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October 28, 2009

Gary Groth On TCJ Post-#300 Moves

Fantagraphics co-publisher and longtime Comics Journal editor Gary Groth was kind enough to answer a few questions about the Journal's forthcoming move to a mostly on-line model with two print editions a year, a move that was recently announced to current subscribers through a letter. He says that the move has been discussed for a relatively short period of time -- approximately, three months, with much of that time spent on refining the proposal. If things go according to their plans the revamped site should launch in late November. Groth says this will not have an effect on the magazine's current news blog Journalista! or its infamous message board -- "Dirk [Deppey] will continue the fine Journalista tradition, and the message board will, alas, remain much the same" -- and the staff will remain Groth, Mike Dean, Deppey and Kristy Valenti, although it's uncertain at this time how individual work time will be apportioned.

Asked about the direct impetus for making the move, and if there were financial motives involved, Groth, who has been editing the publication since 1976, admitted it was a mix of editorial and financial concerns and spoke to the nature of publishing in the new century in a way a lot of print publishers facing similar decisions may recognize.
image"It was always a strain to assemble eight commercially viable issues that were also aesthetically pleasing -- balancing that fine line -- every year. I feel much more comfortable concentrating our resources on fewer print editions each year and spending some of those resources on our web presence. It's no secret that newspapers and magazines are suffering because so much of what they've traditionally done can be done on the web, faster and cheaper. We decided therefore to redesign the editorial and physical format of the magazine to take advantage of what print's best at -- upscale production values, longer prose, more permanent content -- and bring the Journal's mandate for criticism and commentary to the web with a vengeance.
The details of how the Internet and print versions will interact under this new set-up Groth is happy to discover as his editorial team moves forward.
"I haven't the slightest idea at this point. I suspect that little of the material on the website will be reprinted in the print edition; rather, I'm anticipating that short pieces that appeared on the website may be expanded for the print edition -- or the reverse, an excerpt of something we plan for the print edition may be previewed on the website. But there's going to be a learning curve while we figure out the different editorial requirements for both the website and the print edition. My main goal is to maintain the editorial impetus of the magazine on the website, making it an intelligent and sometimes provocative source criticism and commentary.
Although he wasn't asked in a follow-up, Groth also spoke to the strategy described in the subscriber letter of new bloggers working out of the TCJ framework.

"You forgot to ask, but, yes, to that end, Ken Smith will be blogging."


additional: Dirk Deppey follows up yesterday's revelation of the move (made here at CR) with his own take on the matter, including official PR.
posted 3:20 pm PST | Permalink

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