Interviews
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This category is for Q+A with the website administrators, interviews with creators, and any other chatty back and forth.

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By | Thursday, December 9, 2010 | 8:34 pm | 2 Comments | Blog > Interviews

NPR has put up an excellent chat with legendary creator Neil Gaiman. In it he voices his opinions on the possibility of many “Golden Ages” (including that classic line about the Golden Age being when you are twelve. Anyone know the roots of that thought? I’ve heard it a few times before.)

Coming from a bit of a journalism/publication background myself, I really enjoyed him talking about his early days as a journalist, and his attempts to do a story on the comic phenomena happening in the 80s.

“I interviewed everybody. I got unpublished art. It was going to be the first big and important piece on what was going on back then,” Gaiman says. But when he submitted the piece, he waited … and waited … and “heard absolutely nothing.”

Another editor told Gaiman that one comics-related story per year was enough for the newspaper. “You are not getting it,” Gaiman recalls thinking. “There is such big and important stuff happening.”

You can listen to the piece here:


Or view the article in its original context over at NPR.org

Give it a shot – the man’s got a voice like a cup of black forest tea with a hint of milk.

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By | Thursday, December 2, 2010 | 11:13 am | 0 Comments | Blog > Interviews

Some really great reading today, as the Collected Editions blog reaches its 5 year anniversary of featuring great reviews for those of us out there waiting for trade.

It’s one of my favorite blogs on the net (and I hope you’re all already subscribed to it.)

The past five years has seen a lot of development in the industry and growth for our favorite way of reading comics.

We’re lucky enough to get a bit of long form perspective, as CE editor CEB talks with Stefan Mesch for  Berlin newspaper Tagesspiegel.

The entire text of the interview is posted at Mesch’s blog.

Go check it out!

And congrats to Collected Editions! Five years is a major milestone!

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By | Sunday, July 18, 2010 | 4:18 pm | 3 Comments | Blog > Interviews

Thought I’d share a little awesome news with you guys. In an in depth interview over at Comics Alliance, Ethan (29) and Malachai (5) Nicolle laid out details for the upcoming Axe Cop collection by Dark Horse:

CA: Are you excited to read “Axe Cop” as a book instead of on the computer?

MN: Yeah.

EN: What kind of book do you think [Dark Horse] should make it?

MN: A comic book that has color.

EN: How many pages do you want it to have in it?

MN: A lot. 1,000!

EN: Do you want it to be softcover or hardcover?

MN: Hardcover.

EN: With pop-ups?

MN: Yeah, with pop-ups where people pop up and you can move them. And I want a real “Axe Cop” game, just with Axe Cop. The “Axe Cop” game is on the very back of the book.

EN: Can you play it on the book? Is there a screen on the book? Like the book is a little iPod Touch? Like an iPad?

MN: Yeah, right on the back.

CA: Can the book be turned into a weapon to fight bad guys?

MN: Not really, but it can transform into something awesome!

EN: Like what?

MN: A giant robot. Like a giant robot that you can get in. A giant robot suit with a head.

EN: What’s it called?

MN: The AWESOME! Know what? One of it’s attacks – it can blast like Iron Man, but gianter. And one different thing, it can put down its own army.

EN: Where does the army come out of?

MN: He’s got packs that you get that army guys jump in, then he grabs a bunch and puts them down on the ground and then they fight for him so he can save the people. Do you want to give the first book to me? Because I really like it. I think it’s super awesome.

EN: Well, I don’t know if Dark Horse will be able to meet all of those demands, but I think they’ll try. What did you think of Dark Horse? Remember when we went? What did you think of the stuff they make?

MN: It was awesome. I loved it. They were nice. They gave us some books. And they gave me a stuffed animal – that ninja rabbit.

EN: Oh yeah, the Usagi Yojimbo one. They gave me a “The Goon” lunchbox.

Oh man this seriously kills me. I love Axe Cop, and even if you aren’t already reading it, you should head on over to Comics Alliance to read the rest of the interview!

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By | Wednesday, June 9, 2010 | 3:28 pm | 0 Comments | Blog > Interviews

It’s time for another installment of Tough Questions With Alex J. The last sets of questions can be found here, here and here.

Alex J: Here’s another question for you: for the purists out there, would you ever consider making a list which removes all non-canon or no longer canon titles?

TPBro: It would be kind of a pain to keep up to date, lol, but technically it would be easy to accomplish – just add each book that is “in” to the category “Currently Canon” or something.

