Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sign of the times.

You see it happening all the time these days; there's even a blog devoted to it. Newspapers and print magazines are dying out, or at least the more repetitive iterations of same-- a winnowing of the herd, if you will-- and the Internet, along with the economy, are mostly to blame, it seems.

So with this in mind, it's a bit sad- and yet it isn't- to see the announcement today that the Comics Journal will no longer be on its bi-monthly, or quarterly, or whatever it was on, publishing schedule. Instead, they will offer a twice-yearly "bigger and more elaborate" issue, and concentrate most of their efforts towards expanding and redesigning their website, and providing most of its content there, supposedly free to all. Click on the link above to get the skinny.

Like Alan David Doane said this morning, back in the day- we're talking late 70s and into the 80s- the Journal was a hell of a thing, comparable mostly to the nothing-is-sacred attitude of rock's CREEM magazine than anything else, always striving to point out work that was better than the norm, and comparing/contrasting that work to the current output of the major companies of the day. While sometimes shots were taken that were uncalled for (the slagging of Don Heck's reputation comes to mind), at least they had opinions, and often passionate ones at that. Also, for my money, TCJ featured some of the best interviews I have ever read (and I'm not always crazy about interviews), and always had top notch art, even the filler illos in the letters page, some of which were done by the Hernandez Bros. early on, pre-Love & Rockets.

Ad now, I begin a rambling and personal account of my history with the Journal. You may skip ahead one paragraph if you don't care.

After buying an issue here and there via mail order or from my friend Dave Puckett (probably the first place I ever saw a copy), I eventually broke down and subscribed, and did so for many years. The cover of the earliest issue I own now is posted above. Finally, sometime in the mid-late '90s, turned off by the increasingly sour, dismissive and cynical tone that had begun to really become noticeable in practically everything that was written (It was always that way to an extent, but it had gotten excessively so by then, in my opinion), as well as an ever-increasing price point combined with the ever-crappier gray newsprint stock paper that the interiors were printed on...well, I stopped buying. By then, I had stopped subscribing (my comics shop gave discounts for holds customers then, and I figured I was breaking even), but it was five or six bucks that I could spend elsewhere, so I bade farewell to the Journal, thinking I'd pick up an issue when I could afford it and if someone I was interested in was featured. And sure enough, I did that for a while. But eventually, the Interweb came along, as did Fantagraphics' web site, and hey! They reprinted stuff from the Journal right there on their site! Plus, they had a cool news column that could actually report current comics news (a longtime bugaboo with the print edition)! And hey! When I got started blogging, I even got mentioned in that column a couple of times! (A far cry from today, where I do not exist as far as Deppey is concerned) And eventually, a lot of outstanding comics-related content became available to all via the rise of the Comics Blogosphere, much of it written by people who had read and were influenced by TCJ itself. So the upshot is that it's been quite some time since I actually purchased a physical copy, this one was my last, I believe...and I can't believe I'm the only one.

So this is a natural and inevitable progression, I believe, and while I, who will always have an nostalgic attachment to paper (not only comics and magazines, but album covers as well), still must acknowledge the necessity of this move. I wish them the best of luck- even though I gripe about them, I can't imagine the world of comics without Groth and the Journal to comment on it.

No comments: