Riptide has long been one of my favorite “forgotten” television series and orphan fandoms. It was a fun show lost somewhat under the shadow of The A-Team when it first aired, and eventually killed in the ratings by the hit competition series, Moonlighting. There was a small amount of fiction written for the series in fanzines, but not a great deal (and mostly hurt/comfort), and the fandom seemed to really disappear off the radar in the past decade.
So imagine my surprise and delight when I stumbled onto pier56, a LiveJournal community for the show created last year. I joined it, thinking at first it would probably be like most comms I’ve belonged to for obscure fandoms: sadly mostly dead, with perhaps one or two postings a month–and maybe one or two decent stories to read in a year.
Well, to my continued surprise and delight, the comm seems to be thriving! New fiction is posted just about daily (and not just by one person). There is active discussion about the series, the characters, the setting, and other information related to the show. It’s a thriving little community for a series which has been off the air for over twenty years, and seems to have come back out of nowhere. Which of course, has left me wondering, so how did they do that?
It seems the answer lies in a combination of factors. For one, the series has been out on dvd for a few years now–unlike some of my other obscure loves like Brimstone which never has been so lucky to find an official release and therefore is limited in how easily new fans can be introduced to the show. I’ve also been told that one of the community moderators took an active lead in promoting the community–not just through the typical techniques of spamming other livejournal communities and posting banners around, but taking advantage of livejournal’s “interests” feature, and going forth to individually contact people who listed “Riptide” as an interest. The moderator also put time in writing up guides for the show for communities such as ship_manifesto, and has welcomed not just slash fans but writers and readers of other genres of fiction to the community.
All that said, there still has to be some magical “it” factor at work here, and it’s something I’ve long pondered over after being frustrated that so many fandoms I’ve loved and felt should have gotten bigger and more love never did so. Is it just a case of “Riptide” being a right fandom at the right time for a particular audience of fans? The right person taking up the charge to promote a fandom successfully? Will the community be able to maintain this level of activity for an extended period of time, or will it begin to flounder if the core active people lose interest or drift away? I’ll be curious to see what happens. In the meantime, I’ve got a lot of stories to catch up on reading!