Rave : 2003 : Encyclopedia Interview

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SpiderFan.Org interviews their very own webmaster, Jonathan Couper-Smartt, on the topic of his just-completed Spider-Man Encyclopedia.

SpiderFan: So, Jonathan you've just finished some sort of unofficial fan-book, yeah?

Jonathan Couper-Smartt: Bite yer tongue! This was the official Marvel Spider-Man Encyclopedia, Volume Four in their series, after Vol. 1 (General), Vol. 2 (X-Men), and Vol. 3 (Hulk).

SpiderFan: Hey, really? That's awesome. But I read the Hulk one, and it was more of a coffee table book than a hardcore encyclopedia.

Jonathan Couper-Smartt: That's kind of true. For various reasons, the Hulk book did end up with a lot more focus on reprinting classic hulk stories, and covering the TV series. But the Spider-Man Encyclopedia gets right back to basics. It's more like the X-Men 'pedia, but it's even more jam-packed with detailed entries about every character whom Spidey has met in the last fifty years.

SpiderFan: Surely not every character?

Jonathan Couper-Smartt: Well, jolly close to. We analysed close-on 3000 characters, right down to the most minor walk-on appearance you can imagine. The wife of Doctor ABC, who invented device XYZ, which was used for one issue only. We checked 'em all.

SpiderFan: So she's in there?

Jonathan Couper-Smartt: Well, no. We had to draw the line somewhere. But there's over 350 fully illustrated entries. That covers all the major characters, from Mary-Jane and Green-Goblin, down to folks like Mindworm, Blaze, the Murderous Mimes, and Peter's former neighbours Bambi, Candi & Randi. But then there's over 600 non-illustrated entries covering characters like Y2K, Vaalu, Jason Tso, Mark Noletti, Chief Inspector Krahn, and all those others that deserve a spot in any truly serious Spider-Man history.

SpiderFan: Hmm... sounds like you got pretty thorough in there all the same.

Jonathan Couper-Smartt: Damn straight. Marvel finally decided to trust the serious fans to make an official book aimed at those self-same fans. This is the real thing, folks. This isn't some quick-fire movie tie-in. If this works out right, it should be the book to define Spider-Man's history for the next few years to come.

SpiderFan: If it works out right? Are you worried about how folks will take it?

Jonathan Couper-Smartt: Well. I'm pretty sure this is going to please the serious fans, all the guys and gals who have been reading and collecting Spider-Man for the past however many years. I think we've really managed to cover Spider-Man's entire supporting cast and rogue gallery, giving equal balance to recent and classic villains.

SpiderFan: Well, what could be wrong with that? Surely that's what all the long-term Spidey fans have been demanding?

Jonathan Couper-Smartt: Sure. But the flip-side of that is the risk that we might turn off the casual reader... the new Spidey readers with only a couple of years under their belt. I really hope that we don't overwhelm people with forty years of history all at once. I hope that the detail and depth doesn't stop the next generation of Spidey fans from putting this book on their holiday wish-list. But hey, it's at the printers already, so it's too late to change anything now!

SpiderFan: Well, I guess you're feeling pretty clever, writing a book all by yourself?

Jonathan Couper-Smartt: By myself? That's a joke! Sure, I wrote much of the text, and did a fair bit of research. But I was massively helped by all the team here at SpiderFan.Org. Also, I had huge assistance from Jeff Christiansen, Ronald Byrd and others from the Appendix to the Unofficial Guide to the Marvel Universe.

SpiderFan: So, you had a bit of help...

Jonathan Couper-Smartt: ...not to mention my awesome editor, Jeff Youngquist, who trusted me with far more control than my complete lack of track record could possibly justify. Not to mention his talented layout and proofing team. And last but not at all least, Marvel regular scribe Kit Keifer, who penned the various introductory sections on the history of Spider-Man... and...

SpiderFan: ...sorry, the gong just went on your acceptance speech! So, thanks for dropping by. Security will see you to your car.

Jonathan Couper-Smartt: Hey, I work here. It's my site!

SpiderFan: Move along! Move along! Nothing to see here...