Burying 2011: Forever

Well, everyone, it's time to say goodbye to 2011, and our first year editing the new online version of the Comics Journal. We're taking next week off to celebrate the holidays (well, most of us are—Frank Santoro and Joe McCulloch still plan on stopping by to say hello), but didn't want to leave our faithful readers bereft for the holiday season. So we thought we'd take a look back and offer an incomplete look back at some of our favorite stories and features of the last year. If you missed any of these the first time around, now's a great time to catch up. Fair warning: We might think of more highlights over the break and add some links below in the meantime.

Thanks to all of our contributors and all of you for following along, and we'll see you in 2012.

Thanks to Mike Reddy for creating this and all of our graphics.


In no particular order,

Johnny Ryan, interviewed by Jesse Pearson

Jim Woodring, interviewed by Nicole Rudick

R. Crumb, interviewed by Gary Groth

Walt Simonson, interviewed by Sean Rogers

[DN: This was a kind of "get" for us. I remain intrigued by Simonson and on the occasion of his Thor: Artist's Edition, Sean Rogers teased out ideas and histories that I hadn't read before.]

Fabrice Neaud, interviewed by Matthias Wivel

Alejandro Jodorowsky, interviewed by Joe McCulloch

[TH: Short but sweet, and notable for featuring one of the most charmingly rude interview responses I've ever read: "This question is too long and annoying for me. I stop to fart."]

Chester Brown, interviewed by Sean Rogers.

Bob Fingerman, interviewed by Mike Dawson.

Emily Carroll, interviewed by Sean T. Collins.


John Hilgart on Starstruck

Matt Seneca on Prince Valiant.

Katie Haegele on It is Almost That.

Richard Gehr on Eye of the Majestic Creature

Tucker Stone on Empire State.

Love from the Shadows by both Sean T. Collins and Tom De Haven.

Hayley Campbell on Pinocchio.

Sean Rogers on New Character Parade.

Rob Clough on The Collected John G. Miller.

Charles Hatfield on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century: 1969.

Naomi Fry on Paying for It.

Paul Karasik on Special Exits.

Everything else!

Sean Rogers on Kim Deitch

Kim Deitch on Roger Brand

Matthias Wivel on L'Association. Part 1 and 2.

The numerous tributes to Bill Blackbeard, particularly R.C. Harvey's obituary.

Bob Levin on Frank Frazetta

Tom De Haven on ways of reprinting comics.

R. Fiore on Will Eisner.

Go and start from the bottom and read all of these:

Richard Gehr's astounding interview series: Know Your New Yorker Cartoonist

Ryan Holmberg's What Was Alternative Manga?

Kim Deitch's memoir!

Chose your own Cartoonist Diary: Ralph, Girard, Farmer, Graham, etc.!

Ken Parille on Paying For It for Grid.

Jeet Heer on black readers and white comics for his Comics Chronicles.

Frank Santoro's scene reports and layout workshops

Everything we have published by the impossible to encapsulate encapsulater, Joe McCulloch.

The Tim Kreider, Gary Groth, R. Crumb, Joe Sacco, Al Jaffee & Michael Kupperman excerpts we were able to run from The Comics Journal 301.

And of course the highlights from the archive of the greatest comics magazine ever published, available online now.

30 Responses to Burying 2011: Forever

  1. Heidi M. says:

    You guys left or your AWESOMELY AMAZING cartoonists diaries! Those were a total highight of the year. Congrats on year one — you’ve upped the ante quite a bit.

  2. Heidi M. says:

    Oops, I see you did include but a tag link. TOO MUCH EGGNOG here. Anyway, thanks for a great year.

  3. bkmunn says:

    Thanks for bringing the Journal back!

  4. patrick ford says:

    Yup, TCJ.com has become a year round Christmas present. There could be a lot of names on that body bag Dan’s toting, but TCJ doesn’t belong there, it’s more like risen from the grave.

  5. Donald says:

    I really miss the message board and the sense of community it fostered. Please bring it back.

  6. Kim Thompson says:

    Unfortunately the sense of community it fostered was that of a community of 12-year-olds who were two months behind on their Ritalin. I have zero doubt that an open message board will degenerate into a swamp of nonsense, flame wars, feuds, in-jokes, and acting out. The previous Comics Journal message board made me hate humanity for the duration of its existence.

  7. Frank Santoro says:

    “You just sank my battleship.” (chuckle)

  8. patrick ford says:

    Michael DeForge interview anyone?
    I love that Jeet Heer says DeForge is the Meryl Streep of Canadian comics.

  9. James Van Hise says:

    Unfortunately I feel that in 2011 The Comics Journal has marginalized itself. The regularly published magazine has turned into a strange book sized (or brick sized) publication which writes about comics more than it shows them, and what it does show is very small in size unlike in the old magazine format. I find the new sized TCJ very unappealing.

