One of my favorite parts about the magic of DVDs is all the special features, behind-the-scenes documentaries, and interviews with the movie's creators. I'm a special features kinda gal. I'll sit there and watch the entire director's commentary of a movie. (Except maybe Justice League: New Frontier. After Darwyn Cooke said "they did a great job making the movie look like the book" for about the fifth time, I had to turn it off. You're great, Darwyn, and I love you and all, but I need a little something more than that.)
I like to hear about how things are made. Even really silly questions like "How is baking soda made?" cross my mind and warrant research on my part. So when I started reading up on one of my favorite comic book characters, the Martian Manhunter, and found very little information about the how's and why's of his creation, I started feeling a little downtrodden.
While Frank of the Idol-Head has put together an always-intelligent rundown of who created the Martian Manhunter, I'm really feeling the need to hear something directly from at least one of J'onn's creators. I'm guessing that if a Martian Manhunter Archives volume was ever put out, DC might dig through their internal archives and put together at least a bio of Joe Samachson, Joe Certa, Jack Miller, and/or Mort Weisinger.
But I have this vision of a vertical file sitting in DC's offices filled with interviews from all sorts of Silver Age writers and artists, and maybe even some inter-office memos and notes on napkins detailing the creation of many a Silver Age hero. Now, I have no idea about whether or not such records actually do exist, nor how meticulous DC was about documenting its history, nor whether they'd let anyone have access to it. But if they do have that information, it would be the motherlode.
Now, considering that my line of work involves teaching other people how to research stuff, you'd think I'd come up with something. Well, not yet. Just a cursory search proved harder than I thought. Part of the problem is not knowing what I'm looking for (a published interview, personal letters, etc.), and whether or not it actually exists and was archived somewhere. Plus, it's my professional opinion that the archives world is just plain dumb for never developing a federated search infrastructure (i.e. something like Google or the Library of Congress), because I believe archivists are greedy little miscreants hiding away the great treasures of history from the public, and are definitely one notch above librarians on the Grand Scale O' Evilness. I can't say any of this anywhere else because my best friend is, in fact, an archivist. (Muahahaha.)
The second problem is that comics aren't really considered "academic" by many people, including universities, who are the main holders of archived materials, and therefore probably weren't collected, or not even donated in the first place. A university is going to be a lot less interested in the private papers of Joe Samachson than they are the guy who invented the cotton gin. Yes, I know, it's a great tragedy to all, but it's a sick world we live in.
So, I will keep looking. There are university archives with historical comic book collections, but unless it was published in a magazine somewhere, there probably aren't any author interviews. Searching archives is not difficult but accessing material is laborious, as it often takes a personal visit, or, remotely, a phone call or e-mail to an archivist to obtain photocopies of materials. (That is, if they even allow them to be photocopied.) Rarely are things digitized and made easily accessible online, becuase, again, archivists are evil. So I find the odds stacked against my favor and coming up empty. I had already tried to ascertain the exact fictionopolis of the Martian Manhunter (as anecdotally documented in a letters column) and come up with nothing after searching for weeks.
Maybe I'll find something. If I do, I'll let you know.