The Comics Journal
The Comics Journal
Jay Lynch self-portrait for The Comics Journal #114 (February 1987)
Editor-in-chief Michael Dean (since 2006) Categories comic books news and criticism Frequency monthly Publisher Fantagraphics Books First issue 1977 Country United States Language English Website TCJ.com ISSN 0194-7869
The Comics Journal, often abbreviated TCJ, is an American magazine of news and criticism pertaining to comic books, comic strips and graphic novels. Known for its lengthy interviews with comic creators, pointed editorials and scathing reviews of the products of the mainstream comics industry, the magazine promotes the view that comics are a fine art meriting broader cultural respect, and thus should be evaluated with higher critical standards.
In 1976, Gary Groth and Michael Catron acquired The Nostalgia Journal, a small competitor of the newspaper adzine The Buyer's Guide for Comics Fandom. At the time, Groth and Catron were already publishing Sounds Fine, a similarly formatted adzine for record collectors that they had started after producing Rock 'N Roll Expo '75, held during the July 4th weekend in 1975 in Washington, D.C.
The publication was relaunched as The New Nostalgia Journal with issue #27 (July 1976), and with issue #32 (January 1977), it became The Comics Journal ("a quality publication for the serious comics fan"). Issue #37 (December 1977) adopted a magazine format.
In addition to lengthy interviews with comics industry figures, the Journal has always published criticism—and received it in turn. Starting in the early 2000s, the Journal published a series of annual specials combining its usual critical format with extended samples of comics from specially selected contributors.
With issue #300 (November 2009), The Comics Journal ceased its semi-monthly print publication. As part of this transition, TCJ shifted from an eight-times a year publishing schedule to a larger, more elaborate, semi-annual format supported by a new website.
Over the years The Journal has been involved in a handful of lawsuits. Artist Rich Buckler attempted legal action for a review that called him a plagiarist while printing his panels next to earlier and quite similar Jack Kirby art. A Groth interview with science fiction writer Harlan Ellison sparked a lawsuit by writer Michael Fleisher, over an informal discussion of Fleisher's work and temperament. Co-defendants Groth and Ellison won the case, but emerged from the suit estranged.
The Comics Journal Library: The Writers (2006) reprinted the Ellison interview with the cover blurb "Harlan Ellison: Famous Comics Dilettante", for which in part, Ellison shortly thereafter filed suit against the Journal, Groth and Thompson.
The Journal has on occasion published, as cover features, lengthy court transcripts of comics-related civil suits. Notable instances include the Fleisher suit and Marv Wolfman's failed suit against Marvel Comics over ownership of the character Blade.
The Journal features book-length interviews, conducted by Gary Groth and others. Noteworthy interviews include Gil Kane in #38, Steve Gerber in #41, Harlan Ellison in #53, Dennis O'Neil in #64, Robert Crumb in #113, and Charles M. Schulz in #200.
Staff members and regular contributors
Gary Groth has been the Journal's publisher and nominal editor for almost all of its existence. Staff members and regular contributors have included Kim Thompson, Greg Stump, Eric Millikin, Eric Reynolds, Ng Suat Tong, R. Fiore, R.C. Harvey, Kenneth Smith, Don Phelps, Robert Boyd, Tom Heintjes, Michael Dean, Tom Spurgeon, Robert Rodi, Gene Phillips, Marilyn Bethke, Cat Yronwode, Heidi MacDonald, Lee Wochner, Arn Saba, Ted White, Bob Levin, Carter Scholz, and Noah Berlatsky. Guest contributors have included Dave Sim and Trina Robbins.
- Carol Sobocinski, 198?
- Greg S. Baisden, 1988–1989
- Robert Boyd, 198?-1990
- Helena Harvilicz, 1990–1992
- Frank Young, 1992–1994
- Tom Spurgeon, 1994-1999 (also executive editor 1998-1999)
- Eric Evans and Darren Hick, 1999–2001
- Anne Elizabeth Moore, 2001–2002
- Milo George, 2002–2004
- Dirk Deppey, 2004–2006
- Michael Dean, 2006–2011
- Kristy Valenti, 2010–2011
- Dan Nadel and Tim Hodler, 2011-present
Top 100 Comics list
The Journal published a 20th-century comics canon in its 210th issue (February 1999). To compile the list, eight contributors and editors made eight separate top 100 (or fewer than 100 for some) lists of American works. These eight lists were then informally combined, and tweaked into an ordered list.