    The website seems uninterested in attracting people here as you dropped the news page (which was always interesting) and dropped the message board which had both good and bad but was always interesting as it provided many points of view, not just TCJ’s. I’ve searched for another message board which is as interesting to read and have failed. The Comicon.com message board is rather bland and the others I’ve found pale next to what the TCJ message board was like. I rarely visit the TCJ website any more as a result and I should think that traffic to the TCJ website would be paying attention to what Fantagraphics is publishing, too.

  10. Alec Trench says:

    Bring back Comics Comics!
    This one’s too regimented.
    It’s like a comics health spa.
    Why doesn’t Frank talk about comics anymore?
    There’s no unprompted Ogden Whitney moments.
    Everyone’s bound into columns,
    it’s like the army.

    But yeah, OK, it’ll do.
    It’s good with coffee.
    More, please.
    Yes, I do like it.

  11. Mike Hunter says:

    This old discussion — http://www.tcj.com/live-from-little-torch-key/ — of the TCJ message board makes painfully clear the divide in the attitudes about it.

    Kim Thompson’s suggestion there that the message board wasn’t necessary anyway, because “all the news you need can be gleaned from a handful of existing blogs and web pages” misses the point that there was much, much more to the message board than announcements of what publishers are bringing out next, to be passively ingested.

    Regrettably, my suggestion in the article linked to, that people “check out the frozen-in-amber threads at the archived message board and see whether fairly civil discussions don’t infinitely outweigh the snark, trollery, and poop-slinging” can no longer be followed; for it looks like all that has now been deleted, and is gone forever.

    “The Comics Journal Message Board: A Requiem”: http://www.benzilla.com/?p=2872 .

    James Van Hise says:

    ….The regularly published magazine has turned into a strange book sized (or brick sized) publication which writes about comics more than it shows them…

    Yes; it managed to be even more visually unappealing than the shrunk-down, bookstore-minded version of the once-great magazine, which in its prime I’d eagerly devour from cover to cover. No doubt the writing therein is fine and of high quality; but flipping through it in the comics store (my buying drastically dwindled due to a similar shrinkage in income), the impression given was that rather than offering eye candy to add to the more cerebral pleasures of the prose, we got “eye veggies” instead.

    I do look at tcj.com each day, though, and find much to enjoy, even in the “regimented” format. Congrats to Ye Eds, and best wishes to them (and all the Fanta-Folks) in 2012…

  12. Frank Santoro says:

    I did a podcast for this weekend that is about this a little bit – really its about all the different platforms – like I’m not on Twitter so I’m out of the loop with some friends – blah blah blah – and I talk about comics.

  13. llj says:

    Count me in as another one who misses the message board. Even in its non-prime years, the message board was still the best place to ask a question or start a thread about any comic related topic–no matter how obscure or trivial. There would always be at least a handful of members who could give you more info on what you were looking for. You don’t get that on any other comic book forums these days, most of which are populated by younger members and mainstream superhero fans who can’t give you any info on, say, that totally obscure European comic that made it to the U.S. in the 1970s or so which you can’t remember the name of.

    I still check this website regularly but I’m not coming across as much “must read” content as I got from here in the past. And I have to admit a lot of it coincided with Dirk Deppey’s dwindling news posts and then later, his departure.

  14. patrick ford says:

    The only downside of the “New TCJ.” is the editorial duties of Dan and Tim have cut into the amount of writing they’ve contributed in the past year. Shepherding all the great content the site has featured over the past year has got to be very time consuming. I don’t think the interviews, articles, and other content fall out of the sky.
    Kim Deitch mentioned that it was prodding from Dan which brought about his contributions.
    I’d love to see more from Jeet Heer as well, but in that case it’s a special circumstance which has cut into Jeet’s writing. Even his “Sans Everything” blog hasn’t been updated in months. I envy Jeet at the moment, he’s got a baby to hold in his arms, which is one of the best feelings in the world.

  15. Paul Slade says:

    I’m with Kim. The current comment threads are a vast improvement on the old message board for exactly the reasons he gives.

  16. Tom Spurgeon says:

    Congratulations on your first year.

    You know, I’m sure the message board was valuable for many people, but for many other people it was a horrifying spectacle/pisshole that seemed to be put there to indulge and entertain a lot of people who never, ever read the magazine — some bragging about this — nor had even the tiniest bit of sympathy for its basic principles and aims. That it was a nightmare that made people’s lives worse was an opinion shared with me multiple times by horrified fans, industry folk and creators of art comics. (No one ever came up and told me how awesome it was. Ever. The closest I got to that is a few enraged e-mails from people who somehow think my opinion on the board is a personal attack on them, which is exactly the kind of dumbassed thinking fostered by that board.)

