The Simpsons Folder

Highly informative and original fan site, offering carefully selected information about The Simpsons with special photos, drawings, graffities, videos and other intriguing bits of content you won't find elsewhere.



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Fan Interview: Brian Peterson

This document is done

You are the person responsible for the Simpsons Archive’s design. How did you end up doing that?

The Simpsons Archive was in a terrible lull around 1997. Most of the maintainers had bowed out, and Gary Goldberg, who owns our server, was prepared to shut it down. I always considered SNPP unique for its “open doors” policy toward fans, and considering all the materials that could have been lost, I wasn’t particularly pleased with the idea of closing up shop. So with his blessings, I took the helm and started a new.

That said, I really must give credit to Gary for hosting the site. He owns the Digimark hosting company, has allocated a ton of file space to us on one of his machines, and at that, pays the bills out of his own pocket. It’s wonderful, because we don’t need to bother ourselves withsewers like Yahoo’s Geocities, which litter every page with bugs and mass advertising. The alternative would be paying a commercial service high bandwidth fees. So from any angle, we’re very fortunate.

When you were designing the Archive, was it difficult and were there any problems?

The main task was finding people to take care of documents left behind by “retired” maintainers. Jouni Paakkinen, whose work on SNPP has been invaluable since day one, recruited most of our current members. There were also a lot of obsolete or duplicate materials to weed out, and organizing the remainder took time. In all, the renovation required a year of effort, but once the results were online, our visitors seemed to enjoy them. One woman, complementing the site a few weeks ago, closed bn saying, “Remind me to show you my tits sometime!” True story! So I guess it can’t be that bad…

The Simpsons Archive is based on information and I think that the design supports it nicely, but I’ve heard many people critisizing it, describing it a bit dull and even boring. Is there anything you would like to say to them?

Well, the principal reason for the “dull” and “boring” appearance is our server traffic load. Though I’d love to have all sorts of image-intensive pages, keeping bandwidth consumption low is essential. It won’t be long before our monthly traffic exceeds 30 gigabytes, and having a direct OC-3 connection (versus plain old T1’s) doesn’t make that any less expensive. So, if some people feel that SNPP looks prosaic, they’re welcome to pay our four-figure bandwidth bills every month. Otherwise, there’s little else that I can do to meet their caviar expectations.

What graphics software do you use for the Archive?

I’ve always liked PhotoShop, for reasons that should be obvious to just about everyone, and use it for the bulk of work on The Simpsons Archive. Also, LView Pro is very handy. You’d think PhotoShop would do a better job of it, but LView actually has superior color palette dithering and JPEG decompression capabilities. So it’s one of my personal favorites.

What kind of computer system do you use?

An old one. I pulled the cover off of it once and found a campaign sticker for Lyndon Johnson crammed under the power supply. I’ll just leave it at that.

Did you own a Simpsons website before you joined on the Simpsons Archive?

No, and I doubt that I ever will. As long as I’m interested in the series, my choice will be to stick with Archive. At least that way, I don’t have to build from the ground up. All the work has already been done!

Many Simpsons websites get redesigned from time to time. Do you have any plans to redesign the Simpsons Archive?

Why, I am in fact toying with a freshened organization and look as we speak. However, it’s still on the drawing board; any kind of due date is rather open-ended right now. Perhaps by the season premiere. Maybe. I’m taking my time with this one, because the current design was rushed together at the last moment for its appearance on that “Wild Wild Web” syndicated television show. I want to put more consideration into the site this time around.

Let’s talk about other Simpsons websites. Are there any Simpsons websites with an attractive design and layout in your opinion?

One of my favorites is The Definitive Frink. Very well-done interface with nice graphics and good content. I also liked the old Powell Motors and Little Miss Springfield designs, which appear to be gone now. And of course, plenty more.

Do you often visit fan Simpsons websites?

I don’t surf around as much as I would like to, due in part to the amount of time The Simpsons Archive takes out of my free schedule. But I do venture out every so often to see what others are up to, and enjoy nosing through sites that haven’t been clobbered by Fox.

What do you usually look for?

Well, the rage at the moment seems to be meta sites: sounds, images, movies, frame grabs, chat rooms, contests, information, news and trivia. Lots of people have done well with the implementation of that idea, but an unfortunate number merely duplicate it for lack of originality, and have done so to the point of nausea. On many occasions, I’ve gone over meta sites only to find the same features, even in the same order, with the same content behind every link. I certainly don’t think that all the people who build around this scheme lack originality. Again, many have done a good job of it. But because of how often it’s cloned, the category in general has become tiresome to myself and many I know.

So, above all, finding unique concepts in design, or sites that cater to one facet or niche (like character-based sites) is always a treat. Our site specializes in archiving information; The Simpsonian built a colossal database of complete Real Media episodes; Collecting Simpsons is a gold mine of information for fans amassing memorabilia. These are the sorts that land in my bookmarks.

Who would you call your favorite character on the Simpsons and why?

To be honest, I’ve never taken the time to tabulate that. In fact, I’ve never ranked my favorite episodes in order, nor can I remember what many of them are just by production number. I guess I’m no true fan. [hangs head in shame] Actually, I wouldn’t mind if somebody from 20th Century Fox Television sent me e-mail explaining what those silly ‘AABF’ things mean.

If I had to spontaneously choose, I’d probably go for Prof. Frink, Mayor Quimby, Lionel Hutz, Mr. Burns, and some others. Usually those bent towards the extremes of any given stereotype. Ng’hay.

Is there any character you don’t like very much?

I’m pretty worn out on Gil, to be honest.

If you could change something on the Simpsons, what would it be?

Yeah. In the latest episodes, I haven’t seen one wrinkled face or singletoothless grin. For shame!

Many fans collects Simpsons merchandise. Are you one of them too?

In a limited fashion. I collect audio and video stuff, both retail and obscure, and printed items, like calendars and books. The rest doesn’t necessarily interest me, since the Simpsons key chains, dolls, bedspreads and crowd-control barriers are just products of Fox’s multi-national merchandising machine. That is to say, CD’s, episodes and books are created by people working on the staff in some capacity, whereas most “trinkets” are just pieces of plastic with stock art slapped on them.

Do you have any special Simpsons merchandise item you would like to tell about?

Well, I don’t know if you can call it merchandise, but I have a copy of the “Homer’s Phobia” animatic version, and in the original dialogue, Homer called John “a FAG!” at the end. I guess it’s somewhat cool to have a rarity like that within your clutches, which clearly was never intended for public broadcast!

What other things you do in your life besides maintain the Simpsons Archive?

I used to write a lot of software before the internet took over the bulk of my computing activities. Otherwise, it’s an endless onslaught of university courses that keeps me preoccupied, in the pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in computing science. And then there’s my job as night watchman at a cranberry silo, and some small-time hobbies in the worlds of electronics, videophilism, split-screen credits/bug bashing, and other piddlin’ crap like that. Answer your question? 🙂

Yes, 🙂