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Monday, October 13, 2008

Aquaman Shrine's 2nd Anniversary

Welcome to The Aquaman Shrine's 2nd Anniversary!

If anyone had told me, when I started this blog mostly on a whim on a quiet October night that I would still be doing it two years later I wouldn't have believed them.

At the same time, I feel like in some weird way, this blog is my life's work, to the point where I can't imagine not doing it.

Last year
, I celebrated the Shrine's anniversary by finally obtaining one of my Aquaman Holy Grails--the Ben Cooper Aquaman Halloween costume.

But this year, between rough financial times (have you seen the stock market?), and there being fewer and fewer "Holy Grails" to get, I decided to do something different.

No, this year, we'll be looking back at what I call "Aquaman Shrine Pre-History" as well as how some of you choose to worship the Sea King, thanks to photos generously submitted by some of the regular Shrine readers.

When I say "Aquaman Shrine Pre-History" I mean at what the Shrine looked like before it existed as a blog.

Back around 2001, I was still messing around with the format of my pro illustration site, namtab.com, in that I had sections of it devoted to my hobbies and personal stories, as if that was appropriate.

I went so far as to have an "Aquaman Shrine" section of the site, and here's what some of those pages looked like (please don't laugh):
...poorly laid out, ugly to look at...basically a mess. And completely inappropriate to have on my professional illustration site, when I was desperately trying to establish a name for myself a reliable professional illustrator.

This point was underlined to me when I almost lost a potential job from a client when, through a third party, I was told that they wanted to hire me, but then looked at my site, and asked "What's with this Aquaman stuff?"

That question left me "Scared Straight", as it were, and within a few days I had all the Aquaman stuff pulled down, as if it was never there. I was convinced this whole Aquaman-collection-on-line thing would just never really work out.

But...I had forgotten that, even with my half-assed effort, it had, incredibly, managed to attract a fan or two.

One of those fans was Shag Matthews, who at the time sent me emails commiserating over our mutual hero worship. When Shag "re-surfaced" on the web a little while ago, he emailed me again (we hadn't talked in years), telling me how glad he was to see I repurposed the Shrine in this way.

Shag had even managed to keep some of those emails from way back in 2001(!), so here are some of my thoughts at the time about what I wanted the Shrine to eventually become:

"Speaking of, I've been lucky enough to get sketches of Aquaman in a book I have from some comics pros, including Fradon and Nick Cardy. I hear that Aparo, when does do cons, doesn't do sketches, which kills my dream of having a triumverate of the three most famous Aquaman artists in my book.

I want to expand the shrine to being all about Aquaman, not just the stuff I own--a history, lots of covers, etc, plus all my doodads. But just keeping the site fresh to try and attract potential illustration work is hard enough, let alone spending hours on those bright-orange pages. It'll have to be a gradual process."

...not only was I amazed Shag kept six-year-old emails around, but that I had the general scope of the Shrine already in mind, this early on. I just simply lacked the right format to implement it (thanks Blogger!)

Here's what I wrote the day I created the blog, and was talking about it on my very first blog, which was (and I guess still is) a hodge-podge of random thoughts:
I'm also glad that I did manage to get a sketch from the late, great Jim Aparo, as well as making friends with many of the pros whose work I grew up admiring via the Shrine. So this whole Shrine thing was a long wait, but it was worth it!

Ok, enough about the past! Let's talk about now, for Neptune's Sake--like, let's see some of the other Shrines out there!

This the Shrine of F.O.A.M. member Andy Luckett:
...nice collection, Andy!

Since all my Aqua-Stuff is in storage, I get wistful when I see a whole bunch of it all together like that. Bonus points to Andy for having his F.O.A.M. certificate in there (right behind the First Appearance DC Direct figure), and I like all the framed comic covers--gives it a sort of museum feel.

Next up are photos from F.O.A.M. member Chuck "D.C." Dill:
Another well-stocked collection, so big its gone from its original home on the shelves and has started to taking over the wall (I've been there). Chuck even has some stuff I don't have--I see an Aquaman party favor (third picture) that I must have had as a kid and now I really want again!

And that custom King Arthur-ish Aquaman figure perched on the pedestal is also really sweet. Nice job, Chuck!

Next is the collection of F.O.A.M.er Joe Mello:
Framed on the wall is an page of an original art that Joe says "my wife gave me as a gift several years ago, signed by Calafiore and McKenna." Sweet!

Joe's collection also features something mine does--that limited edition Aquaman statue (next to the Mac and Cheese box) that is really nice, but I have yet to cough up the money for. Like I said, sweet! Thanks Joe!

Next up is the collection of F.O.A.M.er W.T. Raschendorfer:
Awesome collection, W.T.!

Not only is it a nice Shrine to the Sea King, its, according to W.T. "This is about half of what I have. Lots in storage still..."

I know that pain, W.T.

Next up is the amazing collection of F.O.A.M.er Cindy Healy:
This is how Cindy describes it:

Here's photos of my humble fan setup The Library/Shrine. It resides in the fourth bedroom of our home. I keep all my comics on heavy-duty shelving in here. (Over 18,000 at last count.) Most of the books in the Healy household are also in this room. Most of my action figures are on display in the bookcase and in a display case from IKEA. Framed original art is on the walls along with commissioned art and collector plates.

I've already run out of wall space to display art; there's a bunch on top of the shelves I haven't gotten framed yet. The closet holds my t-shirt collection and some of the hard to display pieces like the Superfriends sleeping bag. So here's to many more years of blogging at The Aquaman Shrine."

Thanks, Cindy! That's an amazing collection--the glass case makes for a classy touch.

I was really thrilled to get all these photos and see how some of you out there choose to show your love of the King of the Seven Seas. As I've said before, Aquaman fans may not be as legion as Superman or Batman ones, but they are extremely devoted.

