Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Once upon a time there was a television show on the WB Network based on the DC Comics series, Birds of Prey. The show intrigues a great many people and fansites began to appear everywhere. The most notable and informative sites at the time were the Gotham Clocktower and Birds of Prey Online. Shortly after the cancellation of the Birds of Prey television series, most of these fansites folded.
Five years later, one fansite is still going strong – Birds of Prey Online. The site’s main page hasn’t seen very much activity since 2005, but the forum is the most active I’ve seen since the Buffy Boards. Why is it that this one fansite has managed to last this ling and is still going strong? To discover the answer, we must look at the various parts of the site and break them down.
The main page contains a plethora of information about the show, such as the cast and crew, episodes, galleries, music, news and more. Clicking on the episodes link brings you a ton of information about each of the thirteen episodes plus the unaired episode. You’ll get a brief synopsis of the episode, a cast list, a detailed recap, trivia, a list of music, and in some cases, you’ll even get transcripts, episode stills and more. The links page is a bit outdated, as is the news section, but that’s not where most of the action takes place anyway. For that, we must head over to the forum where the members count last stood at over 3000.
The forum is divided into different sections to make posting easier for the members. In Center City, you will find The Clocktower, Start a Revolution and the New Gotham Gazette. The Clocktower is where members go for assistance on the site, ask questions, or leave feedback about Birds of Prey Online. Start a Revolution is all about the Birds of Prey campaign. At first, the campaign was formed in an attempt to save the show. Then, it was a campaign to bring the show back. Now, it has transformed into an effort to bring the series to DVD, hopefully with some added extras. The New Gotham Gazette is devoted to news about the show and the website itself.
Moving on to the next section, Birds of Prey, we discover the following subsections: Season One, Spoilers & Speculation, and Book Discussions. Season One was originally formed in hopes that there would be a season two. This section was created to discuss each episode as they occurred. Now that the show is over, it is the section members head to in order to reminisce about their favorite scenes, cast members, etc. Spoilers & Speculation used to be for discussing what might be in store for the Birds in upcoming episodes. That section has been relatively stagnant for a while for obvious reasons. Book Discussions is all about the show’s roots – the comic books that gave it birth. Here, members discuss Birds of Prey, Batman, Justice League, and more.
Heading on to the Citizens of New Gotham section, we find it is divided into to four sections: Barbara Gordon / Oracle, Helena Kyle / Huntress, Dinah Lance, and Detective Jesse Reese. This is where the fans come to discuss the major characters of the show. This is where they also post new information about the actors’ whereabouts and what new projects they may be working on.
Move on to the Gotham Council of the Arts and we discover just how talented some of the members really are. The New Gotham Library is home to thousands of chapters of Birds of Prey fan fiction plus a special wrestling fan fiction that incorporates some of the members of the board in the story. The library also contains well-written works of poetry and spoken word inspired by Birds of Prey. The New Gotham Gallery celebrates the visual artistry of the members and contains screensavers, wallpapers, videos, and other visually artistic creations by the members.
The last section of the boards called On the Edge probably sees the most activity on the boards since the show’s demise. The Dark Horse Bar is where people go to introduce themselves to the rest of the site’s members. No Man’s Land is where members go to talk about anything and everything under the sun. It is also home of one of the most popular threads on the site – At the Moment – where folks come to discuss their days by filling out a short template of information. While the rest of the board is where the members go to discuss the various aspects of the show, On the Edge is where members really get to know one another.
When recently asked why members continually come back to this forum long after Birds of Prey stopped airing, members had various answers. But the one reason that everyone seemed to cite was the friendships created right there on the forum – friendships that began way back when and are still going strong. The forum not only inspired friendships, but also love-filled relationships built to last. People originally came to Birds of Prey Online to discuss their love for the television show and the comic book, but they soon found they had a great deal more in common with their fellow board members. They also discovered several talented artists and writers who continue the adventures of their favorite heroes long after the show has gone off the air.
One the surface, the people that come here are often as different as night and day. The members consist of people of all ages – from kids in high school, to college folk, to adults. They come from different areas – the United States, Mexico, England, Korea, South Africa, the Netherlands, and more. They come from all walks of life – students, artists, writers, law enforcement professionals, teachers, social workers, retail workers and more. The board even has a couple of resident celebrities. Gail Simone, writer for several comic book series such as Birds of Prey, DC Universe and Deadpool, pops in every once in a while to discuss her latest projects. Ian Abercrombie, otherwise known as Alfred Pennyworth of Birds of Prey fame, is another frequent flyer on the boards. He often stops by to discuss the show, new projects he’s involved in, or just to chew the fat with the other board members.
Yes, on the surface, the membership of the Birds of Prey Online forum definitely looks like an eclectic mix. However, these folks just seem to click. They found one thing they had in common – their love of the show – and they built upon it, building strong relationships that keep them coming back for more day after day. Most of the members speak to each other outside of the boards, often meeting for lunch or dinner or just plain fun. A trio of members even traveled across country just to meet each other! Imagine that!
LisaM is the tireless administrator of the boards – Birds of Prey Online may look like it runs itself, but someone has to pay the bills and make sure that the different personalities that join up play nice. It is up to LisaM and her moderating team to make certain that the forum is still a fun place to come back to again and again.