6162 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Donations call and situation report — June, 2021

Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

(There are three writeups.org donation drives a year – February, June, October.)

So, let me tell you how the writeups.org (WORG) project is going. No, no I insist.

Donation page.

1/ At least it looks nicer

The past months and months and months have been dominated by housekeeping.

Tagging entries, revisiting and splitting overlong entries, redoing illustrations to much better standards, adding M&M stats, preparing or revising “general use” #content (such as weaponry articles), rechecking design documents for the maybe-2022 site evolution, organising comics/gaming/video/novels research material, etc..

So that’s a lot of useful, if low-flash, work that got done.

However it feels like I haven’t written anything in yonks. And the few articles that got done during this span clearly felt harder to do, as if getting out of shape.

2/ Back to 1985, which to be clear was 36 years ago…

The big project of late April… and all of May… and half of June I guess… was going through the massive, 2021 hardback edition of the 1985+ Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. To redo many pictures across the site  to a much better standard.

(Though the ones we had before aren’t as bad as they could have been. Since they were scanned from TSR’s Gamers’ Handbook to the Marvel Universe , which had much better paper and ink than the comic pamphlets did.)

That’s hundreds of pictures to scan, process and republish. Not to mention the logistical issues of scanning a 7.62 pounds book. Or cleaning those weird scratches on the panel of my $50-ish, 10+ years old flatbed scanner.

(Some pics also had multiple versions because I ended up not being happy about arcane crap such as input levels, saturation, ragged or aliased edges, etc.. Also, I ended up throwing a *lot* of digital comics into this better-illustrations-preparing run, probably doubling or tripling the total work time)

I even had to dig out my old officer’s uniform’s white gloves for the occasion. To avoid leaving skin oil on the pages. The whole scanning process is already stressing the book enough as is.

Donation page.

3/… for it casts a long shadow

Now, these are just some old pictures. And they’ll get a bit lost among the (checks) 36,392 illustrations that are on WORG right as of this writing.

But I can’t overstate how important the 1980s OHOTMU (particularly the more refined 1985 one) was to fictional characters profiling. Many of the pictures I’m now processing remain *the* view of the character for me, since these handbooks were so impressive back then.

Nowadays, of course, fictional character profiling is a multi-billion dollars industry. Its thought leaders, such as myself, are massively wealthy and influential moguls.

But so much of it started with the work of Mark Gruenwald, Peter Sanderson, Eliot Brown and Steve Saffel. Plus the artists, inker, assistants, etc. etc..

Let’s never forget these humble roots. Even as entertainment megacorporations court us elite profilers with honeyed promises, gorgeous hetairai, bills-filled suitcases and the purest cocaine.

(As a side note, the direct ancestor of the handbooks were the indexes done by George Olshevsky during the 1970s and 1980s. Which were possible because Mr. Olshevsky owned every. Single. Dang. Marvel comic. But Marvunapp.com  is a clearer descendant of the Olshevsky mindset, whereas writeups.org is more Gruenwaldian.)

4/ St. Alia of the knife I ain’t

The scanning campaign led to GRIPPING, HEARTFELT DRAMA having to do with book spines. Namely, the binding preventing clean scans of the edge of many illustrations.

The proper solution would have been hundreds of € in proper scanning equipment. Either a V-shaped-cradle photo setup, or a dedicated book scanners. But I can’t afford that. And I don’t think I’ll have to scan that many thick, expensive books once the 1980s OHOTMU reprints are done.

So slicing these pages free was the more reasonable solution. But I come from one of ’em cultures where damaging a book is, basically, a sin. So there were days and days of procrastination about this. Including this very subsection.

Once I’m done I’m gonna lock these mangled books in a dark, dark drawer so I don’t have to look at them and feel haunted by their silent, accusatory reproaches. Well, until I need them for research.

Donation page.

5/ Pinterest

Many of my Google searches produced a bunch of writeups.org results on Pinterest. Giving me the impression that we were weirdly popular there.

I’ve since learned that Pinterest heavily uses SEO tricks to be over-represented in Google search results. So we’re not actually weirdly successful !

Just among the ocean of works snatched for free by massive, manipulative platforms to be ground into traffic. Pfshew.

6/ Stochastic fantastic

From time to time I leaf through the writeups.org Random Entries page. It’s a vaguely scientific way to get a sense of the site’s current quality level, because random sampling.

I hadn’t done that in a while and, as (bad) luck would have it, the first few pages of results weren’t the best. That was a hit to morale. Thankfully, the next time I ran that test the random articles were much more enticing.

WORG is very much a “the sort of content we wanted to read didn’t quite exist, so we wrote it” initiative. But since it was a spontaneous, part-time, geeky community initiative it took a long time — years — to reach a solid quality level.

Eventually, I’ll have more time to focus on redoing old entries to modern standards. But there still is a lot of infrastructure workload that gets in the way. Tagging, redoing pictures in much higher resolution, website evolutions every 5-6 years, splitting and re-editing enormous entries, etc..

*Logically* all this infrastructure work will be done by 2025-ish. That is, there won’t be much left in the existing lists of current and projected needs. So I’d be free to solely work on research, writing, art prep/photography, publication, editing, etc..

But of course, things never happen that way. New needs and nice-to-haves always pop up.

Donation page.

7/ Ah, Google Adsense

Google: “OMG OMG your site has sexually explicit content.”
Me: “Google, these are twin sisters holding onto each other because they are frightened. In a famous cartoon. For children. On TV. Called “Batman Beyond”.
Google: “Okay okay.”
Google: “OMG OMG your site has sexually explicit content.”
Me: “Google, this is a drawing of Darna, the national Filipina super-heroine. Her thighs aren’t demurely kept within 1″ of each other because she’s currently kicking a bad guy in the face with her super martial arts.”
Google: “Okay okay.”
Google: “OMG OMG your site has sexually explicit content.”
Me: “Google, it’s a pen drawing of a 1990s video game Elven heroic fantasy warrior. He fights bare-chested à la 1980s Conan so yes, you *can* see a man’s left nipple, which isn’t ‘explicit’. Also, I strongly suspect you classify it as ‘sexual’ because it vaguely resembles 1970s leather daddy aesthetics and you always get weird about gay stuff, so stop doing that.”
Google: “Okay okay.”
Google: “OMG OMG your site has sexually explicit content.”
Me: “Artificial intelligence.”

8/ Oh yes, numbers

We’ve had a *big* boots in traffic in recent months. Like, overnight doubling. The vast majority of that seems tied to the Invincible animated series, and it is now slowly winding down.

So if you experienced slow loading times on WORG at some point since the close of March, that prolly was because of that. Sorry about it.

I’ll assume that there are now Fandom and other fans-press Invincible resources tapping and monetising those eyeballs. And thus, we can return to a number of visitors more in-line with the servers we can afford.

Donation page.

9/ So I was thinking…

… but this is getting too long, so we’ll talk about that in the next sitch report.

In the meanwhile, do donate, unless you don’t have money in which case don’t.

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