Alex J: I got a note from Multiversity, a major comic blog, saying they have a weekly feature about recommended reading orders for characters, and regarding your endeavor, they expressed doubt that one man could successfully categorize all of them sequentially as there will always be paperbacks you don’t know about. What do you say to that?

TPBro: haha, it’s an ongoing project – but obviously I’ve already got some help.

As for DC paperbacks I don’t know about, they’re pretty rare at this point. I’ve been researching this for a couple years, and it’s really not that hard at thing to track down, considering the relatively small publication history of the trade paperback comic collection in general and the relatively obsessive nature of the comic fan.

As for future stuff, it’s easy to stay abreast of upcoming solicitations for the major publications at least, and I’ve got a list of about 5 left that I know about that currently aren’t in my database at all for DC.

Now, if we were talking about EVERY trade ever – I’m not really worried about keeping a COMPLETE database. If it’s an important title, chances are it will make its way in. If it’s not, things will be as complete as they can be.

It’s the process that’s fun, and it gets more useful every day.

I guess really my primary goal is to make a reading order for DC trades. Everything else will come if that works out – and, possibly, if it works out well enough to somehow support itself in such a way that I’d be given more time to work on everything else. Right now I’m putting in full time hours out of passion, but I can’t do that forever – especially if I’m starting a family in a few years, haha.

Probably what will happen, is that I’ll continue putting in full time hours in my ‘spare’ time for this first year just to get the basics of the site fully functional and the DC list fully populated with covers, tags, and so on. Then everything else will be added slowly and organically over time. But I wanna get that DC list out there – that’s my primary goal.

Alex J: What have you learned from compiling the DC Trade Order that you can apply to compiling Marvel? And what are bound to be some of the biggest differences?

TPBro: I think the biggest thing I’ve realized is that I should add as MUCH info as possible and as MANY books as possible BEFORE uploading the offline document. I can upload an entire reading order in order, but adding in more books is a pain and organizing books after they are in the database is a pain.

When I uploaded the DC Order, I purposefully did it before I’d added in the archives, figuring it was already going to be useful to people and I could just add them in later after it was up. Huge mistake! It’s created hours and hours of more work for me. Moving and ordering 200 books can be done in a night in my offline document, but takes a lot more time online, for example. I’d been doing 5 or 10 a day, until I managed to seriously tweak how the site was working to make things a little faster.

Second, I should have ALL my fields except the one that’s impossible (picture of cover) filled out in my text based database before uploading. I can’t do tags or custom taxonomies (which means no series, marvel character, creator, and so on) but I CAN do ISBN, Page count, publisher, publication date, contents’ publication date and so on. There’s no reason that info shouldn’t be in the database BEFORE I upload.

But I didn’t learn that till long after the site was up. But moving forward, it’s going to make my life a lot easier for Marvel. I’ll compile the whole thing offline, then just have to go through and copy/paste stuff from custom fields to custom taxonomies, plus add pictures.

There shouldn’t be too many differences. There probably won’t be so MANY category lists – no split crisis reading order, no pre-crisis, no post-crisis. There will probably just be a recommended reading order (which might shift some books around based on event crossovers, etc) and chronological, plus the ages – golden through modern, though I’m not sure how clear the divide is in Marvel.

Marvel will have its own set of event/series lists, like “What If?” instead of “Elseworlds” and “Secret Wars,” etc. It will also have a distinctly separate character tagging database, since some characters have the same names, etc.

I will probably have to copy book entries that are in both universes (DC Marvel crossovers) in order to have them place properly.

That’s all I can think of…

And that’s it for now! Remember, if you have questions that aren’t answered on the How To Use This Website page, feel free to leave a comment on the Feedback page or Email Me, just like Alex did!


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By | Sunday, May 30, 2010 | 2:44 am | 0 Comments | Blog > Interviews

David B. sent me a couple questions in email about the Recommended Reading Order.

Hey Ian,

I’m reading along your “Recommended Reading Order” list, with great enjoyment. I’ve only just started and am about to finish most of the Jonah Hex stories. (I’m relatively new to the DC Universe, as I grew up on Marvel comics) I had a question about whether or not you were going to include comics that have yet to appear in a trade paperback. For instance, I would like to read more about Jonah Hex, in the “Hex” series, but it is only available individually as comics, and therefore does not appear on your guide. Do you plan on adding such titles to this list?

Also, I would love to learn more about Superman/Batman and other heroes in the gold and silver age, but I noticed that these stories are cut off by the beginning of the modern era. (We have a good run of Gold/Silver Batman and then we start year one) Is there anyway to add more of these goodies from the past? I would be cool to even have The Brave and the Bold 1-23 with the Viking Prince story, and so on.

