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News: Web Comics Examiner Launches
posted June 14, 2004

June 14 -- The Web Comics Examiner, a magazine dedicated to formal criticism and reviews on the world of web comics, launched with a modicum of fanfare and a lightning storm's worth of message board and weblog pontificating. The magazine was designed to provide fuller commentary and reviews of what practitioners believe to be a still-developing art form. "People know to go to Modern Tales or KeenSpot or Drunk Duck if they want to read a comic," says advisory board member, PDF editor and contributor Mike Meginnis. "But when it comes to substantive formal conversations about webcomics, the situation has been pretty dismal."

The first issue offered features on works by Scott McCloud and Ethan Persoff, and reviews from writers like AG Hopkins and Mike Meginnis. A second issue was planned for posting on July 12, and the magazine hopes to settle into a third-Monday-every-month schedule, complete with printable PDF edition.

Driving some of the initial interest in the site is a sense of proprietary conflict regarding the Examiner's place vis-à-vis the Comixpedia web site, which many have come to see as the primary news and information source covering on-line comics. The Examiner's Meginnis feels there's room for both. "Make no mistake: Comixpedia pioneered webcomics-focused journalism, and for most webcomics related purposes, they should be your first stop. We don't really see ourselves as competing with them. From day one, our motto has been 'They cover the field, we cover the cream.'"

For Meginnis the main difference between the two publications is in the editorial focus. "Comixpedia -- and to a far lesser extent, general interest comic sites like Sequential Tart -- will run reviews of various webcomics, news items, editorials, basically whatever catches their fancy. It's like shooting a flock of ducks with a shotgun. Sure, you hit a bunch of ducks, but which ones? You're sacrificing accuracy for speed and a broad focus. We go straight for the kill, one duck at a time."

Time will prove the magazine successful or not, but in the short term The Webcomics Examiner has garnered the attention of its field of coverage. "We actually had a really divisive effect when we launched," Meginnis told the Journal. "One side was lauding our efforts, and the other was declaring us pretentious, snooty, 'artsy,' over-analytical, and just generally no fun -- including Hard of Sexy Losers, one of the comics I reviewed positively. He got so worked up he ended up deciding to start his own webzine with one of our other really vocal detractors. One can only imagine the outcry had we run any negative reviews!" A parody site was started soon after the initial web site's publication. "These are smart folks who just happen to be very independent and very anti-authority," assures editor Joe Zabel, who claims all of the discussions have had a salutary effect thus far. "Fortunately, this controversy actually helped us to connect with a like-minded audience, and our circulation was far greater than we'd expected. The common theme in the notes I've received from people is 'It's about time!'"