The Evolution of This Site

Though this may be difficult to imagine for some of the younger visitors to this site (who have grown up with the Internet as part of their lives), I can clearly remember the first time I saw the World Wide Web -- and of course, one of my first thoughts was about Dark Shadows. :)

It was 1995, and at that point there weren't nearly as many websites as there are today, and sites produced by "amateur" webmasters were not very well designed. (There were lots of huge, distracting, colorful headlines: tacky, needless animated graphics; and things like that.) But the first time I "surfed the web" and discovered a few of the pioneering, first DS websites, I knew I'd found a great outlet for my own DS writing.

At that point I was writing a new DS book: Big Lou, the biography of Louis Edmonds. And I'd already written and self-published about a half dozen fanzine-style DS books, and sold them at Dark Shadows Festivals and through the mail. But the problem with paper fanzines is/was that they're pretty expensive to produce. Most 'zine editors make little or no profit, so these projects are labors of love, and a way to share your passion for a favorite TV show, movie, actor, etc., with other fans.

When I did that first surfing session, I was in my "starving artist" period, soon after moving to New York City, so all of my 'zines were out of print. And since I'd never made much money on them, it made sense to me that if I created a website, I could get the satisfaction of sharing my DS-related writing with my fellow fans without spending much, and so what if I didn't get any money for it? I had lots of content, including a few previously unpublished interviews with DS cast members, and lots of photos -- so I created a site called Collinweb and posted it on a free web-hosting megasite called Geocities. As I worked on my book Big Lou, the biography of Louis Edmonds, I interviewed a lot of his former costars, including Nancy Barrett and Diana Millay, who became good friends of mine. So, as I ventured onto the web, Louis, Nancy and Diana went virtually with me. On Collinweb, I posted some preview chapters from Big Lou, and I established "official" sites for the ladies, to promote Diana's cookbook, which I was editing; and Nancy's burgeoning cabaret show, which I was managing. (What would I have done with my free time, those first couple of years in NYC, if not for DS-related projects?? :) )

After Collinweb had been up for a while, I decided that "Dark Shadows Online" was a better, easier-to-remember name, so in 1999 I registered and starting using (That basic Collinweb site is still accessible, because I forgot my password a long time ago, so I can't delete it... You can see it here. It contains some content I haven't moved to DSO, including some text from my old fanzine Victoria Winters.)

When I was planning what the site would look like, and what information I wanted to put there, I looked around at other DS sites to see what other webmasters were doing. I feel like it's pointless to redo what someone else is already doing well, so I decided not to do things like episode guides because the webmaster of Dark Shadows Dot Com has created an excellent database with summaries of every DS episode as well as such info as which cast members are in each one.

When I launched this site, I had no way of knowing it would eventually become an important part of my battle with a ferocious disease. In mid-October 2002, I was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. I'd just turned 36, and besides a few vague symptoms, I'd been in good health, so that was just about the last thing I was expecting. "Stage 4" means the cancer spread beyond my colon, to my liver. I had surgery to have a small part of my colon removed (then, as my friend Nancy Kersey pointed out, I had a "semi-colon"). Soon after that, I started chemotherapy, to target the cancer in my liver

Just after that surgery, at a Dark Shadows-related event, DS star Diana Millay casually mentioned on stage that I was ill. I soon got email from people who heard Diana say that, checking to see if I was ok, so I decided to let my friends and acquaintances know what was going on. I posted a message about my health on this site, and within hours I was getting words of hope and encouragement from friends and from people all over the world that I'd never met.

As a writer it's sometimes difficult to tell whether what you've written has actually been read and/or enjoyed. It's been gratifying to hear from people who have gotten pleasure from my books and this site -- and the words of encouragement about my health have been a big morale booster. Attending DS Festivals, it has also been great seeing old friends and meeting new DS fans who've discovered my work here on DSO.

Ever since I was a kid, Dark Shadows has held a very special place in my life. (You can read about that by clicking here.) And as I've faced this challenge, once again I've gotten comfort from watching episodes while resting and recovering (this time, on DVD), and by hearing from my fellow fans and friends. I'm doing well, but there's still a long road ahead, and knowing there are many people out there pulling for me -- and praying for me -- helps me face it. I want to thank everyone who has contacted me. I deeply appreciate it.

-- Craig Hamrick
Winter 2005

Visit the rest of
Dark Shadows Online


TV Series
Behind-the-scenes history

Bios, photo galleries, and exclusive feature articles

Photos and facts about DS toys, books, and more

Books by Craig Hamrick
About DS books written by DSO's webmaster

House of Dark Shadows and Night of Dark Shadows

Your portal to other DS websites and merchandise

About This Site


Buy the Books

Visit Barnes &
to buy Craig's books:
Big Lou and Barnabas & Co.


Learn About Colon Cancer
Each year, more than 100,000 Americans are told they have colon cancer -- the second deadliest form of the disease.
In 2002,a few days after my thirty-sixth birthday, I became one of those people.
-- DSO Webmaster Craig Hamrick

Please visit the Colon Cancer Alliance website to learn if you could be at risk -- and what you can do.

What's New
The latest updates to the site.GO THERE

Frequently Asked Questions about this site and my DS books. GO THERE

Welcome Letter
Read about my latest Dark Shadows-related projects, including collaborations with Nancy Barrett, Marie Wallace, and Diana Millay. GO THERE

Me & My Shadows
As a gay kid growing up in Kansas, I identified with Victoria Winters who was searching for her identity, and Barnabas Collins, who had to hide who he really was. GO THERE .

For behind-the-scenes stories about the TV classic Dark Shadows, read the book Barnabas & Company by Craig Hamrick.

Dark Shadows Online © 2005 Craig Hamrick
Dark Shadows © Dan Curtis Productions. All Rights Reserved.

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