Is Comics Journalism Dead

The End of Big Comic Book Journalism

It pains me to write this, but it’s just too obvious to ignore now.

Big Web Comic Book Journalism is dead as an institution. It can no longer support itself.  We can all proclaim that “We’ve won!” because superheroes have “gone mainstream” and dominate the box office ticket sales every year.  We can wallow in the glory that Old Navy and Target will sell you a t-shirt with Captain America’s shield on in, just like you’ve seen 20 people wearing in the last week.  And we can eat it up when a television network has devoted most of its weekly programming to superhero series from a shared universe.

But none of that is comic books.  Books.  The things you read.  Those are still dead in the water.  Those are still the things the “mainstream” press writes about with headlines that boldly proclaim “Bam! Pow! Zap!” before writing about how these aren’t your father’s comics anymore, or how these are the comics that have gone to Hollywood.  Those are the things that people on the street will look at you and quizzically ask, “Oh, they still print those?”  Comic books are the things that are worth money, right?  Because didn’t CNBC do a piece about their investment value?

We’ve won?  Pshaw!

As further proof that the fight is over, I submit to you this week’s redesign of ComicBookResources.com. Or, as it is now known, CBR.com.  Like KFC, it’s now removed that pesky unhealthy “Fried Chicken” part of its name from the title.  Let’s not mention “comic books” anymore, people.  Those are secondary.

I’ve looked at the home page a few times since the redesign and one thing becomes obvious: This is a site dedicated to the Arrow-verse. Here’s a screen grab example. I’ve colored in the stories that are Hollywood-related in red, comics-related in blue, and comics-based-on-Hollywood (a MMPR comic) in purple.  This is the top ten stories at the time I’m writing this, and I’ll throw in the sidebar items to be sporting:

CBR redesign to feature Hollywood more than comics

 

We’ve won?

But who can blame them?  There’s a lot of overhead to an operation like CBR.  I should know, as I was once part of that. (Employee #2 and all…)  There is no money in comics.  Even the publishers realize that.

The Numbers Game

Marvel and DC bust their humps to figure out a way to sell 300,000 copies of a comic, and it’s never by building a bigger audience. It’s always through sales tricks like exclusive covers and variants and all the rest.

“Supergirl” practically got booted from CBS for carrying a viewership of just 1,100,000 viewers on a night when Chicago didn’t air the show for sports reasons. Oh, and did I mention that episode was a rerun?  1.1 million viewers watched a show man had likely had already seen.  The 100th top selling comic in the Direct Market doesn’t sell 1% of that number.  Often, the best selling comic of the month barely sells 10% of that.

When an ad-supported website needs to build an audience to sell to advertisers, where will they get the numbers necessary to bring in a real ad network?  It’s not going to be from comics.

Thus, ComicBook.com barely even covers comic books, but at least it’s adding comics content, not removing it.  I should know – I’m part of that “barely.”  I half expect a rebranding to “CB.com” soon, but I doubt Career Builder is going to give up that domain anytime soon for any amount of money.  Not even stupid Marvel Cinematic Universe money.

You can’t expect to operate a “comic book” website at scale without forgetting about comics and covering everything else, instead.  “Batman: Arkham Asylum,” the video game, sold something like 6 million copies.  Should your website cover that video game or the latest issue of “Nightwing” and its 30,000-ish readers?  Guess which one will attract more eyeballs?  Guess where Google will rank you for each keyword phrase?  Guess who’ll pay you to put their ads in front of the most number of people?

Hint: Nobody’s paying for the big spending Nightwing contingent of comic book fans.

The web is a numbers game. A vicious ad-driven numbers game.  That’s all that counts.

 

How the Web Works and the CBR Redesign of 2016

The game in the modern web is easy.  Build short articles and lots of them.  Target key words that Google will pick up on and drive traffic to you.  The more viral, the better.  Video is awesome for things like that.  Make sure it can be read on your phone.  Nobody is going to read your entire site.  Just get as many audiences as possible to visit your site for that one article as often as possible.  SEO, SEO, SEO.  No long articles.  Lots of cheap little articles. Lists are your friends.  Pictures are mandatory.

The CBR redesign is all about mobile, first and foremost.  I think a lot of the people complaining about the new site’s look are reading it on a computer, whether a laptop or desktop. Check it out on a phone and you’ll see that it really is a 100x improvement from what it used to be.

