Fantagraphics Returns to Magazine Publishing With the Journal, Nemo

The Comics Journal #303

Next year, The Comics Journal returns to print from Fantagraphics. The best-known, most-respected comic-focused periodical was founded in 1976. Issue #300 came out in November 2009, with #301 in 2011 marking the move to a book format (over 600 pages for $30). Issue #302 followed in 2013, plus there was a website. Now, January 2019 brings the return of the magazine, although it will only publish twice yearly. Continuing the numbering, it will be issue #303, and the two new managing editors are RJ Casey and Kristy Valenti.

The Comics Journal #303

Editor-in-Chief Gary Groth will interview the satirist and children’s book author Tomi Ungerer, so the magazine will clearly continue its history of bucking mainstream trends.

This issue covers the “new mainstream” in American comics and how the marketplace and perception of the medium has drastically shifted since the “graphic novel boom” of the early 2000s and massive hits like Persepolis, Fun Home, and Smile. It also includes sketchbook pages from French-born cartoonist Antoine Cossé, an introduction to Alex Gard’s homoerotic gag cartoons out of the U.S. Navy by Mannie Murphy, Your Black Friend cartoonist Ben Passmore’s examination of the role art and comics have in gentrification, a reconsideration of the comics canon by Eisner Award-winner Dr. Sheena C. Howard, and much more.

The Comics Journal had been a near-monolithic force in my life, and I think its absence has been felt by more people than just me,” explains managing editor RJ Casey. “I’m beyond excited to bring new voices, new ideas, and a new enthusiasm to the Journal.”

“With the knowledge and skills I’ve gained over the last 15 years co-editing nearly 50 issues of the print edition of The Comics Journal, I am excited to help push the Journal forward and continue its evolution,” says managing editor Kristy Valenti. “My goal is to usher in a new era of comics criticism to further explore where the comics medium is going.”, the magazine’s online counterpart, will continue updating every day with completely separate content and managed by editors Tim Hoddler and Tucker Stone.

I think, as more of us spend more time staring into screens, a print read is a welcome alternative. Issue #303 will be color and 160 pages with a cover price of $14.99. Issue #304 will be out in July 2019.

Not as widely reported but potentially as interesting is the return of NEMO: The Classics Comics Library, a periodical dedicated to classic comic strips. It ran 31 issues from Fantagraphics from 1983 to 1992. Editor (then and now) Rick Marschall posted:

I will be announcing more names; more about the contents; more details, in short order… including release date. We are preparing a “manifesto” — more than a call to prospective readers; also an invitation to contributors.

But some things I can say now:
* NEMO 2.0 (NOT its title, just its ID) will be annual or bi-annual;
* It will be oversized, printed on quality stock, with board covers;
* It will have substantial color sections;
* It is planned at approximately 200+ pages.

Nemo’s focus generally will be what the first incarnation’s was:
— the art of cartoons and art form of the comic strip;
— a general hew to the roots of comics; golden age as defined as late 1800s to 1940s and ’50s;
— enthusiastic examinations of cartoons, strips, animation, illustration, political cartoons, graphic satire, poster art and advertising, children’s books, licensing and merchandising, and related forms of movies and animated cartoons;
— running features like Penmen of the Past and Eyewitness to Comics History… and new features like Monographs and Annotated Portfolios.

I hope this comes about. It seems Fantagraphics and Marschall previously announced a substantial book line in 2010 of which only the first two seem to have appeared.

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