ramblin rose ramblin rose


Saturday, September 27, 2008

ramblin rose ramblin rose I got a ha..ah..ah…ahhh…..

If you don’t know that song, then I’m sorry, you have to stop reading right now. You can’t sit at this lunch table.

Had a meeting with Big T — Tim Hodler, editor in chief of Comics Comics — and we batted around some format ideas for Comics Comics.

See, the problem with the giant newspaper is that stores HATE carrying it, shelving it, dealing with it. The other problem is that the readers LOVE the format. Everyone loves it. Except the stores. And, even though I’m the first to say “fuck that, we’re gonna do it our way” — it’s tough because we can’t “penetrate” certain stores, certain awesome COMICS stores that may like what we have to say about Ogden Whitney or Wacky Packs.

So, I thought I’d spit the bit and ask our rabid online following what they think. My thoughts are that we could continue to do newsprint “specials” –sort of like one-offs that would focus on a particular artist (and also similar to other 16 page Picturebox newsprint editions) and then we could try a new format that has a “spine” as they say, meaning that we could “penetrate” these book stores, comics stores that continually tell us how much they hate the format of the newspaper.

My problem with making a more book store friendly edition of Comics Comics is simply my fear that it will sort of take away from the down home comics fandom feel of the publication. I really like that we offer an alternative to more “professional” mags about comics BUT –the very stores, fans, that may really like our mag might not ever see it simply because it’s a newspaper.


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39 Responses to “ramblin rose ramblin rose”
  1. Sean T. Collins says:

    “My problem with making a more book store friendly edition of Comics Comics is simply my fear that it will sort of take away from the down home comics fandom feel of the publication.” Aw, c’mon–“men of your talents,” as my grandfather used to say, can surely work around that with design, and of course the content would still be in the Mighty Comics Comics Manner. If Paper Rad can release books with spines and still feel like Paper Rad, so can you!

  2. T Hodler says:

    We should’ve talked about this more before we posted about it, Frank!

    But no real harm done, I guess. When I talked with Dan about this last, we were thinking more about making future issues in more common magazine-style format, not the more literary-journal format with a spine. And not so much for the bookstore market, per se, but just so the stores who actually buy issues now can display them more easily. But nothing’s set in stone, by any means.

  3. Frank Santoro says:

    Sorry chief!

  4. MrColinP says:

    I love the newspaper format more than I can express to you- the big bold black and white images often outright shock me with how gorgeous they are (The Guy Davis Black Flame, The Shaky Kane header and the Berserk page being notable examples). It also feels cool- I like thinking that I could break it out on the subway and blend in. I actually don’t get the “down home feeling” from it that you speak of at all. For me it’s the glossiest, most beautiful magazine I’ve ever read.
    That said- It’s been obvious since day one that you’d get stagnant if you kept that format forever, and I always knew it’d come to an end. I think it’s more important that what you’re doing be in more stores than just be cool in the corner.
    THAT said, if you can still put out SOME newsprint specials (using them as artist’s specials is a good move, again, because of the gorgeous image quality) that would make a lot of people very happy. Maybe you could even make the newsprint specials an insert to the main magazine?

  5. DerikB says:

    This probably makes me some kind of heathen, but I don’t like the large newsprint format. I find it really hard to read. It’s more the size than the newsprint. A smaller digest format newsprint would be more manageable.

    But I’d buy it whatever form it comes in (unless it were like… leather and fur or something).

  6. ULAND says:

    Yeah, I don’t like having to fold it out either. It’s a pain. And I agree that it’s the newsprint, not necessarily the size that makes it look good.
    The thing about ComicsComics, to me, that keeps me from ordering it from you guys is that it feels pretty slight. The articles are all interesting and stuff, but it physically feels thin. It seems like a lot of trouble to go through for four or five features and some comics.
    I’d love it if it really got to that home-spun feel, with a lively letters page and all that stuff, but I think a more traditional zine type format might nurture that a bit more.
    I’d love to send in letters, but there isn’t all that much to respond to in a general way. Maybe if you featured sketch book stuff from Picture box related artists, photos from events or what have you, and maybe a readers art page or something, tha tmight inspire more of a community type thing.
    I mean, I know I’m notgoingto have anything to say about Shaky Kane, fer instance. I like him, but yeah…

  7. Jason Overby says:

    I really liked the first issue. The newspaper format always annoys me. I like the large images, but it’s always awkward to read it.

