Explain entrances2hell.co.ukPosted: July 15, 2011
entrances2hell.co.uk is not about religion or the devil or horror.
It is about a method of writing found in magazines that I call ‘mag-bull’.
I worked on a lot of magazines as a layout designer which meant that I got to spend a lot of time reading copy.
What I was trying to do on entrances2hell was to demonstrate how magazines talk to you. They use a chatty chummy style. The tone is ‘As you already know…’.
Sometimes I refer to the above style of language as ‘Exciting New Yoghourts’ which was a genuine crosshead that I once had to style up.
The only reason I chose hell as a concept was that it is already a very well known myth. I mean that most people know it well and most people hold it to be untrue. This made it ideal.
When you read the entrances pages you know you are being lied to but the casual language convinces you to join in and believe.
Helpfully, the pictures are also absolutely dead-pan which lets your imagination run riot.
I promise that the design of entrances2hell is deliberately bad. It is meant to be naive and ‘early html’. It does not need bringing up to date, thanks.
The reason for this is that the naive design adds an extra dimension to the humour because if you happened to stumble across it online your first reaction would be to think that ‘these people really believe this stuff’ because it looks so homemade.
The poor design is also a way of making the fictional compiler (Rae Gates) seem to be lonely, naive, obsessed, deluded and out-of-touch. I, the real compiler, am only one of these.
Having said that, entrances was initially only a project with which I learned to do html. Because the site became popular I kept going. And you can see throughout the site that I learned new tricks and methods as I went (even getting to the CSS stage).
And look out for the Java surprises on some pics. (Shame for touch screen users though cos ‘hovering’ got left behind).
I started around 2002 and haven’t added very much since 2005 although I tried to make it look like it is ongoing.
It suddenly went a tiny bit viral around 2002 when it was reviewed on the USA Today website. Here in 2011 it has never gone below a 1000 readers per month and often gets to around 7000. The best ever month was about 26,000 unique visits.
It has been linked to and reviewed by hundreds of blogs and other sites. It has many visitors sent from Twitter and facebook.
It is popular everywhere. I’ve seen mentions written in Arabic script.
It was featured in a number of magazines around Europe in the middle of the zeroes. A spanish magazine failed to pay me for reproducing the pics even though they promised. Mags never got the language thing. They always illustrated it with flames and devils (understandably).
I once did a radio interview about entrances2hell for a station in Birmingham. I was bad at this.
Nobody ever bought an entrances2hell T shirt. So I dropped them. Nobody has ever bought an entrances2hell postcard or a poster but I left them up.
Around 2006 a literary agent contacted me suggesting it might be worth doing a book. I said let’s try but I also thought it won’t be as funny in a book. I think it really depends on that online reaction of ‘Are these people serious?’. And a book couldn’t have that because it would mean some breadhead publisher had said yes (and a money-person couldn’t possibly be suspected of believing in it).
No publisher that the agent took the proposal to thought it was a good idea.
I mainly see it as a way to bring people to my et23 music site. And that has worked really well.
The best bit for me is the letters page. These are all genuine emails (although the replies I actually sent to the senders were less sarcastic and were a bit more grateful than the ones on the site).
I also loved doing the maps. If you look at them all they gradually become more and more stupid. It’s a shame that Dixons changed their name though.
More than one person emailed me to ask whether I minded if they made their own similar collections of entrance pictures. I always said not at all, please do.
I think there is a flickr group inspired by entrances2hell.
Pretty much all of the pictures are in London (even though they are captioned as all over the UK) Many are around Blackfriars and London Bridge. Two or three are in fact in Berlin and one is in Cornwall.
SO: entrances2hell IS NOT ABOUT HELL
ALSO: Stop writing a blog now.