Thursday, April 21, 2011

Freaking out about The Comics Journal archives!

If you pay any attention to the comics blogosphere, you probably know that there's been a recent shake-up at The Comics Journal's website, and it goes way beyond a mere cosmetic facelift. New editorial team and format, regular updates from a wealth of contributors, a totally rad new Cartoonist's Diary by Pascal Girard, and lots of good reading material.

But what I'm most excited about are the archived back issues of the print journal, going as far back as 1970s when it was launched. These are getting scanned and uploaded gradually and are currently available to read for free on the website. It's an amazing resource for anyone who's interested about the history of comics and of comics criticism/journalism, something that you could spends weeks or months exploring.

The only catch is that they will only be available for a limited time unless you get a subscription to the print journal. Any moment, now, these will get locked behind a pay wall.

It's tempting to go nuts and try to devour as much as possible while the archives are freely available, but it's completely overwhelming. I look at it and I don't know where to start. It's kind of giving me a panic attack.

I'm sure the current journal, which has now been reformatted as an annual book-sized publication, is worth reading, so I'm considering buying a subscription. But on the other hand, I can't even keep up with all the comics-related writing that gets posted on blogs for free every week, so I don't know how much sense it makes for me to start buying large books filled with more writing about comics. I spend much more time reading about comics that I spend reading comics or writing about them myself, and I feel like this is a bit of a problem. I should be reading the comics themselves and developing my own ideas about them and maybe even working toward creating some comics myself, or at least having some kind of intelligent, critical discourse with them. The more time I spend absorbing what others have to say about comics, the less confident I become about my own ability to find my own voice and contribute to the discussion. On the other hand, I always feel like I'm at a disadvantage because I'm fairly new to comics and I have much to learn about the history of the medium and of the discourse surrounding it.



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