In a brief statement, publisher F+W announced the closing of CBG, the Comics Buyer’s Guide, today. The magazine’s 42-year run will end with issue #1699, one shy of the farewell #1700 that the collectors it appealed to would have liked.
The cause of death was the usual suspects:
“cited general poor market conditions and forces working against the title’s sustainability including the downturn in print advertising and the proliferation of free content available online for this highly specialized industry.
“We continuously evaluate our portfolio and analyze our content strategy to determine how well we are meeting consumer and Company goals,” said David Blansfield, President. ”We take into consideration the marketplace we serve and the opportunities available for each of our magazine titles. After much analysis and deliberation, we have determined to cease publication of Comics Buyer’s Guide.”
Subscribers will get Antique Trader instead, and the www.cbgextra.com website and Facebook page will be archived under Antique Trader. (In other words, download anything you want stat!)
The handwriting for a print magazine aimed at 40+ comics collectors has been on the wall for a while. Former editorial director John Jackson Miller presents a MUST READ obit that’s really a history of fandom and comics publishing. Almost every major player in the direct sales market has roots in the pages of CBG.
The advertising base continued to grow — now including Steve Geppi, today of Diamond Comic Distributors, whose testimonial ad for TBG ran in #71 (Mar. 1, 1975). As a result, the newspaper continued to expand — some issues had as many as four folded over sections — with the Thompsons’ column expanding to take up nine full pages of the newspaper by 1976. (The largest issue of TBG was #190, the July 8, 1977 issue, which ran 148 pages, including a 52-page catalog from Mile High Comics.) And pure entertainment features were added, with Fred Hembeck launching his Dateline cartoon.
The industry was changing quickly, with editorial upheaval at Marvel, runaway cover price inflation, and troubles in the newsstand market filling many columns. News of layoffs at Charlton reached readers in 1976. TBG #257 (Oct. 20, 1978) reported the publication of Cancelled Comics Cavalcade, a consequence of the DC Implosion. But with its circulation topping 10,000 copies in 1977, TBG was also reporting on the nascent comics shop market, its ads connecting start-up distributors to start-up retailers. Seuling’s first ad introducing Sea Gate Distributors appeared on the back of TBG #207, the Nov. 4, 1977 issue.
CBG started as TBG, a free mailer full of ghastly hand-drawn ads that had to have every-other-week editorial to conform with mailing requirements. Don and Maggie Thompson, pioneers of SF and comics fandom via their early zine Newfangles, were brought on board for a monthly column….eventually future Eclipse Comics E-i-C Cat Yronwode was brought on for another. While the purchase by Krause neatened up the trim of the newsprint, the paper remained quaint by today’s standards, even as it achieved a level of sales success many comics would envy today:
#575, one of the theme issues CBG, meanwhile, prospered thanks to subscription efforts and direct market distribution, with circulation topping 20,000 copies by the early 1990s.
I discovered TBG, as it was known, via an ad in the back of ’70s Marvel comics. The ad featured a weird, Jeff Jones-esque odalisque of a guy who I assumed to be Alan Light. Or that’s how I remember it. As a kid I was both enthralled and appalled by the brutally ugly, often pointless newspaper that came to the house once a week, twitching with mysteries and obsessions. Wolverine Woobait. If you know what that is…you are old, like me. There was the sheep ad…the very naughty and disturbing Zap Comics ads…and Fred Hembeck. Yronwode was my first comics writing idol, mixing references to zen Buddhism and Fiesta Ware with Frank Frazetta. There was no internet to bombard you with information on every topic, so every introduction to a secret world of obsession was really an initiation. Through Don and Maggie I learned about Doctor Who and Stephen King for the first time, and probably more. (I was a very lonely, isolated home schooled kid with no friends, so this was the only way to learn of anything off the beaten path.)
