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Archive for February, 2008
Tim Looks at Comics Now! Magazine
I first heard about Comics Now! magazine a few months ago when I was trolling around on the Comic Geek Speak message boards (they’re behind the magazine). I was surprised because I hadn’t heard of it before then and still didn’t until Johanna posted a review this week. Having worked on print publications in some capacity for the past 9 years, I’m a magazine man at heart, so I was very excited by this new comics mag. That is, until I bought it. I like the Comic Geek Speak guys and I like their podcast, but they have really no idea how to make a magazine.
Bryan Deemer and Peter Rios are two of the top guys over at Comic Geek Speak and are editor in chief and assistant editor of Comics Now!, respectively. The issue is 96 pages at comic book size and has a pretty nice paper stock.
Editorially, they open with a 12-page cover story about Nova, who, to the best of my knowledge, doesn’t have a book and is not currently in any books. It’s followed by Podcasting Communique, a story about why podcasting is neat and a runs down some podcasts — one of which is Comic Geek Speak and written about in third person, which is like Wizard magazine writing about a Wizard World convention (which they actually do in the new issue). There are also stories on keeping new readers and also a breakdown of all the Crisis books, which is actually helpful, but three times as big as it needs to be. The back of book hosts an assortment of columns ranging from the format of TPBs to Fangirl Talk! (about a woman’s point of view). There’s a 5-page step-by-step from the cover artist and the Meanwhile section. Meanwhile is interesting in that they summarize what’s going on in X-Men, Spider-Man, Superman and Batman books (read between the lines: this magazine is for mainstream comic fans). Though, a lot of these issues are quite old by now. It’s a good idea to have, but is probably best suited for online.
The layout and design of the magazine looks something out of freshman year (high school, not college). Margins are inconsistent and they lose a lot in the gutter. There is no consistency in text styling (in font choice, point size, leading, tracking, H & J’s, etc.), there’s no discernable color palette, page structures differ from story to story, it’s often hard to tell the difference between ad and edit, and in some cases the page layout makes it difficult to even read the story. Visually, it’s an airplane crash on top of a train wreck. I’m a harsher critic here because this is my area of expertise, but it just looks like no thought whatsoever was put into the visual concept and structure of the magazine.
Pacing is another problem area. The book opens with a 12-page story, followed by a 4-pager, a 12-pager then a 20-pager. I know they’re trying to do in-depth stories, but just because a story is 12 pages doesn’t mean it’s in-depth. it’s just a bear to get through. It becomes problematic when most of your longer stories aren’t timely or have any news peg — It realllllly makes the reader work hard to get through each story and significantly lowers the chances of someone reading the stories in their entirety.
Running Nova on the cover was a curious decision to me. I understand the appeal of exposing the readers to a character the editorial staff likes (but who they admit is marginal), but when that character doesn’t even have a book out? (I know he was in those Annihilation books last Fall, and that this issue says it’s a Fall 2007 issue. But Comics Now! didn’t hit stands until the third week of January, and the Annihilation books were long gone by then). I just don’t see the sense in it. And honestly, I’m not sure the story accomplished its goal. It did a fantastic job taking me through the history of the character and the comics, but it certainly didn’t make me like Nova any more or less. I like that they stuck with their guns though. If promoting marginal characters that they love is their MO and they want to feature them on the cover, more power to them. Branding-wise, I’m curious why they don’t have “Comic Geek Speak Presents…” somewhere on the cover. I think their biggest readership draw would be from their listeners and that they’d exploit that as much as possible, but maybe they have a different strategy in mind. I talked to a floor worker at Midtown Comics and he said the first shipment sold out quickly but the re-order supply hasn’t really moved, for what it’s worth.
I will say I was definitely impressed with the amount of ads they had in the book. I counted 13 ads and 6 house ads, which is a great, great accomplishment. It’s worth noting that the mag is published by Brent E. Erwin and David Hedgecock, two of the top guys at comics publisher Ape Entertainment (though the words “Ape Entertainment” don’t appear anywhere). The other connection is that Comics Now! editor, Kevin Freeman, is the managing editor at Ape.
With all of that said, a lot of these critiques could be chalked up to first-issue woes. From an analytical perspective, I’m interested to see what they come up with next, what they learn from this issue and how their editorial evolves. You can see they’re going for a less corporate and less Hollywood version of Wizard. Sigh, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but stick with Wizard for now. I may not agree with their approach to a lot of things, but at least Wizard has a reasonable idea of how to make a magazine. Hardly any of the stories have sources and 90 percent of them are written in first person, which makes them read like really, really, really long blog posts. My recommendation to the guys (and girl) over at Comics Now! would be to put the comics down for a while and pick up some magazines. I applaud their intentions and efforts behind producing Comics Now! and I’m all for more comic magazines, but this one just isn’t there yet. The tagline on the cover reads: “The magazine FOR comic BY comic fans.” The latter part is definitely true. Just because it’s made by an amateur doesn’t mean it needs to look like it is.
