Allow me to preface this by saying that I'm talking about the situation as a whole and not just in direct response to your post, Bill.
New member here, though I frequent a lot of forums that discuss the comics. And this is a long and somewhat rambling post. Apologies if I diverge too wildly, but this whole business has stirred up quite an unsettling situation.
As the guy who writes the back-up in the ANGEL series, I thought I'd throw in a note. (That sound you hear is my editor flinching.)
For the moment, I'm not interested in asking what to me is the key question... Why is Dark Horse using a character that is licensed to another publisher? By the logic of "It's a Joss Whedon creation and he can use it where he wants" then when Kurt Busiek was writing Trinity, then why couldn't he use the Thunderbolts in the same story. The answer should be obvious. Anyway avoiding that topic, I have a question for you about canon and fanfic.
Is every Batman story not created by Bob Kane considered fanfic? People were hired by the company with the ownership stake in the character and those creators wrote and drew stories for pay. The stories were published. People enjoyed them. Is that fanfic? And do you consider Frank Miller's Dark Knight fanfic? What about the movies?
The 'Smile Time' episode of the Angel television series was written by Joss Whedon and Ben Edlund. Is that half-canon compared to 'Conviction' which has Joss credited as the sole writer? 'Just Rewards' was written and directed by people other than Joss, it is canon? How much input does a showrunner have to have in a project to be considered canon?
Alyson Hannigan loved the scene in the Initiative where Spike tries to bite her but can't and they go into this metaphor of male impotence and an inability to perform. Hannigan went up to Joss and said she loved that scene, assuming he'd written it even though it was Doug Petrie's script. This is just to show that writers and actors are witness to Joss being the creative force that creates cohesion in the Buffyverse.
As you can tell by my questions, it seems to me we are getting away from the central argument about entertaiment. For me, it boils down to the simple question about quality. Is the comic/ TV series any good? Do we like it?
This is just introducing the facts about the BUFFY and ANGEL fandom. Joss Whedon is beloved and sourced as the reason for the greatness of both shows by his fellow writers, directors, actors and fans. So yes, fandom cares about Joss Whedon. And the same hardcore fandom that buys BUFFY and ANGEL comics cares about whether Joss Whedon is involved.
This isn't Batman. This is the Buffyverse aka the Whedonverse. Welcome to the party. I hear there are t-shirts. :)
The discussions about fanfic and canon seem to me to be a way to refuse to be entertained by a project. Isn't every project better when viewed with an open mind?
It might not be something that the new wave of writers are comfortable with, but so much of what is beloved in the Buffyverse is drawn back to Joss Whedon by the fans. There's a reason it's called the Whedonverse. Because he puts his creative stamp on everything he works on. Fans know this and they care about it. We know this because the best episodes of BUFFY and ANGEL say "written by Joss Whedon" - The Body, The Gift, Once More With Feeling, Not Fade Away - fans went back and checked who wrote it and oh hey, Joss Whedon. As for canon continuations of TV shows, right now IDW is just writing a comic. It being canon has nothing to do with whether it's good or not - canon status has to do with whether it counts in the continuity of the TV shows and also in relation to Season 8 and other canon comics. And whether it counts in the greater continuity relies on Joss Whedon - he's the only authoritative creative voice that fans are actually going to believe. Fans aren't going to believe what FOX says or IDW says or Dark Horse says. That's not how it works here. The company isn't in control of determining what's official.
Don't mean anything personal and I hope I didn't offend anyone. But fandom as a concept is fluid based upon what fandom you're standing in. In the Buffy and Angel 'verses, the degree to which fandom cares about Joss Whedon is immense. We want his involvement. That might change ten years from now (I kinda doubt it) but right now - Joss Whedon is the name fandom looks for when they see the titles "Buffy" and "Angel."