When CBG cleaned up and started paying more, I became a regular contributor, the girl sidekick to such hipsters as Yronwode, Peter David and Tony Isabella. I was also writing for The Comics Journal at the same time, even though Fantagraphics’ Gary Groth and CBG’s former owner Alan Light were apparently teen-aged competitors who turned into mortal enemies. (Light was one of many who unsuccessfully sued the Journal in a nuisance suit.) TCJ was where I tried to be “serious”; CBG was where I gave in to my own nerd fascinations. My column was supposed to be weekly, I think (or bi-weekly) and although producing it soon succumbed to real-world time constraints, in scope and tone it was pretty much the ancestor of this very blog you are reading.
When I went back to freelancing after my corporate comics career screeched to a halt, CBG beckoned me once again, and I turned out another weekly column for several years, even while I was co-editing The Pulse and started the Beat. When the magazine went monthly in 2004, it was a more manageable schedule for me and I stuck around for a while until I just had nothing more to say on a monthly print schedule.
Through it all John, Maggie, and Brent Frankenhoff were all troopers and total professionals—although I’ll never forget the time they tricked me into writing 13 columns a year by springing a new deadline on me. I was so oblivious to the calendar I never even realized what had happened until months later. I’ve said it many times but Maggie is my role model—I want to be as smart and inquisitive and engaged as she is every day of my life. Now, many years later, I’m told I’m a role model for some younger women in the field. You try to pass it on.
The real impact of TBG/CBG on my life was what to do with the back issues. During my home schooled years I would dutifully go through every issue and cut out the editorial parts (or weirdly interesting parts), storing the remains in egg crates. These remains did not survive a series of family moves. I believe I have a big box of the weekly issues in my storage unit, but I think it’s more likely that my collection burnt up in a family fire more than a decade ago; as a certified pack rat I don’t have all my stuff in one place or even one state or time zone, so it’s hard to say.
CBG was meant to be a throwaway shopping guide for people looking for back issues, but I think it was much more. I pray that someone somewhere has an archive of the whole thing, because, as I said, the history of comics fandom is all right there, right as it happened, and in sociological terms, it’s the Lascaux cave art of Homo nerdus. But maybe that’s just the collector in me talking. No surprise there.
Maggie Thompson and Brent Frankenhoff remain active on Twitter.
I had a subscription for many years, and still think nothing but great things about the job Maggie Thompson, John Jackson Miller, and the late Don Thompson did week after week.
That sucks, I really like the magazine and I don’t want nor need Antique Trader That tell me nothing about comics!
I can’t believe the owners aren’t giving it a sendoff issue.
Comics Buyer’s Guide was my FIRST stepping stone into comics. My very first ever printed art for the comic industry was Cat Yronwode’s FIT TO PRINT. She would run a different header every issue. She had a call out to different artists, so I sent in some dopey art of a cartoon dog holding a paint brush and she accepted it. I still have that printed page in my archive.
When I started self-publishing comics it was CBG that reviewed my work (they used to give letter grades), I had been on the cover, I had advertised on their pages, I subscribed. But I admit, over the years I completely lost touch with the publication — especially in this digital age. I feel guilty for not supporting it recently. In my mind Maggie remains the cornerstone and class act of CBG and J. J. Miller remains the captain of the ship. Damn, it has been a long time, hasn’t it? Still it is sad to see such a pioneer and staple of the industry fade away.
The first issue I bought reported on Don Martin leaving Mad Magazine.
I ignored Don’s praise for Sandman (which cost me dearly when I got hooked during Sandman month, having to buy up all the back issues between the three trades and the current issue), but I did read Bone as soon as he compared it to Pogo and Uncle Scrooge. (Yup…found a first printing of #1.)
I sort of expected this when Scrye ceased publication.
I hope it is scanned somewhere, possibly by Alexander Street. It, like Comics Interview, is a treasure trove of data!
heh… I just remembered a display ad I placed back in the late 1990s, trying to convince someone to consider me for a job in the comics industry… It was based on a long-running ad in Variety, where an actor advertised his availability weekly. Oh, and I had a few letters published.
And I’ve met Maggie Thompson a few times. I would pay good money to hear her in conversation with Marie Severin!