I’ve seen people complain that it’s not really “responsive,” but it is.  Grab a corner of your web browser on your desktop, shrink the window, and watch things rearrange themselves.  It’s the very definition of responsive. The right column moves to the bottom.  The slideshow at the top breaks up into three separate stories.  The hamburger icon shows up.  Etc.

RIP Old CBR Logo

The new logo is “flatter,” like so much of tech design since iOS 7.  Yeah, I liked the old Jim McQuarrie-designed logo, too.  It screamed “comic book!”  The new one does seem plain, in comparison, but at least the font choice isn’t bad. It looks like something CNN would put in their lower thirds.

I’m more worried about the webfonts the site is using, particularly on the headlines.  They’ll stand out, all right, but I’m not sure they’re great.  Something about them bothers me.  It’s those squared off parts on the bottom lines, I think.

The biggest shift is in how the mother ship has absorbed the individual blogs.  Comics Should Be Good, Spinoff Online, and Robot 6 were previously operated as separate entities, with their most hit-driving pieces showing up on the main page.  Now, it’s all being merged in.  That’s going to create an awful lot of churn on the front page. If you thought stories didn’t last long on the front page before, they’ll last half as long now. Or, those blogs will be generating fewer articles for the website, and more contributors will be gone shortly.

There was some initial worry about issues with finding content.  How do you get to a specific column?  Some of that stuff is missing now, but I’m sure it’ll pop up before long.  That’s either an oversight or a v1.1 checklist item waiting to happen.  There’s likely lots of little things they wish they could have smoothed over before going live, but such is life. Sometimes, you have to just do something to get anything happening.  Publish your Minimal Viable Product and iterate like crazy.

I’ve been through this redesign hell before, with CBR.  Everyone hated the new look the site had previously that lasted for 15 years.  They swore they’d never come back.  The site was dead to them.  Then growth rocketed up by millions of readers a month.  So when I see people proclaim the death of CBR again this time, I just shake my head, remember history, and vow not to repeat those mistakes.  I remember the riots during the last redesign when the message boards changed and people were outraged that the boards were forever useless because a setting only allowed 60 characters for a subject head.  That was too restrictive for them.  Sometimes, I wonder if those people ever made it to Twitter….

The two problems with CBR up to now have been search and mobile.  This new design is clearly aimed at the latter.  I’m sure anyone with access to the site’s statistics will tell you that most of the traffic to CBR these days comes from mobile browsers and not laptops/desktops.

Search is a trickier thing.  CBR tried to make it easier with tags and word clouds at the top of the front page, but it’s never been a solved problem. I’m not sure that this new design has fixed that.  Right now, search isn’t working for me at all.  Nothing is being found.  Might be from the heavy load on the server, I don’t know. Valnet just needs to fork up some money to fix that.  Search isn’t necessarily easy, and I’m not sure what the back end is these days, but I hope there’s a plug-in that can be slotted in there.

Honestly, it’s not the design of CBR that bothers me. It’s more the on-going content that leans so heavily on listicles and Hollywood while comics coverage that comes from places outside of the publishers is pushed away.  In the meantime, I guess I should just bookmark the Comics Category URL and only visit that page.  It’ll save me half a headache.

I’ll let you know when the Pipeline archive is easier to sort through, but you can also page through the 1390 articles I’m credited with there, or the Pipeline tag.

 

The End of an Era

The era of large comics magazine websites about comic books is over. It’s not tenable.  The writing has been on the wall since the superhero movie wave kicked off 15 years ago.  You can’t have a large website talking just about comics.  Even with a full staff of volunteers you don’t need to pay, it’s doomed to fail.  You won’t get the traffic.  There aren’t enough readers.  Worse, you could get just popular enough to not be able to pay the server bills to support the traffic.  But you won’t get the ad revenue unless you have the traffic.

You can try Patreon.  Some have done that very successfully.  But as everyone signs up for a Patreon, there has to be a dwindling return, I’d think.  Nobody can afford to be a patron of every site they visit. And comic fans are notoriously cheap with a capital C-H-E-A-P.

The era of the great wars between the likes of Newsarama and CBR is over.  The great comic book magazine website is over.

We won?

