The Comics Journal, a venerable, influential and controversial mainstay of comics journalism that had developed an air of the walking wounded in recent years, has radically revamped and relaunched its online presence. Its new editors are Dan Nadel and Tim Hodler, best known as the minds behind Comics Comics magazine and, in Nadel’s case, the art-comics publisher PictureBox Inc.
The print version of the Journal will continue to be helmed by founding editor and Fantagraphics co-publisher Gary Groth, acting in a more hands-on capacity as of the forthcoming Issue #301 than he has in years, by the sound of it. Kristy Valenti serves as editorial coordinator. Contributors to the new TCJ.com include Frank Santoro, Jeet Heer, Joe “Jog” McCulloch, Ken Parille, Ryan Holmberg, Rob Clough, Richard Gehr, R.C. Harvey, R. Fiore, Vanessa Davis, Bob Levin, Patrick Rosenkranz, Nicole Rudick, Dash Shaw, Jason T. Miles, Andrew Leland, Naomi Fry, Jesse Pearson, Tom De Haven, Shaenon Garrity, Matt Seneca, Tucker Stone and Hillary Chute. On a Robot 6-related note, my colleague Chris Mautner and I will also be contributing.
A look at the new site reveals a multifaceted approach, with reviews, columns, interviews, lengthy features and essays (the current lead feature is a look at the legacy of, and turmoil surrounding, Frank Frazetta by writer Bob Levin), an events calendar, selected highlights from the magazine’s archives, and more. The biggest news, perhaps, is that Hodler and Nadel plan to have literally the entire 300-issue Comics Journal archive scanned and posted online by the end of this year and made available in its entirety to the print magazine’s subscribers. Click here for Hodler and Nadel’s welcome letter, in which they explain some of the changes and reveal a bit of what’s ahead. (And click here for their farewell letter to Comics Comics.)
Broadway | The fall that seriously injured an actor Monday night in the musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was the result of human error, the Actors’ Equity Association said. Christopher Tierney, the 31-year-old aerialist who doubles for Spider-Man and two villains, remains in serious but stable condition after the cable to his safety harnesses snapped, sending him tumbling as far as 30 feet into the orchestra pit. As we reported on Tuesday, today’s matinee has been canceled while the show enacts additional safety measures. However, tonight’s performance will go on as scheduled.
Amid criticism from Broadway actors and calls for the plug to be pulled on the $65-million production — Tierney is the fourth Spider-Man performer to be injured — director Julie Taymor issued a statement, calling the accident “heartbreaking”: “I am so thankful that Chris is going to be alright and is in great spirits. Nothing is more important than the safety of our Spider-Man family and we’ll continue to do everything in our power to protect the cast and crew.” Meanwhile, the New York Post — home to theater columnist Michael Riedel, who’s gleefully chronicled the musical’s many setbacks — quotes one unnamed investor as saying, “We should cut our losses and just get out,” while another worries about potential lawsuits. The Daily Beast provides a timeline of the delay-plagued production, while Mark Evanier offers commentary. [Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark]
Broadway | A fourth actor was injured Monday night during a performance of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, the $65-million musical that’s been plagued by delays and technical mishaps. Aerialist Christopher Tierney, who serves as a stunt double for Spider-Man and the villains Meeks and Kraven, fell about 30 feet when the cable to his harness snapped during the closing minutes of the show. Some equipment reportedly dropped into the audience as well. The performance was put on hold and then canceled as an ambulance arrived at the Foxwoods Theatre to take Tierney to Bellevue Hospital. Tierney is in stable condition, but no further information has been released. [BroadwayWorld, The Associated Press, CNN]
Publishing | Fantagraphics has laid off Dirk Deppey,The Comics Journal‘s online editor, former managing editor, and longtime writer of the Journalista! blog. His final day is Wednesday: “No regrets: The last ten years have kicked ass. I’ve done great things and meet interesting people, and was paid it. How great is that?” [Twitter]
Hello and welcome once again to What Are You Reading?, where the Robot 6 crew talk about the comics and graphic novels that they’ve been enjoying lately. Our special guest this week is comics journalist and critic Dirk Deppey of Journalista and The Comics Journal fame.
To see what Dirk and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, read on …
What the heck happened to The Comics Journal #300? Stuffed to the gills with a murderers’ row of comics creators in cross-generational conversation (from Matt Fraction & Denny O’Neil to Art Spiegelman & Kevin Huizenga), this anniversary spectacular became a swan song of sorts when a letter to subscribers revealed that it would be the venerable comics-criticism publication’s final journal-format issue — henceforth switching to a more online-focused model with semiannual book-format print editions.
So the the news that the whole thing had been posted online was met with much rejoicing… but the subsequent news that the whole thing had been yanked back behind the subscriber wall per the orders of co-publisher and editor Gary Groth was met with much head-scratching. Was this the result of an internal debate over the utility of free-content-as-marketing-device, as web editor and Journalista! blogger Dirk Deppey seemed to imply the next day? Was it a really lousy way to debut the Journal‘s impending web-based iteration, as frequent Journal contributor and future Journal blogger Noah Berlatsky lamented? Or was it a reaction to retailers upset that the product they’d shortly be trying to sell had been made available for free with no advance warning, as Johanna Draper Carlson surmised?
Well, if you had Carlson in your office pool, get ready to collect: Today on Journalista!, Deppey revealed that retailer complaints were indeed the reason for the issue’s Internet vanishing act.
“We pulled TCJ #300 offline largely due to retailer concerns over not having been given adequate warning about said plans before ordering the issue,” Deppey writes. “It was a fair point, and one that we hadn’t properly considered.” Deppey goes on to say that the issue will be back online for all in December after retailers have a proper chance to sell the print version, and that all future issues will be available online for free as planned.
So yeah, rough start for the Journal‘s bold new era. Still, it’s clear a lot of people really want to read the issue — not the worst problem in the world to have, no?