The newspaper Comics Buyers guide was one of the first periodicals I ever subscribed to. In the days before the Internet, it was the only place to get comic book news as it happened. I became exposed to great columns by Mark Evanier, Robert Ingersoll, Tony Isabella, Cat Yronwode and others. The reason why I read this blog regularly is because of Heidi’s column in the CBG. It was an important part of the comic book world.And even though it was on a slow demise over the last couple years, I am still sad by its passing.
Heidi, that thirteenth issue — like so many other things that seemed mysterious (even to us) at the time — went back to one of the two buyouts of the company in the 2000s. It turned out it was a means of adding revenue to the auditing period for the sale.
And Wilson, I understand regarding Antique Trader — the problem as I understand it is there is simply nothing left related that subs can roll into. I saw someone suggested converting it to credit for the corporate bookstore, maybe that’ll happen.
My first issue was the Elfquest themed issue. It happened to be the first issue of my subscription, and was waiting for me in my mailbox when I moved into college my freshman year. I’m as hooked on the immediacy of the internet as much as anybody else, but I do look back nostalgically at the days when the weekly newspaper was the way to get comics news.
I got my start in comics in 1975, when Shel Dorf suggested to Alan LIght that I write a column for The Buyer’s Guide. Alan agreed, and my short-lived “Wugga Wugga” appeared, a mix of news, opinion, interviews. This credential led to me getting a job at a local comics shop, Pacific Comics, joining them on an evolution into early direct-sales distributor, and eventually publisher of creator-owned comics. The journey still continues today, but CBG was a definite point of origin.
I’m a bit saddened, myself, because I remember how much I enjoyed the publication as a kid in rural Kentucky in the 1980s when I could obtain a rare issue. Sad truth is, however, I wasn’t planning to renew my subscription. Only subscribed on this latest go-round due to a 75% off coupon they sent. In the last five years, the page count shrank by over half and the remaining content was becoming less and less interesting. Reviews ran two-three paragraphs, rarely addressed the contents of the actual book at hand, and were all 3 months or more out of date. Every issue it seemed one of the columnists or cartoonists was throwing out an off-handed dig at conservatives, alienating half the potential readership. I can’t remember anything I would consider a feature-calibre article from the last year. Cover art was generally amateurish or unappealing–the Stan Lee cover being a notable exception, but followed by 1698 with NO artwork. Cartoons were meh, classified ads were hopelessly antiquated in concept and execution. $6 cover price for all this in glorious B&W suggests few newsstand sales. I’d intended to write a letter detailing why I was dropping the mag, but it looks like the market spoke first. I will miss what it once was, but not the anemic effort it became at the end.
I WAS pretty pleased when I sampled the Hogan’s Alley magazine for the first time. Flavor is a bit like CBG of old in terms of articles (in fact, pretty sure an article on Popeye’s Bluto/Brutus was a reprint I had already read in CBG). I’d recommend this if anyone feels they need to fill the whole CBG is leaving in their mailbox.
End of an era for sure. My subscription as a teenager was an eye-opener to comics fandom and buying and selling back issues through the CBG was just the way such things were done when you didn’t live near a good comic store and the internet hadn’t been commercialized yet. Whenever I saw a copy in the last ten years it always surprised me that it was still going, but in its time? Invaluable.
CBG was my first window into fandom and showed me there were others like me who took comics “seriously.” Even when other magazines popped up like the Comics Journal, Amazing Heroes, and Wizard, I still considered the CBG (esp. during its more frequent schedule) the closest there was to a true “trade journal” for the industry that I found as useful both as a publisher/professional as much as a fan. And as much as comics became more corporate and big business, it always retained a nice communal feel that harkened back to the early days of fandom when it was a much smaller community — the CBG made me feel connected to fandom.
The news was a surprise to me, though given the market conditions for print media today and the competition from online/real-time news and blog sites (like the Beat), I guess it shouldn’t have been. I’ve been a subscriber since at least sometime in the ’80s and I’ll miss it showing up in my mailbox and going through it! The review section was still helpful to me in knowing what was out there.
Surely there must be some digital model they can employ…
The weekly CBG in the 80s was must reading. It certainly inspired this young fan to get in the business side of things. CBG was THE comics internet before the internet.
What I want to know is will there be an archive of back issues donated somewhere? So much great history!
