CBR.com has new design, rebrand, no blogs

cbrcomnew-lg.jpg

Oh speaking of comics media consolidation, which we do weekly here at Stately Beat Manor, comicbookresources.com, the longest running and biggest site about comics, has rebranded as cbr.com, and with a complete redesign. For you nostalgics out there, I saved a screen shot of the old site.

CBR was purchased by Valnet back in April, from founder Jonah Weiland. Since then they’ve been tinkering with the formula a bit, cutting some columns and, now it seems, all their blogs including Comics should be Good and Robot 6. I haven’t had official confirmation on that, but the URLs redirect to the main site, so it’s not looking good.

It’s all part of survival in the modern era. If anything, the old CBR was akin to something we had when I was growing up called “the atrocious cabinet,” a vast repository of information that was sometimes a bit hard to navigate. I know a redesign had been in the works for a long time prior to the purchase, so this comes as no surprise.

At least one of the top rotating stories on the new site is about comics. And there are still previews and so on. And the forums are still there, with, predictably old timers moaning, managing editor Albert Ching manfully trying to answer questions and one wag posting, “Jonah Weiland sold his comic book site, and what happened next will shock you!” Readers are not happy with the new look for the moment, complaining about industry standard things like large images and responsive design.

Also, the old Comicbookresources had awful pop up ads of late that froze my browser and sent bats flying across my screen. They seem to be waiting in the attic while the new redesign shakes out, but if the new look enables to site to do away with those kind of ads, than it’s all for the best.

I’m especially sad to see Robot 6 go as it was the last outpost of a long running “super blog” that at one time or another included most of the best writers about comics, including Kevin Melrose, Brigid Alverson, J. Caleb Mozzocco, and many others. “Who?” you may be asking, Exactly.

Brian Cronin’s posts for Comics Should Be Good have been retained via his author page, however.

UPDATE: Apparently the rest of the blog content will be also be integrated into the site via author pages. it doesn’t make it any easier to find.

I’m sure the hate will calm down in a few days, and people will get used to the new format. People don’t like change, but (whisper) the old site was hard to navigate too, you were just used to it.

Anyway, if you have one takeaway from this post its that I grew up in a family where built-in shelving was called an “atrocious cabinet.” That explains a lot about me and why I’m STILL here. For the moment.

 

Comments

  1. Jimmy J says

    Looks like blogs are still there, under originals where the features/editorial stuff is categorized

  2. says

    I found that site because of Brian Cronin, and the blogs were the part that kept me going back. Comic ‘news’ is the same everywhere, so I can’t see how cutting out the unique content will make the site more popular… But then again, I’m poor, so what do I know.

  3. Richard Johnston says

    The blogs are going to be integrated into the rest of the site.

  4. Javro says

    Looks like they’ve killed what made the site worthwhile. If they really intend to integrate the columns and blogs they shouldn’t have prematurely rolled out the new design. As it stand today the CBR site (aside from its lack of visual appeal) is not much more than the type of News feed i could harvest using Google News. They’ve buried the blogs pretty deep if they are there. In any case you can see the direction is away from original community oriented material and more towards press releases and trailers.

  5. Albert Ching says

    This was a refreshing post to read! Thanks, Heidi. Though some things have shifted around, all the same material is still there.

  6. says

    Rich: you mean just like I reported in my piece? Nice of you to come and explain that over here. It’s cool that you have enough spare time running your own site to go around correcting other people’s! I’ll have to start doing that too.

  7. Nathan Aaron says

    Honestly (and I’m a website designer of 15+ years, so I can state easily) this redesign is horrific. Everything is GIANT. Even scrolling through the Marvel November 2016 solicitations was a chore. The home page is like GIANT image, smaller image, smaller image, AD, GIANT IMAGE, smaller image, and it all appears to be random. I tried to view this site on my smartphone last night and gave up. You just scroll, and scroll and there’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. I mean, do some color blocking, something, so it’s not just a sea of white and GIANT TEXT WITH GIANT IMAGES. The ads were some of the worst as of late on the previous design, causing issues with the site, but a redeisgn won’t solve THAT problem.

  8. Lana says

    I’ve read a few times that all the same content is still there. Maybe so but I can’t find it. I understand the need to update things and I really don’t care if it’s an ugly site. What matters is that it was a fun and informative place to visit in it’s previous format and now it’s as bland as a Facebook page in fact it might as well be a facebook page.

  9. Ted says

    One of the things that made Brian Cronin’s posts so valuable were the readers contributions in the comments sections and these appear to be gone. Sorry i wish CBR well but I really have little reason to visit. I can come to Comic Beat, Comic Alliance or Bleedin Cool and get the same info.

  10. says

    Jimmy J:
    “Looks like blogs are still there, under originals where the features/editorial stuff is categorized”

    Uh.,..where is that, Can you make a screenshot with an arrow? I’m guessing a clearer site map will roll out soonish.

