| THOUGHTS AT THREE A.M.
by editor I forgot my name
Discussed this month: Site revamp what's happened in the last few months Wizard World 2000 and Fanzing T-Shirts Fanzing's Tutorial Chicken Run
One of the reasons for Fanzing's uber-long hiatus was the obvious site revamp. I changed the site from a 600 width standard to an 800 width standard in order to accomodate a new navigation bar down the side. The navigation seems much more sensible this way.
I also decided to make the site more structured, with proper headers and a more unified look. You'll notice that there are no more varying-color backgrounds.
Retrofitting the 25 previous issues of the magazine is going to be an arduous task. I hope you'll understand if it takes a while. In the meantime, it may be a bit messy.
I've been studying new web design techniques, like Cascading Style Sheets and XML. The shocking thing was that I learned that all of my previous beliefs about what makes good web design coding were WRONG. ALL WRONG! Believe me, as I go backwards through this site and try to rectify all my bad mistakes, I'm kicking myself that I didn't know certain things earlier. The proper use of paragraph tags. The reason for using head tags. In trying to use HTML in ways it was never meant to be used (as most of us amateur web designers do), most of us have learned some of the most awful methods.
What's happened in the last few months:
Well, I warned everyone that the prior issue of Fanzing, our 80 Page Giant, was going to have to tide you over for a long time. Given that it was the size of three standard issues, I thought it would. So, of course, people just read it all in one weekend and then started sending me letters asking when the new issue would be out.
Sigh. I try. I really do try!
The biggest thing, of course, was that I moved from Roseville, MN, down to Rochester, MN. It is, without a doubt, a good move! Though I miss some friends and I'm farther away from my parents, Rochester is by far a nicer place to live. It's peaceful, the traffic is sensible, the air smells nice and the cost of living is lower. And my wife is much happier which is better for both of us, of course!
Moving in took a day, unpacking enough to make the place liveable took a month, and here we are two months later STILL surrounded by boxes. While Melinda went back to work at the Mayo Clinic, I took a job at IBM. It's only a mile away, which is satisfying.
I spent a few weeks working on a comic book project which I'll tell you about later. Then I also spent some time trying to write my Elongated Man vs. Riddler entry for Arkham Asylum's Vacation. I finally decided to not make you all wait for that one and since I decided to expand the writing challenge, I could just run it later.
Since then, I've been learning XML and realized that I couldn't put out another issue of Fanzing until I corrected some of the site's more egregious errors. That took some time. And then I also put together a tutorial for Fanzing's contributors. With the tutorial, it's possible that future issues of Fanzing may be put together much more quickly (and look better when finished). Time will tell.
Wizard World 2000
Melinda and I will be attending Wizard World 2000 in Chicago on August 4-6. The new issue of Fanzing will come out after that.
Will any of Fanzing's contributors and readers be attending? If so, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know. I might have some Fanzing T-shirts for those who'd like them.
I'll hopefully be wearing a Fanzing T-Shirt by then, so you'll be able to recognize me. (I may have to order a couple, since it is a three day event and I won't be able to wash it!) You may also recognize me by my balding head, large belly and generally unattractive physical appearance but it is a comics convention, so I can't expect to stand out that way.
As I write this, the Fanzing Merchandise store IS open at http://www.cafepress.com/fanzing/. However, only the shirts and the mousepads are currently available. The ceramic and plastic mugs should be available by the end of the week. (We are re-designing the graphic to take advantage of the horizontal layout.
If you order your Fanzing T-shirt today, it should be shipped to you in time for the convention. I'll keep my eyes open for anyone else wearing the distinctive design.
(In case you're wondering what the slogan says it's "Where the Brave and the Bold Go To Relax!")
Ah, what is all this about a tutorial?
I don't have it on the navigation links yet, because I'm hoping to revise it and add a few more pages to it but you can find it at http://www.fanzing.com/tutorial/
What I've done is given a very basic crash-course in how to submit a document to Fanzing in such a way that I can just put it in place, link to it and it's ready to go. If I can get some or most of Fanzing's staff and contributors to start sending "Fanzing-Ready" documents to me, these issues won't take so bloody long to put together and I can concentrate more on my own writing for the issues.
The problem is that we've really reached the stage in our growth where I could use a proper paid staff. It's no longer a one-man job. (This IS a 1000+ document site by now.) But, since we can't make any profits off the mag, I need to find ways to make the magazine easier to manage. And if I can convince Fanzing's contributors to take a whack at this tutorial, chances are they'll be able to improve this magazine's readiness every month.
Given that Fanzing's contributors range from those who are already doing HTML coding on their own web sites to people who call themselves "computer idiots" and don't do much besides typing in Notepad, I tried to not scare anyone with a lot of geek talk. I made the tutorial simple, fun and humorous. (I even put in a bunch of funny script examples. If you want to read an excerpt from a Zoo Crew story called "Captain Carrot vs. the WormMonger", you'll need to read the Tutorial!)
The tutorial offers a few things:
The skeleton page is basically a bare-bones (yes, that's intentional) web page that says "Put your name here", "Put your title here" "Put your story here" and the like. If you think you can handle that level of complexity, then you should probably take a stab at the tutorial!
If you already know HTML but were wondering what I was talking about earlier (about the proper way to do HTML), then it would be good for you to read the tutorial.
The Tutorial will be added to "Contributor's Central" when it's fully finished.
Just wanted to say that I just got back from seeing "Chicken Run" with my wife. Much like "Iron Giant" (my favorite movie of 1999), it proves that animated movies are often capable of being better than the live action films.
Chicken Run is filled with action, humor and drama with camera work and acting that is better than that in many normal movies. And unlike most big-budget blockbusters, this film has a plot.
If you do see Chicken Run be sure to sit through the credits. There's a surprise at the end.
This column is © 2000 Michael Hutchison.
Fanzing is not associated with DC Comics.
All DC Comics characters, trademarks and images (where used) are DC Comics, Inc.
DC characters are used here in fan art and fiction in accordance with their generous "fair use" policies.
Fanzing site version 7.4