Saturday, August 22, 2009

Exfanding Your Horizons Turns 1 Year Old!

It’s official: Exfanding Your Horizons is one year old! Happy Birthday to us!

Portal cakeThis calls for something gimmicky and reflective, so Alex and I have come up with a bunch of questions we thought might be halfway relevant to the occasion. Because we’re so awesome, we’ve gone the extra mile and answered all the questions we came up with, too!

Our blog rules.

Are you surprised the blog has lasted this long?

Alex: Um. Yes and no, I guess. When we decided to start it up last year, we were both in a creative abyss, with work at our company really starting to get to us. As it turned out, Nathaniel and I were assigned to the same project in the office, and I think it’s safe to say we were both pretty fed up with it.

I think it was just the right time for something a little different, and for something that would allow us to have our little lunchtime and break room conversations about comics and conventions and video games…all the time, and whenever we wanted.

Nathaniel: Not to sound overly self-confident or anything, but I’m actually not surprised the blog has lasted this long. I collect side projects like crazy old women collect cats, but I stick with them if they’re both personally satisfying and appreciated by other people.

Polyhedral diceI worked on perfecting a homebrew Super Mario World for about five years because it was fun and because other people were willing to try out my deathtraps time and time again. I played a nearly unhealthy amount of Dungeons & Dragons all throughout college because it was a blast and because there were other people who needed me there as a DM or as a player.

If it had just been me sitting down to blog for myself to help me maintain my sanity through the roughest patches of that project, I might have let the blog slip away after things began to smooth over. However, I stayed on board because Alex wanted to keep blogging. I stayed on board because we started to grow a base of regular readers. I stayed on board because I like to write about geek stuff. We both vowed to blog for ourselves, whether or not there was an audience, but once there was an audience, blogging was that much more meaningful to me.

Still, if we were to lose all our readers tomorrow and Alex were to finally don a cowl and start fighting crime instead of blogging, I would keep on a-writin’. I wouldn’t have signed on for this if I didn’t enjoy it, and I wouldn’t have stayed on board if I didn’t enjoy it. But having a co-blogger to support and to have support me, along with fans who (presumably) kept on reading and occasionally commenting because they were interested in what we had to say, helped to keep the blogging momentum intact.

What's the best part about blogging?

Alex: I have to say. When we first started, there were days where I’d go, “Oh, boy. It’s my turn again, and I have nothing to write about.” There haven’t been many of those days since, and it’s a very fun way to get my geeky out of my system before (or during) work hours. Also, because I tend to write every day, either for work, or in my spare time for my comic(s), I always find writing for the blog to be a great way to warm up and get the hamster in my head to spin that little wheel.

But the absolute best thing was when we realized there were people out there (whom we didn’t and still don’t know personally, and whom we didn’t offer candy to) who read this blog. Who read our words, about things we love.

And I know we don’t get that many hits, but I can honestly say that I am floored every single day that people come to the site, and read what we have to say. That’s so awesome.

Nathaniel: I’m all about seeing value in the work I do. I’ve used blog posts as writing samples for job applications; we’ve been able to publicize new blogs and obscure news stories that weren’t getting a whole lot of air time at the time; we have faithful readers who have been enjoying our work for months. It’s rewarding to share my geek passions with others, and the blog is a wonderful outlet for all those geek conversations I’m not having now that I’m not constantly hanging around other geeks, as I was in college.

What's the worst part about blogging?

I guess the easy answer would be to say, “Finding something to talk about every day,” but since Nathaniel and I switch off, I never actually feel that way. So, I guess the “worst” part about blogging is when 11:00 AM rolls around, and I’ve forgotten that it’s my turn to post.
When that happens, you all get to read a “Links and Things” entry. Sorry about that.

Nathaniel: The worst part is finding something to talk about every day and having the time to write it. Usually the posts that I’m most interested in writing require lots of explanation, pictures, and sometimes even research, and that all takes time to put together, and it’s especially easy to get distracted when sifting through pictures and cool new facts about the geek stuff you love. I’ve often given up video games to write for this blog, I’ll have you know.

How long do you plan to continue with this blog?

Alex: That’s kinda like asking Frodo and Sam when they’ll stop their silly journey and go back to the Shire with all the dancing. Really. It’s just like that.

I wanna keep it going for as long as it’s fun for us to write (and read), and for as long as we have something to say.

Nathaniel: Ah, but in the case of Frodo and Sam, there’s a clear endpoint; I’m not sure that’s the case with this blog. Besides, if the alternative is dancing, then I have no intentions of ever stopping!

How have you changed since starting this blog?

Alex: Well, last week I grew a beard.

Al Borland from Home ImprovementWhich was followed by the realization that, apparently, there are some spots on my face that can’t grow hair. Like, at all. I’ve had a goatee forever, and I’m one of those guys that shaves on Monday morning, and has to shave again on Tuesday night. But, as was evidenced by the missing chunks of hair on my right cheek and across my throat…I will never attain Al Borland-dom.

What was the question?

Oh, right. How have I changed? Hmmm…well, I’m still incredibly devoted (read: chained to a desk) when it comes to my job, I still don’t really know how to leave the office behind…um…sadly, I don’t think I’ve changed much over the past year.

