Credit Where Credit Is Due
by Will Allred (06/04/199)
No, these questions don't signal the beginning of a comic book trivia test. They do, however, represent some very valid questions that both readers and collectors of comic books might ask. And, what about people who aren't collectors or regular readers? What about college English departments or libraries? Comics are literary works, so shouldn't there be a tool for researchers to find out pertinent information about a particular comic-book or story? If I want to know who wrote "Letters From the Earth," any librarian can find out that Samuel Clemens actually wrote it (under the pen name Mark Twain, though). While it is true that price guides fulfill this need to a small degree, they usually focus on the most well-known characters and creators. So, while there might be a note indicating that Jack Kirby did indeed draw a story in Young Romance Comics #13, there would be no way of finding out that John Heebink pencilled Quasar #60, or that Len Strazewski wrote Justice Society of America #1.
- Who pencilled Astonishing #3?
- Who wrote Green Lantern #45?
- Who inked Quasar #25?
- Did Hawkeye appear in Avengers #100
- How many pages was the Superman story in Action Comics #129?
That is, there wasn't a way until work began on the Grand Comic-Book Database Project (http://www.comics.org/). According to the charter of the group (available at http://www.comics.org/about.html), they are "building a simple database that will be easy to use and understand, easy to add to, and easy for people to contribute to," and that will "include information on creator credits, story details, and other information useful to the comic book reader and fan."
In March of 1994, with a small group but dedicated group of volunteers and hobbyists, the GCD began the Herculean task of indexing every comic book ever published. Not just super-hero comics, not just westerns, romance, science fiction, adventure, funny animal, or any of the various other genres, but every comic ever published. With respect to the project, the definition of a comic is also very broad. According to the charter, a comic book is "50% or more art and/or pictures which tell a story." While the full definition eliminates electronic comics, it specifically includes small print run fanzines as well as minicomics.
After five years and nearly 60,000 issues indexed, membership has grown and not just in the US, but in several other countries as well, with branches in Italy, Sweden, and Germany, to name a few. And while indexing is the primary function of the group, the use of an electronic mailing list to facilitate communication among members has also promoted a great deal of discussion on the history of the medium. Indexing isn't a requirement for joining the mailing list, which experiences light to moderate traffic and is a great resource in and of itself. Until recently, access to the data was restricted to members who had contributed 100 issues or more. However, the current data is now available in a searchable database via the World-Wide Web at http://www.comics.org/.
Personnel Coordinator John Bullough can be reached at email@example.com for information about joining, and questions about submissions can be directed to Data Coordinator Lionel English (Lionel.English@sdsu.edu).
Oh, and for you trivia obsessed people out there. Here are the answers (pulled from the Grand Comic-book Database, of course) to the above questions:
- Bill Everett pencilled the Marvel Boy stories in Astonishing #3. There were actually 3 separate Marvel Boy stories in that issue all not only pencilled by Everett, but also written and inked by him as well.
- John Broome wrote Green Lantern #45.
- Keith Williams inked Quasar #25.
- Hawkeye did indeed appear in Avengers #100.
- The Superman story in Action Comics #129 was 12 pages, plus he got the cover.