Hell, no.  We just diverted our attention to something else and pretended we did.

 

Generational Thing?

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

Maybe the solution is just a few years away.  I do think we’re seeing a generational shift in comics readership.  The Raina Telgemeier effect in comics should be huge in a few more years.  Whole generations of new comics readers are coming up thanks to Scholastic.  The Direct Market echo chamber didn’t pay attention to them, so Scholastic did.  Thank goodness.

As those readers age up and start their own blogs and their own sites, what will they be writing about?  As those readers become creators, what will they create? And what will their attitudes be towards “comics news and reviews”?  This is a generation raised entirely on wi-fi. How does that change the game?

We’re still a few years away, but I’m warming up my rocking chair, anyway, and getting ready to tell them all to get off my lawn.  It’s what I’m supposed to do, right?  (Nah, I’ll just be happy that there IS a next generation of comics creators and readers.  I’ve had my doubts there would be over the last 30 years…)

 

Hollywood Integration?

There’s a way to integrate coverage of Hollywood stuff in with the comics stuff.  I honestly believe that.  It doesn’t have to be all one way or the other.  The problem is that one has overtaken the other.  Stories about minor castings get “Breaking News” banners.  “Arrow” plot synopses are headline news.  etc. It causes people like me to veer off wildly in the other direction, ignoring the whole thing.  For the most part.

I’ve written about this before (and I’ll be damned if I can find it on CBR currently), but I do tend to think the future is in the integration of films and television series as part of the overall development of a project, like what manga has always done feeding into anime, or how publishers like Bamboo work over in France, with a single series of graphic novels inspiring a movie.  Creating a comic for the purpose of selling an option isn’t what I’m talking about.  A successful comic that becomes a successful movie is more along the lines I’m thinking of.  It’s a fuzzy line, I know, and one I hope to write about more in the future.

 

So What Are You Doing Here, Augie?

Pipeline's New Home Ad

Writing about comics.

Often in something closer to the modern definition of “longform.”  (This is over 2500 words already.)  I’m writing about comics only, with emphases on artistic techniques and nostalgia and maybe some Franco-Belgian comics. Because, honestly, nobody can tell me here not to write about something because nobody will want to read it. I’m doing everything possible to make this the least commercially successful platform ever created in modern comics journalism.

The big “comics” magazine sites have a valid model that bring in a sizable audience.  They’re playing a different game.  I think the future for comic book fans is this smaller model.  The larger model has deserted us.  Is it the return of blogging?  Maybe.  Non-opinionated news pieces are valuable and interesting on their own, but they’re far more interesting in context.  I like the idea of voices — not just straight ahead newsbits, but voices that go along with them.  If you want the commentary on that news — well, CBR just ditched the columnists.  You’ll need to look elsewhere.  Twitter is not the greatest place for carefully crafted and well considered thoughts.  Facebook is a walled garden and echo chamber.

I think the only way you’re going to get the comics coverage you want is to follow a variety of smaller sites.  There are lots out there.  Find the ones that you like. Find ones you agree with and ones you disagree with.  Learn and enjoy both.  The only danger in it is that there will be greater churn and greater burnout.  So, if you like a site, support it.  Encourage them.  Click through their Amazon links, use the products  their sponsors are advertising, support their Patreons, etc. etc.  Servers are amazingly cheap these days compared to what they used to be, but still not free.

 

My Pitch

Part of me thinks this is just crazy enough to work.  This is a one man operation.  The overhead isn’t too high.  My needs are minimal.  I could support this whole site with one sponsor a month.  If I can find that sponsor with their petty cash line item available for web sponsorship, I would be very happy.

I don’t need six million readers to make this site successful.  I don’t need to repeat every press release, teaser image, and movie announcement to sustain a site with large hit numbers and ridiculous front page churn.  Someone else is already handling that.  I just want to talk about the comics I’m interested in. And in the last 19 years, I believe I’ve met a lot of like-minded folks whose participation or interest could help drive this website along to being successful.

If you’re a publisher or a distributor or a tool creator or a software manufacturer or someone looking to focus on a very specific niche, I’ve got a prime audience of comic book fans for you.  Contact me.  We’ll talk sponsorships at very very reasonable rates. I don’t want to sell ads.  Let’s talk.

