Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I don’t know Tom Spurgeon personally, but you almost feel like you do if you read his award-winning comics-industry media blog THE COMICS REPORTER on a daily basis.
Trust me, it’s habit forming, like a can of Pringles: once you start, you can’t stop. Because aside from the breaking news and posting interesting industry data and trivia, Tom has constructed some fun daily and weekly departments that hook you in, from his extensive Sunday interviews to his morning birthday shout-outs, to links to other comics sites and his “Five For Friday” reader-participation shortlist feature.
But the reason I really enjoy following THE COMICS REPORTER is because Tom does not talk down his readers or pretend to know all of the answers about some of the thornier issues he’s posting about. In fact, he often freely admits that he doesn’t know a damn thing about what he’s talking about. Ironically, that lets me trust his reporting all the more because when he’s trying to make sense of it all, I get the sense he’s thinking things through and asking the thorough questions and not just posting hearsay as fact.
Spurgeon is also very frank about his comic-book tastes and biases and he makes no apologies about it (but luckily, he has a wide breadth of taste that spans from classic Kirby and schlocky Marvel/DC stuff to the manga to art/indie realms).
Anyway, Tom comes from a reporting background that includes a stint on THE COMICS JOURNAL. I’m glad his site is around. It’s a refreshing antidote from the know-it-all, Big Two suck-up sites and the likeminded magazines which shall remain nameless even though we all know which ones they are.

****What is the most annoying, irritating aspect or details regarding
running a comics news blog that the average reader of it wouldn’t even
think about?

I don’t find much of anything about blogging specifically annoying or irritating, Michael, and I’m always a bit confused by the people who look at this tremendous opportunity to publish on one’s own terms and build an audience as some sort of chore that must constantly be negotiated. Using blogging tools to write about comics is easy, and it’s fun, and getting some sort of return on doing so is a dream come true.
Although it’s not specific to blogging, I’d say that the most irritating thing about the last couple of years in comics coverage generally is working with some of the studio, start-up and established book publisher publicity teams that are really contemptuous of on-line sources and non-mainstream media and make all sorts of weird, imperious demands just because they think they deserve to.

****What do you miss about working in a print publication?

I love the day after you send a print magazine off to press and you’re still sort of jazzed by getting another one out the door and you clean up your desk and you pay attention to some old chores and you get to live in this moment of satisfaction for a few hours.
I worked for a newspaper for years that had a pneumatic tube system to send page proofs back and forth from the newsroom to the paste-up room. I don’t think there’s a building in the world that couldn’t be improved by the addition of a pneumatic tube system.

****Can you name three comics-industry persons, living or dead, would
you love to have dinner with, but whom you've never had a chance to
meet in person?

The first person I’d invite would be Rowland Emett (1906-1990), the PUNCH cartoonist turned kinetic sculpture artist. Before he started doing these crazy, lyrical machines he did a number of lovely cartoons about trains. I’d love to ask him about them.
The second person I’d invite would be Oliver Harrington (1912-1995), the great editorial cartoonist. He had the most interesting life of just about any 20th-century comics person, and one of the hardest. His life was shaped by two of the great operating forces of the 20th Century, American racism and the Cold War, and I‘m sure he‘d have something interesting to say about both.
The third person would be Crockett Johnson (1906-1975), whose BARNABY I loved so very much when I was a kid and still love now.
(Drinking would be a different three, of course.)

****Barbecue beef ribs or sushi?

I’m not sure exactly what the question is, but I know that the answer is sushi.

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