Supergirl Comicbook Chronology: FAQ

Q: How do these pages work? Q: What information sources were used to create these pages? Q: What issues are missing, and why? Q: What do the symbols and shorthand mean? Q: What are the tropes? Q: The Semantic what..!?
Q: How do these pages work?

The chronology is broken up into published eras: the Classic Kara Zor-El pages deal with Pre-Crisis stories published from 1959 to the late 1980s, corresponding closely to the original classic Kara Zor-El character. The Matrix and Cir-El pages deal with stories from the 1990s to the early 2000s, corresponding closely to the Matrix, Linda Danvers, and Cir-El, characters.

Each chronology comes in two forms: a scrolling timeline view, and a list view — both views use the same data. The controls in the left-hand column dynamically redefine what data the page displays (this might take a couple of seconds.) The timeline view can be dragged to scroll forward or backward in time — dragging the lower band will scroll faster. Clicking an entry on the timeline or list displays the issue details.

The page contents are interconnected: selecting Clark Kent from characters category not only rebuilds the main area to show only his appearances, but adjusts the other filters to show the appropriate years and reprints. The images below demonstrate how this works.

Q: What information sources were used to create these pages?

In all cases the main story description and notes are written specifically for this chronology, focusing on Supergirl's role in the story rather than detailing the overall plot.

The issue list used to create the Classic Kara Zor-El Era pages was created largely from the author's own collection, complimented by fan web sites and online encyclopaedias that detailed cameo or rare appearances. In a handful of cases the Grand Comics Database and the DC Comics wikia database were used to confirm creator details.

The issue list used to create the Matrix Era pages came initially from the Supergirl Maid of Might fan web site, complimented by online articles and other sources to fill in obscure appearances not included by SMoM. The creator details and reprint details came from the Grand Comics Database. Some other details, such as story titles, were taken from the GCDB, but heavily edited or amended. The DC Comics wikia database was also used to verify a handful of details.

Q: What issues are missing, and why?

The chronology covers all known DC Comics issues with stories featuring the character Supergirl across her numerous incarnations. This includes full appearances, cameos, and reprints. The chronology does not include out-of-story appearences, such as adverts, editorials, and profiles.

For convenience the chronology is broken up into published eras which closely map to distinct periods in Supergirl's history. Naturally the mapping isn't perfect, as authors occasionally write stories involving Supergirls from the past. Some stories that involve the Pre-Crisis Supergirl, for example, were written and published long after Crisis on Infinite Earths. These stories will be documented based on when they were published, not which period of Supergirl's history they are set in or based on.

Below are lists of stories that were published outside of the period to which the featured Supergirl belongs, and notable appearances that are not inside a story:

Q: What do the symbols and shorthand mean?

Some symbols denote the type of appearance: indicates the issue contains a full appearance; indicates the issue contains a cameo, where the Girl of Steel doesn't play any real part in the plot; indicates the issue contains a reprint. If an issue has more than one story, more than one symbol may appear for that issue.

Other symbols denote the type of reprinted material: (R) indicates a basic reprinted story, exactly as the original apart from colors (reprinted stories were often recolored from the original ink artwork); (RT) indicates a reprint was retitled, but otherwise unchanged; (R-) indicates a partial reprint, where material has been edited out of a story, or only one page has been reproduced.

Plus there are symbols that denote the portion of the story Supergirl appears in: (pt2) (for example) indicates this 'story' is actually chapter two or part two of a bigger story that spans the issue.

Q: What are the tropes?

The Silver Age was a crazy time, and there were a lot of themes and plot ideas frequently reappear.

Q: The Semantic what..!?

Okay, here the technical bit: the Semantic Web, sometimes known as Web 3.0, was pioneered by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and MIT as a way of constructing heavily data-driven web pages that can reshape their contents around visitor interactions. When a visitor selects an item on a semantic page, the connections from that item to other items on the page are traced, and the page can be reshaped and filtered based on those relationships.

Like a lot of ideas, it's hard to explain on paper but easy to understand once you play with a live example.

This Supergirl Chronology uses the experimental Simile Exhibit toolkit developed by the researchers at MIT's CSAIL, which provides a simple lightweight framework for creating Semantic Web pages from compact datasets.