  8. chan (the magnificent) says:

    in the future everything will be on cd-romz

  9. Jesse Post says:

    Can you guys keep it at tabloid size but folded over with a vertical “front cover” on the top half of the front page? That’s the standard solution for newspapers that want to have magazine shelf space. And is it even tabloid size? Sorry if it’s not — I only read the PDFs, though I’d love to buy hard copies if I could find them in stores.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I’ve never seen it in a store (here in the UK). But I’ve seen a lot of publications in that format in the ‘alternative’ music stores.

    I’d love to read it. I downloaded it for the Gerber article alone. I’d order hard copy, but as stated above, this can be risky. I’ve done this with other ‘special interest’ publications, only to find I was only really interested in one and a half articles.

    colin p’s suggestion above seems best. You’re missing out on the ‘casual’ reader (love the blog!) who is very budget-minded about what he buys in stores, but may just pick it up if he wanted a good read in a cafe, etc.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I too liked the first issue (formatted kinda' like an issue of "Arthur." Have you considered publishing it as a standard size floppy a la "Amazing Heroes?" (b&w newsprint w/slick cover)but not necessarily as long? I'd be into that!

  12. Brian says:

    Is the issue that it’s in newspaper format or is the problem that it’s huge? Folded into fourths makes it tricky to display even what the title is, let alone the art. It’s also kind of hard to read. If it could be Paper Rodeo size, that would be great. So would having it formatted like the first issue, but for me I would want to see the price point kept low, and I think that newsprint is the cheapest way to do that, without advertisers.

  13. Tom Spurgeon says:

    Keep it just the way it is. If you want something will have greater saturation into comics shops, do a version for them with content from every four issues, like an annual.

  14. Alex Holden says:

    It’s hard to read on the toilet.

    I like mrcolinp’s idea of “artist focused” large format inserts though…

  15. dylan sparkplug says:

    Dowhatchalike, I’ll get it however it is.

  16. BVS says:

    I love the newsprint and the extra large size. call me crazy for suggesting this but maybe something called comics comics should look more like a comic? keep it printed on newspaper, and just give it 2 staples.
    I have to admit it kind of looks shitty seeing this big folded Black and white newspaper thing on a shelf sized for comic books wedged in between comic books that all have color covers.
    it looks like maybe some customer picked up the local alt weekly on the way over, and then got bored with it and just kerplunked it on the shelf at the comics shop. plus it looks like an alt weekly, that might be “down home” but those things are free. comics comics isn’t free. for 3 dollars can I at least get some staples to hold the pages together?

  17. Austin English says:

    I order comics comics for forbidden planet and whether stores “like” the format or not, the wear and tear of it is pretty bad. any comic that sits on the racks for weeks will get dinged up…customers pick up comics hundreds of times a day. but comics comics gets dinged up the worse—next day i work im actually gonna seal all the copies and leave one display. but you cant expect all retailers to love you guys as much as I do.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I shop at Forbidden Planet because they carry Comics Comics. I’m not even kidding. Keep it like it is.

  19. supervampire says:

    It doesn’t matter what format it is. Content, content, content! That’s what people buy it for. Just make sure the newer “compromised” format doesn’t compromise on it’s stand-out looks. Don’t look like everyone else and keep the content the same – you’ll be fine.

  20. Dustin Harbin says:

    Man–Tom took my idea. Also speaking as a retailer who loves the magazine: they do get dinged up, not to mention yellow pretty fast. On the other hand, they’re cheap enough that it’s not a biggie, especially if you rack them with a bunch of other sweet stuff, so there’s a benefit to you as a retailer just in having all these sweet stuff together.

    I would buy Comics Comics in its current format AND higher-end annuals, which might be of sterner stock. Hell, the annual could be in whatever format, and just reprint existing content with blog content, maybe some surprises. Heckfire, if you had the rights, you could do some aggressive reprinting of stuff you were talking about (Ogden Whitney, etc.). Regardless of problems with the Comics Journal, their color reprints of Harold Gray’s Little Joe turned me into a fan. Ditto for Comic Art. I loved the mixed content model as a reader, although I haven’t seen a real spike in sales for either TCJ or CA over the last few years. Although they’re both really expensive now, so that’s probably why.

