Wednesday, January 2, 2013

That was the year that was

This has been a weird year for DARK SHADOWS. The property reached STAR WARS heights of cultural awareness in 2012, but the whole experience was less than the sum of its parts. While it's possible to harm previous work in the eyes of some by revisiting/revising it (ALIEN/PROMETHEUS, the STAR WARS series, etc.) it doesn't look like the 2012 film has had a negative impact on the original series. Not everyone who sampled the series because of the Tim Burton film liked what they saw, but DARK SHADOWS certainly has more fans now than when 2012 started.

The Burton film aside, 2012 was an unusually distasteful year for DS fans. Not only was the movie a creative failure,  the comics from Dynamite were a semi-monthly reminder that the narrative acrobatics achieved by the original television series were much more difficult than they looked. We also lost Jonathan Frid this year, even though I like to pretend he faked his death to avoid having to talk about the goddamn vampire to a whole new generation of terrible journalists. It's been a bittersweet year, to be polite.

I don't know what's going to happen for DARK SHADOWS in 2013, but I've got some plans in mind for this website ... and you'll be seeing some of these changes in the next few weeks. Some of these additions are a long time coming. My background is in print journalism, and those of us devoted to  newspapers are easily disgusted by "journalists" who insist on making every story about them. You see this most often on television, as reporters fall all over themselves to interject themselves into their own narratives, conjuring themselves like so much Beetlejuice by repeating their own names as often as possible. If we get lucky they might even cry on cue.

Print media isn't immune from this, either. I have no patience with people more concerned with promoting their own celebrity than in sharing the stories of others. I tune out pretty quickly when a story about police brutality in Los Angeles begins with what the writer had for breakfast.

I'm also protective of my privacy, something I had to learn the hard way during my rookie years in newspapers. I've had angry criminals call my home to complain about seeing their name in print. I've been the topic of discussion on message boards managed by organized crime. I've been manhandled by an  angry mother furious with me because my newspaper refused to paint a woman not yet charged with the crime of child abuse as being patently guilty. Because, you know, fuck jurisprudence when you're angry.

When it comes to protecting my identity, Batman ain't got nothing on me. I've played fast and loose with my identity on this page for reasons I don't even need to explain, but I think it's time to lift that veil. It's been removing itself gradually over the last few months, anyway. During the recording of THE COLLINSPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY's first podcast, someone pointed out (Will McKinley, I think) that I was the only one in the group on Skype that wasn't using a photo of myself as an avatar. It was a little like showing up to a Christmas party wearing a Halloween costume.

I've also been a little concerned that the DARK SHADOWS DIARY feature is obtusely impersonal, especially for something called a "Diary." I let a few odds and ends about my wedding slip through the defenses (mostly because I was at a loss to explain why the blog wouldn't be updated for several weeks) but do you folks really care to hear about my day-to-day bullshit? There's a fine line between Truman Capote and Harry Knowles. I'm aiming for a little more warmth in my writing in 2013, as well as a little more interaction with my readers ... but it's all very new to me.

The future will arrive whether we're ready for it or not. So, for now, let's dwell a little on the past before the calendar moves us inevitably forward. At the bottom of this post are the 10 most-read stories at THE COLLINSPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY in 2012. Some of those stories aren't especially interesting, so I thought this was a good time to refer you to more interesting stories that could use a little more love.

Catch glimpses of the real Jonathan Frid in Seizure
Humility is a wonderful thing. I met Glenn Danzig when I was college, and everybody who knows me knows this ... and they're tired of hearing me talk about it. Will McKinley worked for Jonathan Frid when he was a teen and, if I were in that position, it would be on my business cards. But Will has more taste than that and doesn't teabag his readers the way I would. Back in August, though, he wrote a little about his relationship with Frid and Frid's last film, SEIZURE. Read it!

The Devil's Chicken and the Two Julias
Also in August, Mrs. Cousin Barnabas took part on a PBS blog event called COOK FOR JULIA. We found out quickly that food and DARK SHADOWS are two elements that don't go easily together. Barnabas and Adam are the only character on the show with noticeable appetites, but ain't nobody wanna read about recipes involving blood and fried chicken. So, Mrs. CB improvised, using a recipe called The Devil's Chicken. It was one of the more popular posts of 2012 that didn't have the words "Johnny" and "Depp" in its text.

Kathryn Leigh Scott is crowned Queen of DS Fandom
Well, not really. But we need to establish a sovereign state of Dark Shadows Fandom so we can appoint her our queen, because she's been EVERYWHERE in 2012. Granted, she's got a publishing company that's at the center of this promotional whirlwind, but if it's a chore for her you'd never know it. I don't think anyone really appreciates the Venn Diagram of Impossibility that's necessary to create a woman like her. I'm sure the cast of the original STAR TREK were a nice bunch of people in their own way, but Scott makes nice guy Leonard Nimoy look like Jerry Lewis. Here's a tiny sampling of 2012 appearances (including TWO interviews with the Collinsport Historical Society.)

There's been a lot of controversy about the Blu ray/DVD releases of the original DARK SHADOWS feature films. While I'd love to have had commentary tracks for each film (and it's just careless and lazy that these tracks weren't recorded) the bottom line is that the films were released into the wild for the first time in more than a decade and THEY LOOK GREAT. There's been no shortage of features about these movies here. You can find our NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS archive HERE, and our HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS archive HERE. We also managed a contest for Warner Bros and asked readers to pitch a third film for the series. The winner, titled CHILD OF DARK SHADOWS, was pretty amazing.

A century ago, the idea of the Internet would have been so technologically advanced as to have appeared to be the work of magic. How do we put this miracle of science to use? By blogging about DARK SHADOWS, of course. A bunch of us got together to write about GRAYSON HALL, our FAVORITE MONSTERS of DARK SHADOWS, to spew pea soup and bile at TIM BURTON, all of which culminated in the recording of our first official PODCAST.

The Top 10 Collinsport Historical Society posts 
(based on traffic) in 2012: 

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