News and Information for People Who Love Comics February 2014

The Rebuilt Stronger, Faster, Better ...

We had the technology and we did it!

One would think that coming out with a new version of ComicBase every year would be enough work for the crew at Human Computing. But, in 2013, they not only released ComicBase 17, they completely overhauled, remodeled, revamped, and relaunched the program's website,

For years, ComicBase users have been asking for device-specific versions of the program and, with the rapid proliferation of mobile computing platforms (smartphones, phablets, and tablets), that demand has increased exponentially. One estimate had more than 2,200 different devices forMobile Web Examples mobile computing at one point in 2013. Now, with the responsively designed, those demands are well on their way to being met.

ComicBase creator and company founder Pete Bickford said, "The rebuild and relaunch of the website came out of an event I attended where the speaker cast things into sharp focus for me. The main problem was how to address the plethora of screen sizes and resolutions. Rather than making multiple versions of the website to address each device's particular limitations and needs, why not make one version that works on everything? From big-screen TVs hooked up to your videogame console to small screen smartphones to whatever future platforms come along, and do it on the multiple operating systems from Windows to Android to iOS to the new SteamOS.

"On one hand, that seemed like a hopeless task. Then, along came Ethan Marcotte with an idea that used Web standards supported across all those platforms to make a website conform to the display size and orientation of the device accessing it. Rather than multiple versions of your website, one version could do that. He called this Responsive Design and solidified all the thinking about multi-platform delivery.

"Responsive Design makes for clean code and it's easy to change the appearance of a website without changing its underlying structure, allowing you to deliver to new devices and formats without having to start from scratch."

The ComicBase team tore into every page of "We started by focusing on what was relevant. We rewrote all the main pages of the website," Bickford said, "including pages that we hadn't revisited in some time, such as terms of use, FAQs, reviews, etc. It allowed us to modernize and update them, removing outdated material. We improved the log-in process so that no matter what device you're on, users can more easily access their registrations area and buy an upgrade or renew their subscription, look at their online reports, download a backup of their database, etc. We could address where we wanted to go in the future."

Responsive Design also played a role in the development of ComicBase 17 and its Sidekick feature. "We embedded that same kind of thinking into ComicBase 17's reports to make them look good across multiple platforms," Bickford said. "Previously we had to say, 'Here's what the reports will look like on this device,' and there were tradeoffs due to system limitations. Now, we're able to make the reports look terrific on any device."

Among those improved report features are a navigation bar that floats above the content, allowing faster and easier access to your data. "I expect to bring it further in future ComicBase release," Bickford added. "What we've already done with Sidekick, we'll do more of in the future."

An additional benefit of the rebuild was the creation of a mirror site that allows tweaks and updates to the website to be fully tested "without breaking the main website," Bickford said.

He added that, in the near future, he expects "ever-tighter integration between ComicBase and the Web side of things, both on and Atomic Avenue, including the ability to work with your data no matter where you are and what device you're using."

Check out the newly remodeled

Comics Conundrums: A Valentine's "Variant"

In early 2009, Amazing Spider-Man fans as well as Barack Obama supporters drove sales of Amazing Spider-Man #583's variant edition, featuring the newly elected president, to the point that Marvel went back to press for five printings, each with its own variation on the iconic Phil Jimenez cover. (There was also a newsstand edition of the second printing, so I suppose that makes for six printings.)

With that many printings, nearly everyone who wanted a copy was able to get one. What many may have overlooked was the regular edition cover by John Romita, which hearkened back to Spidey's Silver Age adventures and Romita's romance roots.

The lead story in the issue also focused on romance, which was appropriate, with the issue's release near Valentine's Day that year.

Which cover do you prefer? (Personally, I like the Romita one best, but then I'm an old-school Spider-Man fan.)

Market Trends

News of DC's upcoming movie plans drove prices on Justice League of America #1 (Nov 60) from $25,200 to $30,000. Savvy collectors may want to keep an eye on the JLA's earlier appearances in The Brave and the Bold #28-30 (Mar-Jul 60).

Green Lantern's first appearance in Showcase #22 (Oct 59) continues to soar in value, moving from $11,700 to $12,500 in recent weeks.

The Armored Avenger's first solo issue, Iron Man (1st series) #1 (May 68), also saw some gains increasing in value from $1,125 to $1,575. For comparison, his first appearance in Tales of Suspense #39 (Mar 63) is currently at $9,400.

Another key issue of Iron Man, #55 (Feb 73), which featured the first appearances of Thanos, Starfox, Mentor, and Drax the Destroyer, dropped from $875 to $240.

ComicBase Confidential

Publisher: Pete Bickford • Editor: Brent Frankenhoff