For the past couple of years I have been writing another blog, PARALLEL to this one, in which I have been reading through every appearance by Doctor Doom in any and all media from 1961 through to October 1987. This is NOT (just) a feat of deranged idiocy, it is ALSO part of my ongoing PhD, which currently has the impressively academic-sounding title of "Doctor Doom in The Marvel Age: an empirical approach to transmedia character coherence."
The QUICK version of what that means is that I'm using Doctor Doom as a test subject to find a way to chart the changes a character undergoes over time and different media. My first attempt to do this involved trying to read/watch/listen to EVERY SINGLE THING that Doom appeared in and then writing down all the keywords I could think of that applied to him within each story. This turned out to be a HELLISH NIGHTMARE as I couldn't work out WHAT to keep in, WHAT to leave out, or how to even describe it all, so instead I decided to try a CHECKLIST of major character signifiers, which I could then simply TICK for each text. This seemed a lot more sensible, but I still needed to get an initial list of tickable options, and I quickly realised that any list that I came up with on my own would be fatally biased from the start, as it would only include and/or prioritise things that I already THOUGHT were part of his character. Spending a couple of decades working in epidemiology has made me quite SENSITIVE about that sort of thing, not least because I am AFEARED that at any moment an excited statistician will MANIFEST and start talking about Bayesian Statistics and I have had QUITE enough of that already, thank you very much.
SO, I decided that my best bet would be to run a SURVEY, asking other people what THEY thought Doom's core characteristics were. This would not only give me a GRATE starting point for my own investigations, it would also be a VERY INTERESTING insight into ... well, what other people think his core characteristics are! I thus spent a good long time setting up a SURVEY, checking it with The Head Of Comms In My Comm Team and also my PhD supervisors, doing a PILOT with a few Comics Types, and then, last week, UNLEASHING the finished survey upon the world.
My hope was to get about 20-40 responses, which would be enough to get going with my checklists. I promoted the survey in a couple of comics mailing lists and facebook groups, as well as on the Doom blog and my Marvel Age Doom twitter account, and it was all toddling along very nicely indeed. I was mostly relieved that it actually WORKED, to be honest!
All that was left for me to do was a bit of promotion on TWITTER. I have seen lots of other people do that thing where they directly tweet Famous People, asking them to re-tweet stuff, but I've never felt comfortable doing it for our music stuff because @mjhibbett is also my OWN twitter account, so it felt a bit weird. Marvel Age Doom, however, doesn't even have my NAME on it, so I decided to give it a go.
Crikey. It REALLY worked! I went through all the people I follow with that account and picked out lists of comic shops, podcasts, fan sites and comics creators, and then did directed tweets to one group each over the course of four days. One the first day one of the comic shops responded, and I got a couple of extra responses, but GOODNESS ME then the next day MOST of the podcasts responded, retweeted, and often did the survey themselves and all at once I had a HUNDRED respondents. I did the same with the fansites on the third day and... well, nothing happened at all because they weren't interested, but then on the final day I asked comics creators and the same happened as with the podcasts, so I now have well over TWO HUNDRED fully completed surveys!
This is BRILLIANT for my PhD, even though I am now a bit worried about how much extra work it is going to take me to analyse the whole thing! It was also VERY INTERESTING to notice that the different responses I got echoed almost EXACTLY the equivalent responses I get to music stuff. Whenever I've tried to contact record shops I've had very close to ZERO response to anything EVER, the same as with comic shops, and similarly we've hardly ever had anything from the mainstream music sites, the same as comics sites, HOWEVER radio people have always been BLOODY LOVELY, the same as podcasts for comics, and people who actually MAKE music have been as helpful as the comics creators above.
What does it all MEAN though eh? One might suggest that THE MAN maintains his iron grip on the commercial aspects of both ROCK and comics, but I could not possibly comment, although it's nice to know that the equivalent to Radio Types and ROCK people are just as nice elsewhere! Whatever it means, the survey is still available for a few more days, so if you have any interest in this sort of thing I'd be very grateful if you could have a go, HERE: