Devoted Fannibals are probably still nursing their broken hearts over the series cancellation of NBC's Hannibal. However, that hasn't stopped creative individuals from continuing the stories of Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham through the works of fan fiction.
Now, Bad Influence Press is compiling them for a Hannibal/Will anthology that focuses on the romantic relationship between the two lead characters.
"Many of the fanzines and fanbooks of the pre-Internet era that inspired us focused on romantic relationships that fans saw a potential for but that were never explored in canon," the anthology's editor, Tea Fougner, told Tech Times. "But in this case, instead of trying to fill in the blanks for something that was ignored or denied by the show's creators, we had the opportunity to celebrate something that was actively explored on the show itself, at least to a small degree."
Titled Raw: A Hannibal/Will Fanthology, the book will feature over 200 pages of new art, comics and fiction created by 50 different creators. The anthology will be printed as a 8.5-inch by 11-inch soft-cover book, complete with full color illustrations and comics printed on glossy paper, and works of fiction printed on off-white paper that is bound in a matte laminated cover with illustration by artist Llewellyn with gold foil detailing.
To select the works that will be featured in Raw, lead organizer and editor Aimee Fleck and Founger asked creators interested in the book to include a link so they can review their portfolio of work. They received 141 submissions during the week-long application window. They looked at the quality of the work, as well as made sure the anthology would include a variety of styles and ideas.
"One of the great things about any fandom is that every writer or artist gets something different from the same source material. So, we wanted to make sure to represent not only different styles of art and writing, but different ideas about what Hannibal inspired for the creators involved," Fougner said. "Some people wanted to focus on favorite aspects of the show, some wanted to speculate on what might happen after the show left off, and some of the ideas pushed farther afield than that."
Fannibals will be able to read fan fiction works that lie within the series' timeline, as well as past the finale.
"The book includes pieces set all throughout the series, but a great deal of them focus on what might have happened after the series finale," Fleck told Tech Times. "I think that's pretty natural, there's no way to watch that finale and not immediately speculate on what happens next — there's so much to draw from there."
While Raw is the first publication of Bad Influence Press, the small press dedicated strictly to fandom publishing, it's the second fanbook organized and published by Fleck, whose Captain America fanzine, Brooklyn, sold over 200 copies during preorder last fall.
So, why focus on fan fiction surrounding Hannibal?
"It was a combination of both my interest in starting a fandom press in general and my love and admiration for the show," Fleck said. "After doing Brooklyn last year, I knew I wanted to eventually attempt another fanbook, but I had planned on waiting at least another year before doing it due to the time commitment. Watching Season 3 of Hannibal unfold changed that plan — the finale was the nail in the coffin, I knew Hannibal was something really special and I wanted to do a Hannibal book."
There is no denying that we can somehow relate to those dark characters.
"Each of these characters represents a different side of the same coin, and things many people can relate to. Cannibalism aside, or cannibalism extrapolated into a metaphor, Hannibal is a character who gives himself permission to live outside of social expectations, to give in to literal hungers that everyone accepts as morally abhorrent," Fougner said. "Will, on the other hand, has extreme empathy for others, to the point that other people — even good people — try to use it as a weapon, and it almost destroys him at points over the narrative of the show. I think a lot of us identify with a character who is struggling to find agency in his own life, and even when he chooses things that are terrible, it's extremely satisfying."
Fleck launched Raw as part of a Kickstarter campaign that has received $59,766 of its $16,000 goal with 11 days still to go. It's a nonprofit campaign, meaning that the extra funds will go toward printing and other rewards, such as mini-prints, stickers, a poster and a hardcover option.
The success of the campaign should come to no surprise for Fannibals who have been captivated by the characters since Tom Harris first published his novels.
"I always describe Hannibal as one of the most basic feminine cautionary tales by way of the Grimm brothers: a monster comes to you disguised as a handsome man," Fleck said. "That's something I think women especially can relate to, and I know resonates with me. But it also expands beyond that — it becomes this story about embracing your own darkness, and really owning yourself, even the worst parts, even under the most horrible circumstances."
Fannibals looking to get their hands on a copy of Raw and who pledge $25 will receive both a physical and a PDF copy, which will be shipped in May 2016.