And don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter.  (The link is over there on the right in the sidebar.  Scroll up a bit.)  Now that my vacation is over, I’ll be getting back to updating that weekly with both a recap of the previous week and whatever new thoughts come to mind that don’t fit here.

Thanks, as always, for reading!

Bring back the Pipeline Podcast via Patreon

 

 

50 Comments

  • Jim August 26, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    An informative read. Thank you for this article. I am a CBR Reader of over 12 years and realize it no longer has anything to offer me as a comic book collector/fan. The trend away from actual comics news over the years has been apparent but what made CBR unique is that it managed until now to retain some rich material related to comics legacy. I for one am done with CBR. I’m Glad to see you doing your thing here and I will follow regularly as I also search out other blogs and such who are driven by love for comics..

    Reply
  • Matt Wieringo August 26, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    We won the battle but lost the war. If it makes you feel better, journalism on all subjects is dying.

    Reply
  • John Anderson August 26, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    Augie, thanks for putting into words what I saw when I entered the new CBR site yesterday 🙁 . It is a little dismaying, but as long as I can still find little outposts like your new home, there is still hope got the “CB” community.

    Reply
  • Dw Dunphy August 26, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    I was away from comics for decades but came back in the last couple of years. I feel like I’m ready to take a very long hiatus again. It’s too exhausting. Few creators write comics anymore. They provide deliverables from strategic initiatives. Storylines aren’t storylines. They’re excuses to rope you into buying every other comic title that maker sells. Same goes for every one of their other titles. I have a small handful of comics I enjoy. Apart from those, I could happily live without another gimmick or character gerrymander.

    Reply
  • Todd VerBeek August 26, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    From time to time I think about reviving “Beek’s Books”. It’s the whole reaching-an-audience bit that takes the wind out of my sails.

    Reply
  • martingray1 August 26, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    Best of luck, Augie, this is all a bit depressing! I’m glad you’re not checking out.

    Reply
  • The End of Big Comic Book Journalism? | Comics212 August 26, 2016 at 8:47 pm

    […] who’s been writing about comics for as long as I have and certainly more consistently, has written a column that proclaims big comic book journalism dead. You can, and should read it. Mostly because he’s […]

    Reply
  • Yoda August 26, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    Augie, do you know if comics should be good had a chance to break off again? Weren’t they their own entity that was just hosted at CBR? Everything I read at CBR is either gone or now impossible to find.

    Reply
  • Andrew Theisen August 26, 2016 at 10:07 pm

    It reminds me of what has happened to SDCC over the years.

    Reply
  • Augie August 26, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    IIRC, CSBG was always a CBR blog. (Edit: Nope, it started out on Blogspot. See Brandon Harvey’s comment below.) Robot6 came to CBR from Newsarama. I’m not sure of the relationship the blogs had with the ownership of the site, though. I believe both sites are still going, but with their content folded into the main site. I’d guess that means you’ll hear less from both of them, but that’s just an educated guess.

    Reply
  • Augie August 26, 2016 at 10:28 pm

    @Andrew — The good news is that the Hollywood influence over SDCC has piqued. It seems the pendulum inside the convention hall is starting to swing back the other way now. I don’t think it’ll ever swing back far enough, but I think the worst of it might be behind us now. Still, it did destroy comic book conventions, since every new show relies on C-list celebrities to prop it up.

    Reply
  • brandonhanvey August 26, 2016 at 11:03 pm

    CSBG started out as a Blogspot site of by various Forum/Community posters back in 2003.

    http://goodcomics.blogspot.com/

    Reply
  • redroverone August 26, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    A friend of mine sent me over here from the book of Faces, and it wasn’t until after I got done reading it and nodding my head that I remembered where I first heard the name Augie De Blieck, Jr. Congratulations, sir, you’ve come a long way from the letters columns in my Savage Dragon comics. Bookmarked! Thanks for the reads.

    (PS – I’m not seeing a donation button or a Patreon link. Hint, hint.)

    Reply
  • Dave August 26, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    Never was such a thing as comic journalism, lol. It was all fake pre-approved interviews; provided free copies for reviews etc.

    Yeah, good riddance CBR.

    And the Marvel PR guy runs ComicBook BS .com along with some millionaire!

    Reply
  • Augie August 26, 2016 at 11:51 pm

    @RedRoverOne – I’m considering the possibility of a Patreon. It just seems like all the other comics bloggers already started on. I’m worried that the market is tapped out. But I suppose there’s only one way to find out… If the sponsorship model doesn’t work, I might try that next. And thanks — it’s been a fun 25+ years writing about comics in one form or another. =)

    Reply
  • Augie August 26, 2016 at 11:51 pm

    Thanks, @Brandon, for the clarification. I had forgotten that. It’s been so long. We used to be so young. 😉

    Reply
  • Augie August 26, 2016 at 11:53 pm

    @Dave – I’d disagree. It’s easy to be cynical and see the whole exercise as Access Journalism, but there’s more to it than that. And, trust me, I know enough behind the scenes stories to know it isn’t all about giving Marvel and DC everything they want.

    Reply
  • George Tramountanas August 27, 2016 at 1:50 am

    Augie, I’d have to pretty much agree with you…and I’m sad. I have seen some good comics journalism in podcasts, but as far as the web goes – pffft. And at least CBR saved your columns! I wrote hundreds and hundreds of articles and columns and they’re nowhere to be found. I think you can find the occasional well-thought piece on Comics Alliance and Bleeding Cool (yes, really!), but I’m not sure it’s journalism.

    Maybe Twitter destroyed people’s willingness to read more than three sentences? I dunno. It’s a bummer.

    Reply
    • Jim August 27, 2016 at 2:15 am

      Well after a lifetime of collecting comic books, reading comic books and 12 years contributing comments to CBR i recieved this message

      “You have been banned for the following reason:
      Huge overreaction to the main news page redesign, inappropriately tried to convince people to leave the forums. When confronted, asked to be banned. Wish granted.

      Date the ban will be lifted: Never”

      that clearly tells me about the new direction. Okay my apologies this is the last I will mention that place. Now back to reading comics.

      Reply
  • Jim August 27, 2016 at 1:57 am

    http://comicsalliance.com/files/2011/04/newgods03.jpg

    Reply
  • Jim August 27, 2016 at 2:00 am

    That is simply not true. What you speak of existed and exists and in fact dominates but there have been excellent writings on comics especially on CBR. The current state of things however reflects what you describe.

    Reply
  • Jim August 27, 2016 at 2:03 am

    What you say is certainly true of Marvel and DC “Few creators write comics anymore.” However there are more creator written comics than ever. Just stay away from Marvel and DC. Search and you will find.

    Reply
  • Trev Burgess August 27, 2016 at 4:39 am

    Keep the faith. There are plenty of readers desperate for independant comic book journalism. Being new to the world of comics and in the middle of creating part two of an original comic book series, (plug “Myth of the Kinti”). Visiting SDCC I was amazed how the world of comics has been overrun with formulaic studio vehicles. I hope there are readers out there looking for new tales and styles. I am self funding my project and will probably never cover the costs of production, but that is not my intention. I have stories to tell and want to share the joy of making something real. I think independant comics, thier readers and critics are not going anywhere.

    Reply
  • Colin Taylor August 27, 2016 at 7:00 am

    Well said sir. An article expressing what I’ve felt for a while now, with far more reason and consideration. Great piece and one that’s earned another follower to your site. I’ll be backing you in my own little way while you produce well considered and interesting pieces like this.

    Hey I know you said this needs to be a one man band and all, but… well don’t suppose you would invite over the folks from Comics Should Be Good to play… oh go on!

    Reply
  • David Dixon August 27, 2016 at 8:15 am

    One of the law of unintended consequences outcomes of the rise of the information age is a decline in all journalism. When you have access to everything, it can be nearly impossible to find anything. The presentation of information is driven to smaller bites and shorter attention spans.

    Reply
  • Ronnie August 27, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    Thank you, Augie. Several times over the past 10 years, I’ve tried to get a comic book blog thing going, and it every time it just seemed like a lot of work for me with 0 audience to speak to. I would always get to the point of “why am I doing this? I’m the only one that cares about this,” and there was no way I was going to pander to the casual fan who saw Avengers and read Watchmen and declared themselves a hardcore comics fan. So I just called it quits, discouraged. I applaud you for having the drive to keep it going in the face of a dwindling market.