  11. says

    Honestly, I don’t care about the formatting change. Making it mobile-friendly is a vast improvement. What I do take issue with is the logo change. A long-standing recognizable brand logo converted to a simplistic piece of garbage that was hacked out in Microsoft Word in 3 minutes (I’m being generous). That logo (if it can be called that) is the WORST part of the redesign. Complete generic, hack bullsh[censored] for a medium completely entrenched in visual impact. That logo looks like the splash page of a Powerpoint presentation. Such a missed opportunity to make something fantastic.

  12. Remco says

    Can I coin the phrase “Richsplaining?”

    This is bad news about Comics Should Be Good. It was a cozy blog, from which I’ve gotten so many recommendations for old stuff to source on eBay…

    Dear, dear CSBG. All gone, now!

  13. Chris Hero says

    Albert Ching works very hard at what looks like an awful job. Props to him on that.

    The new site kinda sucks, but other than Titling and CSBG, I never went there anymore anyway. Best of luck, Albert!

  14. JTL says

    I’m not particularly annoyed by the design, strictly speaking, particularly the “industry standard” things such as responsive design. However, in balance, I think they’ve broken more “industry standards” than they’ve fixed.

    The width of the text in articles is way, way too wide (over 120 characters), making it difficult to track from the end of one line to the beginning of the next; standard line length is closer to 80 or 90.

    And they broke all of the links to old articles. Even if they wanted to do a new standard format for article URLs, their servers should still be able to resolve/redirect the old URLs for the old articles to their new locations instead of just redirecting to the front page.

    I’m not sure how the reorganization of the site fixed the “atrocious cabinet” problem, though. At least on the old site you could narrow down what you wanted to look at by particular column or blog, but now it’s like a junk drawer: everything is just piled on top without any differentiation.

  15. Simon says

    They’ve also restored all posts from Greg Burgas, Brigid Alverson, and some from Greg Hatcher (probably more underway). But all blog comments are gone, as expected. I’ll miss CSBG, Comics A.M., and the open-access comment form.

    (Amusingly, they’re adding interstitial ads just when Google has announced they’ll soon deprecate such sites in their search engine, heh.)

  16. JTL says

    The more I think about it, the less I think that the new design actually is “responsive.” A responsive design would change based on the device loading the page. The old site wasn’t responsive: it was designed to look good on a regular computer, hand-held devices be damned. But the new design just does the opposite: it’s designed to look good on devices, regular computers be damned.

    comicsbeat.com and comicsalliance.com are both examples of sites with true responsive design, where the layouts on computers and devices are really quite different in ways that create a good UX for both ways of accessing the sites.

  17. Tonyjazz says

    Anybody know what happened with The Buy Pile? That was always my favorite read at cbr…

  18. Lee Stone says

    And the ads are still there.
    They’re just all embedded in the articles, causing my browser to freeze up and become unresponsive as they all try to download at once.
    Take a gander at the November solicits for DC. There’s an ad every three or four solicits.

  19. Daniel Way says

    “The more I think about it, the less I think that the new design actually is “responsive.” A responsive design would change based on the device loading the page.”

    So true. There is no reason they couldn’t have developed a site that output differently for PC, Mobile, iPad on the fly using CSS.

    What really sucks though is that the “meat” of the site is buried or lost so it now comes across as every other Comics news site. Seriously if you got to the CBR Facebook page you will get almost exactly the same content that the Website now provides. What was the point? Seems like the new owners don’t get what made CBR unique and so long lived.

  20. Kate Willaert says

    It looks like the new owners noticed how well Comicbook.com is doing as just a news site, and decided to become a clone of that. Seriously, just look at the top nav of both sites…it’s shameless.

    The problem is that anyone who wants a news-only comics site is already reading Comicbook.com. No one who already follows Comicbook.com is going to visit a clone that does the exact same thing with nothing new. The columns and blogs were the one unique original thing CBR had going for it.

  21. Other Chris says

    Looks like savagecritic.com quietly disappeared, as well. This has been a rough week for some of my favorite websites (CSBG in particular).

  22. says

    RSS feeds have new addresses but the important thing (for me) is that they still have them.

    It’s really a pity that news feeds (and the rest of the internet) have been hijacked by proprietary garbage from Facebook and Twitter, because they really are the best way to access news sites, and avoid all the confusing navigation issues you describe.

    Robot 6 and CSBG were the only sections of CBR I read, but they were long overdue for a redesign. Absolutely unreadable on mobile.

    Speaking of which, hi Rich!

  23. Simon says

    Apparently, http://www.cbr.com/tag/csbg/ will show all new posts from the defunct Comics Should Be Good blog. That link has a working RSS feed (being http://www.cbr.com/tag/csbg/feed/ if your browser won’t tell) and it just warned me of four new CSBG posts (all by one Brian Cronin). I mean, both links are a poor man’s version of the old blog homepage!

    @Heidi:

    Soz, but I have a comment stuck “awaiting moderation” since yesterday. It had three links, so maybe it was sent to your Spam Folder? (Usually, it’s just in the mod queue if I can see it and invisible to me if sent to Spam, but YMMV so I had to whimper!)

