Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Idol-Head vs. the Aquaman Shrine

As I've mentioned in the past, this blog likely would not exist if not for the inspiration of Rob Kelly's Aquaman Shrine. You see, I became an Aquaman fan in the early-to-mid 90's, after being prompted by the then-upcoming Peter David series to try out the character in back issues. Turns out I vastly preferred these prior appearances to what David ended up doing with the character, which developed into a sense of community with online fans of similar disposition. Now, these folks sometimes had access to far more Aquaman information than I'd ever be able to pull down myself. One day, the Shrine was linked to from another page I visit infrequently, Laura Gjovaag's The Unofficial Aquaman Website. It's interesting to me to compare the pair's different takes on Aquaman fandom. Rob's downright obsessive about cataloguing all things related to the character, with a particular interest in merchandising, the obscure and the rare. Laura seems more interested in covering just the comics, especially Golden Age stories Rob seems less enthused by. Also, Laura seems to be big on all things aquatic, embracing the wonder and intrigue the ocean offers, but is so rarely handled well in comics form. I vividly recall an article on the Humboldt squid, for instance, imagining how Aquaman would deal with such a positively Lovecraftian terror.

My interest in the Martian Manhunter began much earlier, in the mid 80's, but didn't blossom into full blown fandom until the late 90's. Upon being introduced to the internet, I sought out a similar sense of community with regard to my J'Onn jones, and found only a very few sites devoted to the character, all very slight. I decided I'd build my own, which ran for a couple of years or so before I burned out on the endeavor. I'd wanted to repost all the material I'd produced in that time somewhere, but just could not envision an appealing option until I stumbled upon Kelly's daily devotional. In short order, I'd aped his basic format, though for the most part I've gotten little use out of my archived work because of that shift in presentation. At "J'Onn J'Onzz: The Rock of the JLA," I always felt pressure to cover as much ground as possible, which necessitated painting with a broad brush. I was also inclined toward the more irreverent tone of my sister blog, "...nurgh...," as I reacted to the inanities and oddities I was discovering over my progressive education regarding the character. Lo these many years later, I've settled into a comfortable familiarity with much of his history, and now focus on relating it with as much detail as time and space permits.

I'd like to say that hitting 250 posts has caused me to become reflective of the work I've done specifically for this blog to date, but the stimulus was actually just catching up on Kelly's blog this week. For some reason, it caused me to contrast his blog against my own, and in a sense compare Aquaman and Martian Manhunter fandom...

  • I've risen from a handful of regular readers to somewhere in the neighborhood of 100+. That's at least 85 more than I ever expected, but will undoubtedly remain a fraction of the traffic the Aquaman Shrine gets.
  • No contests here in the foreseeable future. I've got Manhunter-related stuff I'd like to unload, but I'm much more likely to just give it to someone who asks after it, though that's yet to take place. Also, as a reader, I'd don't much dig contest text.
  • Notice how I name dropped Laura and Rob? I'm pretty sure that's their real names. If you think mine's "Frank Lee Delano," I assure you it's not. Rob recently posted a video of an Aquaman fan discussing the character's supposed stand-offish nature, which irks me because the strain of characterization is so clearly derivative of the Sub-Mariner. In all of Aquaman's appearances until the late 70's, the character was a friendly, helpful sort-- as transparent as his medium of travel. I think that kinder disposition is reflected in Laura and Rob's pages. Meanwhile, the Martian Manhunter has always been well-intentioned, but also highly secretive and distant. while nearly exclusively operating under an assumed guise. Read into that as you will.
  • Rob just started a "mailbag" feature to go with his new email link icon image. Never going to happen here, as much by design as circumstance. Perhaps it's ironic that fans of a telepath would be more inclined toward passive communication, often toward non-specific persons.
  • I swore to myself I'd never create a "family" of blogs like Kelly's, and for the most part this remains true. However, on my old "Rock" page I created multiple addresses for sub-sections of the main site, each bearing a distinct look and sometimes "feel." In trying to better organize this blog, I'm finding that inclination has returned, and have acted on it. Expect an announcement or two in the relatively near future.
  • There will be no FOOM (Friends of Our Martian) type fan club here. I expect part of that is just me, but it seems like a Martian Manhunter fan would be more inclined toward solitude, reaching out across the web to absorb valuable assets but unwilling to truly integrate with its citizens.
  • I don't understand the point of Widgets. They just seem like advertising clutter.
  • Links can be handy, but I wish those Widget things allowed for a better sampling of what they offer, since I find as a reader I rarely pay attention to them anymore.
  • There's only so much Martian Manhunter stuff out there, so while I'd get a kick out of seeing international editions of comics and such, I doubt they'll ever have much pf a presence here. If anyone ever finds a South American Martian Manhunter bottle cap or somesuch though, a comment would be nice.
  • Nobody sends me anything, they'd have great difficulty doing so, and I'm cool with that.
  • I have original art and lots more miscellanea, but again, I'm in this for the long haul and feel the need for moderation. I'm also thinking of incorporating some of them into my fake issue anniversary posts before presenting them proper.
  • Speaking of which, I get no feedback on the "anniversary issues." That's fine if you like them, because I,too, so there will be more. If you hate them or have criticism though, you really ought to chime in.
  • Also related, I'm pretty thick skinned, so never feel the need to hold back a rant against the Idol-Head. Out of all the things I could have named this blog, if only to get more traffic, I decided on a "Pandora's Box" device employed for about a year in a little read series of stories from the early 1960's. That means something.
  • I love fan art and sketches, so long as they don't suck. I haven't refused any submissions here to date. On the other hand, I hate fan fiction. I only resort to it myself as part of the "gag" on the anniversary editions, and even I had trouble mustering enthusiasm on that last one. Feel free to call them on historical inaccuracy/being lousy/etc., and for the love of God don't submit anything longer than a brief paragraph.
  • I'd love to conduct interviews, but I have an inferiority complex with regards to the blog being worth any creator's time. I also expect I'd obsesses over what questions to ask, so I probably don't need the stress.
  • Like myself, the blog runs hot and cold. As one of the primary motivations has always been to create a readily available reference resource for anyone interested in the character, the synopsis will always represent the lion's share of posts. Too many writers approach the character in ignorance, and I want to do what I can to offer people an alternative. That said, things can get stuffy around here, so I try to shake things loose when I spy an opportunity. Suggestions along those lines, whether a burning need for specific coverage or just an idea for a change of pace, are always welcome. You know, under the carefully moderated comment option. *ahem*

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