Thursday, November 22, 2012

Fangsgiving in Collinsport

THE COLLINSPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY is approaching its "unofficial" one-year anniversary this month. Back on Nov. 25, 2011, I created the first post for this site ... and then abandoned the project for almost two months.

These kinds of pages are easy to create, but it's incredibly difficult to connect them with an audience. Competition from a planet full of bloggers creates a constant hum of white noise, and I've been in publishing long enough to know you never, ever take an audience for granted. Even with 7 billion people on the planet you can't assume you're going to chance upon another like-minded person, let alone enough to sustain a publication. I've watched newspaper circulations slowly dwindle over the last 15 years as writers, editors and publishers lost touch with the needs of their readers, and I wasn't entirely sure my pronounced idiosyncrasies would be a good fit for this subject matter. The idea for this page was far from a slam dunk.

I don't remember what finally prompted me follow through on the website, but it probably wasn't any one thing. Looking back, the first post reads like a rough "mission statement," and the concept hasn't really changed much since. This is a page about DARK SHADOWS, but it's mostly about the show's passionate fans. The volume and variety of tributes that fans have created over the years is astounding, especially when you consider DARK SHADOWS hasn't received much of a boost from mainstream media. We've been content to do our thing and have never really cared if the outside world "got it."

Since then, THE COLLINSPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY has developed a devoted following. It's not the most heavily visited website on the planet, but my readers are smart, funny and opinionated without ever veering too far into Crazytown. I'm not trying to temp fate, but this blog isn't regularly patrolled by grammar nazis and Dark Shadows Fundamentalists demanding to see our credentials.

I've also been fortunate in conning convincing some very talented people to contribute material to this site from time to time. Kathryn Leigh Scott subjected herself to my babbling for an interview back in February, and I was able to rope Matthew Hall into chiming in for a blog-a-thon about his late mother, Grayson. DARK SHADOWS fandom went off the rails shortly before the new movie was released in theaters, and I'm happy to report that we survived the experience. It's been an interesting year.

But, I can't really take any credit for that. If you're reading this, chances are you heard about this site by word of mouth. And that conversation was started by people much more influential than myself. If you've got a moment, please visit their websites. You won't be disappointed:

Will McKinley:  He's not only pimped this site more heavily than anyone else, he's also let me chip in a little commentary (both spoken and written) to his various projects. He's the 2012 COLLINSPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY MVP, for sure. You can stalk him on TWITTER, too.

Plucky Chicken: Plucky has taken part in almost all of our little blog-a-thons this year. Smart and funny, I have a feeling she'll be a celebrity blogger by the end of 2013. So go visit her website so you can say you knew her before she was famous. (TWITTER.)

THE COLLINSPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY has two soul mates, whether they know it or not. The first is Julia Hoffman, Md. a Tumblr feed that is a constant source for inspiration and an early sign to me that a DARK SHADOWS page could be simultaneously vicious AND funny. The other is The Collins Foundation, another website that breathes life into a not-so-new television show.

Bill Branch: I was away for a few weeks and didn't want to put this blog on hold while I was gone. In the weeks leading up to my departure, I struggled to line up material to post automatically while I was away. But some of it was ... less than good. As luck would have it, I heard from Branch as I was scheduling these posts, and he provided a lot of interesting content that kept THE COLLINSPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY vital in my absence. I hope you enjoyed his contributions as much as I did.

George Caltsoudas: The art you saw at the top of my page for the last few months came from George Caltsoudas, who does some amazing work. I'd LOVE to see him create a comicbook, but I've given up hope that he'll ever be allowed to work on the DARK SHADOWS series from Dynamite ... he's too damn good for them. Frankly, I'd be more excited to see him pour his creative energies into a book of his own creation.

"Victoria Winters" and "Fushigi Fox" sent me a few gifts in the mail this year. Miss Winters upgraded her DARK SHADOWS DVD collection by purchasing the massive "coffin set" and sent me her duplicates of the first two box sets of DARK SHADOWS: THE BEGINNING. That's the reason you're reading the new DARK SHADOWS DIARY feature. Mrs. Fox sent me a collection of promotional materials for the new DARK SHADOWS movie, as well sending me a copy of the Japanese reprint of the Marilyn Ross HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS novel for All Hallow's Read. I'm incredibly grateful to them both.

And, finally, my Twitter followers. I'm not as active on Twitter as I should be, and I made a decision earlier in the year that was well-intentioned but probably counter productive. Terrified I'd forget to mention somebody on #FF (Follow Friday) I took to re-tweeting anyone that mentioned me in a #FF tweet. The idea was to promote my followers and their interests without putting myself in a position of alienating someone by omission. (It helped that I could complete this task with the press of a single button.) Ultimately, I think it looked like I was just promoting myself, which wasn't the case. So, here's a short list of some of my favorite Twitterers:

Even after all that, I'm STILL convinced I've left someone out. Anyhow, the point to this editorial is to say thanks to those of you who take the time to read it. There's a lot of competition for your attention, so I'm flattered you think this site is worth a few moments of your time.


George Caltsoudas said...

Wow, thanks so much for the mention. Not that it matters much, but that blog is old and won't updated anymore. I now have a new blog here: or you could link to my site:

I LOVE the new header! I think it really feels a lot more official. Maybe one design change i would suggest to make it seem a bit more classy is to just change that underline to a single thin white line. ;)

Happy "unofficial" Anniversary, CHS!

Jerilynn said...

This is one of my favorite DS websites ... one of my favorite sites, period. I check it out regularly. I've learned a lot, and it's been a great guide as I rediscover my childhood love of DS ... and BTW, I watched the show when it was originally on TV. You do a great job ... thanks for taking the time and effort!

Unknown said...

Dude, I love your site and check it every day. You're a great writer, very funny and always surprising. And I laughed so hard at Mrs. Barnabas' recent cooking misadventures I could barely breathe. Looking forward to many more posts from you. Happy anniversary, and congratulations on your wedding!

Anonymous said...

Happy Anniversary and love the header too! Really looking forward to another year. -F.Fox

Cousin Barnabas said...

Thanks! (And I took your advice and changed the underline in the logo.)

Cousin Barnabas said...

Thanks so much for the kind words!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the shout out, Cuz. Your site has helped me navigate through the emotional turmoil of Jonathan's death, the (heartbreaking) movie, and the renaissance that has taken place for the original show this year. And you've done it with great visual style and a sharp sense of humor. Great work.

BT said...

Congrats on your Anniversary! Keep up the great work -- and thanks for letting me share.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the kind words, for maintaining an awesome blog, and for letting me use the f-word a lot. And for this. Without you, I would never have discovered it.

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