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Exclusive Interview: Michael Pinto of Fanboy.com

blogsolid: Exclusive Interview: Michael Pinto of Fanboy.com

Here's a highlight of my interview from September 26th, 2007 at Blogsolid:

"I think of the blog as a way of sharing images I want my friends to see, sort of like curating an art show or programming a video room at a science fiction convention. I also feel that the role of a critic is to show people what they like, rather than rant about things that they don’t like."

Here's the full interview:

Exclusive Interview: Michael Pinto of Fanboy.com
Wednesday, September 26th, 2007 at 5:00 pm
By Imar at Blogsolid

You know the feeling when you’re just aimlessly surfing the web and all of a sudden you strike gold? Well, that happened to me one day… I stumbled upon a blog filled with fantastic news about comic book heroes, space travel, arcade games and cult movies. The great thing was, fresh content just kept coming day after day. I was instantly hooked.

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you Michael Pinto - the man behind fanboy.com.

Welcome to Blogsolid, Michael. During the last few months, your blog fanboy.com has made a fanboy out of me. How did fanboy.com come about and how long have you been blogging?

Around 2002 I started updating fanboy about once a month using Dreamweaver using a template that I designed, but even doing one page would chew up hours so after about a year or so I gave up. In early 2006 I wanted to learn about blogging so I played with Blogger and did a personal blog (which is now williamsburgnerd.com) to get to know the medium. And by July of 2006 I put my knowledge to work with fanboy.com. However to me fanboy.com is still very much an experiment, so in my mind the site is currently in beta.

Somehow you manage to post something interesting daily - how do you maintain this momentum with your blog?

I’ve been a fanboy since my childhood, so it helps to have a passion for your subject. I set aside a bit of time to blog at the end of each day no matter how tired I’m feeling. I always try to create at least two entries for the next day. In addition I’ll also create evergreen entries in advance for posts that are more about “cool hunting” than say breaking news.

Fanboy.com is not your only online project, would you mind mentioning some of your other web initiatives?

With two other friends I run anime.com. Currently anime.com isn’t using any sort of CMS and is still done using old fashioned templates, although we’re now working on coming up with a system. In fact I’ve been using fanboy.com as a sort of testing site for things we might try with anime.com.

On anime.com I’m lucky as one of my partners Brian Cirulnick does all of the writing, and my other partner Jesse Erlbaum does all the tech. We’ve all been anime fans since the early days, and in fact not many people know this but Brian directed a fan film Desslok’s Revenge in the 80s which was based on Star Blazers (Space Cruiser Yamato).

Fanboy.com and anime.com must both be very sought-after domain names! How did you get hold of them?

I’ve worked in the field of interactive media since the late 80s, so I was there at the birth of the web back in the 90s during the first dot.com era in New York City (then known as Silicon Alley).

Fanboy.com was purchased on a whim in 1997, this was still the early era of the web when a common name would pop into your head and you’d register it right away if it wasn’t already taken. However, with anime.com we purchased it from another party around the same time, but it wasn’t until 2002 and 2003 that we started to do anything with both sites.

People forget this now but even as late as 2002 there wasn’t a clear business model for content sites – things like being an Amazon affiliate or programs like Google AdSense were only just getting started.

It seems like Wordpress is catching a lot of the limelight in the world of blogging software at the moment, but you use Movable Type. Could you mention a couple of things you enjoy about Movable Type? Can you mention anything you don’t like about Movable Type?

I’m currently thinking of switching to WordPress, although with the new version of MovableType I may upgrade. The main selling points for me with the previous version of MovableType were the ability to schedule articles in advance and also to publish static pages. The downside of the old version of MovableType was the interface which didn’t show all of the full features under Safari on the Mac. The new version of MovableType looks better, but I’m seriously thinking of going to WordPress. For me it’s not so much about the tools, but about creating A+ content!

I believe that the design of a blog can contribute greatly to its success. Please tell us a little about the design of fanboy.com

I’m embarrassed to say this because I’m a professional designer, but the current design of fanboy.com was created with a template that I found and hacked a bit to customize. The name of the template is “TV Signal” and it was designed by Alen Grakalic who is based in Rijeka, Croatia. I’m currently working on a redesign for the site.

I realized early on that as a visual designer my writing skills are somewhat lacking, so I tend to look for visual images to lead a story. In fact often I’ll pass on a story if I can’t find a strong visual image that’s associated with it.

In fact I think of the blog as a way of sharing images I want my friends to see, sort of like curating an art show or programming a video room at a science fiction convention.

I also feel that the role of a critic is to show people what they like, rather than rant about things that they don’t like. As a designer I’m very inspired by other designers like Paula Scher, Tibor Kalman and Milton Glaser who always looked for high art in low places (like comic book covers).

I have always thought that comments are a very important aspect of blogging, but fanboy.com does not allow commenting. Why is that?

I used to but sadly I got too much comment spam! In fact the one thing I hate about the current version of Movable Type is that it is pretty bad at handling spam, and with my next upgrade I’ll be looking to turn comments on again.

Finally, what is your beverage of choice when blogging?
My current favorites are:
• Ito En Tea’s Tea: Pure Green, Green Jasmine, White Tea (Summer), and Oolong (Winter)
• UCC Coffee: Milk and Coffee Original Blend
• Suntory Boss Coffee Café au Lait
A huge word of thanks to Michael Pinto for sharing his thoughts and for keeping fanboys and fangurls everywhere entertained. Check out fanboy.com!