A History of Neopian Times Collabs
This is the tenth major collab for the Neopian Times, Celebrations and Reunions. But you might find yourself wondering what collabs preceded this one, and what got them started? Luckily for you, I was there, and can tell you the whole story. But first, let’s cover the basics of collabs.
A collab is when lots of Neopians agree to submit to one issue of the Times with the same theme. That means if the theme is grey, everyone will write something to do with grey, however they interpret that theme. Some people might draw a comic about their Grey Neopet, some might write about grey cloudy days, and some might even write about a history of grey items on Neopets. Part of the fun of collabs is seeing how creative people get in sticking to the theme. It’s made fancy by the editor with special backgrounds for the newspaper.
Not to be confused with collaborations, which is confusingly shortened to collabs as well. That’s when two authors together write and submit one article, short story, series, or comic. Sometimes partners write collaborations for Neopian Times Collabs, which is like collab-ception.
The collabs are organized by Just a Couple of Writers, a chatgroup you can find on the Neopian Writers Board, along with the Neopian Times Writer’s Forum, the certified fan site. Volunteers work with the NT Editor Scrappy to set a date that sorks with her schedule, and then they advertise the upcoming collab.
About once a year, suggestions for new themes are collected and voted upon. The top three winners are chosen as collab themes for the following year. Boards for collecting ideas and for voting are found both on the Neoboards and the Neopian Times Writer’s Forum (NTWF). Once a date is chosen for a theme, advertisement begins. Volunteers get the word out about the collab in as many places as they can, including the Avatar Chat, Site Events, and Help boards, and in the Editorial by Scrappy herself.
Now that you know what a collab is, you’re probably wondering how they got started.
The first major modern collab happened in February 2014, but the idea of collabs goes much further back. Special issues are common for holidays like Halloween, Valentine’s Day, and New Year’s Day, and for Neopian Holidays as well, like Illusen’s Day, Grey Day, and Neopet’s Birthday. You might also be familiar with April Fools pranks like Goldrun in Issue 385, where writers discussed a fictional plot involving a new western world, or saying that Lutari Island was reachable in Issue 488, or Wraithland, the made-up world ushering in a new event in Issue 715.
However, collabs outside of holidays had their start back in 2008. In September of that year, the NTWF had something called The Great Collaboration, where everyone agreed to submit something about the Gyspies of the Gypsy Camp in the Haunted Woods. Entries were spread across Issues 358 , 359, 360, and 361. Later, in September 2011, the NTWF did it again, this time with entries about the Thieves’ Guild in Issue 514. The NTWF attempted to revive the tradition with a Revenge of the Great Collab in 2013, but a collab didn’t come until the next year.
Meanwhile, in August 2013, the chatgroup Just a Couple of Writers formed. During the Daily Dare 2013, user parody_ham made a thread asking if anyone had written something for the Times about Chadley, the Green Zafara who had taken Daily Dare from AAA. A couple of writers responded, including amulet_strawberry and me. We enjoyed talking together so much we wanted to keep in contact even after the event was over. We decided to make a thread on the Neopian Writers board, since three way Neomail wasn’t an option. We called this thread "Just a Couple of Writers,” and others, asking if it was a new group, joined in the conversation. We enjoyed chatting about writing and the Times.
In November of that year, we decided to try submitting entries together with the same shared theme, honoring the anniversary of the crash of Faerieland in The Faerie’s Ruin plot. In Issue 623, five pieces appeared that featured about this historic event. It was very exciting, and the writers who participated were enthused about working together to create something bigger than just one person could do on their own.
We were so inspired by the success of our mini-collab that we decided to do it again, this time with an Ode to Villains. This time, however, we invited other writers to join in with us. The other writers were so passionate about making a first great collab. We also neomailed the NT editor at the time, Droplet, about the theme. She was really quite excited and supportive, and surprised us by decorating the newspaper in a special villain theme. and even giving us an item. This was our first real, official collab, and once we started, we never looked back.
So what were the nine previous collab themes? I’ve got them for you right here.
Ode to Villains – Issue 634
The first official collab! Ode to Villains featured articles, short stories, series and comics about various villains of Neopia. Users got a Dark Tea as a prize, with the description, "Many say they have had the urge to practice their evil laugh while drinking this tea."
Everyone Needs a Hero – Issue 634
Following the Ode to Villains, we of course had to give the heroes of Neopia a turn in the spotlight. From guides to interviewing heroes to stories about heroes of Neopia, this second collab had a lot to offer. The item prize this time was a Gorix and Cylara Coin, the two heroes of The Return of Dr. Sloth plot.
Brightvale University – Issue 668
In the last question of the editorial in Issue 651, a user asked, "If both of the announcers from the Altador Cup hold degrees in journalism, then where did they receive said degrees?" TNT replied with, "Brightvale University! It has Seekers on the teaching staff, you know."
"Now, how do I get to my History of Weewoos class again?"
The writers of Neopia decided to take the concept of Brightvale University, BVU for short, and flesh it out in our third collab. Submissions ranged from comics detailing the woes of college life to guides for navigating Brightvale University for short stories about the students who attend BVU. The item prize was Royal Blue Cape.
Wibbly-Wobbly Timey-Wimey Stuff – Issue 676
An issue devoted to time travel, alternate history and other wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff, this fourth collab had fun with the science side of things and how things could have turned out differently.
Conspiracies and Mysteries – Issue 715
Raising questions about Neopia and the mysteries and conspiracies that lay behind them, this issue found some answers, and left some answers open-ended in the fifth collab. Ranging from stories about the Sway to Brightvale University conspiracies to classic who-dun-its.
Dreams and Nightmares – Issue 738
What happens when you sleep? Visions of the future? Your goals? Wonderful dreams? Horrible nightmares? This issue dealt with it all in our sixth collab.
Ghosts and Monsters – Issue 752
Collab number seven was all about the things that go bump in the night. We had stories about the spooks and spirits of Neopia, and the monsters that inhabit the lands.
Royalty and Leaders – Issue 772
Collab the eighth was all about the leaders and royalty in Neopia. We had comic series about the leadership of Faerieland to articles about the history of the Royal Paint Brush. Coincidently, the item prize was a Royal Paint Brush.
In The Sky – Issue 772
Look in the sky! Is it a bird? A Weewoo? It’s the ninth collab, the In the Sky issue! In The Sky celebrated everything up in the air, from flying Neopets to floating lands like Darigan Citadel. A Faerie Paint Brush was awarded as the item prize.
Celebrations and Reunions – this Issue!
And that leads us to our tenth collab. Fun fact, it was actually our Editor, Scrappy, who suggested this theme, as a way to celebrate the tenth anniversary collab. What will this issue hold? Only time will tell!
Magic and Curses – In the Future!
As a bonus, our eleventh collab will be Magic and Curses. A date has yet to be set, but you can start brainstorming ideas for it now!
And that’s a history of Neopian Times Collabs. From humble beginnings of friends just wanting to write to a theme, to the huge take-overs you see today, collabs have added variety to the Neopian Times for years now.
Special thanks to parody_ham for editing this article for me, and for being such a driving force behind these collabs.