10 years ago today, I was a wide-eyed, 24-year-old working in radio as a production editor and engineer for a major Los Angeles radio station. I worked nights, so that meant my days were free. Getting to the comic shop first thing in the morning on new comic book day wasn't a problem. And on this particular day, May 8th, 1996, I made sure I was the first in the comic shop to pick up a copy of a comic I was really looking forward to - "Kingdom Come" #1. And thus, CBR was born.
Well, sorta. Lemme explain.
I consider today, May 8th, 2006, to be the official 10th anniversary of CBR. The truth is, the first seeds of CBR were planted sometime in September of 1995, but it really wasn't until nine months later, the CBR gestation period, that I "gave birth" to the site you're now visiting.
For those of you interested in the history of CBR, back in 2001 I shared with you the full origin story of the site in this article. In short, the first seeds of CBR were planted in September of 1995 as a "crappy links page" (that's actually what I called it), filled with links to as many comic sites as I could find back then. At the time, Yahoo was in its infancy and Google was no where to be seen, so trying to track down information about comics wasn't an easy task at all. There weren't really any large comics communities out there like the CBR Forums and the number of fan sites was rather small. So, I maintained that link site for a long while, but over time I grew a bit bored with it and needed a new challenge.
In April of 1996, I began reading about this little comic called "Kingdom Come" by artist Alex Ross and writer Mark Waid. I was fascinated by the news of this series, of the art previews that had been released and the possibilities the series presented - my favorite icons battling each other in a beautifully illustrated and written series. I was captivated.
In late April of 1996, I decided I wanted to be a part of this event, so I began to prepare the Unofficial Kingdom Come Web site. The green and black themed Web site officially launched on May 3rd, 1996, and all it had was some information about the series, some scans from the preview comic and a promise that I'd put up a message board for everyone to discuss the series. Now, keep in mind this was 1996 and by Internet time-line measurements it might as well have been the 1920s, I knew very little about web tech and the choices out there for message board software were pretty small, but I finally found one I liked and could make heads of tails of. It took me hours of fiddling with the software to customize it and make it operational, but finally on May 7th, a day before the release of the first issue, the Kingdom Come Message Board was launched.
With the release of "Kingdom Come" on May 8th, fans reading the book rushed to the Internet to discuss the series with other like-minded comic fans. They wanted to discuss all the alternate characters that were introduced in the first issue, as well as all the Easter eggs Ross had planted throughout the first issue. "Did anyone catch who that guy was in that big battle sequence? Who was that supposed to be?" was a typical question found on the KCMB. Soon there after, a full-fledged community had erupted and in short time the site was seeing upwards of 1500 visitors daily, with a good 100 or so messages posted each day. Once again, keep in mind this was 1996 and the online comics community was still in its infancy.
Throughout the series' release, people continued to return to the KCMB as we launched dedicated boards for each issue. A community began to develop and conversation was no longer relegated to just "Kingdom Come." People began to discuss their lives, politics, what have you, and the community members began posting their first fan fiction in stories that each visitor to the site would continue. It was a growing and vibrant community.
But then, as is the case with all good things, "Kingdom Come" came to an end and the question became what should I do for this incredible group of comic fans, people I had grown to really like and appreciate. At the time all my attention was poured into the "Kingdom Come" Web site and I had not really paid all that much attention to that crappy links page. Then a thought occurred to me - why not combine the links page and move the message boards over to a new Web site called, "Jonah Weiland's Comic Book Resources." (Thankfully I excised my name from the title a year later.) It was a way for me to nurture the "Kingdom Come" comics community that already existed and hopefully grow it into something larger. And larger it has grown.
