EXCLUSIVE: Fantagraphics Plans The Return of The Comics Journal

In this day and age, long-form journalism and print magazines are exceedingly rare pleasures. But ahead of Comic-Con International in San Diego, Fantagraphics has renewed its commitment to both by announcing the impending return of its iconic enterprise The Comics Journal as a twice-annual print magazine.

The home of original reporting, in-depth interviews and aggressive criticism for over four decades, The Comics Journal slowed its output in recent years after switching to a more book-like format for its 301st issue in 2011. But its publisher has shared with CBR an exclusive first look at the cover and contents for issue #303, which is set to arrive in January. From there, the magazine plans to publish every six months, with #304 already on the schedule for June 2019.

Returning to the magazine will be Fantagraphics publisher and Journal co-founder Gary Groth who will contribute his signature long-form interviews with comics and cartooning talent. Though the editorial duties for the magazine will be shared by newly minted managing editors RJ Casey (an alt-comics stalwart turned Fantagraphics employee) and Kristy Valenti (one of the publisher's and the magazine's longest-serving editorial voices). The return of The Comics Journal as a print periodical will not affect the work done on sister website TCJ.com by editors Timothy Hoddler and Tucker Stone.

As for the contents of The Comics Journal #303, the issue's cover story is a Groth interview with French cartoonist of children's books and adult works Tomi Ungerer, and the news focus of the issue will be on the so-called "New Mainstream" covering the transformation of comics in the public eye after the graphic novel boom of the early 2000s. Additional features will include a sketchbook by French-born cartoonist Antoine Cossé, features on Alex Gard’s homoerotic gag cartoons out of the U.S. Navy by Mannie Murphy and cartoonist Ben Passmore’s thoughts on how comics play a role in gentrification (see a preview below).

Fantagraphics provided thoughts from the Journal's editorial team in a press release, with Casey noting "The Comics Journal had been a near-monolithic force in my life and I think its absence has been felt by more people than just me. I'm beyond excited to bring new voices, new ideas, and a new enthusiasm to the Journal."

“With the knowledge and skills I've gained over the last 15 years co-editing nearly 50 issues of the print edition of The Comics Journal, I am excited to help push the Journal forward and continue its evolution,” added Valenti. “My goal is to usher in a new era of comics criticism to further explore where the comics medium is going.”

Finally, Groth said, "I'm looking forward to getting back in the saddle, a saddle I have missed, and conducting interviews with cartoonists, from young whippersnappers to vital legends. My long interview with Tomi Ungerer in this issue is a dream come true.”

Stay tuned for more from Comic-Con International 2018 all week on CBR.

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