    I’d love to believe the board was an overall good; I created it, with those intentions. Whether or not civil discussions outweighed the thrilling discussions of who was a sock of whom I see as a dumb measure based on the “how much fecal matter makes you not want to drink a glass of milk” scale. The editors hardly ever participated and therefore the thing really doesn’t need the Journal’s imprimatur; if it were this super-valuable thing for more than a few folks in some limited ways based mostly on habit and idle entertainment and the occasional indulgence of curiosity or PR aims I truly believe it would have popped up elsewhere. But even the idealized good things a board supposedly does are largely consigned to history at this point.

    Here’s the thing: the Journal doesn’t operate as a place where you go and get stuff of maximum benefit to you. At least it shouldn’t operate that way. This was true when people bitched that they should get back to running more reviews of The Defenders, and it’s true when people wax nostalgic about the message board.

    The Journal isn’t there to provide you with the maximum number of pleasing services in the same way that Jaime Hernandez is not there to draw you rocket ships and dinosaurs. The message board that helped make you believe this was lying to you, and proved by example it has about as much of a place within the Journal’s mission as a process for everyone that wanted to to publish comics with the Fantagraphics logo on the cover would have in that company’s mission. I would maintain the Journal is there to present the editors’ view of comics and what they can be, derived from a general point of view that excellence in art and ethics in industry matter. I think this iteration fulfills that mission, but more importantly, I don’t get a vote and haven’t had one since 1999.

    I wish I could make these points without sounding like a hectoring shithead, but I was trained to argue on the Internet by the Comics Journal message board.

  17. Tom Spurgeon says:

    I actually argued all of this more effectively a year ago in that thread to which Mike Hunter linked. Sorry to repeat myself. I still think it was uniquely horrible, too. I also don’t get how anyone can argue that its horrors were generic to all message boards but its positive qualities somehow were unique and fragile and specific to a URL and a platform. Oh, well. It’s gone now.

  18. Congratulations on your first year! Here’s hoping for many more.

  19. R. Fiore says:

    The atmosphere of the message board never particularly bothered me. I guess I must have just been the meanest son of a bitch in that valley.

  20. Ian Harker says:

    Frank on twitter would be a game changer. I’ll even settle for a fake Frank. (Paging Mr. Larmee)

    I miss the comment threads from Comics Comics more than I miss the TCJMB. I think that the informal nature of Comics Comics was a good thing, not that the current state of TCJ is a bad thing, I just miss the counter-balance. I think the fact the TCJ comes off so professionally discourages discussion. It’s more of a “read it and go about your day” thing, like Comics Reporter. That’s fine, like I said, I just miss the alternative. The bench isn’t very deep.

    I think a TCJMB would be a useful thing if it were better regulated. If you don’t like socks don’t allow them, the old board allowed them. Don’t blame the socks for that, people are going to make things as bad as you let them. The online discussion scene for alt-comics has been pretty barren since the demise of TCJMB and Comics Comics. I don’t see how that’s a good thing. Twitter is cool but Darryl Ayo is the only person that tries to get people talking comics. Everyone else mostly interacts on a personal level. There are more cartoonists talking about pizza on twitter than comics.

  21. Congratulations on a great first year, this has been the first time in the last 18 or so years of reading comics as an adult that the Comics Journal has been a more-or-less daily part of my life. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it, and I think both the critical and creative communities in comics are the better for it.

    I agree with the person who waxed nostalgic for Comics Comics though–I miss Frank’s digressions and Tim’s moderating of discussions. Also agree with everyone hating on the message board–what an awful place. It was like reading comics on a toilet, then falling in, then just deciding you might as well stay there now that you’re covered in poop..

    As for the print Journal, the new brick this year was easily the most I’ve ever enjoyed reading an issue. It was impeccably designed, and crammed with enough content that even skipping parts I was less interested in, it took forever to read. If anything, 2011 has been a year of me really appreciating the Comics Journal for the first time, both on the web and in print. Without the awful stain of the messageboard to stand in as the public “voice” of the magazine, it’s a lot easier to engage with, dissect, and mull over later, whether you agree or disagree with its contents. Looking forward to 2012.

  22. Canceling the message board was probably the best thing the magazine ever did. I posted a lot and stopped for the same reason everyone else mentioned, and I found myself becoming just as bad as anyone else. With Blogger, Facebook, etc, you can criticize comics you’ve never read and have an audience for your words of wisdom without it.

  23. Scott Grammel says:

    Unsurprisingly, those who once worked behind the scenes as moderators of the old TCJ message board have some of the most vehement memories of the place. Of course, both Kim T. and Tom S. also probably work, think, and talk about comics as an art form and a business for the better part of most days, so having a special place for said discussions would also be pretty unnecessary for the two of them. As for me, I’ve looked around like others, and as dopey as TCJMB could be, it seems every real alternative is far more moronic.