    Rest assured, however, there are those of us out there who are looking for pure comic book news (oh how I hated clicking the “comics news” tab on CBR and seeing the top story be about what Black Canary did on “Arrow” last night), and we will go where the content is. I was dismayed when I saw what CBR did. I couldn’t even make sense of it (on my computer). I’ve spent all day searching for my next source of comic book news, a search made in vain. Glad to know you are keeping it pure and keeping it going!

    Reply
  • Augie August 28, 2016 at 12:33 am

    @George – Yeah, everything needs to be “shareable” today, or it’s not worth doing. Top 10 lists are easily tweeted. Long well researched pieces about the state of sales in the Direct Market are not. Listicles make for REALLY EASY headlines to write. The sad truth of it is, more time is often spent on the headline than the story for marketing purposes on the web these days — because that’s what will drive traffic, not the information contained therein.

    My definition for “journalism” is fairly informal. And, yes, I’d agree that BC and CA still do good pieces. Hell, so does CBR and Newsarama. But those are too few and far between. Everything is a race to the bottom to get more hits at any cost.

    Reply
  • Barry August 29, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    Augie – congrats on the new website. I’ve been reading your stuff since 2000 and I look forward to having a new favorite comics website to read throughout the day.

    Reply
  • Chris Arrant August 29, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    Comics journalism is seguing to a new phase, but its been seguing that way for years now. The World Balloon interview with Matt Brady and John Siuntres is enlightening for pinpointing that tipping point, and now sites like CBR, Newsarama, CB, ComicVine and others looking to cater to a drastically different readership than 5 or 10 years ago.

    Reply
  • ed August 31, 2016 at 2:47 am

    As another refugee from the rebooted Comicbook Resources— RIP Robot6, Spinoff, Comics Should Be Good!— I’m glad I’ve found this site. It’s always great to read informed Comics commentary along with the other attendant nerd stuff spinning from them that’s very much in social vogue these days… so much so that they’re the FOCUS of the reporting.

    Let me add to the chorus that “comics journalism” is for the most part lacking especially today. It does seem major sites depending on click-views give acritical p.r. service to the Big Two to ensure future articles and “exclusives” reports. (Which in turn will give even MORE click-views.) Or, being more independent and patrolling their particular comics niche, some present their blog-ish opinions as expository articles– and vice versa. (And their coterie of readers willingly conflate the two.)

    Or on the video side, the YouTube “comics journalists” tend to blabber every side of an issue to fill minutes of time. They argue a point— blab on about it— are then proven wrong— and blab on some MORE. Comics talking heads given a forum prattle their opinions. Tender mercies that they tend to expound their “insider” views to superhero movies and tv shows.

    The self-appointed “comicsratti” if you will: THESE are the people that execs running the comics businesses listen to. No Nerds need apply with their own opinions…

    Reply
  • Comic Publishers Don't Need To Pay To Advertise | Comic Book Daily August 31, 2016 at 8:04 am

    […] their design and brand to CBR. Augie De Blieck Jr. had an excellent write up about it called The End Of Big Comic Book Journalism that makes some salient points. Here’s a […]

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  • Comic Publishers Don't Need To Pay For Advertising | Comic Book Daily August 31, 2016 at 8:47 am

    […] their design and brand to CBR. Augie De Blieck Jr. had an excellent write up about it called The End Of Big Comic Book Journalism that makes some salient points. Here’s a […]

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  • Philip September 2, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    Speaking to the “generational thing,” my daughter is 9 and she LOVES comics. Reading them, collecting them, making her own. She does not, however, give a single toot about superhero comics. She loves stuff from Scholastic, Boom, First Second and others. But Marvel/DC don’t even register with her. I think the Raina Telgemeier Effect (get a TM on that before I do!) ensures that comic books will continue to thrive, but the time of the “big two” may be at an end. Or as close to an end as their corporate parents will allow.

    Anyway, glad to find you here. Bookmarking your site… now.

    Reply
  • Hervé St-Louis September 5, 2016 at 1:11 am

    I agree and disagree with this article at the same time. Complaints about the end of comics journalism are exaggerated. Fans and indie publishers never supported alternative sites like ComicBookBin.com – half of you are going ComicBookB.. Who? Yeah, we’re the guys who have been doing this work since 2002 and have over 24,000 articles and still keep our focus on the unprofitable comics.