- Krazy Kat by George Herriman
- Peanuts by Charles Schulz
- Pogo by Walt Kelly
- Maus by Art Spiegelman
- Little Nemo in Slumberland by Winsor McCay
- Feiffer by Jules Feiffer
- Donald Duck by Carl Barks
- Mad Comics by Harvey Kurtzman and various
- Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary by Justin Green
- The Weirdo stories of Robert Crumb
- Thimble Theatre by E.C. Segar
- EC's "New Trend" war comics by Harvey Kurtzman and various
- Wigwam Bam (L&R) by Jaime Hernandez
- Blood of Palomar (L&R) by Gilbert Hernandez
- The Spirit by Will Eisner
- RAW Magazine, edited by Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly
- The Acme Novelty Library by Chris Ware
- Polly and Her Pals by Cliff Sterrett
- The Sketchbooks of Robert Crumb
- Uncle Scrooge by Carl Barks
- The New Yorker cartoons of Peter Arno
- The Death of Speedy Ortíz (L&R) by Jaime Hernandez
- Terry and the Pirates by Milton Caniff
- Flies on the Ceiling (L&R) by Jaime Hernandez
- Wash Tubbs by Roy Crane
- The Jungle Book by Harvey Kurtzman
- Palestine by Joe Sacco
- The Mishkin saga by Kim Deitch
- Gasoline Alley by Frank King
- The Fantastic Four by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
- Poison River (L&R) by Gilbert Hernandez
- Plastic Man by Jack Cole
- Dick Tracy by Chester Gould
- The theatrical caricatures of Al Hirschfeld
- The Amazing Spider-Man by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
- Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
- Doonesbury by Garry Trudeau
- The autobiographical comics from Yummy Fur by Chester Brown
- The editorial cartoons of Pat Oliphant
- The Kin-der-Kids by Lyonel Feininger
- From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell
- Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
- Amphigorey by Edward Gorey
- The Idiots Abroad (Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers) by Gilbert Shelton and Paul Mavrides
- Paul Auster's City of Glass by Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli
- Cages by Dave McKean
- The Buddy Bradley saga by Peter Bagge
- The cartoons of James Thurber
- Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud
- Tantrum by Jules Feiffer
- The Alec stories of Eddie Campbell
- It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken by Seth
- The editorial cartoons of Herblock
- EC's "New Trend" horror comics by Al Feldstein and various
- The Frank stories by Jim Woodring
- Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer by Ben Katchor
- A Contract with God by Will Eisner
- The New Yorker cartoons of Charles Addams
- Little Lulu by John Stanley
- Alley Oop by V. T. Hamlin
- American Splendor #1-10 by Harvey Pekar and various
- Little Orphan Annie by Harold Gray
- Hey Look! by Harvey Kurtzman
- Goodman Beaver by Harvey Kurtzman and Bill Elder
- Bringing Up Father by George McManus
- Zippy the Pinhead by Bill Griffith
- The Passport by Saul Steinberg
- Barnaby by Crockett Johnson
- God's Man by Lynd Ward
- Jimbo by Gary Panter
- The Book of Jim by Jim Woodring
- The short stories in Rubber Blanket by David Mazzucchelli
- The Cartoon History of the Universe by Larry Gonick
- Ernie Pook's Comeek by Lynda Barry
- Black Hole by Charles Burns
- The Master Race story by Bernard Krigstein and Al Feldstein
- Li'l Abner by Al Capp
- Sugar and Spike by Sheldon Mayer
- Captain Marvel by C. C. Beck
- Zap Comix by Robert Crumb and various
- The Lily stories (Daddy's Girl) by Debbie Drechsler
- Caricature by Daniel Clowes
- V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd
- Why I Hate Saturn by Kyle Baker
- The Willie and Joe cartoons of Bill Mauldin
- Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse
- The New Yorker cartoons of George Price
- Jack Kirby's Fourth World by Jack Kirby
- The autobiographical comics of Spain Rodriguez
- Mr. Punch by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean
- Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
- The "Pictopia" story by Alan Moore and Don Simpson
- Dennis the Menace by Hank Ketcham
- The humor comics of Basil Wolverton
- Los Tejanos by Jack Jackson (alias Jaxon)
- The Dirty Plotte series by Julie Doucet
- The Hannah Story by Carol Tyler
- Barney Google by Billy DeBeck
- The Bungle Family by Harry J. Tuthill
- Prince Valiant by Hal Foster
Year Organisation Award Result 1990 Harvey Award Best Biographical, Historical, or Journalistic Presentation Won 1991 Won 1992 Won 1993 Won 1995 Won 1996 Eisner Award Best Comics-Related Periodical/Publication Won 1997 Best Comics-Related Periodical/Publication Won Harvey Award Best Biographical, Historical, or Journalistic Presentation Won 1998 Eisner Award Best Comics-Related Periodical/Publication Won Harvey Award Best Biographical, Historical, or Journalistic Presentation Won 1999 Eisner Award Best Comics-Related Periodical/Publication Won Harvey Award Best Biographical, Historical, or Journalistic Presentation Won 2000 Won 2001 Won 2003 Best Anthology
Comics Journal Summer Special 2002
Won 2005 Eagle Award Favourite Magazine About Comics Won 2006 Harvey Award Best Biographical, Historical, or Journalistic Presentation Won 2009 Eisner Award Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism Nominated
- List of Comics Journal interview subjects — provides issue numbers with interview subjects.