    This newer incarnation of the site is fine, as far as it goes, but as I was early on put on notice that my comments were viewed as, I guess, trolling, due the negativity (I guess), but as long as Pat Ford was regularly commenting and every minimally adequate arty/alternative product was going to be (as it seems) inordinately praised, it didn’t take a genius to see that my comments would never be as comics-positive as they seemed to want.

    Finally, I think if Tom Spurgeon often (usually?) sounds like a “hectoring shithead,” it may not be the old mess board’s fault.

  24. Tom Spurgeon says:

    Out of left field insults from people taking a joke way too seriously that was in no fathomable way directed at them, grinding a personal axe, processing everything through ME ME ME, making ridiculous suppositions about motivations and inaccurate ones about how someone spends their time, suggesting that people just can’t handle their awesomeness…

    Yeah, the TCJ board was AWESOME. Dan, Tim, bring it back!

  25. Dan Nadel says:

    Good lord, I was hoping to take my vacation at least semi-seriously. But, yes, Scott, we don’t tolerate insults and ad-hominem attacks on the site. That’s why you were (and are) put on notice. Not because of any negativity or critical perspective. I closed out the year with a negative review, if it makes you feel any better. The only reason Tim and I haven’t chimed in on the message board thing is that we’re ostensibly on vacation and also because Tom and Kim are smarter than we are (sorry, at least smarter than I am). Needless to say, as long as we’re running this site it’s never coming back, for reasons enumerated above and in the previous useless thread on the topic back in whenever it was. Anyhow, as to the rest of the comments, above, on this Friday afternoon I think I won’t defend what’s been on the site, since even a glancing read of what we highlighted above (y’know, in the post above the thread that seems to ignore the post.) shows a huge variety of content — from superheroes to fantasy to realist fiction to zines to whatever. So, dig in there, then come back and lodge specific complaints if you like. Otherwise… Facebook and so many other tools really do afford plenty of ways to discuss comics. Seriously, some of the very best discussions are on Facebook. Jerry Saltz’s art reviews, for example, have engendered amazing discussions. So go forth, start your own cult, etc., etc. OK, back to the last ebbing days of my stay-cation.

  26. Scott Grammel says:

    Dan, if I remember right, I was first put on notice after expressing the opinion that MOME’s average sales of 2,500 were pathetic in the light of comics newfound respectability and mainstream media attention, and that I, who absolutely love the anthology format (and have since Creepy and Eerie, Mad, Zap, Arcade, Raw, Warrior, etc.), hadn’t found even one issue, upon in-store scannings, worth buying. Or something to that effect. As far as I was concerned, if that was off-limits, it seemed that I would never be a nice enough fella to comment on things in this forum.

    So I pretty much haven’t.

    As for Sputtering Tom above (who seems to feel that assuming The Comics Reporter spends a lot of time on, uh, comics each day is way crazy), who’s been using variations on the above “the internet made me do it” excuse for about ten years to my own knowledge, it seemed time to lay that particular excuse to good and final rest.

  27. Tim Hodler says:

    No comments were ever deleted for anything like the reasons you imply here. As should be obvious since we aren’t deleting this one either. If you follow our commenting policy, you are welcome to chime in as often as you wish, negatively or otherwise.

  28. Anthony Thorne says:

    All the above content (and by above content I mean in the initial ‘Burying 2011’ post, and not these endless requests to bring the old message board back) was pleasing, but my favourites were probably the regular, detailed reviews – themselves enough to keep me coming back to TCJ.com every few days – and the cartoonist’s diaries, which were my dark horse second choice for most enjoyed feature.

    Those pining for the TCJ message board to crawl back out of the grave should note that sites like FreeForums.org and ProBoards.com (to take the first two hits that come up when I Google ‘Free Message Board’) will let you set up a similar board, with all hosting and bandwidth taken care of, in less than two minutes.

  29. Tom Spurgeon says:

    It was a joke, dude. I take full responsibility for everything I’ve ever written.

    You’re really just talking out of your ass now. I know I’ve written about how much time I spend on CR way more than I’ve somehow made the Internet an excuse for my behavior.

    I don’t even think believing I spend a full day on the job with CR is way crazy; I just think you’re spectacularly wrong. The problem with making assumptions and assigning motivations is that sometimes you get corrected when you’re clearly wrong — you can say “I was wrong” or you can bleat about it and turn it into some sort of referendum on you.

    By the way, that also means you lose the original point. I hated the Journal message board not because I don’t need one — I obviously had more at stake in that place being awesome than anyone, HAVING CREATED IT — but because I think it sucked balls on its merits and, in addition, providing services isn’t the Journal’s mission nor should it ever be.

    If nothing else, you’ve hilariously proven the point that any time spent by Dan and Tim making sure that there’s a platform for people to make comments like your last pair is time poorly spent. So congrats on that.

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