I know you probably have a lot on your to do list, but if there is anything I can do to help out, please let me know. Thanks again for your work on this great site.

-David

These are all slightly complicated issues to deal with quickly, but I sent back a slightly rambling 2am response. David, or any of you, feel free to ask me to clarify if anything remains unclear! I’ve added a few extra comments for the blog post in brackets [like this].

David,

Let me hit that first point before anything else – basically there are just too many comics out there for me to keep track of and there are a lot of people who have created issue reading orders for events, etc, so I’m not really going to add issues that haven’t been collected, even if they’re important. [The main goal of this list is to present a series of books that could be set up on a bookshelf and read from one end to the other. I won't, really, say there will never be a place for issues on this site, but not in this list at this time.]

What you might see, though, is a set of issues that was solicited as an upcoming trade but was never collected. I’ll take it out eventually if it seems it’s really never going to happen, but there are a few books like that in there right now – Showcase Presents Jonah Hex Vol. 2, SP Suicide Squad, etc. [I'm still crossing my fingers that they will release these ones!]

As for the rest, letsee – I think you’re running into a couple separate things. The first is that there are a bunch of Golden Age and Silver Age titles still currently in the Unplaced Books that I’m currently working on adding to the reading order. Once those are in, every book that has been released thus far collecting Pre-Crisis stories should be there.

But it’s possible you’re seeing something else too – you mention the “Year One Era” style retcons that cut in at the end of the Golden Age.

Basically, this is because in my Recommended Reading Order, I consider Golden Age Batman (for example) to be one character and Silver/Modern Age Batman to be a separate character. It’s not a perfect system, but I enjoy letting Golden Age have its run before bringing in the retcon books, because then you get to see all the original introductions and then the second set. The Silver Age doesn’t really have its introductions for Superman/Batman so I use the Modern Age ones. This way, when events unfold across multiple earths and in CoIE, we’re left with the one Batman and one Superman (Modern Age). [Golden Age Batman is on Earth-2 and Silver/Modern Age Batman is on Earth-1, and then the Post Crisis Earth]

So those Modern Age books come in for year one era, which is basically a bunch of introductions [and interesting backstory, especially for Batman], and THEN the rest of the Silver Age books start showing up again, right around where Robin is introduced in the retcon books. That’s around the same time as JLA: Year One (which is dated to 1960, in the Silver Age, when the JLA first premiered) and so on. From that point you should be reading some retcon and some Silver Age back to back… then mostly Silver and Bronze Age, and then CoIE, and the Modern Age after that. [In terms of the silver age mixed with modern, I've actually read most of these books through in this order, all of the modern age, non-showcase pre-crisis books, and more than a few of the showcase volumes, and I'm very happy with it. I think it works really well.]

The alternative way to look at this (and some people prefer this) is Golden Age Batman, Silver Age Batman, and Modern Age Batman are THREE separate characters. Then you’d want to put all the Modern Age retcon books in right after Crisis on Infinite Earths, to explain the new origins and personalities for our characters. All the pre-crisis books would be sorted just about chronologically, but the Modern ones would be in reading order right after CoIE. I call this the Split Crisis Reading Order and it will be on my site as well, but won’t work properly until the database is totally populated. So that’s gonna be a tiny bit until that list is up.

The reason I don’t like that one as much is because there are events that still happened to those heroes that have not had a modern version written. For example, the Swamp Thing or New Gods stuff still happened, and it happened to the same superman that we have now. That’s why I consider him to be Silver Age superman, for reading order purposes. You still see Golden Age Superman (with the white in his hair) later on in the story.

[alternatively, the Chronological Reading Order will place ALL books in by the date of their contents, ignoring completely when they are designed to take place. It should be fine too, if you don't mind reading stories that take place in the past once in a while, though I prefer to read all the year one era Batman, for example, in a row... it's just more fun to me.]

I hope some of this helped clear up confusion instead of bring more of it. Let me know your thoughts!

Best,
Ian

I think a lot of these site issues might be popping up just because the reading order system isn’t really done yet – especially those two alternative reading orders that will be generated through other data (the Recommended Reading Order is sequenced manually). It won’t be fully functional until all the tags and dates in the back-end are added. So, honestly, this first year might really have to be considered a public Beta Test. The main list is online to get feedback and so I can go through and use it and see how everything is working, but it’s going to be some time until the site is really living up to its full potential. Hopefully, though, in the meantime it will still be useful in many ways!

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