I have fond memories of the paper when it was first starting. I had better eyesight at the beginning, ha ha.
Each big newspaper had page after page of small typewritten ads, filled to the brim with tiny text (probably 5 pt type). And some articles!
I bought and sold comics and artwork, and learned a ton about my favourite hobby, its collectors and creators. That was the 70’s.
I resubscribed a couple of years ago, and enjoyed many of the columnists in the new TBG. But each issue was costing me a fortune to have mailed to Canada, and issues went missing, arrived 2 months late and so on. That was the 2000s.
So sad. Thanks for the great years and goodbye everyone!
AndyG, I was pushing on digital fifteen years ago — and in fact my final position with the company was as internet editorial director. We had opportunities to work with big name sites — from simple alignment and information sharing to hosting to outright purchase.
The problem was that most of the years I was there, the resources available for internet ventures were reserved for company-wide ventures, that brought in all 30+ magazines. You saw quite a few of those names on the ad side in CBG — commerce platforms with names like Collect-It.net. A magazine could do custom things on its own — Goldmine had a pre-Web internet service before the Web — but as I recall, it had to be financed as part of the print magazine’s budget, and a magazine wasn’t likely to get its own IT person, or additional staff to handle the web work.
Frustrating — but the thing that kept me at the company in the early 2000s was that we had a very good publisher in Mark Williams, who was willing to work with us to figure out ways to do things and cut through red tape. It was in that period that we bought SCRYE (an acquisition that befuddled Chet Krause, who didn’t understand what it was about — it was wildly successful for many years), joined up with ComicBase to do the Standard Catalog of Comic Books, and finally got us our own website, using an open-source system that we did most of the design work on. So there was always something new there every year for a good while.
The biggest shame was that there was never a digital archives, but the problem there was that before a certain point, it wasn’t clear the company owned the rights. There was always talk of scanning the tabloids, but quite a lot of material would have to be blacked out.
>>” a pre-Web internet service before the Web”
Or even just a pre-Web internet service. It’s been a long day…
Chip asked about back issues: I haven’t heard what will happen with the bound copies — and I can tell you, they easily weigh a ton. I wouldn’t put them upstairs unless I wanted them to crush my car. Other than those, there weren’t a lot of loose copies kept.
The important historical facts compiled over the years we did shove online as we could — like the giant birthdays list — and of course, I have kept up the sales charts part of it on my own. So a little bit is out there, but by no means all.
I loved CBG. And then the internet happened. Thanks, CBG, for your weekly diligence. It meant a lot to me.
I loved and will miss CBG. I bought it before I spent 10 years as it’s graphic designer. 42 years is a good run!!
42 years. 1699 issues (481 of them mine). Not bad. Not bad at all.
I’ve got so many very fond memories of this as the only serious journalism on cartooning available to me for such a long time. Like Dean says, “thanks, CBG,” you built a generation (or four) of people taking comics seriously.
I know its this year’s media buzz word, but the collapse of industry giants like this is the coming storm of a “disinter-mediated” comics landscape.
The king is dead, long live the king.
It felt like a dream job for a long time, and was a wonderful place to work — a very funny people, all sharing the same interests. Probably my proudest memory there was finding I could reduce Don Thompson to tears of laughter with my Pete Smith impression, which I knew that only he and maybe three other old movie fans would recognize.
It really made working on the evenings and weekends easier, and by God, there were a lot of those.
It doesn’t seem like 42 years ago Alan Light brought me the first issue of TBG and I became part of the staff. What I learned then has served me well. I’m still writing for a newspaper, alas, the most venerable endangered species, 25 years at one publication, plus 10 years of writing for TBG and 3 and a half years with Jim Steranko at Prevue. How those years in fandom shaped our lives! I still have my run of Alan’s issues, and a lot of the original art from the covers that ran in the first 10 years of TBG, including the C.C. Beck cover that included Alan, Don & Maggie, myself and many of the TBG gang. It seemed like Alan and I and fandom grew up together, rushing from hand written ads to a weekly treasure hunt. Somehow I thought it would always be there, like my memories. New fans will never know what they’re missing. Memory of the Internet vanishes hourly. We still have our TBGs and can say where we were when it all happened.
