'
names; a week later, all authors will be revealed.
Because of the potential nature of the stories, you must be an adult to participate.
An "obscure" challenge is a little different from many of the other challenges out there. These
stories are, by definition, harder to produce than other stories (if they were easy, everybody'd be
doing them!), so recipients need to be flexible in their expectations and understanding about the
difficulty involved. This is a chance to get matched with someone who's willing to write about a
comics character that you like but don't get to read enough about; it's not a chance to place an
order to make someone produce the exact story you always wanted to see for that character. We
will also be expecting people not to publicly criticize the story they receive. (What you do in
private is your own affair. Public entries in your blog or LJ are not private.)
Participants will have varied tastes. The detail field is provided to help give your author a better
chance of writing a story you will like. Please do not use it to be unpleasant about story elements
you do not want to see. That is, if you would really prefer a slash story, it is fine to say "I would
prefer slash"; however, something like "No het! That stuff is gross!" is not acceptable. When
you make your request, ask yourself how you would feel if you liked to write whatever it is you're
saying you don't want to see and got that request. If the answer is "annoyed" or "insulted," you
need to revise.
Because someone else is committed to writing a story for you, we expect you to make a serious
attempt to write the story you are assigned. If you find that you must drop out, please let us know
as soon as possible, so that we can try to make arrangements to get a story written for your
assigned reader. People who don't complete their assignments will be asked not to participate in
Because the authors' identities are supposed to be secret, please be careful not to make references
in public during the challenge to any details about the story you are writing. Consider it your
own chance to play superhero (or villain, if you prefer). You are, of course, welcome to use beta
readers, but, in order not to give away whose story you are writing, please try to recruit them
Questions may be posted to the community (preferably as a comment to this post) or emailed to email@example.com.