Jem Fan Site History


How did fan sites, for a somewhat forgotten 80's cartoon make it's debute on the internet? How did Jem online communities begin, and how did the Jem fans become so many?

Before anything appeared online about Jem, there was a snail-mail newsletter called the Jem Newsletter, later called "Precious Jems", released by someone named Carol. The issues were about 20 pages each, in black&white (with a single page in color) and was released atleast about 3 times a year. It could include messages from subscribers, information about the dolls and other merchandise, fan fiction, fanart, custom doll pictures, patterns for making your own Jem clothes and more. A year's subscription was $20.

The first website to take Jem fanhood online, was Pam Green's Jem homepage and then the Truly Outrageous Mailing List. This was in mid 1996, perhaps Pam's site was even earlier. Pam Green's site was a collectors site first and foremost about the dolls. It contained pictures of all the Jem dolls and other items like the Jem lunchboxes, boardgames, viewmaster reels, coloring books and more. It was all very nicely presented with Jem art graphics, some images which are still being used by some sites today.

The Truly Outrageous! Mailing List was the second Jem site, and the first online meetingplace for Jem fans to interact. Before it, there were probably only occasional messages on cartoon and doll newsgroups. The Jem mailing list's owner had previously been in contact with the main writer of Jem, Christy Marx and Christy was one of the first subscribers to join in from the start. Finally Jem fans could interact, exchange information and trade collectibles. You would send in your Jem message, which would manually be combined with the other messages as a text file and sent out to all subscribers once or twice a week. The list started out with only 9 subscribers, which after the first issue had become 16. That was pretty much the entire online Jem fanbase at the time. But by the end of the first year, the number had reached 184, which was an enormous number considering very few people in the world had access to the internet at all, and already 8 years had passed since Jem's original run on TV and since the doll line was cancelled.

The internet was becoming more and more wellknown to the general public, and moved into our homes. This, of course, meant more Jem fans came online, and more Jem sites started appearing. At this time creativity in form of website-creating ruled the internet. You couldn't do nearly as much with a website as today, but atleast you had to do alot more of it yourself at this time, unlike social networks today where you basically share pictures and comments.

Jem sites back in the 90's didn't have a alot of webspace to work with. Luckily pictures were very small back then, because most people didn't have large computer screens or high resolution. But even so, some sites would be very limited by space at free webspace providers, and we're talking extremely limited space to work with, like 6MB, which was considered alot, or just 200kb, depending on the webhost.

With very limited webspace, it was difficult for Jem fans who wanted to share or hear more of the Jem music. There was no Youtube at the time. But luckily there was one very early site that offered several songs in good quality for download, this could probably be considered the third Jem site at the time. It was called "Jem and the Holograms!" located at caltech.edu. It offered the songs "Flowers In My Hair", "Beat This", "I've Got My Eye On You", "Destiny", "Can't Get My Love Togheter", "Jem Theme", "Jem Theme 2", "Set Your Sails, "Glitter And Gold", not sure if the last two actually worked to download.

Lots of small Jem sites were starting to pop up. The average Jem site at this time would consist of a front page, a few images, would be created on the free website host Geocities (or Angelfire, Tripod, FortuneCity), would include an introduction to the cartoon story, perhaps short descriptions of the main characters, some basics about the dolls, maybe even a song file in wav-format and links to a few other Jem sites.

One of the sites that soon arrived and stood out of the bunch, was Hollywood Jem, which was one of the first sites with actual screen captures from the cartoon. While the Truly Outrageous Mailing List was very informative and interactive, this new Jem site became the leading Jem site in creating new material and interesting new features. Sort of taking over from Pam Green's site, which had disappeared, while Hollywood Jem even covered the cartoon aswell as the dolls. Lots of Jem fans were always eagerly awaiting Hollywood Jem's updates with descriptions and pictures of characters.


Why was it such a big deal with screen captures? Well DVD's and computer video cards had barely made it's breakthrough back then, and much less was Jem released on DVD. Jem fans across the world who had not seen all episodes and been introduced to all characters, like Techrat, Danse, Sean, Raya, Jetta and the Stingers, were very curious to see who they were. To be able to get pictures for your site, you had to somehow get the picture from your VHS into your computer, and along came Snappy, which was an adapter that linked your VHS to your computer. It was quite expensive, but did the job, even if the picture quality from VHS tapes wasn't the best. Very few people had access to this supercool modern technique at this time, and some sites would be forced to post pictures taken with a regular (non-digital) camera off the TV screen (like Rock Jem, did from the start), and put the developed photos in a scanner.


