Official Press Release
Seattle, WA. October 22, 2002 — UTNE, the nation’s leading magazine of
alternative ideas, announces the nomination of THE COMICS JOURNAL for an
UTNE INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD in the category of ARTS & LITERATURE
COVERAGE. Since 1989, these awards have showcased the best from the
alternative press in categories ranging from reporting excellence to
personal life, cultural to international coverage.
“THE COMICS JOURNAL stands out as an important independent voice in the
North American media. We’re pleased to honor their accomplishments with
an Utne Independent Press Award nomination,” says editor Jay Walljasper.
THE COMICS JOURNAL is the flagship publication of FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS,
the Seattle-based publisher that has been named “BEST INDEPENDENT PRESS”
for two years running in the annual Firecracker Book Awards. THE COMICS
JOURNAL is the brainchild of Fantagraphics President GARY GROTH. In
1976, the teenaged entrepreneur began stirring up the comic-book world
with his independently-produced trade magazine of comics news and
At the time, serious comics criticism did not exist, and from the
outset, THE COMICS JOURNAL established an identity as the most outspoken
forum for evaluative criticism and debate in the history of the medium
and has since become equally renowned for its long, career-spanning
interviews with the most highly-regarded cartoonists of the 20th century
— the cartoonists equivalent of The Paris Review interviews. Like
outspoken critics in any field, Groth was often greeted with a barrage
of “if you’re so smart, why don’t you publish comics yourself?” He did,
and the result became Fantagraphics Books, home to such acclaimed
artists as CHRIS WARE, DANIEL CLOWES, JOE SACCO, PETER BAGGE, LOS BROS
HERNANDEZ, ROBERT CRUMB, JIM WOODRING, CHARLES BURNS and others.
Utne’s nomination comes during one of THE COMICS JOURNAL’s most prolific
years. The last year has seen the release of the first two COMICS
JOURNAL SPECIAL EDITIONs, the 12″ x 12″ twice-yearly coffee-table
version of the magazine that is less time-sensitive than the monthly
edition and focused on presenting full-color archival features and a
contemporary comics section of all-new work by artists such as ART
SPIEGELMAN, R. CRUMB, and ARNOLD ROTH, amongst many others. Also
debuting this year was JACK KIRBY: THE COMICS JOURNAL LIBRARY VOL. 1,
the first in a series of volumes devoted to a single artist or theme,
collecting interviews and essays from the magazine’s 25-year history.
This first volume, published in the same 12″ x 12″ format as the Special
Editions, sold out immediately and had to be reprinted. The second
volume, FRANK MILLER, debuts early next year.
“We’re very proud of the COMICS JOURNAL and its staff, including all of
these new JOURNAL-related projects. And now that we’ve recently added
color and expanded the page count of the monthly magazine as well,
Utne’s recognition seems like particularly perfect timing and is all the
more rewarding,” said TCJ spokesman Eric Reynolds. “I’d also like to
congratulate the others nominated in this category, which includes
several publications that have supported us throughout the years, like
RAIN TAXI and our neighbors at RESONANCE. Their commitment to a
diversity of arts coverage that includes graphic novels has helped paved
the way for this kind of recognition. And I’d like to think that THE
COMICS JOURNAL was a formative influence on their decision to cover the
medium of comics, as well. It’s a testament to the kind of grasssroots
affect the independent press can have.”
The Utne Independent Press Awards,
previously known as Utne Reader Alternative Press Awards, recognize
excellence in alternative and independent publishing. Utne’s editors
select nominee publications through their extensive reading process and
careful examination, rather than a competition requiring entry forms and
fees. In this way, Utne honors the efforts of small, sometimes unnoticed
publications that provide innovative, thought-provoking perspectives
often ignored or overlooked by mass media.
UTNE magazine, the nation’s leading digest of the alternative media, has
a paid circulation of 225,000. Winners of the Utne Independent Press
Awards will be announced in the January/February issue of Utne, which
goes on sale Dec. 24th, and awarded on January 18th during an awards
banquet held in conjunction with the Independent Press Association
Convention in San Francisco.
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