A New Astro Citizen

Astro City_BanditThe news is breaking today that in ASTRO CITY 12, we’re going to have the first “guest artist” the book has ever had in its 19-year history: Graham Nolan, well-known for Batman, Skywolf, X-Men Forever, Hawkman and lots more, including stints on The Phantom and Rex Morgan, MD.

This is a big step for us—we’ve had pinups by other artists and Brent’s been inked and/or embellished by a few different names, but this is the first Astro City story that doesn’t feature his storytelling. We decided a while ago that it was something we needed to do, to keep the book monthly, but we didn’t want to just go out and get anyone. We wanted the right guy.

We spent, literally, years talking about possibilities. A Graham Nolan’s the right guy, as you can see from the story page below.

Graham and I did an interview or two about it. Check ’em out here and here.


Herocopia Reborn



Here’s the other announcement I’ve been meaning to make for a while…

Herocopia.com, the ASTRO CITY wiki run by the redoubtable (and indefatigable) John Bacon, a.k.a. the Information Broker, is back online and open for business. Check it out here if you’d like to contribute, or even just browse.

Herocopia, named for the online site seen in ASTRO CITY: LOCAL HEROES #3, was a part of our old website, and had built up a very large storehouse of data before it crashed. It’s taken us (and when I say “us,” I mean John Bacon and friends) a long time to get it back into shape. Here’s what John has to say about it:

One of the most precious aspects of the Herocopia Project has been the accumulation of a massive warehouse of information about the characters, geography and events in, of, and about Astro City. Unfortunately, Herocopia.com underwent a serious crash caused by autobot software vandalizing the site with external links and a lot of noise. Some just to make trouble, some to boost their site search ratings at Herocopia’s expense. We couldn’t keep up manually, and eventually enough spam littered the place that it caused the internal database handling the content to completely breakdown. Editing was no longer even possible.

So Herocopia went silent.

Now it just so happens that my son, Seth Gupton, and I are software engineers and we both have pretty solid knowledge of the underlying hardware and software that it takes to run a mediaWiki site like Herocopia. My son especially, since he was already doing hardcore administration work for a couple of wiki sites dedicated to the popular and long running Ultima computer games.

We had the technical means to get a new Herocopia site up and running, but it would be helpful if we could rescue the old content. Alas, the news from J.G. Roshell, Astro City’s design wizard and the founding father of Herocopia, was disappointing. He confirmed that the database was broken and the content completely gone. Plus, he’d switched to a new server provider service, so the old broken database wasn’t even available anymore. A salvage operation wasn’t in the works.

We needed the old content. More than the meager pages that I had lurking on my computers. LOTS more.

Our next option was to search the web at large for websites that randomly archive old web pages. Seth and I discovered that the Wayback Machine located at www.archive.org is a fairly good source and could be mined for better than half of the Herocopia.com content from the past. Still, it required a lot of hand editing to bring it back to a format suitable for mediaWiki development and deployment.

At least hope was now on our side. We built a prototype server (Apache) on one of my home machines, linked JG and Kurt to it for initial review and signoff, and then began the process of rebuilding Herocopia  pretty much from scratch. Besides restoring the old layout forms and templates (none of which was recoverable from the archives), we’ve also added (again thanks mainly to son Seth and his knowledge of wiki extensions) parsing templates to the editing process. That’ll make old and new editing easier for authors who want to focus on content, not  layout.  Finally, we’ve begun the tedious work of pulling the old data into the site. We’ve defined a process for doing that with details and links on the new www.herocopia.com help page. That’s a hint that if you want to help we will welcome it, greatly.

I also want to thank the veteran wiki-authors (especially Astrozak, Yiding and Podboy) for all their previous contributions and assure them that we’ve taken serious steps to (hopefully) prevent this from happening again.

So that’s the story! Herocopia’s back—and hopefully to stay!

Our fervent thanks to John, Seth, and everyone who’s helped build the site, in both versions.