Hollywood Jem also brought Jem sites togheter by creating a special site with links to most of the Jem sites, 15 at the time, called the "Starlight Jem Links", which would be linked to also from all those other Jem sites. But another internet phenomena also managed to do this automatically, called Webrings. Many Jem sites would be part of a webring which was a way of connecting sites and linking to the other sites of the same theme by including some coding on the front page of each site, which created links for visitors to click to arrive at the next site about Jem, a random site, or see a list of all sites.


A cause that all Jem sites had in common, was to get Jem back on the air, more episodes released on VHS (and later DVD) and maybe even a new series and new dolls. Jem fans were creating pages on their sites with every way they could imagine to support a Jem comeback, like Hollywood Jem's "Glitter 'n Gold Fury!":
"We must do something to get the major networks to once again air the Jem cartoon. We must also try and convince Hasbro to begin re-making the Jem toys." Hand written letters were encouraged. We learned that Sony now owned Sunbow. Infact Rock Jem (Universal Appeal) also joined in with it's own page called "Bring Jem Back". Many spread the info to write to Toonnet at aol.com or turner.com. And I think there was a big doubt whether those mail addresses really lead anywhere. We were also asked to write to Cartoon Network's snail mail address, and Sunbow Entertainment aswell as Hasbro of course.

One of all the ways to bring Jem back was to collect as many signatures/names as possible of Jem fans. The first online petition must have been by someone named Lucy in 1996, called Help the Holograms, to get Jem back on the air. And in a petition from CybertOOn's CartOOn Campaign in Oct 9 1998, you can see Jem was the fourth most requested cartoon, beating G.I.Joe, M.A.S.K., ThunderCats, My Little Pony and many others. So apparently Jem had a big following already. A new webfeature made this signature thing alot easier, petitiononline.com, where anyone could create their own petition with it's own introduction and forms for visitors to fill in their name. Certain Jem fans would go to great extent to do as much as they possibly could to make a Jem comeback happen, some would annoy the heck out of us others by posting regularly on Jem message boards to sign certain petitions...

And speaking about message boards, the message boards era was really starting to take shape when new free services like InsideTheWeb allowed you to register for your own message board. The Truly Outrageous Jem Mailing List got it's own message board, which was the most popular message board at the time when it appeared in late 1997, then came message boards like Jem & Friends and Universal Appeal which belonged to this site, and lots of others. Yahoo's groups and clubs soon arrived and covered a bunch of interactive features.

There were alot more Jem sites that have come and gone during all of this, that deserve a mention. This page doesn't nearly cover all the history of Jem fansites and online features. Chicklet's Jem Grrrlz was a great doll collector site, the Starlight Jukebox offered all songs featured in the cartoon, Moonsister's Jem and the Holograms Page was a large German website dedicated to the Jem comic releases among lots of other stuff, The Misfits' Lair was a humorous fansite done completely in Misfits' style where the Misfits ruled, The Jem Jam Page was an early site full of graphics, Jem Unlimited was a large site that had a bit of everything. And somewhere among all these sites came "Universal Appeal", later renamed Rock Jem.

Few of the original Jem sites still exist today. Hollywood Jem was later re-named Like A Dream and started concentrating only on an online role playing game, and then disappeared. The Truly Outrageous Mailing List still exists today, although the website was closed down, but is now called Truly Outrageous! Jem Mailing List and is still available as a Yahoo group. Rock Jem is one of those websites that survived since 1997, probably the oldest still existing Jem fansite.

While what was available back then may seem somewhat small and primitive compared to some of today's Jem sites, some of which also started out early, we have alot to be thankful to the first Jem sites for. They were not only some of the first Jem sites, but some of the first sites of the entire internet, forming what fan sites today look like. And you have to keep in mind everything was alot more complicated back then, and we didn't have access to all the same information and channels of finding it and sharing it or contacting people behind Jem.

And we should appreciate the success we've had in seeing new signs of Jem in all kinds of shapes. The day finally came when the entire series was released on DVD, and now there's even new dolls and a live-action movie coming out! Wouldn't it be cool if we could go back in time and tell all of those hard working Jem site owners and fans that it was really going to happen one day?

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