I’ve been long fascinated with how media properties and their creators interact with each other. The idea that a media property can be seen to possess a kind of meta-consciousness that interacts with other medias is something captures my imagination. This kind of activity is typically named a Crossover and is pretty common practice in the superhero comic medium, but has become more common in all entertainment media. Crossovers are imaginative play and are fun.
As I thought about what Crossovers mean, I defined Crossovers to be where two or more media properties engage directly or in parallel with each other. But as I dug deeper I gleaned there are actually different kinds of Crossovers. They are as follows:
1. Formal (or Direct) Crossover
The media property or its creators engage formally or directly, allowing characters in a media or medium or milieu meet each other. There are four Formal Crossover sub-categories:
- Type A – Celebrity Pollination (i.e. celebrities are fans of other medias)
- Type B – Trans-Media (i.e. toys become a cartoon)
- Type C – Character Salad (i.e. characters proper interact)
- Type D – Character Mashup (i.e. characters take on another character’s properties)
2. Analogue (or Parallel) Crossover
The media property engages in a parallel or indirectly, borrowing or mimicking the aesthetics of a character, scene, image. There are four Analogue Crossover sub-categories:
- Type A – Tribute (sincere mimicry)
- Type B – Pastiche /Cliche/Clone/Knock-off (overt mimicry)
- Type C – Cheesy/Camp (over-exaggerated mimicry)
- Type D – Parody/Satire (mimicry with snark, contempt, or sedition)
Here are some examples of Formal Crossovers:
Type A – Celebrity Pollination – Steven Spielberg (movie maker) is playing Space Invaders (video game)
Type B – Trans-Media – The blockbuster movie Star Wars developed an extensive line of action figure toys.
Type C – Character Salad – A mockup by me where I took two powerful comic book entities, The Guardians from DC and The Watchers from Marvel and created a fictional meeting between them.
Type D – Character Mashup – “Billy and Tawny” a mock comic strip that combines the aesthetics of Calvin & Hobbes with DC Comics’ Shazam.
Here are some examples of Analogue Crossovers:
Type A – Tribute – The Amazing Spider-Man paying tribute to Superman iconic comic debut cover.
Type B – Pastiche – Squadron Supreme is a team of Superheroes created by Marvel to mimic DC’s Justice League.
Type C – Campy Analogue – The Samaritan is a Superman analogue and while parts of him is sincere mimicry, the exaggeration of him trying to be everything to everyone is a snipe at the Silver Age treatment of Superman.
Type D – Parody Analogue – Captain Carrot is a Superman and Justice League analogue with an emphasis on silly. In some ways it combines a tribute to the first comics (the funnies with anthropomorphized animals) and the Silver Age growth of superheros and superteams.
You will notice that all of these examples use superhero comics given their prevalence in pop culture and their business and artistic practice of copying what is popular. But this type of behavior also happens in the music industry and Burton Cummings provides an outstanding example below:
Burton Cummings does a mashup when he pretends to sing like Gordon Lightfoot. But he doesn’t just imitate Lightfoot, he goes an additional layer by impersonating Gordon Lightfoot as a fan of Rod Stewart’s song Maggie May. There are three layers of mashup in this amazing performance! It’s a wonder to behold the playfulness and humor of this amazing Mashup and Tribute Crossover.
I’ll be posting Crossover images and examples on this blog but also at ‘The Crossover Zone’ Fandom over at Fandomnaut.