    But you guys won’t visit. You won’t comment, you won’t support. We’ve always covered comics in depth but because of a variety of conditions, most beyond our control or means, it’s hard to find out about us in search results. Well, search does work but not the same way it did 10 years ago. Meanwhile we saw the writers at more popular sites copy our articles and our original ideas almost word for word or interview the same obscure creators no one had ever heard of months or years after we did and then claim they had discovered YXZ. And everybody bought it.

    I remember, we once wrote two articles the same day about how Green Lantern was DC’s Iron Man, only to see CBR rewrite the same articles five days later and get 300 times more traffic then we did. I was the editor who had suggested the idea to a writer. When he was slow in writing the article, I wrote one myself. When I posted mine, I notice that he had just posted his. I let both article stay. Writers at the Bin have always been free from editorial interference.

    Indie publishers approach us to plug their pres releases, but we are never good enough for them to plow their money on ads. They would rather overpay for a spot a CBR where the audience is the wrong target but still, it’s CBR.

    So today, bemoaning the changes at CBR, I don’t really care. We never had the means to spend on real journalism. We can’t even get ten of you to support us on Patreon. Creators and publishers that we have supported for decades just ignore us today and feel no loyalty for the Bin guys who were always to them.

    Before saying that CBR and Newsarama are the face of comic press and then complain when they change completely, how about doing a real survey of the what is out there and the many outlets, like ComicBookBin, BrokenFrontier, Bulletin, the many excellent podcasts, and all our our peers who have been at it, and never got the glory or the traffic but still do the work everyday? Why don’t you support us instead of complaining about sites that were just about posting press releases and hyping Marvel products?

    Who has a dedicated column on yaoi, blacks in comics, LGBTQ, comic strips, religion and comics, web and digital comics, European comics and more, all in one place, as well search engine that works; has released mobile apps way back in 2010, and has had a mobile-friendly site since 2009?

    Yeah, there are no dedicated place for solid comic journalism and criticism on the Web they would have you believe.

    Reply
    • Jim September 6, 2016 at 2:29 pm

      This was an opportunity for you to bring over new readers and instead you were aggressive in your approach. Marketing is part of the solution no matter what scale an enterprise or project works on.

      Reply
      • Hervé St-Louis September 6, 2016 at 4:17 pm

        Hi Jim, At 24,000 plus articles, I have not squandered a thing. Visitors will still continue to come. Wikipedia editors will still continue to use our material for reference, researchers will still continue to cite our work. ComicBookBin documents the history of comic from 2002 to 2016. There are precious bits about companies that have come and gone that you may find hard to discover elsewhere. For example, did you know about the initial science fiction project that Viper Comics never released after parting with the creators? It’s all there. There’s even an interview about it and images of the project.

        Now, you may not like my approach. It is one borne out of exasperation. After 14 years, I am a bit tired! It relates to how people consume information today. There is not much of a sense of patronage when it comes to information, in 2016. There is no sense of obligation.You may dislike my attitude, but if you need that one documented article about Viper Comics’s initial failed business dealings, you will still use it. It’s not on Bleeding Cool, nor Newsarama, nor Comic Book Resources. It’s at ComicBookBin.

        My complaint again, is that there has been alternative sources that have done the work for over a decade. Comics journalism, no matter what the alternative outlets resources are, still exist, are easily accessible, and deserve better support from the community.

        Reply
        • Jim April 5, 2017 at 4:04 am

          I appreciate (very much) what you are doing.

          Reply
  • 85 - Entre Paneles - ¿El fin del periodismo de cómics? - postAKAdemix September 8, 2016 at 7:58 am

    […] la tumba de este tipo de reportajes. Para esta discusión utilizamos de pie forzado el artículo The End of Comic Book Journalism de Augie de Blieck, donde discute cómo el rediseño de la página de CBR va marcando una tendencia […]

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  • How Much is the Search Traffic for the Top 8 Comic News Sites Worth? October 20, 2016 at 4:35 pm

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  • Henry Chamberlain November 4, 2016 at 11:28 pm

    Augie, I appreciate your heartfelt words. Well, where to begin? I can state it simply: this whole business of writing about comics has got to be a labor of love, first and foremost. I should know. I’ve been around the block for many years as both a comics creator and a comics journalist. I’ve worked with some of the sites discussed here. What can you say but, at the end of day, you need to love what you do. I ask that all of us share the love. Come visit me at my hub, ComicsGrinder.com.

