Starting with a letter to subscribers which Tom Spurgeon unveiled, today’s it’s being announced that The Comics Journal, which is about to release its gala 300th print edition, is going to change its presentation drastically, with fewer, bigger biannual print editions and an increased online component. Dirk Deppey, has more:
The expanded, full-service TCJ.com will deliver everything readers love — in-depth interviews, smart columns, sharp criticism, real journalism — on a daily basis. And not only will readers get the traditional Comics Journal content faster, but they will also be able to access features beyond the reach of print magazines: videos, slide shows, audio files, original-art galleries and an army of both new and established Journal-caliber bloggers filtering the comics world through their unique perspectives. In short, it is the dawning of a Comics Journal that knows no bounds.
Focusing on what print does best, The Comics Journal magazine will be more beautiful than ever, an elegant combination of criticism, journalism and objet d’art. Uniquely sized and formatted, evocatively visual and tactile, each issue will be an event. Readers will get their first look at the direction The Comics Journal will be moving in with issue #300.
Spurgeon follows up with a brief interview with TCJ’s Gary Groth on the change
“It was always a strain to assemble eight commercially viable issues that were also aesthetically pleasing — balancing that fine line — every year. I feel much more comfortable concentrating our resources on fewer print editions each year and spending some of those resources on our web presence. It’s no secret that newspapers and magazines are suffering because so much of what they’ve traditionally done can be done on the web, faster and cheaper. We decided therefore to redesign the editorial and physical format of the magazine to take advantage of what print’s best at — upscale production values, longer prose, more permanent content — and bring the Journal’s mandate for criticism and commentary to the web with a vengeance.
Coming, as it does, on the heels of the sale of the once-preeminent online comics news source Newsarama, it’s clearly another step in the evolution on online comics journalism. A beefed up TCJ online, with perhaps a return to some of its take-no-prisoners investigative reporting would be much-needed electric cattle prod to the hindquarters for everyone.
At the same time, the rules are changing so fast and quick. Newsarama’s sale comes at a time when its position as the must-do news source has almost completely eroded. Everyone seems to use their own outlets for breaking news, and there are so many other choices. It’s notable that when Monday’s news of a new Stephen King comic at Vertigo came out, it was announced at Vertigo’s own blog and the first, presumably embargoed, interviews were at the NYT, the Daily Beast and AOL’s comics blog, Comics Alliance. Comics news is now big enough that it doesn’t even get broken on comics news sites any more — with a variety of “mainstream” news outlets covering comics on a regular basis, news can reach a (one hopes) even wider audience.
On a more personal note, the main thing all this reminded us of is a panel at San Diego in 1996 or 7 or so that included The Beat, Gary Groth, and other folks on “The Future of Online,” or some such, where we predicted a “bigger, stronger, faster” model for Online, and Gary said something along the lies of “I like holding things in my hands.” Sometimes it only takes 15 years for dreams to die. (Pretty sure this panel was written up in an issue of the Comics Journal? Maybe one of our helper monkeys can dig it up, because if there’s one thing that’s certain it’s that my memory really sucks these days.)