§ Every few years I clean up my RSS feed reader, and every few years I write some reminiscing post here on about blogs long gone. But this is The Big One.
I had to switch to a new RSS program because the one I had used for nearly a decade – NetNewsWire – just can’t read half the feeds out there any more. And with a packrat’s horde of hundreds of subscriptions – i’ve kept a copy of an RSS list that goes back to the dawn of this blog 15 years ago – most of them were dead, it was time to prune.
I’ve done this in the past and it’s always a little sad to see a colleague who left but this was even worse than The Snappening…it was literal decimation. I doubt that one in 10 sites I used to look at even still existed.
And some of the losses were just brutal. Golden Age Comic Book Stories – gone, lock stock and barrel. Hundreds, maybe thousands of scanned in pieces of art from the greatest of all times, known and obscure. Sure sure, maybe it moved to Tumblr, but have you seen Tumblr lately? Even the Wayback Machine had no record of this site’s glories.
(Okay I did find one bare front page, which I saves in my digital scrapbook.)
All of the art blogs from the early days are gone, Maybe copyright did them in, maybe age, tedium, Tumblr, Facebook. The Internet is NOT forever – these images are back where they belong, in books.
So many lost pages of comics history. Did you know that Jim Lee and his Wildstorm artists use to have an art blog? The art above is taken from one of its last entries and it’s even sadder because the artist, Oliver Nome, has since passed away.
A a not insignificant number of writers have died. And more than a handful have transitioned and have new sites to reflect that reality.
Almost all the old timey bloggers, the orange header brigade, are gone – you too Beaucoup, Kevin? Among those still hanging in there, unstoppable Gary Tyrell, webcomic chronicler, and strangely, Matt Maxwell, who just won’t give up. And Isabelhino, too mean to walk away
Wathing this history unfold was like Thanos’s snap in so many ways. So many sites that just vanished. Or so many that had a final post with a cheerful “I’m moving to a new site” and …that site is just a 404 now. So mch individual content that got picked up elsewhere – the excellent Cinematical blog is now Moviefone, Go Fug Yourself got sold, etc etc,
But even these are being swallowed up by the Great Journalism Apocalypse. I went to report a new store opening in my neighborhood to Racked..and that entire site is gone. Suck.Com just closed up shop. And 2100 journalists lost their jobs in the last month, from the places that were supposed to destroy a site like this, Vice, HuffPo, Buzzfeed.
What about the comics creators? Some of the up and comers I once followed have left the field, but most announced in a final post that they were moving to Instagram or FB. Some made it, some just went underground. (A few have stuck around with personal sites, a rather random selection that ranges from Colleen Doran to Craig Thompson).
And of course everyone moved to Twitter, a once friendly place that’s now prone to abuse, doxxing, cancel culture and daily dragging. More and more comics pros are announcing they are leaving Twitter as a communication tool. The next answer? Often newsletters, the old one way communication once thought to be outmoded.
Maybe it will all cycle around, and personal sites will come back in style. Certainly with the betrayals, security breaches and toxic environments of Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, and Google and Apple actively forcing us to do things they way they want, you’ve got to wonder what the next platform will be. IF there’s one thing I’ve said a billion times here it’s “Own your shit.” Don’t give other players control over your output. No one will ever care about you work as much as you do. (It’s true I sold this site, but only becuase I would stil be able to run it on my terms for the forseeable future.)
Every time I write about the end of the old time blogging, I reflect on why I’m one of the last ones standing. Maybe it’s because this was, somehow, what I always wanted to do. Blogging wasn’t something that came along and I adopted. Everything I ever wrote – letters to my auntie, columns, rotisserie baseball reports – was somehow a dry run for a daily internet interface for me.
The internet was invented just for me.
So here’s a last salute to those long gone, now existing only in my RSS reader cache. One data flush and everything will be gone, lost from memory, Google searches and internet archives. Well and truly dead and forgotten.
In this case, Cap, everyone is moving on.
§ Oh ps, will RSS feeds even survive? Most browsers have dropped built in support for them. While I see the deprecation of an egalitarian tech as Our Digital Overlords tightening their grasp on insisting we use their platforms, but I realize I am also a special flower, as my fellow enthusiast Danny Crichton explains:
Let’s start with users. I, as a journalist, love having hundreds of RSS feeds organized in chronological order allowing me to see every single news story published in my areas of interest. This use case though is a minuscule fraction of all users, who aren’t paid to report on the news comprehensively. Instead, users want personalization and prioritization — they want a feed or stream that shows them the most important content first, since they are busy and lack the time to digest enormous sums of content.
§ But all is not dead in comics journalism! PW is relaunching its comics newsletter, this time as a bi-weekly pop culture newsletter called: The Fanatic, to be edited by Calvin Reid:
The Fanatic will also offer a PW eye-view of the magazine’s vast trove of pop culture coverage and provide links to fiction and nonfiction reviews, author profiles and interviews, and feature content, selected by Reid for The Fanatic audience. In addition, The Fanatic will relaunch Panel Mania, which features excerpts of forthcoming graphic novels, and readers can also expect original reporting, interviews with artists and publishers, and we’ll search the web to find links to lively news of cool stuff in book publishing and in the culture in general.
Aside from the name – which is a bit condescending in a world that’s dominated by pop culture brands – this sounds awesome!
§ Here’s a bit of a deep dive on what the Y: The Last Man series could mean to FX:
On Monday, FX gave an official series order for the adaptation of the iconic “Y: The Last Man,” marking the end of a long journey to the screen. There’s a lot to unpack in that announcement: In addition to providing the network a top-notch slice of sci-fi IP, Brian K. Vaughn and Pia Guerra’s critically acclaimed Vertigo Comic also gives the cable network the rare opportunity to correct gender and genre gaps in one go.
§ Finally, Persepolis creator Marjane Satrapi is definitely well established in her directing career: next up she’ll direct Radioactive, starring Rosamund Pike. It’s a biographical film about scientist Marie Curie and her husband, based on the graphic novel by Lauren Redniss.
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.