It’s a sad day for the industry. Paste Magazine comics editor Steve Foxe revealed today via Twitter that at the end of June, the outlet will shut down its comics section. Although there may still be comics coverage under the books vertical, the section dedicated exclusively to comics — with an editor and staff writers to support it — will no longer exist. This is a definite loss for the comics community, as Paste has built up a portfolio of insightful criticism and news coverage about the industry.
It’s been less than a decade since Sean Edgar started the comics vertical at Paste, which makes the loss even more acute. In his Twitter thread on Thursday, Foxe recognized the efforts of Edgar and writers like Caitlin Rosberg, C.K. Stewart and Toussaint Egan, as well as Paste co-founder and editor-in-chief Josh Jackson. Ultimately, Foxe said, the decision to close the vertical came down to numbers, which is becoming an all-too-familiar tale.
So, some bad news:
At the end of June, Paste will be shutting down its Comics section.
I’m immensely proud of the work my team got to do there, but times are tough for digital outlets and the audience for comics journalism just isn’t as large as it is for other media.
— Steve Foxe (@steve_foxe) June 6, 2019
“I’m immensely proud of the work my team got to do [at Paste], but times are tough for digital outlets and the audience for comics journalism just isn’t as large as it is for other media,” Foxe tweeted on Thursday. The problem, he says, is that comics journalism needs more eyes, especially in the current digital media landscape. Foxe wrote, “The MOST popular comic articles usually can’t reach the heights of averagely popular movie, TV, music, or politics pieces, so sites that rely on ad revenue—especially as platforms like Twitter, FB, and Google cut into it—have a hard time justifying ‘niche’ verticals.”
Rather than report on comics-adjacent media, including movies and TV, in order to make up for those low numbers, Foxe said he chose to run the Paste comics vertical “as the kind of site I wanted to read myself, but unfortunately that kind of site has a hard time paying for itself.”
There is a very human cost to this loss, as well. Foxe will lose his job and staff writers and freelancers who contributed to the vertical will also lose an important source of income and stability. Despite overall growth in the comics industry, digital media is often a volatile space where anything can happen, which we’re seeing once again as Paste eliminates its comics section.