On February 20, 2001, a very early prototype of our site went online. Created by Jon Shanks, The Dullard's Bane aimed to complement the (now former) Compleat Bellairs site by being the scourge of idleness and sloth and investigating and exploring the trivial knowledge found throughout in John’s writings. Somewhere along the way we added a slew of biographical information.
It started with a few short emails to South Bend, Indiana about John’s involvement with the televised College Bowl program of 1959. Once we knew his colleagues, we followed the names – Banchoff and Gibson – and not too long after Myers came calling, who in turn clued us into Bowen. From there it was onward to Chicago’s south side, to the university and meeting the Fitschens and Markwell. The trail led us to Michigan – and a tour of John’s hometown – and to Minnesota – and seeing someone take to the stage in costume – and eventually overseas to ye olde England, where the call of the weird sisters and of five dials beckoned us to dig a bit deeper. And then, of course, it was to Massachusetts and to Priscilla. In Wisconsin we tracked down the influence of local playwright on a certain lavender-loving witch, in Australia we questioned the variations of a vase, and in Poland we were baffled (and still are, really) over some strange book covers.
Early on in the game we changed our name to the more-meaningful Bellairsia (originally temporarily, until a better-sounding name surfaced, though I’m still not sure how to pronounce it), and now we've spent the last ten years remembering John, promoting his work, and hopefully introducing him and Brad to a new generation of fans. Jon wrote on the front page of The Dullard’s Bane shortly after its debut that "everything will get fleshed out and become more coherent in the near future." After a decade we like to think that we’ve gotten it together finally.
While there may have been changes in the last decade – we apparently were a bit more active and adventurous in our youth – one thing seems constant. John’s books are still read, his characters still have adventures (with due thanks to Brad Strickland), and his name is still evoked and revered by aspiring authors and admiring fans ten years later – and, indeed, twenty years after his death.
One other thing hasn't changed. Then and now, we still get emails about pills.
Thanks, all. We hope you’ve enjoyed the ride so far. Let’s shoot for another five, yes?
(We’d also like to give a special thank you to our hosts, Emphasys Technologies, Inc., for a decade of superb web hosting. We wouldn’t be anywhere without them.)