Welcome to The Grand Comic-Book Database Project page. This is unique resource for finding info on Comic Book creators, Art and pretty much anything. Jerry Bails is one of the guiding lights in this project and I think it is worth a look!!! Please read the following background info sent to me by Ray Bottorff Jr
Action Board Chairman & Promotions Coordinator Grand Comic-Book Database.
Here's some info on the history of the GCD that I got a few years back
from Bob Klein.
The GCD's roots are pretty straightforward.
In the early days of organized comics fandom, the 1960s,
Dr. Jerry Bails and Howard Keltner put together some
leading projects to catalog the comic books of the Golden
Age. Jerry's "The Collector's Guide to the First Heroic
Age of Comics", "Howard Keltner's Index to Golden Age Comic
Books" and their collaboration on "The Authoritative Index
to DC Comics" opened up the world of Golden Age comics to
the younger fans of the 60s, like me. You can imagine the
excitement of somebody like me, a teenager, reading about
all the characters and comics that I had only glimpsed once
or twice - it was thrilling.
The next big step came with the Overstreet Price Guide.
For whatever faults it has, and there are many, it was the
first best attempt to list factual information beyond the
super-hero comics. It was certainly the first catalog to
get widespread distribution.
In 1978, the GCD's immediate predecessor, APA-I (the
Amateur Press Alliance for Indexing) was formed by Gene
Reed, Mike Tiefenbacher, and a few other fans who were
interested in exchanging information on comics in index
form. These people were generally interested in either one
of two things - either following the plot threads and
continuity of the stories, or the creator credits. Only a
very few people were interested in both, but there were a
few of those hardy souls.
APA-I is running to this day. Historically it has had
between 15 and 25 members. Its distribution is very
limited since the membership is so low and photocopies of
mailed lists are the distribution method. It is also very
difficult to update or correct information since it is so
hard to go back and re-do a paper index unless it is
actually stored on computer.
On the positive side, many of APA-I's members were/are
dedicated in the extreme. Gene and Mike have gone so far
as to gather editorial records. Other members have
conducted interviews with the pros. Some of fandom's most
knowledgeable members work through APA-I. Others of us
just work like dogs at this. The material run through APA-
I has encompassed all sorts of comics over its 20 years of
In late 1993 and early 1994, Tim Stroup and I, two members
of APA-I, started up an email correspondence. We were
discussing I don't know what, probably something that was
related to APA-I or comics history, but I really don't
recall. We were each very interested in comics and the
history of comics. As part of APA-I, we also had a very
good sense for the shortcomings of paper-based
distribution. We were also very enthusiastic for the sorts
of information you see in the GCD.
Tim and I were each very comfortable with the electronic
medium, and very quickly the conversation turned to sharing
indexing information in a common format using electronic
media for storage and distribution. In March of 1994, we
decided to form a group and see how far we could go with
creating an electronic version of APA-I. A few years ago,
Tim dug up the original note between the two of us in which
we outlined the GCD and gave it the name. If you're
interested, he may even have it still.
Very shortly thereafter, within days, we were joined by Jon
Ingersoll. Jon was also a member of APA-I, perhaps the
chairperson at that time, as he remains today.
Between the three of us, we defined the early goals for the
group. Very importantly, we also set standards for
submissions and defined methods to collect and distribute
information. We planned very carefully, and we tried a few
experiments within our small group of three. In
retrospect, a lot of it seems very crude from today's
vantage point. We distributed indices on floppy disks via
surface mail and the file structure was basically one-file-
Once we were satisfied that we knew how we wanted to start,
we used email to canvass friends and acquaintances from
APA-I as well as other contacts in fandom to form the
original group of about ten. We were very keen on
deliberately avoiding unrealistic goals. There had been
several previous attempts to set up similar groups. All
had died very quickly. It appeared that most had goals or
methods that were not capable of sustaining volunteer
organizations. We did a lot of planning.
Perhaps our biggest single asset was the reflector that Jon
Lovstad, another early member, set up for us. It has
enabled us to maintain a level of timely communication and
activity that rivals any industrial concern. With it, the
group has evolved to become a clearing house for all sorts
of discussion of comics - we have outgrown indexing as our
only activity. We're now a place for serious discussion on
almost any aspect of comics.
Over time, everything we started with has changed. We
recognized that technology would move forward, and it
certainly has, enabling capabilities not possible at the
time of the GCD's early steps. It was also clear that we
didn't know everything that we really needed to know, so we
deliberately left ourselves some flexibility in some areas.
This was a good decision, although it has been difficult to
keep up with the changes we have decided to make over the
last three and a half years. We've spent a lot of time
Our joint experience in APA-I was a good school for the
GCD. The dynamics of that group helped guide us in setting
up the GCD. Even with that, we did have a lot of new
ground to cover. The electronic medium is so fast and so
powerful that we have had to improvise a lot.
>From the beginning it was clear that we would have people
looking for a variety of information, satisfying a variety
of purposes, not just the sorts of things that the APA-Iers
were after. At the same time, it was clear that we
needed to standardize on a format, as APA-I never needed
The original design tried to moderate between
several pitfalls. The project was designed to walk the
line between covering enough information to attract the
interest of most fans and avoiding a narrow look at comics,
and yet we didn't want to include such a lot of data that
it would be a burden on an indexer. We had to navigate
between the user needs and the indexer's dedication.
Since we started, our file structure has changed, our
distribution and collection methods are almost exclusively
over the internet, and our expectation for a small group of
enthusiasts has been surpassed. I've been very surprised
at our success in almost any dimension. The fact that most
of us are still getting used to the power of the networked
computer means we have a lot more growing to do. But
surprisingly for all the changes in some things (mostly
format), the other aspects of the project are still very
close to the original outline. I think our current charter
is almost identical to the original.
In spite of our successes, we still haven't met one of our
key goals - that's to make our information available to
fandom at large. That's still in the future.
There are other things we want to do. Not just improve or
expand our indexing , but exploit other electronic aspects
of sharing information on our hobby. There are a lot of
things we'd love to do, but there's no time just yet. Soon
I could go on and on, but I'm afraid that I've already gone
beyond your original question about how the GCD got
started. But If you'd like more, let me know. I'd be
happy to help. If you need any more, please ask.
Tim and Jon, is there anything you'd care to add?
Since then the GCD has continued to expand. Cover scans were added to the index in 2001 (and now we have more of them than the legendary Gerber Photo-Journal Guides, in the neighborhood of 50,000 covers). In 2002 we went online with our online indexing, of which has resulted in an explosion of people indexing in the group.
Right now the GCD (Grand Comic-Book Database) has close to 1,900 Publishers/Imprints, 10,000+ series, 112,000+ books (71,000+ indexed), 358,000+ story objects, and over 1 million creator credits.
I will email you the up to date GCD FAQ next.
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