Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Neither Here Nor There



A little while back, I announced my intention to place this blog on a more rigid schedule. It went a little something like this:


  • Sunday = 50's story synopsis (Detective Comics back-up)
  • Monday = 60's story synopsis (House of Mystery, followed by JLofA)
  • Tuesday = 70's story synopsis (We'll get back to this one.)
  • Wednesday = 80's story synopsis (Justice League Detroit)
  • Thursday = 90's story synopsis (random to date, but leading to Morrison JLA)
  • Friday = 2000 story synopsis (mostly that exact year, to date)
  • Saturday = Everything Else

    Now, you might see a problem there. Six straight days of story synopsis can get mighty dry, really wears out your host, and causes my traffic to dwindle. I understand this, because whenever I go to other daily super-hero blogs like The Aquaman Shrine or The Tiny Titan and they do a synopsis, I groan. Why?

  • If I've read the issue, who needs the synopsis?
  • If I haven't read the issue, it's often because I didn't want to, so why do Cliff's Notes?
  • Otherwise, I do want to read the story, so why spoil it?
  • They're usually long.
  • They're usually boring.
  • Even my own.
  • Hell, especially my own.
  • Because toys are shinier and cereal boxes are coo-el.


These considerations caused me to set the Wayback Machine to the year, oh, 1997 or so. I still did not have a computer, but got a kick out of surfing the internet on a friend's WebTV. We would check out lots of awesome super-hero fan sites, until we got to the Martian Manhunter's, which were mostly lame, brief, and uninformative. When I got a WebTV of my own, I set out to remedy that situation, although some better J'Onn J'Onzz sites had sprung up by then. The thing is though, while I've liked the character since the mid-80's, I was pretty ignorant about my subject. At that point, I had barely read any comics he'd appeared in before 1986, and none of those were solo adventures. That means no Detective Comics beyond his origin story, no House of Mystery, absolutely nothing from the 70's, and not a single Justice League Detroit tale. My old site, "Martian Manhunter: The Rock of the JLA" became the motivation for my pursuing a greater understanding of the character. I searched for back issues, read other sites, and became an apostle to the gospel of knowledgable message board hacks like "Commander Steel." Hell, my site's pre-HoM section was based almost solely on a collection of "Steel" posts I was given permission to edit into a text on the subject.

My point is that my primary goal with this blog, as with the original site, is to expand the common understanding of the history and value of J'Onn J'Onzz, the Manhunter from Mars, for the benefit of myself and others. Zook does not have a Wikipedia page. Professor Hugo Strange will never be featured on a Who's Who page. Captain Harding and the rest of the police force of whatever town it was John Jones patrolled are almost entirely forgotten. Did you know Vandal Savage is one of the Manhunter's most frequently occurring foes? Did you know the Martian Manhunter appeared on a series of candy boxes in the late 60's? Were you aware that Keith Giffen originally intended J'Onn J'Onzz to be literally addicted to Oreos, which were to have had the same effect on him as heroin does on humans? If not, I have so much I want to tell you, and I feel the internet itelf needs a resource for all of this and more.

My point with this post is that I know the synopsis are a drag. I try to write them in a variety of flavors, but both you and I need more variety than that. Last week was the only time I've managed to date to follow the exact course plotted out above, and will likely remain the only example of same. This week is already being broken up by this editorial, and I'm planning a new Vile Menagerie entry for Valentine's Day (guess who?) After I finish covering the O'Neil/Netzer 70's series, I'm going to abandon that decade for a while. There's very little material to mine there to begin with, and I have several major gaps in my personal collection there besides. While I'll continue to cover the 50's, 60's, and 80's in sequence, I'll try not to burden the blog overmuch with heavy continuity relating to the other decades. Instead, I'll try to skip around more to better cover the great many bases that continue to be neglected. If ya'll want more or less of anything, or just generally have comments and suggestions, please send them along. I take a great deal of pleasure out of this blog, and I want to make a sincere effort to insure anyone who reads it feels the same.

Finally, I've also dedicated myself to a second daily blog, ...nurgh.... I hope to cover my interests in everything else under the sun there, so if you enjoy the Idol-Head, it may be worthwhile to give it a try, as well. I spent a lot of time decorating what was intended to be a garage, but I plan to convert into a rumpus room. Again, I hope you get a kick out of it, and thank everyone for stopping by.

3 comments:

Adama said...

Frank, I actually quite like synopsis, so I'd love if you kept doing them! You made some good points about spoilers, but the chances that I'll be able to afford ot pick up the books you're going over and continue with all the stuff I'm collecting now are very slim indeed. Outside of Showcases, this may be my only chance to see these issues!

Luke said...

I enjoy your synopsis posts, mostly because pretty much all of the stories are new to me, and my not buying them usually has very little to do with quality. They present to me stories from an era I am not familiar with, and from a couple of story-types for the Manhunter I never knew existed until like 2006. So in that sense I enjoy reading about this adventures, especially considering how strange of weird some of them end up being.

But I understand your general malaise towards the whole thing. I try to keep my blog somewhat structured -- mostly for my benefit, as I don't have a whole lot of time to devote to, it sadly, and don't have a scanner so any image-intensive post is difficult at best. So I try just to write the best stuff I can, and try to be interesting with it, even if it's a synposis or a review. And judging from what I read of your work, I think you are in the same boat.

One thing which I must give credit to the Idol-Head for is focus. If there's one thing I envy of guys like you, and rob!, and Damian it's... well, let me rephrase that, one of the things I envy is your ability to focus and express your affection (in a totally straight way of course) for your chosen characters each and every day. That more than anything else keeps me coming back, especially here, as you expose the minutae of a character who has been around for decades but still seems mysterious and off-to-the-side. I appreciate the light you shed on the Manhunter from Mars (still the coolest Manhunter that DC has).

I guess what I am saying is, dude, you have to write something that makes you happy. Don't worry about the readership. But, then again, you have a heck of a bigger readership than I do, so maybe I'm totally off base here!

Frank Lee Delano said...

Adama, part of the reason I'm gung-ho about finishing the posts for the Marco Xavier stories is in order to beat a second Showcase volume into print. Manhunter may not get much love, but I refuse to believe his first collection sold too poorly to rate a follow-up. I should check on that, actually.

Luke, I'm feeling the love, and of course I'll keep up with the synopsis. I'll just try to keep them more fun for everyone when they run long, and not post them quite so often. No one is in desperate need for Morrison era JLA reviews, for instance, so I'm just going to save that for later. The Silver Age stuff and the Detroit material will continue.

I feel your pain with regard to trying to host online commentary without a scanner. Most of the time "Rock of the JLA" was up I was in the same straits, and I will forever bear the scars... as I'm afraid other poor souls will, for the crime of lending their scanning skills to me. Today though, you can pull so much material from the 'net, there's no reason you can't amass a sizable Photobucket file if you really feel the need. You could easily run a site by just pulling solicitation images for new books and hit the Grand Comic Book Database for older covers.

I'll tell you what-- my new ...nurgh... blog is closer to your Bunker than the Idol-Head, and I have way more trouble there with material than here. There's so much I want to write about J'Onn J'Onzz, my only loss is usually time. With ...nurgh... I can write about anything, but for who, and what exactly? It's crippling for me, so don't sell your own efforts short.