For those of you who've been visiting CBR over the past 10 years, you know how much it's changed. It's grown significantly, starting in late 1998 with CBR employee #1 Beau Yarbrough joining the site with periodic news updates. What followed was an organic expansion of the Web site that I never expected to happen. Beau introduced me to Augie De Blieck Jr.'s Pipeline Column, which he had been publishing on Usenet and his own Web site, and shortly thereafter I invited him to join CBR and he accepted. Augie was CBR employee #2 beginning on May 10th, 1999. June of 1999 saw tha addition of Rob Worley to the staff, who brought us weekly (and eventually daily) updates from the worlds of Television and Film. In July of 1999, Gail Simone, an early member of the KCMB, urged me to talk with writer Steven Grant about bringing him onto the Web site. On Wednesday, August 4th, 1999, Steven published his first Master of the Obvious column. Soon there after, Steven sent me a handful of hilarious bits of satire that Gail had written and urged me to bring her to CBR. On Monday, October 11th, 1999, the first edition of Gail's You'll All Be Sorry column launched at CBR. Then on December 3rd, 1999, Warren Ellis launched the first of his "Come In Alone" columns on a redesigned CBR. 1999 was a year of substantial growth for CBR and really laid down the direction that CBR would follow. But really, without the launch of the Kingdom Come Message Board and the community it spawned, there's no way that CBR would exist as it does today.
It's weird thinking that I've been at this for 10 years. For one, I never imagined in 1996 that I'd running one of the premier comics Web sites in 2006. At the time I expected I'd be a program director for some talk radio station in 2006, but life changes and you change with it. I quit radio almost 7 years ago and began to pour myself into my own companies, never looking back. The amount of joy and pleasure CBR has brought me over the years has been enormous. Sure, it's been tough at times, as is running any small business, but the good times have outweighed the bad 100 to 1. But so many amazing things have happened for me and to other people because of CBR. For one, I know of at least four marriages and a number of relationships that came to be because those people met on CBR. Seriously! How cool is that?
I'm reluctant to make a list of people to thank because I will undoubtedly forget some people along the way, and I really don't want to do that. Those of you who have been a part of the growth of CBR know I appreciate the work and evangelism you've done for the site over the years because I've told you so myself. That being said, there are a handful of important acknowledgements that must be made. The first two go out to Alex Ross and Mark Waid. What you created in "Kingdom Come" helped inspire this guy to eventually launch CBR and that's a pretty big thing. Next up is DC Comics for publishing a series that, obviously, had a huge impact on my life. And finally, I have to thank all those early Kingdom Come Message Board regulars, known in some circles as "The Pantheon." Seriously, without the passion you guys brought to the message board, I wouldn't have been inspired to keep it going and eventually launch CBR.
To help celebrate this anniversary, this past weekend I went searching through old hard drives and zip discs and found the last incarnation of the Kingdom Come Web site and have posted it online here at http://kingdomcome.comicbookresources.com. Please keep in mind that this site has not been updated since 1997 and, by then, the message boards had already been moved to the new CBR. This is just a glimpse into the past for those of you who may remember it. I'll keep this site online for a month or so. It's really quite out of date, so I don't think it should be kept up for much longer than that.
Also, later this week we'll talk with artist Alex Ross to get his feelings on "Kingdom Come" 10 years later. It's a fascinating interview and I look forward to sharing it with all of you.
If you've been a part of CBR the last 10 years, or if you were one of the original members posting on the Kingdom Come Message Board, I invite you to share some of your memories in this thread on the CBR Forums. Long time community member F. Chong Rutherford got things started and, as of this posting, we already have 11 pages of comments from CBR Community members. Hell, even if you're a newbie to CBR, we invite you to check out the CBR Forums and join in on the discussion today. It's one of the oldest comics communities on the Web - if not the oldest - and I'd love for you all to be a part of it.
I'm excited for the year to come. Already, 2006 is shaping up to be a huge year for CBR. We've seen traffic growth like I could never have imagined, with more people coming to CBR today than ever before. We've already added two new columns by Hannibal Tabu and Justin Gray. And in the year to come there will be a number of changes and additions here at CBR. I've got some big plans that I can't wait to launch. It's interesting how a 10th anniversary can reinvigorate you and I'm looking forward to how it all plays out.
Thanks to each and every one of you who visit CBR daily. It means the world to me and I only hope we can continue to entertain you for years to come.
Executive Producer, Comic Book Resources