The top comics-related news stories from August 20 to August 26, 2016:
1. CBR redesign kills blog version of Robot 6, one of the more popular about-comics web sites for industry members and non-mainstream fans, and a transitional one spanning the individual link blog and content-heavy group-blog eras.
2. Sandman: Overturewon the Hugo award for best graphic story in a year when the awards' legitimacy was challenged.
3. Dragon Con starts an awards program, a further sign of how the apparatus surrounding comics has become thinner and more diffuse.
Winners Of The Week James Taranto, who got 85 percent of a respectable article out of the crazy sideshow of "Scott Adams, Political Guru."
Quote Of The Week
"I wish I'd started reading Batman comics long before I did, but that's mostly because (a) I've wasted a lot of time not reading Batman that could have been spent reading Batman, and (b) my goodness, there is a lot of Batman backstory to get caught up on." -- RB Kelly
Festivals Extra: Water Glass Milestone Achieved At Tom Gauld Edinburgh Book Festival Signing
Here. That is some nice glassware going on there, maybe the fanciest ever provided a cartoonist at a book signing. it's my job to keep track of these things. Tom Gauld is one of comics' secret weapons and it'll be good to have him on the road this Fall in support of a new book.
* it should probably be mentioned that the closing of Robot 6 is part of a bigger presentational shake-up at CBR that likely bears watching. As I write this (Thursday late afternoon) they're getting pounded a bit for a headline style that doesn't allow for publication of everything in the headlines, which isn't a great look. I assume they'll rally. It reminds me of the SI.com changeover when everything got made to look like it needs to to maximize reading on phones, which is the direction of on-line content more generally. I think comics and on-like culture share a faith in new delivery systems that doesn't always match up to the reality of new delivery systems, with comics generally more tethered than it needs to be as a counterweight to those arguments. The moderately old ways always suffer as a result. I've thought this since the market seemed to be in such a hurry to get rid of alt-comics customers back in the '00s. I'll miss the blog format for the material Robot 6 was doing, but god help any digital strategy that has my consumption at the point of its spear.
* here are a few people paying tribute to Robot 6: Caleb Goellner, Chris Butcher, Chris Pitzer, Scott Kurtz. The reason this doesn't feel like a bigger deal is because nothing is a big deal right now; the comics industry is numb from the jawline down.
* I'm not sure I remembered to post this on the site this week, but this American's experience at a Comiket was super-fascinating. It sounds to me like most people in comics I know might struggle with the "being one tiny element part of a huge show" at something like this. I encourage cartoonists to show their stuff as many places as they can and want.
Even if CBR publishes more work of interest under this new arrangement, the shift in presentation will be jarring. The nice thing about Robot 6 was that it was a bunch of stuff related to comics that comics-interested adults might want to see all in one place (or pull from in one go, or access via one feed, etc.). There were also a lot of good writers there over the years: Brigid Alverson's news round-ups were invaluable; all of her work for that site was good. There were a ton of others.
I have no idea what this means for comics in general. I would assume this is a choice by CBR's new owners to focus more on broader, more popular content to try and make the site maximally profitable. There's also something to these sources moving towards a focus on phone interaction at the loss of some of the crunchier aspects of sites that I like; this has certainly greatly reduced by consumption of sports-related content, not that they'll miss my old ass. The loss of Robot 6 in this form strikes me as a wider story for comics in that a lot of the standard industry tools are starting to go away. There's a point at which I think that becomes a problem for everyone.
I hope all of those writers are able to write about comics as they desire to write about comics and as close as they can come to being properly rewarded for their work. I am grateful for the writing they did, and for their engagement with the comics form. RIP.
Go, Look: Mike Pence Was Once A Not-Accomplished Cartoonist
Here. They're ruthlessly ordinary, but it's nice to see some sort of artistic glimmer in any politician's eyes. I guess. I don't know. This whole year has been so weird it's hard for me to make any commentary at all. These could be a fake, there could be alarming ones, it's hard to see any of it making a dent in our understanding.