It was twenty years ago, that Don and Maggie both gave me hope for the future when they published a small little letter of mine of how depresssing it was buying comics in the recesssion that the first Bush in office bought about. I was jobless for a nearly a year and I was homeless for nearly two months until a old boss I used to work for let me use his cottage apartment. It was there where I composed that letter on his typewriter just on a gamble and also wrote my premise for my first Deposit Man book. Don and Maggie published that letter, and immediately my life started to get a little better- making me realize after the longest time: Peddling lyrics and poems in small mail order pamphlets or trying to make folk music connections in coffee houses wasn’t getting my ass anywhere in San Diego.
Because of that one little letter, my choices in career goals began to expand. Because of that one little letter- I gave LA another shot since being disheveled from the riots that took place before had crippled me financally and it was from there upon my return, because of that one little letter, I got noticed by a couple of senior citizens who went and opened up a comic book and card shop as a nest egg to retire on and when they needed a buyer and a ordering manager all I had to do was show them that little letter I had published.
AND IT WAS FROM THERE at Rookies and Allstar Comics and Cards in North Hollywood, Ca that I began writing a series of long winded letters that Maggie printed (sadly Don had passed away when I started to contribute more material) mostly championing the small independent publisher and how I was almost williing to stand behind to promote anyone who I found worthy (I believe Randy Reynaldo’s Rob Hanes was one of the first of those independent books that led the charge) to be put on the stands equally side by side by the big two and tried to institute reading programs or panels to write and critique what or what the independent creator was doing right or wrong at the time- and others I wrote bitching about the state of the industry ( I harken back then it was woes such as the monopolization of Diamond’s distribution practices over the small guys such as Capitol and Heroes’ World and how often they got kicked to the curb), I wrote about comic book collecting survival after the Northridge quake and how my store was so close to the most famous and dangerous Bank of America bank robbery shootout that took place just a mere two blocks away that you could hear, see, and smell the gunfire and tear gas in the air (that’s right kids – I’VE actually seen combat) .
THEN IN TURN, IT WAS BECAUSE OF THOSE SERIES OF LONG WINDED LETTERS that I got noticed by David Glanzer, James Pascoe, Jackie Estrada, and Fae Desmond who courted me into volunteering for APE and organize the small press area of San Diego Comic Con in the mid to late nineties – and it was through that involvement and a series of more letters and actually having professional publishing cred with CBG that agencies with ties to Hollywood studios finally took notice of me (and let’s not to forget Harlan Ellison getting in touch with me to tell me how much he enjoyed my writing and giving me a swift kick to the nads into pressuring me to publish my comic book the way I wanted to publish it (I can still remember his exact words: “WHY THE FUCK AREN’T YOU WRITING FULL TIME?”) – and that’s just how the industry circle of life works.
Somewhere along the way in the year of 2000 – I just lost interest in contributing although I was amassing close to seventy-five contributed pieces, whether it be movie reviews (back then I faxed in preview showings of the first Crow, and Barb Wire films – that was the equivalent of high speed internet in those days), restaurant reviews (I’ll never forget my first $ 50 check for reviewing Marvel Mania restaurant up at Universal City Walk – where incidentally is the same studio lot I’m working at right to this very day), PR for Comic Con International, making up ads for my Deposit Man comic books, or just using the Oh So? column as my personal sounding board: I owe Maggie Thompson, John Jackson Miller, and everyone else at Krause Publications a tremendous debt of gratitude and thanks or else you wouldn’t be seeing or reading a single solidary word from this curmudgeonly crackpot you see before you.
All because of that one little letter.
I just found out about this today in Mark Evanier’s http://www.newsfromme.com blog. It’s very sad. I have every issue since number 1 except for an issue I dropped behind a heavy filing cabinet at a place I worked at about 12 years ago. TBG was the first publication to print some of my San Diego Comic Con photos including a pic of Sergio Aragones on the front cover. More and more of the people and things I grew up with are disappearing and now this. I would rather read a printed periodical I can hold in my hands than look at words on a computer screen. Good luck to Maggie and the other affected employees. It’s too bad they won’t be able to give a proper sendoff to the magazine. I hope as the news gets out that as many of the early contributors as possible post their thoughts and remembrances here.
