If you’re a casual reader of Shakespeare and you run across a word, phrase, or reference you don’t understand, what do you do? Grab an annotated edition! Annotated editions — whether of Shakespeare or the Bible, Alice in Wonderland or The Wizard of Oz, annotated editions make faking scholarly knowledge of a work ever so much easier. Annotations flourish on the Internet, but they tend to be a bit more esoteric than Shakespeare and the KJV (or even Lovecraft and Carroll and Baum). You can find an annotated version of Pope’s "Rape of the Lock", but you can also find an annotated discography of Mark Robinson’s record label, TeenBeat. Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series of comic fantasy novels merits annotation, as do songs from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

But what fans really seem to like to annotate are comic books. Collectors of Justice Society of America comics have an annotated checklist. Will Eisner’s The Dreamer gets the annotation treatment, as does Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles. "The Annotated Sandman" and especially "The Annotated Watchmen" are genuinely impressive pieces of completist amateur scholarship; if you ever wanted to know exactly which supervillian Moore was thinking of in a throwaway reference to "Captain Axis," this is the place to turn to.

And then there’s The Warner Brothers Cartoon Companion, a staggering reference work. It’s capable of settling bar bets about where the word "Acme" came from, providing clues as to which episode it was that featured Elmer and Bugs getting married at the end, informing you as to which obscure ‘40s radio shows were being parodied, and generally making you a more informed watcher of Looney Tunes. Any site that can give me a thumbnail biography of Friz Freleng, provide a reference to every classic Warner Brother’s cartoon referencing Clark Gable, tell me who was the original voice of Porky Pig, and let me know that Dorothy Dandridge‘s sister Vivian did the voice for a short called So White and De Sebben Dwarves is a site I could waste a lot of time reading through.