Actually. I’m much more open with my dork-hood, which is a Very Good Thing.

And I’m still terrified of spiders. So there’s also that.

Nathaniel: Up until this blog started picking up steam, I had only read a handful of comics, most of which were random issues that other people had picked up for me on a whim. I keep these few comics in a cluttered old toy chest. Now I have an entire shelf filled with trade paperbacks. Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, The Avengers, Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Captain Marvel, Star Trek, Star Wars, and even some Japanese stuff… and the library keeps growing. Thanks to this blog, I’m becoming a comics geek!

What are a few of your favorite posts?

Alex: Since all of my posts are brilliant, I’ll say…all of my posts. And maybe one or two of whatsisname’s are kinda good. Like when he wrote about food. Or orchids. Wait, no. That wasn’t him. Sorry.

Actually, I loved Thursday’s post about our trip to four comics shops—that was excellently done. And I really enjoyed all of the “Back to Basics Week” posts, which involved a heck of a lot of writing. I really liked Nathaniel’s Father’s Day post, too.

Nathaniel: In general, my favorite posts are the ones we both collaborate on and the ones that truly exemplify why we wanted to blog in the first place. To quote our mission statement from the sidebar: “We've joined forces to introduce, explain, discuss, and demystify various hobbies and fandoms to promote an understanding between geeks and to spark an interest in the things that interest us.”

In addition to the posts I pointed out as favorites in our first Year in Review, the posts Alex just mentioned are personal favorites as well. Guess you’ll just need to wait for our next Year in Review to see the official, finalized list!

Of all the fandoms your co-blogger has introduced, which is your favorite?

Alex: My who? Oh, right. Him.

Probably Star Wars. No, definitely Star Wars. It may have taken nearly 20 years, but somehow Nathaniel was the first and only person to successfully get me to sit down and watch those flicks. And I actually liked them, to boot.

Except for all that flying around in space, of course.

Nathaniel: It just wouldn’t be right to say anything other than The Goon. I’m not big on zombies and their ilk, but The Goon is so funny, eclectic, and surprisingly deep that I couldn’t help but get dragged in.

The Goon roughs up some zombies
What are your favorite things that have happened this year to the fandoms that have been introduced on the blog?

Alex: For me, it was The Goon movie being officially announced, with Clancy Brown and Paul Giamatti as Goon and Franky, respectively. It’s AWESOME to follow a little indy book as it developed from this tiny black and white thing to one of Dark Horse’s bestsellers. And to see all the critical acclaim and widespread recognition the book has received is cool, because I feel like I was there (with a small handful of others) when no one knew what it was.

It’s always cool to see talented (and nice) people, like Eric Powell, succeed in an industry that’s dominated by a very clich├ęd set of rules and properties. Here’s this book about monsters and gangsters, and crazy people and absolutely no super heroes. It’s near impossible to “brand” the title because it’s so hard to succinctly sum up what it’s about, and still…it’s managed to become one of comics’ hottest properties.

And Powell self-published, and maxed out his credit cards, and took a HUGE risk. And it paid off. However you look at it, that’s just cool.

Ahh. I haven’t had a good Goon sermon in a couple of weeks…

Nathaniel: Obviously, I was thrilled beyond belief to see Mega Man 9 (even though that technically happened last year, but I didn’t get to play it until this year).

Watchmen posterAlso, I was astonished by the Watchmen movie—I wasn’t so fond of the graphic novel (though I appreciated its merits), yet I genuinely enjoyed the movie and quickly got a hankering to see it again, which never happens to me. I can’t watch the same movie twice unless it’s been at least a few months since the last viewing, excepting in very rare circumstances.

I found Watchmen to be about as perfect a comic-to-movie translation can be, and even if critics didn’t all enjoy the film, I still consider it to be a triumph.

Concerning the new Star Trek movie... hm. I'm glad Star Trek is alive and well, but I have my misgivings about the direction of the franchise, so I'll just have to wait for the next movie to make a final decision about whether or not the new movie belongs in this category.

What is the single geekiest purchase or decision you have made as a result of this blog?

Alex: Four comics shops in one day is pretty up there for me. Oh, and as I’m typing this, I’m wearing a Batman logo t-shirt, which is something I NEVER would have considered wearing a couple of years ago.

But THE geekiest thing since this blog began? And, “starting a blog called Exfanding Your Horizons” doesn’t count, huh? Okay…lessee…oh, I know.

It has to be my infamous all-day at the comics shop.

Yep, that wins.



Nathaniel: Ditto, ditto, ditto. See also: Deciding to read almost every trade paperback I pick up from cover to cover in one sitting.

Any closing remarks?

Nathaniel: Well, to celebrate this terrific occasion, we’re putting together a book of all the posts we wrote in our first year of blogging. We intend to keep a few extra copies on hand to give away in future contests as well. Furthermore, there’s an Exfanding Your Horizons t-shirt in the works, and we may also give some of those away in future contests. Lastly, there’s been talk of getting our own domain for this blog, but we’ll keep you posted about that.

That’s all I’ve got. How about you, Alex?

Alex: I like pie.

Oh, and thanks for reading!

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