Very nice article. I also read and very much enjoyed John’s history and I agree it is a must read for those of who like myself enjoy reading about the history of comic fandom.
And like many others, I’m saddened to read of the demise of CBG/TBG.
Despite all its’ failing, as a younger comic fan, I always looked forward to each issue arriving in the mail. I was a very early subscriber – I “subscribed” during at NYC convention (an early Creation Con maybe, or a Seuling con, not quite sure – it may very well have been my first convention in fact) at which I believe Alan and/or Murray had a table. In those days TBG was being offered “FREE FOR LIFE,” and being new at this comic collecting thing, I thought that was a pretty good deal.
I’ve heard it said that the size of comic fandom could be measured by the size of the subscription list of CBG – since clearly anyone who was a comic fan had to subscribe to it (of course, prior to that the same thing was said about RBCC, an even earlier adzine that TCB impacted in much the same way ebay and the internet did to CBG). I enjoyed the early columns, enjoyed digging through the ads (did a little bit of advertising myself), was surprised by the sale to Krause and the remake (I remember vividly reading the first Krause issue and being nostalgic for the “old” Alan Light era TBG), and not all that crazy about the conversion to magazine format which is about when CBG lost me completely as a reader.
I’ve owned a comic shop for over 20 years and we sold CBG for a number of years early on, dropped it for reasons I can’t recall, and then tried a couple of years ago to carry it again to see if there was any interest from my customers. There wasn’t. After awhile it was only me taking an issue home. I stopped carrying it again about a year ago.
Oh well, everything passes. It was fun…
Dewey’s Comic City
Urgh… one less again. We’re feeling more and more alone in the narrowing circle of printed magazines on US comics…
I have some CBG issues from the 80’s. I haven’t read them all (the multicolumn layout wasn’t very inviting) but there is indeed some gems to find in those pages. I remember vividly an amazing Spider-Woman VS Silver Samurai Craig Brasfield exclusive cover.
Was it the longest remaining printed magazine on US comics?
Very sad. CBG always felt a little like an actual comics shop, in a good way.
Sorry to hear this.
I read CBG when I worked in a comic book store in college. I remember Peter David laying into Rob Liefeld about the panels he drew that duplicated other artists layouts. The Law Is A Ass was a great column. And Cat’s delving into the history of “statement…NOT!” I think after the Wayne’s World SNL skits made it popular.
BTW, the Internet Archive can probably do a great archive up, including the scanning. They do a ton of scanning of computer magazines now. They don’t appear to need permission from all parties to make these available, I’m not sure why.
Jason Scott (@textfiles on twitter) would probably know who to talk to over there about it.
It’s very nice to read these reminiscences, especially so when I recognize and remember the name.
A bunch of old photos from the early days:
One other thing to add to my comments earlier this morning regarding TCB/CBGs’ cancellation…..
Some years ago CBG ran a letter from a reader talking about the negative experiences he had had when visiting various comic shops (poor service, disinterested clerks, dirty, poorly organize stores), and how uncomfortable it made him feel. I was hoping to one day open a comic shop and that letter made a big impression on me so I copied and saved that page (even though I was years away from opening a store).
Flash forward to now. I continue to use and discuss the letter to this very day with every new hire I make to explain why we do some of the things we do, what not to do when working in the shop, and how important every visitor to our store is.
So in at least that one respect, CBG lives on in my store. Thank CBG….
PS. I’ve really enjoyed reading the comments from Alan and Murray (and glad to see they’re still somewhat interested in fandom). I hope other CBG early contributors will use this forum to comment and bring us up to date on their doings….
