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

June 4, 2009

Nickelodeon Magazine Canceled


According to a post at the LA Times blog, Viacom is shutting down comics-friendly Nickelodeon Magazine, effective immediately. Thirty staffers have lost their jobs, the post says. The magazine has been a strong home for comics both as a gig that helped support a lot of talented cartoonists from Sam Henderson to Craig Thompson to James Kochalka by providing them a steady gig, affording many of them their primary commercial opportunity to do all-ages material, giving many a chance to work in color, and also because so many of the comics were good. The magazine had a dedicated comic section called "The Comic Book" and drove specialty spin-offs featuring nothing but the comics material.

According to the piece, the magazine had lost value as a marketing tool in the age of Internet, an interesting spin on the usual notion of falling circulation figures and non-viability that are usually the cause. Casual figures mentioned for the magazine at its height indicate a circulation of over 1 million at some point in its history. A lack of print advertising was also given as a reason: the March 2009 magazine had according to my count a page and a third of interior ads from outside sources in addition to the three cover slots. I would imagine without knowing for sure that this represents a decline in ad sales. It would certainly confirm that a current, perhaps primary value of the magazine was to enhance the brand.

The magazine's site and subscription pages are still up and while I've seen no independent news stories with sources cited as of 2 PM, the story was confirmed to me personally by a source I trust at about noon ET.

Of the freelancers contacted by CR, Johnny Ryan replied, "That really sucks. I wonder if they're killing off the whole thing or if it will have an online presence... As far as I know, Nick Mag is the only resource for quality kids comics. Chris Duffy is a comics genius and one of the best editors ever. If they are in fact killing the whole thing, then it really is a tragedy." Ryan also indicated that he had not been informed in advance of the LAT blog post.

Craig Thompson responded to an early-morning e-mail by first expressing a wish that the news wasn't true. "This Nickelodeon announcement is news to me, but I hope it's not true, because I'm sorely indebted to Chris Duffy and Dave Roman for employing me all through the production of Chunky and Blankets. Really, my supporting myself as an artist is entirely due to them. They were the only regular gig that paid my rent and grocery bills, and they were more like buddies than bosses -- our editorial phone talks were social high points through my work day."

Artist and cartoonist Laura Park: "It's sad news. The people who work there are amazing and as a whole the magazine was really supportive of cartoonists. Also, being in Nickelodeon magazine really impressed my friend's kids, now I got nothin'."

Senior comics editor Chris Duffy wrote in at 2:10 PM ET to say that he'd likely make a statement tomorrow.

thanks to all those that e-mailed this just now
posted 8:25 am PST | Permalink

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