Official Press Release
Seattle, WA. October 22, 2002 --- UTNE, the nation's leading magazine ofalternative ideas, announces the nomination of THE COMICS JOURNAL for anUTNE INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD in the category of ARTS & LITERATURECOVERAGE. Since 1989, these awards have showcased the best from thealternative press in categories ranging from reporting excellence topersonal life, cultural to international coverage.
"THE COMICS JOURNAL stands out as an important independent voice in theNorth American media. We're pleased to honor their accomplishments withan 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 COMICSJOURNAL is the brainchild of Fantagraphics President GARY GROTH. In1976, the teenaged entrepreneur began stirring up the comic-book worldwith his independently-produced trade magazine of comics news andcriticism.
At the time, serious comics criticism did not exist, and from theoutset, THE COMICS JOURNAL established an identity as the most outspokenforum for evaluative criticism and debate in the history of the mediumand has since become equally renowned for its long, career-spanninginterviews with the most highly-regarded cartoonists of the 20th century-- the cartoonists equivalent of The Paris Review interviews. Likeoutspoken critics in any field, Groth was often greeted with a barrageof "if you're so smart, why don't you publish comics yourself?" He did,and the result became Fantagraphics Books, home to such acclaimedartists as CHRIS WARE, DANIEL CLOWES, JOE SACCO, PETER BAGGE, LOS BROSHERNANDEZ, ROBERT CRUMB, JIM WOODRING, CHARLES BURNS and others.
Utne's nomination comes during one of THE COMICS JOURNAL's most prolificyears. The last year has seen the release of the first two COMICSJOURNAL SPECIAL EDITIONs, the 12" x 12" twice-yearly coffee-tableversion of the magazine that is less time-sensitive than the monthlyedition and focused on presenting full-color archival features and acontemporary comics section of all-new work by artists such as ARTSPIEGELMAN, R. CRUMB, and ARNOLD ROTH, amongst many others. Alsodebuting 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 SpecialEditions, sold out immediately and had to be reprinted. The secondvolume, FRANK MILLER, debuts early next year.
"We're very proud of the COMICS JOURNAL and its staff, including all ofthese new JOURNAL-related projects. And now that we've recently addedcolor and expanded the page count of the monthly magazine as well,Utne's recognition seems like particularly perfect timing and is all themore rewarding," said TCJ spokesman Eric Reynolds. "I'd also like tocongratulate the others nominated in this category, which includesseveral publications that have supported us throughout the years, likeRAIN TAXI and our neighbors at RESONANCE. Their commitment to adiversity of arts coverage that includes graphic novels has helped pavedthe way for this kind of recognition. And I'd like to think that THECOMICS JOURNAL was a formative influence on their decision to cover themedium of comics, as well. It's a testament to the kind of grasssrootsaffect the independent press can have."
The Utne Independent Press Awards,previously known as Utne Reader Alternative Press Awards, recognizeexcellence in alternative and independent publishing. Utne's editorsselect nominee publications through their extensive reading process andcareful examination, rather than a competition requiring entry forms andfees. In this way, Utne honors the efforts of small, sometimes unnoticedpublications that provide innovative, thought-provoking perspectivesoften ignored or overlooked by mass media.
UTNE magazine, the nation's leading digest of the alternative media, hasa paid circulation of 225,000. Winners of the Utne Independent PressAwards will be announced in the January/February issue of Utne, whichgoes on sale Dec. 24th, and awarded on January 18th during an awardsbanquet held in conjunction with the Independent Press AssociationConvention in San Francisco.