Books and comics may have survived disruption but magazines really haven’t and the great 21st century newsstand massacre just claimed another victim as Harris Publications announced that they were shutting down, effective immediately.
Only a few old timers will know why I mention that here: although at the end it was mostly a publisher of magazines about guns, gardens and cars, it was once a comics publisher, mostly with titles it picked up from the end of Warren Publishing, including briefly Creepy and Eerie (which James Warren sued to reaquire), but for a much longer period Vampirella, which reigned at the forefront of “bad girl” comics of the 90s. Harris sold Vampi off to Dynamite in 2010 where it is still published in various forms.
Harris Comics as a line ran until 2008; beside Vampi, its main output, Harris published Ethan van Sciver’s Cyberfrog and Harsh Realm, by James Hudnall, Yanick Paquette and John Ridgway, a title most notable for being turned into a TV series by the X-files Chris Carter.
News stories note that the shutdown came only a month after longtime publisher Jonathan Rheingold had rejoined the company as chief revenue officer. Rheingold is a figure well known to 90s comics folks, although his most recent comics tour of duty was at Marvel as V.P. Custom Solutions & Ad Sales, a position he left in January.
I had a bunch of friends who worked at Harris over the years and their office was near my hood so I stopped by once in a blue moon. I vividly remember one trip to visit and seeing stacks of hairdo magazines in a hallway. Hairdo magazines used to be a thing, and you can still find them in salons, I reckon, as a guide to figuring out what you want your hair to look like, but Harris published a ton of them over the years. On that particular visit I picked up one and flipped through it; although the pub date was contemporary, the hairdos looked like they could have come from the 70s. I guessed Harris was good at recycling things.
Anyway, it’s only a minor footnote in comics publishing history, but RIP Harris Publications.
The closing statement, which was sent to Folio, is below.
It is with great sadness that we are announcing the closing of Harris Publications. For nearly 40 years, Harris Publications has been a mainstay in enthusiast publishing.
We are extremely grateful for the tremendous contributions of our employees, past and present. The hard work and dedication of our creative, sales, circulation and operations teams and the talents of our freelance editors, writers, photographers and designers are what allowed us to continue delivering thoughtful and beautiful magazines to our readers.
The magazine publishing industry has been through turmoil in the face of the rapid ascendance of digital media, changing consumer content preferences, magazine wholesaler struggles and consolidation in the supply chain. We have tried mightily to persevere against these forces, but have been unable to overcome these challenges.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.