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The Origin of Comixjoint.com
The origin of Comixjoint.com traces back to April, 2006, about a year after I began collecting underground comix. The inspiration for the site came from Mark Rainey, creator of Sir Real's Underground Comix Classix. Back then, he posted a challenge on the Comics Price Guide message board, where I am a moderator, saying that his fellow collectors should put their comic collection online like he did. So I thought, sure, I can do that.

It took only a matter of days for me to get rather ambitious about documenting my collection on my own website. I wanted a nice, colorful scan of each comic's front cover, along with a sample page or two, a description of the book and a rating for how good it was. I also wanted to have my own message board, which would allow graphic adult content, unlike CPG's board.

After a lot of research and creative effort, I came up with the name Comixhell.com, which sounded like a cool underground-type name to me. I even had a nifty tagline for the home page; "risking eternal damnation for love of comix." In June of 2006, I signed up with a web hosting company and started building the site. I scanned thousands of comic book covers and sample pages from my collection. About a year later, the underground section of the site was about 2/3 complete. I had hand-built and uploaded about a thousand web pages to the internet. Another few months of work and I'd have the underground section done. Then I scrapped the entire site, took it down, and started over.

Why the hell would I do that? Well, after a year of building the site, I had become even more ambitious about the future. Reluctantly, I decided that Comixhell was not the best name for what I wanted to do. It was a good name, but its association with Hell now felt like a drawback. I wanted a site that could be endlessly expanded and readily accepted, and the brand name of Comixhell was too easily pigeonholed as some sort of satan-worshipping comic website.

After considerable pondering, I came up with the new website name Comixjoint.com and secured the url. I liked the multiple connotations of the new name, which of course could be associated with cannabis; an essentially harmless illicit drug quite popular with underground and alternative comic book creators and their fans, OR it could be associated with the old-school name of a casual place just to hang out, which was "joint." Yeah. "Comix." "Joint." Comixjoint. Come one, come all, just come.

At first I tried to retrofit a lot of Comixhell graphics into the new site, thinking I would save a shitload of time and leverage all the work I had already done by just changing the name in the upper left corner. It didn't take very long to realize that the style of the old site didn't fit with the new name, and I almost threw up my hands and said, fuck it, this is taking up too much time.

But I couldn't resist starting over again, this time from scratch. In the spring of 2008 I began to completely redesign the site with new graphics and new sections. In the end, one of the few graphics that survived from the Comixhell site was the "fire button" links, which were so cool I had to keep them, though I had to modify the color scheme.

In 2010, I opened the site to public viewing, mostly so I could do live checks of the navigation and perform HTML mark-up validation. I intended to take the site back into a password-protected mode, but the longer I left it out there the less sense it made to protect it again. Comixjoint was getting hits from Google and some people even wrote to me via my Gmail address, which I included on the home page (it's now replaced with my comixjoint address).

It seemed insane to keep the site public when the only completed sections were the undergrounds from letters A to D. But not only was I getting good exposure on search engines, I was also beginning to gain exposure through my work with Dan Fogel, which has been ongoing for a few years now. I had an ad for Comixjoint in his 2010 Supplement and the site is listed alongside my design and editing credit in the Snatch Comics Treasury, which was published in 2011.

So for better or worse, I've left Comixjoint public. I am editing this article in February, 2012, and as of today I am still only up to section P in the underground archives. I've also added a search function and a message board to the site. It will take a few more months before I can complete the underground archives, but it's too late to keep hiding what I'm doing.

As my site grows, I will be updating this page to reflect the current state of Comixjoint. So I hope you enjoyed reading this article about our origins, because some of it will certainly be changing in the future. If you really want to know "about us," check back here again in a year or two!
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Who We Are and Who We Aren't
Comixjoint.com is the brainchild of M. Steven Fox, an underground collector who recognized the need for a resource that, for the first time, comprehensively evaluates the quality of individual underground comic books. It also provides qualitative reviews of alternative and small press comics (mostly zines and minis), books and magazines of interest, and a smattering of miscellaneous printed material.

Comixjoint is designed for both veteran collectors and those new to the hobby. Each publication in our Archives features an editorial review along with scans of the cover and a sample page or two. By providing a review of each comic, Comixjoint adds a bit of color and insight to the history of these comic book genres and enables collectors to evaluate and prioritize their future acquisitions.

Though most of the site is still under construction, I hope that Comixjoint will eventually become the premier website for underground, alternative and small press comic book fans and collectors. However, there are few things you can count on Comixjoint NOT being:

A site that is here today but gone tomorrow. I've spent many thousands of hours building this site, so it's not going anywhere. I am dedicated to keeping this site online for as long as I am alive, which should be a good 20 years or more. And before I die, I will probably set up a trust fund of some sort to ensure it stays online in perpetuity and designate someone to administrate it. So I am serious about keeping this site alive and active for the foreseeable future.

Comixjoint is not about publications that fall outside my areas of interest. Therefore, Comixjoint is only about publications that ARE in my areas of interest. Which means that just because I plan to have a lot of Heavy Metal, National Lampoon and Mad on the site doesn't mean I'm going to pursue and list every sci/fi fantasy and humor magazine ever published. I grew up with Heavy Metal, National Lampoon and Mad, so they mean a lot more to me than other publications of the same type. And I'm sorry, but I'm not a big fan of Cerebus and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so while I will provide an overview of those titles on this site, you won't find much more than that.

There are no superhero comics in our Archives, except for the ones that include parodies of the superhero genre. I read a lot of superhero comics growing up, have a soft spot for several characters, and truly enjoy superhero movies, but there are plenty of other comic book websites devoted to that genre. There's no need for another one from me. There are a few comics in the Archives that could be categorized as mainstream, but they're included because they appealed to the alternative comic fan in me, so perhaps they will appeal to you.

Comixjoint is certainly not a site that provides a complete listing and review of all underground, alternative and small press comics. 99.9% of Comixjoint is built around my collection and only my collection. There are much larger collections than mine, so if those collections were on the Web, they would provide many more comics than I am providing. But my intent is to provide a critical review of each publication on the site, which enables me to legally display the cover art and a few sample pages from the publication. In order to scan the book and review its content, I have to have the actual book in my hands.

So, at the present time, I can't provide information about thousands of rare comic books, pamphlets, tabloids, chapbooks, international comics, and college humor mags, especially those from the underground era (including both pre- and post-golden age). And no matter how many rare publications I add in the future, I will never have them all. Nobody else has them all, either. There's just too many of them, and a lot of them are virtually impossible to acquire.

At this point, I hesitate to say much more about what Comixjoint is NOT about. Because I do harbor certain ambitions for the site that are not currently within its scope, but may end up being major areas of interest in the future. As the site grows, entirely new areas may be added to Comixjoint or perhaps a division or sister site of Comixjoint.

As for who Comixjoint is, I should emphasize that this is a one-man site right now and will remain a one-man site in the foreseeable future. That means it will be years before I launch all the sections. And Comixjoint does not accept advertising on its home page or any of its editorial pages. I like the look of the site without any advertising, and I intend to keep it that way (though I reserve the right to change my mind). Of course, advertisers are welcome in the Marketplace section. I encourage any company or comic book seller to advertise in the Comixjoint Marketplace; the ad rates are a bargain!

This column about who we are and who we are not is also subject to change as the site grows.
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