Tom Spurgeon broke the news yesterday that The Comics Journal, Fantagraphics’ long-standing magazine of comics news and criticism, will be altering their coverage and format following the release of their 300th issue.
The announcement came via a letter sent to subscribers that Spurgeon posted online. In it, the staff unveiled a two-fold plan which entailed enhancing the magazine’s Web site considerably and turning the print publication into an elaborate, twice-yearly affair.
Acknowledging the changing role the Internet has played in comics coverage, the letter states the current TCJ site will become “full-service,” with daily updates, and deliver “everything you love about the magazine,” including the interviews, news and “real journalism” the magazine has become known for. The site is currently best known as the home of Online Editor Dirk Deppey’s daily Journalista column.
As for the print magazine, it will become “considerably larger and more elaborate” than the current iteration, and will only come out semi-annually. While the price of the new magazine is still up in the air, individual issues will cost more than they do now, though the letter promises that a single issue will never cost more than $19.99.
Deppey has an update on today’s Journalista with additional information, including a quote from publisher Gary Groth:
I don’t want the magazine to necessarily be all things to all people, but in trying to cover as wide a gamut of comics as we can, the editorial focus has become more diffuse and less idiosyncratic than I’d like. A website with many autonomous voices and a more or less unlimited bandwidth is better able to cover the range of comics on a day-to-day basis, whereas we can devote more resources to refining fewer issues of the print edition of the Journal so that each issue represents a more unified whole, both editorially and in terms of packaging and design.
While Deppey didn’t go into too many specifics, he did reveals that all of the Web site content will be free, that it will include an audio archive of past interviews, and that the new online features will be rolled out slowly.
Full disclosure: I am an occasional freelance contributor to TCJ.