  21. Nathan says:

    i think one of the main things that drew me to comics comics was the format. i think the store i shop at (desert island in brooklyn) has it on flat shelves, which caught my eye.

  22. Inkstuds says:

    you should do it in Velum.

  23. knut says:

    Scroll, yo.

  24. Anonymous says:

    whether certain stores stock it in that format or not, anybody who really wants to read it, can get their hands on it pretty easily.

    if future issues were perfect or staple bound, the price would probably rise and readers might bail on it because of that.

    i think you should leave it alone as it is. the first 3 have been great.

  25. Frank Santoro says:

    I want to change the name to “Fantastic Comics Comics Fanzine Special” and every issue is a Number One. available also as a CD-ROM

  26. Austin English says:

    I have this idea that if you named a comic “zombie bobba fett” it would sell a million copies no matter what. i thought of publishing a comic with 22 totally blank white interior pages and a white cover with the words “zombie bobba fett” just to see how many diamond orders it would get.

    then i emailed craig thompson and told him he should draw it but he never wrote back. gee i wonder why?

    if anyone wants to draw my manga property “honey mustard high school” i hereby enter it into public domain.

  27. Inkstuds says:

    I would do Zombie Bobba Fett with you Austin. I can’t draw at all, so we can make it like an ashley wood comic that had no backgrounds and little stick figures.

  28. Austin English says:

    I should now mention that im not entirely sure what bobba fett is.

    all i know is that the customers at the store are always all like “ayo! you got them bobba fett shits? the new bobba fetts? ohhh my lord son….them shits is hot.”

    actually its more like “ayo where that new call of cthula at?”

  29. Inkstuds says:

    Come on Austin, you know this would be awesome. I want to sell out, tout sweet.

  30. jesse McManus says:

    i think it would be really cool to see a one page austin english boba fett manga. large-scale. on newsprint.
    next to an appreciation of milt gross by austin, with commentary on a gross panel by john kricfalusi (a la the ogden whitney page in the new CC)

  31. Anonymous says:

    fantastic comics fanzine special, eh?
    could it come with a mixtape?
    i’ll draw the ads in the back for zit creme and steroids.
    keep comics comics coming on. keep it coming on.

  32. Frank Santoro says:

    Yes, mix tape!
    music to read Fantastic Fanzine Comics Comics Specials by…
    entire issues devoted to Mark Badger and Trevor Von Eden Batman comics

  33. paulo says:

    I really love the current format it really feels substantial in your hands when reading it. Also I like that it is folded just like a newspaper – I read it on the train all the time.

    I really like Tom Spurgeon’s simple suggestion of still printing the newsprint versions but then collecting a couple of issues, reformatting it to the “acceptable” comic size and making it an annual.

    I wouldn’t buy it but maybe someone else would.


  34. Patrick Smith says:

    I for one won’t read anything that doesn’t yellow with age.

  35. Kioskerman says:

    I like the newspaper format because its different, and its good to go out of routine in the reading experience. Also it seems more punk, but well designed at the same time, and I like that contradiction.
    And it´s good to have a good collection of newspapers: tux dog, marc bell lord of the rings, chimera, and this.
    The only thing is that you can´t read it in bed. I have to lay it down on the table.
    I would keep it as it is and make an annual with the best articles as that “In the studio” book from Comics Art magazine.


  36. Kioskerman says:

    Another one that worked very good in that format was the Cold Heat Special (number 4 and 5 where just amazing comics)

  37. giraffo says:

    I’m not reading the posts but here’s my input:
    I really really want to read this stuff, but unfortunately Providence doesn’t have a real comic book store for me to get at it. so if you DID have that format, I would be pleased for the trade-off just so I could even read it in some kind of form.

  38. Anonymous says:

    I love this format because it’s cheap. I don’t buy the comics journal because it’s too expensive. Simple as that.

    But…if an expanded format allowed for more comics, more writing on comics (extending the comics comics family to guys like Jog seems like an idea that’s really working), etc, I’d be interested. Just don’t let it cost more than 5 dollars or so…a bound edition would be great for libraries, right?

  39. Anonymous says:

    I read a lot on public transportation. Subway, bus, train, etc. And the folio format newspaper is just difficult. The newsprint is amazing, but have you considered tabloid format? Especially if you are hoping to provide an alternative to more “professional” editions of comics criticism, there are few things more proletarian than the tabloid newspaper.

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