Update: Ah, it’s been pointed out to me by two very loyal Nova fans that there actually is a Nova comic series in print. My bad, I regret the error. It doesn’t really change my opinion on any of this though.Posted by Tim Leong on February 28th, 2008 filed in Magazines, Blog | 19 Comments »
A. Dave Lewis in EW
Writer A.David Lewis (The Lone and Level Sands) made his debut appearance in Entertainment Weekly this, er, week. Jeff Jensen reviewed the first issues of his new book, Some Kind of Slaughter, and gave it an A-. Others reviewed: Grant Morrison’s Batman (B+) and Warren Ellis’s Ultimate Human (C-). Mainstream pwned!Posted by Tim Leong on February 27th, 2008 filed in Blog |
Issue 2 of Comic Foundry is at the Printer!
You will all be happy to know that the next issue of Comic Foundry Magazine is at the printer! It’s in the can. Done. Ready to go! I’m just eagerly awaiting proofs — color proofs. I’m sure you’ve heard by now that we’re printing in full-color from here on out. It makes such a difference. The amount of evolution in editorial and design from our first issue to this one is remarkable. It’ll definitely satisfy old readers and I’m confident we’ll draw plenty of new ones. We’re scheduled to be on stands March 19th — let the countdown begin!Posted by Tim Leong on February 27th, 2008 filed in Blog | 5 Comments »
New Wolverine image in Empire MagazineMagazines, Movies, Blog |
Conde Nast Out as Possible Reed Buyer
Publishing conglomerate Conde Nast has announced they’re not interested in buying Reed Business Information, the publishing unit of Reed Elsevier that prints Variety, Publishers Weekly and Publishers Weekly Comics Week (among others). According to Women’s Wear Daily, Conde Nast was a probable home for RBI and that the list of viable suitors is shrinking. Also, if Reed can’t find a home the entire division, there is speculation of selling the magazines individually.Posted by Tim Leong on February 27th, 2008 filed in Blog |
Douglas Wolk at WonderCon
The lovely folks at i09 were at WonderCon this weekend and did a quick video interview with the wonderful Douglas Wolk. Click HERE to hear him talk about the (not so) hidden context behind World War Hulk.Posted by Tim Leong on February 25th, 2008 filed in Blog, Videos |
New York Comic Con
The New York Comic Con has released its first promo video for the show. The guy who did the I’m a Marvel, I’m a DC shorts produced it. It brings back all kinds of memories of last year when I was the host of the official video podcast. It was weird basically being a PR guy, but the experience was too cool for me to complain. I got to talk to a lot of interesting creators, fans and media people. We basically shot for three consecutive days and got a ton of content. They made about 15 videos out of it and below is one of my favorites, an interview with Brian K. Vaughan. You can check out the rest here.
PS: Look for Comic Foundry at the show this year!Posted by Tim Leong on February 22nd, 2008 filed in Conventions, Blog, Videos |
Publishers Weekly Up For Sale
Reed Elsevier is looking to unload its publishing division, Reed Business Information. RBI includes business publications Variety, Broadcasting and Cable, New Scientist and Publishers Weekly (including PWCW). Reed Elsevier is also the same company behind the big trade shows, including the upcoming New York Comicon and last December’s New York Anime Festival.
It’s a dire, dire time for print magazines in general, though the situation is a bit different with consumer mags and trade mags. Regardless of content, the production cost of paper, printing and mailing is going up. According to Variety, they’re going to appraise the unit in the next few months. Don’t expect a purchase soon, but the For Sale sign is definitely up.
[Edited: I previously stated Reed owned The Hollywood Reporter. That statement is 100 percent erroneous. My bad.]Posted by Tim Leong on February 21st, 2008 filed in Blog | 1 Comment »
Happy Birthday to Us
Forget Valentine’s Day — Today we celebrate Comic Foundry’s 4th birthday. It was just four years ago we started online as an educational and community networking site. And now we have our second issue in print coming out in 5 weeks or so. Wow, how things change.
(Above, me and site co-creator Amber, who just had her appendix removed)Posted by Tim Leong on February 14th, 2008 filed in Blog | 2 Comments »
Comic Foundry Cameo in Uncanny X-Men!
Can’t wait until March to get the new issue of Comic Foundry? Well just pick up the latest Uncanny X-Men and look closely — Comic Foundry Magazine is in there. On a page depicting a magazine newsstand, artist Mike Choi added Comic Foundry along with some other choice mags to the landscape. Also on the newsstand you can also see the ever-hip Complex and one of my favorite women’s mags, Missbehave. Seriously, big, big thanks to Mike Choi, who also may or may not appear nude somewhere in the issue. Check it out!
And don’t forget to look for issue 2, the first full-color issue of Comic Foundry Magazine, this March.Posted by Tim Leong on February 7th, 2008 filed in Magazines, Blog | 1 Comment »
Naruto and Condoms
I was at my neighborhood Duane Reade this morning and I was shocked to find a healthy supply of Naruto vol. 25 on their mini-bookstand. I was a bit more surprised to find said bookstand right next to the condom aisle…Posted by Tim Leong on February 1st, 2008 filed in Blog | 4 Comments »