Dewey’s Comic City
I’ve been thinking about this since I first heard of it yesterday and I have to wonder, why is it CBG couldn’t have found a way to continue when Twomorrows seems to be rather successful with a whole slate of comic book oriented magazines? ALTER EGO is monthly and has gone slick and added color pages, and Twomorrows is adding another new title this year. CBG has reformatted itself several times over the years. Why didn’t it try again? It certainly couldn’t have continued in its current format, a thin undersized magazine on cheap paper averaging 60 pages an issue which was just not very appealing to look at. Yes, CBG was clearly a niche publication but that’s what still succeeds these days.
Wow, it’s like old-home week here, reading posts from people I’ve shared fandom with for decades! From must-read columnists to always-entertaining letters pages (many a controversy went on there!) to comics and fandom news, CBG was an essential part of my life during its glory years. Thanks, Alan, Murray, Maggie, Brent, Cat, Tony, JJ Miller, Heidi, and all the other contributors (loved “Wugga Wugga,” David!) for all those years of enjoyment and enlightenment!
TBG/CBG was very important to me and it’s very nice to see comments here from Alan Light and Murray Bishoff.
WOW! I did many cartoonist interviews for the CBG in years past. Don and Maggie let me share my passion for the industry by publishing those fun interviews that included Dale Messick, Al Williamson, Gray Morrow and John Prentice. Also, they covered some of our creative comic art projects in education. Thanks so much!
CBG was such a pleasure to read, with such a positive take on the many great things happening in comics. They also gave us our first “real” review of Comic Zone while I was at Disney, calling it, “the future of North American comics” — our heads were huge for weeks!
I looked forward to it and I’m gonna miss it.
Oh, P.S. — to the CBG staffers who are saddened that you won’t have a send-off issue or proper compensation to subscribers, I feel your pain! The same thing happened when “the future of North American comics” was shut down in ’07. I think it’s standard operating procedure for consumer magazines, to just shutter up the house and hightail it out as quickly as you can.
Common theme: Don & Maggie giving this fan a space in CBG.
I was interested in getting into the business in some capacity, just after I was part of the Fantastic Four in Stockton CA campaign. I interviewed with DC, Marvel, Bud Plant and other companies hoping to find a marketing position.
That didn’t happen, so I decided to explore opening a comic book specialty store. The way I “went to school” to learn the business of comics was through a series of interviews I did with some of the big retailers of the mid-’80s. Don & Maggie printed those interviews– and I was paid for them!— and that led to the opening of Flying Colors Comics in Concord CA in 1988. Twenty-five years later, I am still grateful for the opportunity given me by Don & Maggie. Grateful that I was years later offered a columnist spot in Comics Retailer mag, which featured the article that spawned Free Comic Book Day.
I wonder just how many careers in comics were launched by early exposure in the pages of TBG/CBG?
Following up on James’ question, I can tell you in my time there we did look at the TwoMorrows route — almost entirely editorial, directed at a very select audience — but the math was never a good fit for the company. The Krause method was always the “big tent” specialty publication, low production cost and mostly supported by ads. (It was one reason the company was so attractive for purchase in 2002 — and later, as part of the larger F+W, the collectibles magazines were the most profitable in the entire firm.) As a result, I didn’t see the company starting hyper-focused mostly-editorial niche collectible publications — and while CBG ended up mostly editorial, that certainly wasn’t in anyone’s plan.
(The shopper model does still flourish there, incidentally, in certain fields where there is some insulation from eBay, or where the customers prefer to read and buy offline: coins and old cars, for example. And the gun magazine is jaw-droppingly ginormous.)
So while there have been evolutions, I think that the TwoMorrows model was a difference of genus, not species — too far of a jump, given the company’s overhead and profit expectations. A comical aside: when WIZARD came out and did well, executives asked our publisher what it would cost for CBG to replicate its glossy, four-color design and (then) expensive editorial. The publisher reported a price that made them erupt with laughter. One Wizard issue cost more to produce than 15 or 20 CBGs. Needless to say, they decided that, too, was an evolutionary jump too far. Thank goodness!
I’d love to see it done over as a website – back issues and all. I’m sure you’d have no trouble lining up the same advertisers, along with a whole slew of new ones.
