Road To FAHQ: A Retrospective
ago, Dale and I laid down the first pages for this website. It's
been a long journey since then, and it hasn't always been easy.
Now that we've been online for half a year, we've decided to give
visitors an inside look at the making of this site and hopefully
give a little insight about ourselves. Enjoy the story.
the origin of this website, you have to go all the way back to September
1998. That was when I finally got a new computer that was actually
capable of handling the Internet. Looking around at the Internet,
I decided that I would build the biggest website ever devoted to
anime and fantasy books. Thus, on September 5, 1998, Chris' Fantasy
and Anime Homepage (aka RFA) was born on the detestable Geocities.
Having no previous web design experience, I turned to Dale for help.
However, this was in the early days for him too, so he only created
some graphics for me. After that, we went our separate ways as far
as the website goes. As the months went by, RFA grew from a few
poorly designed pages to a reasonably well designed site with many
pages. In May 1999, the site moved to a new server on Xoom, and
that's when things finally took off. Daily updates were made, and
reviews were written. Despite the amount of reviews, the site wasn't
getting any attention. In September 1999, the site celebrated it's
first anniversary and underwent a redesign. During this redesign
period, many new features were added, most of which are now on FAHQ.
I became increasingly dissatisfied with the continued obscurity
of the site, so in January 2000, RFA officially closed it's doors.
closing of RFA, I went about my normal life collecting anime and
reading books. Although RFA was not popular, I felt it was an important
achievement and the first step to something bigger. I still had
that desire to create a website that originally led me to create
RFA. In early March 2000, Dale made me an offer I couldn't refuse.
I had the desire to restart RFA, and he wanted to create a site
devoted to Batman: The Animated Series. We decided it would
be better to combine the two into one, and we immediately began
planning the new site (which at this point was still called RFA).
While Dale was beginning to create a design, I was looking through
my old RFA files to see what could be salvaged. I also decided on
the name 'Fantasy & Animation HQ'. In the middle of March, FAHQ
made it's first appearance on the Internet through the horrible
Crosswinds. I had set for us a launch date of April 1, 2000, and
we scrambled to have content ready for that day.
we certainly didn't feel ready, April 1st eventually came around,
and we officially opened the website to the world. We launched with
a very small amount of content (check the archives for details),
but we intended much more. Our biggest obstacle in the early days
was not having enough material to review, which accounts for the
large amount of rants in the early days. Those first few weeks we
stumbled around with miscellaneous reviews, until we had an idea.
Back on RFA, I had reviewed most of Macross. I still had
all those files, so we decided to edit them and complete the reviews.
We would build a Macross section the likes of which had never
been seen. This new section required a lot of work behind the scenes,
which prevented us from doing any other updates. For two and a half
weeks, we practically disappeared from view. I had the crazy notion
that on the first of every month we would have a new feature, so
I promised May 1, 2000, as the launch of Macross, and we
were hard pressed to do that.
As May 1st
rapidly approached, Dale and I worked at breakneck speed creating
sections, testing graphics, and editing reviews. I never thought
we would be ready, but after pulling an all-nighter, all was finally
ready. On May 1st we premiered the Macross section with complete
reviews for the entire original series, as well as Macross II
and Macross Plus. Although that was a substantial accomplishment,
we wanted to review Macross 7 and have a complete section.
After acquiring fansubs, work began on that series. May 1st was
a big day for us in other aspects as well. On that day, we also
premiered the Dale Store and Miscellaneous and Recluce sections.
However, the big concern was Macross 7. Now that we had a
substantial amount of content, we wanted to make the site visible.
Dale approached the editors of the anime site of About.com and submitted
our site. They soon gave him a reply that stated how pleased they
were with the original content of our site. They also made me an
offer that I couldn't refuse. The editors especially liked the Rants
section, and they asked me if I was interested in writing Rants
for their page. I was very pleased with this offer and immediately
agreed. By the end of May, my first rant for them, "Cut Uncut"
had premiered. Things were starting to look up.
Connection and Vash the Stampede
May, I was starting to become sick of Macross 7, and I desperately
wanted to review something better. Dale saved the day by providing
me with Gundam fansubs. I decided it was time to develop
the minuscule Gundam section. I started out by taking a new
look at the original trilogy, and I tried to proceed in order. Dale
acquired several rarer series for me, such as Zeta Gundam and
Gundam ZZ, which I was immediately hooked on and happily
reviewed. During the same time, I continued to write rants for About.com.
In late June, the Gundam section had begun to take on the
complexity of the Macross area. We were sick of Crosswinds,
and Dale proposed moving to his private server at AAMI, which I
readily agreed to. I was going on a cruise at the end of the month,
which left Dale in charge while I was away. Dale had no previous
experience with reviews, and he intended to review a small series
until my return. He chose Trigun, and that series turned
out to be a boon for us. At this time, only a few volumes of Trigun
were available, and no one had done anything beyond the standard
shrines and garbage pages. At the same time, we started to appear
favorably in search engines, and many visitors came. Trigun
quickly became our most popular section.
As the site
became more popular, Dale and I realized that soon it would be too
big for two people. We decided to look for a third staff member.
I already had in mind Miaka, who is a friend from Yahoo! She eventually
agreed to review Slayers, and we decided to give her the
spotlight by making her first review our 200th. Yeah, 200 reviews.
We could hardly believe it ourselves, and it was something I stumbled
upon by accident. We were writing so many reviews that we didn't
even know how many we had. After the celebration of 200 reviews,
we returned to the regular scheme of reviews. Now, it's been half
a year since we started this website. Looking back, I see that our
involvement with the website has changed. Back in April, we were
two guys with nothing better to do (as our news page suggests) who
wanted to run a website in our spare time. Now, we're so overwhelmed
with the size of the site and the amount of visitors that it seems
at times that the site runs us. I guess that comes with being popular.
Even with the burden we carry now, it's all been worth it. However,
I'm curious to see what I'll have to say in April 2001 when I look
back at our first year as a whole.