- ^ Wolk, Douglas. Reading Comics (2007) Da Capo Press. p.68. ISBN 0-306-81509-5
- ^ a b c Brad Brooks; Pilcher, Tim. The Essential Guide to World Comics. London: Collins & Brown. pp. 32–36. ISBN 1-84340-300-5.
- ^ Inge, M. Thomas, Comics as Culture. p.153.
- ^ Skinn, Dez. Comix: The Underground Revolution. p.244.
- ^ The 300th and final magazine-sized issue of the Comics Journal The Comics Journal #300 free and online
- ^ Phegley, Kiel. "Rethinking 'The Comics Journal'", Comic Book Resources, October 30, 2009
- ^ Spurgeon, Tom. "TCJ Moves More Dramatically On-Line; Print Version To Come Out Two Times A Year", The Comics Reporter, October 27, 2009
- ^ "Plagiarism: Rich Buckler Signs his Name to Jack Kirby's Work," The Comics Journal #83 (Aug. 1983), pp. 33-35.
- ^ "Rich Buckler Answers His Critics," The Comics Journal #86 (November 1983), pp. 28-31.
- ^ "Rich Buckler Sues Comics Journal and two of its Writers for Libel," The Comics Journal #88 (Jan. 1984), p. 13.
- ^ "Buckler Drops Comics Journal Libel Suit," The Comics Journal #93 (Sept. 1984), pp. 11-12.
- ^ "Newswatch: Notice From The Editors," The Comics Journal #59 (October 1980), p. 19.
- ^ "Harlan Ellison Out of Comics Journal Libel Case," The Comics Journal #69 (December 1981), p. 29.
- ^ "Newswatch: Comics Journal wins Fleisher libel suit," The Comics Journal #113 (December 1986), p. 11.
- ^ a b The Comics Journal #115 (April 1987), pp. 51-142: Special section on the Fleisher lawsuit, including the testimony of Ellison, Groth, and Jim Shooter; the disposition of Dean Mullaney, closing arguments; and jurors' recollections.
- ^ Deppey, Dirk. "EXTRA: Harlan Ellison sues Fantagraphics" Journalista! blog post (2006). Accessed 2006-11-12.
- ^ The Comics Journal #115, April 1987
- ^ The Comics Journal #236, August 2001
- ^ The Comics Journal #236 at The Comic Journal website, August 17, 2001
- ^ "Journalista"
- ^ The Comics Journal #210, pages 34-108
- ^ 1990 Harvey Award winners at the Harvey awards website
- ^ 1991 Harvey Award winners at the Harvey awards website
- ^ 1992 Harvey Award winners at the Harvey awards website
- ^ 1993 Harvey Award winners at the Harvey awards website
- ^ 1995 Harvey Award winners at the Harvey awards website
- ^ a b c d List of Eisner Award winners at the San Diego Comic-Cob International website
- ^ 1996 Harvey Award winners at the Harvey awards website
- ^ 1998 Harvey Award winners at the Harvey awards website
- ^ 1999 Harvey Award winners at the Harvey awards website
- ^ 2000 Harvey Award winners at the Harvey awards website
- ^ 2001 Harvey Award winners at the Harvey awards website
- ^ 2003 Harvey Award winners at the Harvey awards website
- ^ 2005 Eagle Award winners at the Eagle Awards website
- ^ 2006 Harvey Award winners at the Harvey awards website
- ^ 2009 Eisner Award Nominees Announced (press release), Comic Book Resources, April 7, 2009
- Groth, Gary (editor), Spurgeon, Tom (executive editor). The Comics Journal #210. Fantagraphics Books, February 1999. ISSN 0194-7869
- Dean, Mike; Moore, Elizabeth Anne. "Timeline". The Comics Journal #235 (July 2001), p. 82.
- Dean, Mike. "The Comics Journal Examines Its Own Navel," The Comics Journal #235 (July 2001).
- Groth, Gary, and Robert Fiore, eds. The New Comics: Interviews from the Pages of The Comics Journal. New York : Berkley, 1988. ISBN 0-425-11366-3.
- Complete collection of The Comics Journal and The Nostalgia Journal held by the Michigan State University Comic Art Collection.
- Official website
- TCJ Covers, Contents and Mastheads at The Comics Reporter
- History of The Nostalgia Journal
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