    I will also say that folks can sniff out authenticity and integrity. They know it when they read it. And it leaves them feeling good inside. That’s what Comics Should Be Good and Robot 6 were all about! People know what they like and what makes sense. In fact, there is a place for lists. That too can be treated as an art to itself. But no matter what some marketing people might think, we don’t live by lists alone! Anyway, don’t count us all out–which you’re not.There will always be the true believers who simply enjoy sharing a little of this and that about the noble art of comics.

    Reply
  • JC Lebourdais January 23, 2017 at 9:59 am

    As of today, CBR is still a big mess. I used to enjoy reading the occasional CSBG and Robot6 feature. Now the site is polluted by a diarrhea of “TOP 15” listicles which are not worth the kilobytes they are built upon or the related carbon footprint. As your colourful new president would tweet, “SAD!”

    Reply
    • Augie January 23, 2017 at 12:43 pm

      The slideshows-as-clickbait are the worst, and it’s a trick all the big websites use to artificially inflate their hit counts to make advertisers happy.

      It’s why you won’t see me doing a listicle at ComicBook.com. I don’t want to force anyone into one of those situations. I’ll save the listicles for here where I can put them all on one page. (Also, my listicles will have a real meaning/reason, and not be a painful attempt to write the fastest thing to get 10 clicks.)

      The CBR archives got a tiny bit better since I wrote that, but not much. I still find links to Pipelines past that are missing all the images and half the text. I will continue to reprint some of the best of those old columns here to preserve them.

      Reply
  • JC Lebourdais January 23, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    Happy to hear that. I’m not necessarily taken by 100% of the subjects you choose to address (for me comics are more about writing than drawings, probably because I have zero graphic talent) but I recognize your passion and your insights when you do.

    Reply
    • Augie January 23, 2017 at 4:51 pm

      Thanks! I think I tend to lean towards the art more just because so much of comics coverage in the States here leans so hard on the writing. (Too many wannabe comics writers are writing reviews…)

      Also, I try to keep things spoiler-free, so that limits some of what I can talk about.

      Reply
  • JC Lebourdais January 23, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    Makes sense. Probably because it’s easier to recognize that there are so many great graphic artists working in comics today, as opposed to comics writing being often derided for being childish or just lacking (sometimes for good reasons; I’ll never understand why some people praise Brian Vaughan, Warren Ellis or Mark Waid, to name but a few, as if they are the second coming, guys that I find mediocre at best).
    Then again France is the birthplace of the Lumières so I guess I may be biased a little bit 🙂

    Just my two cents but I don’t think you should have scruples about spoilers, as long as as you give ample advance warning.

    Reply
  • The Only Person Who Can Pop a Comic Book Artist - Pipeline Comics April 3, 2017 at 10:41 pm

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  • JC LEBOURDAIS April 5, 2017 at 3:07 am

    So it’s a writer’s era then? Funny, from reading Marvel and DC’s latest offerings I’d never have guessed.

    Reply
  • Top 5 Articles from PipelineComics: Year One - Pipeline Comics August 23, 2017 at 7:14 am

    […] 1. The End of Big Comics Journalism […]

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  • Comics Reviewers Should Try Making Comics - Pipeline Comics September 8, 2017 at 12:38 am

    […] comics journalism is doomed, but it’s not entirely comics journalism’s fault. The market rules.  Give the market […]

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  • El cine mató a la estrella del cómic – Un Tebeo Con Otro Nombre October 25, 2017 at 3:00 am

    […] “El fin del gran periodismo sobre cómics” es un gran título aunque no del todo acertado. La mayoría del artículo se basa en el rediseño que ha sufrido la web antes conocida como Comic Book Resource y que ahora se ha quedado en CBR a secas. Le ha tenido que doler mucho al autor porque le da muchas vueltas al tema diseccionando la web minuciosamente. Resumiéndolo por encima, CBR ahora tiene mucho de cine y de series de televisión y muy poco o casi nada de cómic. Y hablamos de un sitio que fue santo y seña del panorama comiquero en internet, una autentica institución. Aunque, antes de nada vamos a preguntarnos… […]

    Reply

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