Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

March 30, 2017

ComicsAlliance Placed On Hiatus By Townsquare Media

The award-winning comics site ComicsAlliance announced through its Editor-In-Chief Andrew Wheeler that it has been placed on hiatus and all contributors let go. Apparently two days notices was all that was provided. Our heart goes out to all the writers for whom CA was an important client, and to all of the readers that had come to enjoy its mix of deep-dive article, industry activism and professional media site presentational formats. I was a daily reader as much as I could be for its entire existence.

imageI'm a little confused about the provenance of ComicsAlliance. Laura Hudson's 2012 goodbye essay suggests she created it in 2009 for AOL. Upon my publishing that, a pair of readers directed me to an earlier incarnation (2007) involving Chris Dooley and John Anderson, I believe also for AOL. My apologies for not vetting that published claim, and I'll continue to rewrite this graph to reflect my best information.

There are a lot of distinctive writers and personalities I think of when I think of the publication, including Hudson: Wheeler, Caleb Goellner, Chris Sims, Andy Khouri and David Brothers are the one the one that spring to mind; I'm certain there are many that did not spring to mind that should have. I imagine all of those names and more will continue to have strong roles within the industry as they seek them out, both creative and editorial. There are also many other talented writers that wrote briefly or intermittently for the site, too many for me to list. I thought the site managed to have a strong collective voice in addition its many strong individual ones, an alchemy that is difficult to achieve.

Hudson left in 2012 and was replaced by Joseph Hughes, another distinctive writer with staff experience at Vertigo Comics. For some I would imagine that might be a dividing line in the site's history, although its Eisner win after many nominations was in 2015.

In early 2013, Townsquare Media acquired certain digital assets of AOL's including ComicsAlliance, a deal that finally brought the site back to full strength in early June after a late-April shutdown. I have no idea how this changed traffic, although conventional wisdom was that CA did garner enviable numbers in its early days and that this was perhaps less of a talking point later on. I have even less of an idea how this may have changed editorial, although sites are generally accused of being overly Internet friendly and less content-driven as they get older. They certainly covered comics-related media as did most sites of its era. I also have little to offer in terms of the radio-focused company's decision to shut down the site right now: I always assumed the plan was to eventually replicate their music festival strategy with a medium and small-city comics festival model, but that was a huge assumption of mine. Their stock has been somewhat volatile in 2017 but projections for later this year have been strong. The site still fits within its overall commercial brand in terms of its role within its field, as far as I can tell, just not in its core area.

In the end, coverage of comics have lost a distinct, collective voice and fans of comics and CA's presentation style lose one site less to visit. My sympathies to all of the writers looking for a new gig. I hope they are all fruitful ones. If this the end, and it seems that way, congratulations to the entire CA team on their run and placing their stamp on a crucial era of comics coverage.
posted 11:55 pm PST | Permalink

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