  24. oldmotherhubbard says

    Any old CBR employees still around after the sale and redesign should know they probably need to find new jobs. I worked through my share of web site mergers and acquisitions and once you’re the acquisition and you become part of an intact team your days are likely numbered. Brush up that resume, hit up your industry contacts and/or make new ones, asap. Judging from CBR’s redesign the employee cuts are coming or will continue. Duties will be automated, passed to employees of their other sites, or given to new employees working for less. Get out before they pull you into your boss’s boss’s office for a chat.

  25. Aaron Delwiche says

    Was “Comics Should Be Good” a Brian Cronin thing? Also, who posted all of the “100 Best Xmen Runs” and “100 Best — Runs” articles? So sad. First we lost all of the collective history when Jonah wiped out all of the old forums, and now we lose hundreds of great comics-related features. Just a reminder that this medium is even more ephemeral than those yellowed, tattered comics and magazines in our attics. :(

  26. Drew says

    And now, 3 days later, the CBR redesign settles into looking normal. It’s simple, easy to navigate. and makes the old version feel too busy with excessive text and links. The Responsive Design works well across all devices.

    Great work! Outrage unnecessary.

  27. says

    On the other hand: I don’t have a Facebook account. I’ve made it this far without one, and I don’t have any intention of signing up for one.

    Per my comments above, it’s a damn shame that there are comments systems you can only use if you’ve got a Facebook account. I’ll probably be happier not being able to comment on articles at CBR (just as I haven’t been able to at ComicsAlliance since their change of ownership), but I’d like to have the option without having to sign up for a service I don’t want to use and certainly don’t want tracking me everywhere I go.

  28. Drew says

    Facebook commenting tends to keep more people civil because it’s their name and a link to their Facebook profile, not some blind user name they just created.. When someone does get banned, it’s not as likely to just create another Facebook identity.

  29. Paul Nolan says

    and now 4 days later the site is still awful to look at on a computer, The headlines of all articles are cut off, it takes an age to scroll down to find anything meaningful.

  30. Aaron Delwiche says

    Outrage somewhat necessar.y, Drew. It’s not just about the design and UI. It’s also about the great feature articles that were not archived or indexed.

  31. says

    @Drew: Bullshit. The “real names keep people civil” talking point is a myth. Milo Yiannopoulos uses his real name and it’s never stopped him from being a completely reprehensible person.

    Sure, that’s one cherry-picked example. It’s not as if there’s actual research to indicate that people are more abusive when they use their real names online, is there?

    Well, there actually is. See http://globalnews.ca/news/2855416/forget-anonymity-internet-trolls-are-more-abusive-when-using-their-real-names-study-finds/ .

    And even if people using their real names *did* make them more civil, the entire premise assumes that you can’t use a made-up name on Facebook. Which is downright silly. Do you think anybody’s going to stop me from signing up for a Facebook account and calling myself John Smith?

  32. says

    (Adding: For the record, I’ve *always* posted on CBR using my real name. I’m posting here under my real name right now. No Facebook account required.)

  33. Cromwell says

    Yes the CBR look is dull, dull is the new standard, but I can live with that and so will most people but the real issue is the content (or lack of content). It’s no better than a glorified facebook page now. Without the blogs and columns and cool articles there really is no reason to visit any more.
    Yes it’s cleaner, but it’s stripped down to blah content wise.

  34. Bryan says

    I haven’t tried to search the new site yet, but the old search function was pretty crap. Look up, say, October solicits and it would throw up anything with october and solicits in random date order.
    I get that the new layout is designed for viewing on phones more than pc, but its seems a little soulless, and surprisingly bland. Focus on big clickable headlines above anything else.

    But why drop the blogs? they were a key part of the site. Why pay a shit ton of money for a website then strip away what unique content was drawing people to it?

  35. M-Wolverine says

    Add me to the list that’s horrified by the loss of CSBG. They’ve transferred the articles, but you can’t find the links to all the classic work, and a wealth of commentary all disappeared. And I’ve seen sites that go from that to the “new” format and they never get but a fraction of those commentators back. And I’ll probably be one of them. It was quite a community over there, but I don’t post on comments because of the over moderation and sign in. I’m not sure what you get there now you can’t get on any other site. It was the commentary that made it special.

  36. KC says

    I could get used to the design. But now the site seems like nothing but Press releases for the masses.

    I saw one interesting article, and sure enough. it was by one of the old-timers. (Brian Cronin in fact).
    Yeah, “interesting” is a matter of opinion. But it’s safe to say that the site is now the equivalent of a “decompressed” comic book.

    But it’s all good. There are Sooo Many interesting Blogs and Websites it’ll be fine to explore them more. And as long as Brian Hibbs is being published somewhere else, I’ll survive.
    Plus it’ll be more time to read Milo, notwithstanding the false & cheap shots at him.

  37. Darkhawk says

    The old site was fairly awful, but the redesign is hideous. At least on the old site you could actually *find* the feature articles you liked. Now I don’t even bother going anymore because I have no idea where to find “The Line It Is Drawn” (weekly art contest), “Comic Book Legends Revealed”, “Abandoned and Foresaked” (abandoned plotlines), etc.

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