While we were on CxPulp, site owner Craig Reade asked me to create a thread to explain this section of that site, so here goes (new people feel free to ask new questions and regulars feel free to suggest modifications). This will continue to be fine-tuned from time to time.
What is Who Watches the Watchers?
- Who Watches the Watchers, originating in Comixfan, and then moving to CxPulp, is primarily for discussion of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe (OHOTMU) and similar reference material such as Files books and Index books. People who wrote the 2004-2011 run and who still do profiles for other books often chime in. It appears to have started in 2004 (most current participants joined later), migrated from Comixfan to CxPulp in November 2013, then migrated once again from CxPulp to Capes (Optional) in January 2016.
What is the focus of Who Watches the Watchers discussion?
- Mainly the Marvel Megaverse, that is stories set in the core Marvel Universe (its reality designation of 616 is often used as shorthand) as well as parallel universes and other dimensions related to the core Marvel Universe in some fashion.
There are some threads of a broader scope (Omniverse Map, Non-Marvel Handbooks) as well as threads devoted to comparable reference works (Who’s Who/Secret Files, Invincible Universe, Dark Tower) but those are the exception and not the rule.
What is the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe?
- OHOTMU is profiles of characters, teams and other aspects of the Marvel Megaverse as published by Marvel itself.
What is the difference between a Handbook and a Files book?
- A Handbook is written from the perspective or someone in the real world. Files books tend to have fewer categories and profiles are narrated by characters in the Marvel Universe.
What are some of the key threads?
- The Master List catalogues all the characters, teams, etc. profiled in works published by Marvel. The Sightings thread is similar, only it’s for profiles found somewhere (usually at the back) of otherwise non-Handbook comics. Things People Keep Getting Wrong is for debunking misconceptions about Marvel concepts. The Q&A thread is for general questions. Non-Marvel Handbooks is for catalogue all reference works not published by Marvel, as well as any off topic reference works published by Marvel (see below). The Wish List is for people to request certain characters, teams etc be profiled; it’s had less activity now that the Handbooks are more sporadic but traffic tends to pick up when new Handbooks are announcement, less so Guidebooks devoted to Marvel’s movie continuity.
Can I talk about non-Marvel Megaverse stuff?
- For most threads the default is the Marvel Megaverse. There are some exceptions noted above, and as with any conversation sometimes there will be digressions. But don’t, for example, start a new conversation in Things People Keep Getting Wrong about how Superman’s vulnerability to magic is often misunderstood.
Are licensed properties on topic?
- Depends on the property. Rom, Micronauts, and Team America (the toys, not the movie made by the South Park people) are an integral part of the Marvel Megaverse. Conan (and thus his Handbook) and Godzilla are part of the Marvel Megaverse in work published by Marvel but not elsewhere. GI Joe is considered off topic and so is Transformers (though it appears from their earliest issues that they were originally intended to be set in the 616 universe); therefore both of their Handbooks are off topic, but can be discussed in the Non-Marvel Handbooks thread. Sectaurs are probably off topic but no one’s been clamouring to talk about them anyway. Crystar is often perceived as a licensed character but is actually owned by Marvel and therefore entirely on topic.
What about Marvel Encyclopedias?
- There was a six volume set published by Marvel circa 2003. Those are on topic for the most part, but the Hulk volume isn’t really an encyclopedia and tends to be regarded as that drunken uncle everyone tries to pretend doesn’t exist.
Encyclopedias and similar reference works published by other companies such as DK instead of Marvel, even if they’re promoted as official, tend not to be fact checked to the same degree and are thus downplayed here except in the Non-Marvel Handbooks thread. At one point they were going to be added to the Master List but that never happened at the time and would now be considered off topic for that list.
Capes (Optional) already has a Marvel Comics section. Why is this separate?
- Comixfan was set up differently than CX Pulp and Capes (Optional) and had a few sections devoted to creators. Who Watches the Watchers, which allowed fans to interact with the OHOTMU writers proved to be the most popular of these and evolved into a community within a community. When the move to CxPulp was announced, regular visitors to Who Watches the Watchers wanted to preserve what made that section unique; this has continued to Capes (Optional).
Why do most of the threads appear to have been started by Capes (Optional)?
- First off you have to coinsider the previous move. The Comixfan set-up was considered to be too unstable to move over directly, so we had to use text-based archives to move everything over and reformat the threads. A couple of people simply had more time to do this. So for threads started prior to November 2013, the actual thread starter is usually the person identified at the top of the old text (but see next point). Then, when we moved to Capes (Optional) and everything had to be reformatted once again, the generic Capes (Optional) made sense to be designated the “thread starter” of the older text.
Some of the older material seems a bit fragmented. Why is that?
- A few years ago Comixfan crashed and was then moved. Some threads survived entirely intact, some threads were lost entirely (e.g. the Anita Blake threads) and some threads were only partly salvageable. In the latter case we’ve migrated over what we can.
Is Marvel considered superior to other companies by Who Watches the Watchers?
- Not necessarily, though some individual users may think so. It’s just that Marvel has published more Handbooks in house than any other company and many of the people who wrote the most recent Handbooks made themselves available. If Robert Greenberger (who wrote many of the earlier Who’s Who books and was slated a few years back to write a revival) were to suddenly start posting, we’d undoubtedly make room for more DC-related threads.
Can I start my own thread?
- Sure, but make sure it’s relevant and not covered elsewhere. Most general questions can be asked in the Q&A thread and all the Handbooks and Index books 2004-on have their own threads, as do most of the Files books. You can also do a keyword search to try to find a relevant thread. Threads that are too general may at the Moderators' discretion be folded into the General Q&A thread.
How seriously do people take things here?
- Depends on how you look at it. We tend to be pretty obsessed with trivia and minutiae related to the Marvel Megaverse. However we also tend not to take ourselves too seriously and while we disagree from time to time, actual flamewars are pretty much unheard of here. We’re aware that these are all fictional constructs.
Was everything been moved over from Comixfan to CxPulp?
- Unless we've overlooked something, everything that wasn't previously lost has been moved over. A few threads were merged with General Q&A prior to or after the move, and a few inappropriate threads such as Fresh Checked Dumps were deleted well before the move.
Has everything been moved over from CxPulp to Capes (Optional)?
- As far as we know, yes.
I have reference books that fit into the above categories that I'm trying to unload. Can I sell them here?
- Unfortunately no. In a world without scammers we'd definitely allow that. Unfortunately that's not the world we live in and we can't risk anyone getting scammed by someone, no matter how genuine they may seem.
Who if I have any more questions about Who Watches the Watchers itself, as opposed to the OHOTMU etc?
- Ask them here. We may add your question to the first post if we feel it’s of general interest.