Today we have an interview with Mike Voiles from Mike's Amazing World
, a site that quickly grew into a large database of comic books and series, where anyone can search for a specific title, publisher or even date and year.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a lifelong comic collector. I got my first DC comic in 1980 and have been a fan ever since. As a teen, I got the idea of owning every DC comic ever published. Beginning in 1987 I started buying every DC comic and working my way back through the older material. When I started I didn't know how difficult/expensive getting all of them would be. 25 years later I own 90% of everything that company has published since 1935.
I currently work as a professional web developer building and configuring software for medical research institutions. I run Mike's Amazing World of Comics on the side for fun.
What can people find at Mike's Amazing World?
There are many features on the site which cover the full range of comic book publishing history from the 1930s to the present. The most popular section is the Newsstand/Time Machine which displays covers for all the comics published by major publishers during any given month dating back to the 1930s. The database on the site has not only all the covers, but creator credits, story title and recaps, character appearances, release dates and more. The DC section has a story reprint guide, a trade paperback list including contents, and researched articles about topics related to DC comic history. There are also gallery sections for Hostess ads of the 70s/80s, public service ads, cartoon strips, and Saturday morning cartoon ads.
My newest feature is the DC Universe Chronology which is my attempt to put every single story published within the DC universe into linear chronological order based on the events in the story.
When was this project started and what was your goal for it?
The website started in late 1997 or early 1998. I was just beginning a new career in the technology industry and decided to learn how to build web pages. My first page was just a want list of all the DC comics that I needed at the time. Over time I added additional features and publishers including Marvel. The current site is far more than I originally envisioned. I do the site mostly for myself. Even if no one else used it, I'd still be doing it. If other people find the information I share entertaining or informative, that is a bonus.
How do you get all the material used in your databases?
Since I was a child I have made and kept lists of all kinds of information. Most of the DC related information was pulled directly from my personal 50,000+ issue comic collection. Other information has been pulled from a variety of sources including trade publications and the web.
Did any of the publishers like Marvel or DC ever contact you about the site?
Not in any official capacity. The former publisher of DC Comics has contacted me a few times, but it was mostly in a personal/fan context, not in his official role at DC. Other current/former comic creators have also contacted me over the years, and the site has been mentioned in several books about comics. The only official contact I've had with any publisher was a job interview for Dark Horse several years ago. I didn't get the job.
How has the the feedback been, are there a lot of people using the site?
The feedback on the site has always been extremely positive. The site usage has consistently grown over the years. I don't know what defines a lot of use. I'm sure I don't get as many visitors as Google for example, but I'm happy with it.
What proved to be the hardest part in the project?
I wouldn't categorize any parts of the project as hard or difficult. It is time consuming though. Everything on the site has been personal designed, coded, and maintained by me. Additionally all the research and data entry is my own work. It's a full time job that I do on top of my real job for no pay. I don't make a dime off the site. I've spent tens of thousands of hours on it over the years.
According to your Facebook page you once thought about starting your own comic, is that still in your plans?
When I was in high school, that was my goal. That was a long time ago. I have no such plans now although I would like to work for DC Comics someday.
Which is your favorite series of all?
My favorite comic from a reading perspective was Sandman by Neil Gaiman. Preacher also rates very high. From a collecting standpoint, Action Comics is my favorite title to collect. I've got nearly a 60-year complete run on that series.