So starting tomorrow, we kick off Year Three of the Aquaman Shrine. As usual, I've got lots of fun and unusual stuff planned, and, if all the stars align, maybe even some really exciting news. We'll see.

Until then, I again thank everyone who stops by the Shrine (and there's more and more of you, if Google Analytics is right) and takes the time to check out what I'm doing here. And thanks to all the members of F.O.A.M., which now outnumbers The Legion of Super-Heroes I believe.

I also want to thank people like Paul Kupperberg, J.M. De Matteis, Shaun McLaughlin, and Tim Schlattmann, who are always willing to deal with my crazy, random emails asking for various forms of help and have been instrumental in helping me make the Shrine as cool(?) as it is.

And of course, thanks to Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris, without whom this would be The Sub-Mariner Shrine.

Just kidding.

To bring this full circle, today I'm announcing the start of another addition to what I call the Rob Kelly Family of Blogs--Rob Kelly Illustration, which will focus solely on my illustration work (er, hence the title).

My lives as an illustrator and my work as a blogger have always been very separate--I didn't plan that, it just sort of turned out that way. But starting this blogs offers me the flexibility to put up newer work faster, talk about recent art-related events, etc., that the four-times-a-year update schedule I maintain on Namtab.com kept me from.

I'll still be keeping Namtab.com of course, but now there'll be a place I can blog about art every day. So please go check it out...when you're done here, of course.


The Irredeemable Shag said...

Rob - Congratulations on the Shrine's 2nd anniversary! I can't really explain why I had those 6 year old e-mails archived, but I'm glad I did. It's been great to reconnect with you after all these years. Wait a minute... you didn't save the e-mails I sent you all those years ago too? I'm hurt. ;)

The snapshots of the other Shrines around the world were a brilliant way to celebrate your anniversary!

The Shrine truly is a fantastic site and one of the best comic book blogs out there. Keep up the great work, and here is to another two years (at least)!

The Irredeemable Shag

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on getting to Year Two, Rob. Nice work, as always.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the Aquaman Shrine's 2 Anniversay, Rob! You do a great job everyday, and it is appreciated.

Thanks for including me in your celebration!

Onto year 3!

Paul Kupperberg said...

Mazel tov, Rob! Two years with Aquaman...now it's rtime to get out of the water. You're all pruney!

Congratulations! And I loved the photos of your fellow shriners' collections. There're items in there I've never seen!

Adama said...

Congrates on the Blogiversary, Rob! You're my blog hero. how you manage to update all of your (dozens? :)) of blogs regularly, while I have trouble with my measly two, is beyond me.

Way to go, buddy!

Bubbashelby said...

Wow, two years! Well here's to many many more!

Happy Aquaversary!

Anonymous said...

Congrats Rob! I've been thoroughly enjoying the Shrine since I first discovered it! I've learned tons about the Sea King, and my love of the character has definitely grown thanks to your efforts. Great work, and by all means, keep it up!

Anonymous said...

A watery salut, Sea-King's acolyte!!!

You do a bang-up job on all of your sites, & it's been a pleasure to add bits & pieces when I could.

(By the way - GREAT Mod. job, too; the Gang here is one of the best-behaved on the Web.)

All the best,
-Craig Wichman

rob! said...

thanks everyone.

and craig--regarding my Mod duties--they are very minimal. one of the things i'm proudest of here is that i think the Shrine has the one of the most polite audiences out there.

i think in the 2 years of the Shrine, i've deleted maybe 1 comment from someone.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Rob,
The Mera doll kinda made me get the glass case. She was too tall for the bookcase. Besides the Queen of Atlantis deserved some classier digs anyway. It ended up being a good decision, as I was able to display the nicer bits of my collection there and have more room for action figures on the bookcase.

Cindy Healy

Diabolu Frank said...


On the one hand, I feel a total kinship with you. My "Martian Manhunter: The Rock of the JLA" site was also terribly awkward, ugly, and hard to read, and yet it also picked up a fan or two who've dropped me a line (and vice versa) over the years. Plus, my site closed the same year yours opened. I also couldn't quite let the idea go, and I too found blogger to be the perfect new format (or more specifically, your blog taught me that lesson.)

On the other hand, I don't believe anyone has ever loved the Martian Manhunter enough to build a single shrine to match you or your readers, myself included. I am floored by the sheer quantity and quality of stuff folks displayed here. I don't even want to collect many comics these days, and one of the reasons I digital catalog stuff I have is so I can eventually get it out of my house! My obsession is a problem, but thank God the physical manifestation of it has declined with age. I marvel at other people's shrines, but I can't handle one myself.

Finally, I'm really glad you're starting an art blog. I love many of the pieces from Namtab (especially that Juliana Hatfield,) and I look forward to more!

Plaidstallions said...

Late to the party but congrats on keeping that flame alive eventhough it's underwater....

Anonymous said...

"regarding my Mod duties--they are very minimal. one of the things i'm proudest of here is that i think the Shrine has the one of the most polite audiences out there"

You're too modest, Rob; leadership by example is the strongest kind - and you're Kind.

(I think we all know the fire-fests that such sites often become...)

Continued best,
-Craig W.

P.S.- Speaking of Aquatoys - word is DC is trying to reaquire the Captain Action license...

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your second anniversary Rob. Keep up the good work and spreading the word about the king of the seas. Love those Aquaman collections people have.

Fleerfan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fleerfan said...


Congratulations on 2 years! Keep up the great work! How you are able to post something Aquaman related almost every day for 2 years is amazing.

I hope you keep this site going for many years to come as it is always a great read each day I stop by to visit.

Thanks for sharing the photos from the Shrine followers collections - I've very jealous!

Best regards,
J. Helfenstein, loyal F.O.A.M. member