TBG and the Comic Reader were the first publications that I read when I first became involved with the Comic Book business. I started reading the TBG with issue #10 and ran a full page ad in issue #13. This adzine was the place to read what was going on and where to order back issue comic books. I was eager to read every issue. THANK you Alan for being there at the beging of the direct Markrt and thank you Maggie for all of your support thought out the years.
All good things…
I’ve been a subscriber for 30+ years (with some off-times), and I wanted to thank those on the publication who kept it going these last few years.
It was clear that the advertising base had left the magazine in bad shape.
But the issues of this last year, particularly, were more engaging and well ‘themed’. I was very excited to receive every issue, and it was the first thing I would read no matter what else was engaging me.
I will miss it very much. Craig, Peter, Maggie, Brad, you guys were all admired and remain amazing writers. I could go on and on and mention every regular column…..
Best wishes and THANK YOU for all the years of enjoyable reading!!!!!
Sad to know , hadn’t read it since later-years Brent Frankenhoff’s editor’s behavior towards me drove me away , I’d had off-and-on relationship with it going back to the mid-70s too , had various letters printed over the years – Includingletters in those early final magazine years issues that were collected into a DVD-Rom or whatever it was ( gratis , and I was never even informed , or sent a copy) .
More of my past passes . :-(
Thank you, TonyJazz, I’m glad someone noticed the new direction we took.
I think the first handwriting was on the wall when CBG went to the magazine format. Although that made it more newsstand friendly, content was reduced. I had a subscription to both TBG/CBG for the majority of its existence, but roughly two years ago I ceased resubscribing because of the dearth of material in the now-thin magazine. And there was a further move away from coverage of the Golden Age and Silver Age material vs. the basically uninteresting new comics. The end CBG is a sign of the times — of the problems affecting the print media. Ad revenue is way down, and newspapers and magazines are folding. Sustaining CGB, with its narrow and dwindling audience, was basically an impossibility. It’s sad, but was foreseeable.
I was not at all surprised by the news of this passing. It was approaching for quite some time. I am almost 80 years old and still found some things of interest in the magazine, albeit not as much as in previous years. I did have the memory of attending Penn State in the 50s where I actually met Don Thompson on the student radio station WDFM. I learned of TBG very early and became a subscriber with #6 and have missed very few issues since then. I do remain one of the quiet majority, saying little for publication, and unfortunately I have almost no interest in the comics of today. Thus I am very attached to Alter Ego which deals in much of the material in my collection and in my mind. Too bad CBG could not have gone that route, although I understand why not. Last year Friends of Old Time Radio (FOTR) passed into non-existence, and now this. Where will we see Maggie in the future?? A final shout-out to Murray Bischoff who may or may not remember me as one of the “volunteers” in the mailing of Mediascene, and who introduced me to Prairie Home Companion for which I remain eternally grateful. So long CBG.
Joe, as my article mentioned, the monthly switch actually added column inches — but only in the beginning. While the pages were physically smaller, there were roughly the same number of them and by running all the features that were duplicated each week, like the convention listings, only once, we came out ahead — that was part of the deal we’d struck with management. But that deal was only for one year, and afterward, the economics were allowed to take hold.
Certainly, though, by going from four issues to one, there was less from most contributors each issue — though not in all cases, as Shutt expanded what he was doing. We probably could have carried even more columns in that era without the price guide, which was an element the newsstand distributor had insisted on — though you may note we did try to stuff those pages with other items of non-pricing interest, like the Retroviews.
I should also add something about the monthly, which I didn’t cover elsewhere: before the monthly move, there had been on-again off-again talks about keeping it a newspaper and reducing it to biweekly. As I recall, the staff was solidly against that. If the reduction in frequency was going to kill the news value, it was felt it was better to go with a package that would be more attractive to retailers, in the direct market and outside. The newspaper was always a really tough sale; the magazine reached some new shelves.
Heidi MacDonald wrote: “The handwriting for a print magazine aimed at 40+ comics collectors has been on the wall for a while.”
That may be true, but what about the demise of Wizard, which targeted a younger audience? Looks like NO generation is reading many print magazines these days.
I know people who are amazed that CBG outlasted Wizard. They assumed Wizard’s “hip and happening” readership would be riding high when CBG was long gone.
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