Viva Comics Alliance!

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This has been a rough week for the internet. The news that Comics Alliance was to be shut down, thus removing us all from our right to read daily articles from Andy Khouri, Joe Hughes, David Brothers, Andrew Wheeler and many others, was a blow to the head. This followed on only a day after finding out that the AV Club had lost five of their top writers in an exodus which hasn’t quite been explained. A small army of wonderful writers have suddenly vanished from our day-to-day lives.

ca2 Viva Comics Alliance!

And it’s alarming, more than anything else. If Comics Alliance was known for anything – aside from the much-needed essays on prejudice and progression, aside from discussion of Batman punching people with car parts, aside from advice on how to make and celebrate your favourite characters via cosplay – it was for being a website where people enjoyed being immersed in their favourite culture. There’s a tendency, especially as you find yourself growing older than your childhood heroes, for people to turn cynical and dismissive, to take joy in hating things and seeking out misery. It’s prevalent all across the internet. No matter what your passion is, people online want to tell you you’re stupid for having it. Comics Alliance, to me, was a site which refused to fall into that pit.*

I got into comics about five years ago, maybe, back in the halcyon days of Joss Whedon writing Astonishing X-Men. And, as I did whenever I watched new episodes of Lost or heard new albums by Rilo Kiley, I turned on the computer to see what other people were saying about this new thing I loved. Not good things! People weren’t keen on it, for reasons which have grown on me over the years. But that wasn’t what I wanted to hear about at the time, being a new comics fan who didn’t know anything about the medium I’d tried out on a lark. I wanted to hear instead about the theories and history behind the comics, to see people pick apart Grant Morrison’s run for secrets, and to get an idea of the scope behind Chris Claremont’s original vision for the characters. I wanted to see reasons why comics were the best thing.

ca1 Viva Comics Alliance!

Comics Alliance was the site which provided that. Rather than robotic, lifeless pieces that told the news and left things there, I got to read essays about characters and culture – and find out about the writers too. And the artists. It slowly helped me develop an interest which moved from solely Joss Whedon to then the X-Men, and from the X-Men to Marvel, then to DC, then Image, and onwards. Now I’m here, writing about all kinds of things. The site felt fresh and the writing spoke to me – somebody who hadn’t spent thirty years getting progressively more and more worn out by a comics industry which may or may not care for its fanbase. Alongside websites like The AV Club, Comics Alliance started to push the idea on me that mainstream comics were something worth writing about and dissecting.

It was funny, and the writing spoke to me – even if for some reason Chris Sims insisted on being wrong about EVERYTHING. It pushed me to try new comics and find new places, and made it clear that comics were a medium I could pursue and write about myself. Comics criticism doesn’t always have to be snobby essays about stuffy independent cartoonists from the 1970s who wrote 18000 page comics about door handles – it could be about comics people actually read! If there’s a reason I’m here right now – apart from Heidi’s personal desire to torture the internet via giving me a platform – it’s that there were websites like Comics Alliance which pushed me to think about comics in more detail.

comicsalliance Viva Comics Alliance!

So I personally owe Comics Alliance my thanks. They took the piss, had a laugh, and more importantly – at their finest, they were the best advert for comics that you could find. They made it fun, rather than stuffy. Fresh, rather than stale. And hopefully the writers will all continue to do that for years to come – Matt Wilson, Lauren Davis, Bethany Fong and David Uzumeri are all still out there, guys! All the writers are still out there, and still writing about comics. It’s our duty to track them down and continue to follow them on whatever new projects they get up to.

Thanks for getting me interested in comics, guys! I hope I can be even one fifth as boundlessly excited about comics as you’ve been over the years.

 

*Apart from when it comes to Lucy Lane

Comments

  1. Armando says:

    So true, I agree with everything you said (although I loved Chris Sim’s feature articles). I first got into Comic Book Resources and Newsarama, which are great sites for what they do, but nobody quite made you feel enthusiastic about comics and the culture that surrounds it like Comics Alliance did. This was a stupid, stupid decision by AOL (the latest in a long line) and I can only hope another site quickly springs up fill the need left by our dear CA.

  2. CA should continue without AOL. In the same way that CA was begat by The Foundry, they need to regroup, because the voices that came out of these efforts were SO VERY needed in the comics industry. With enough content channels existing without a corporate mothership, there is not reason all of these talented writers and thinkers can’t find place of their own on the InterWebs. Bleeding Cool exists… Nuff’ Said.

  3. caged wisdom says:

    The AVClub staffers seem to have been lured away into another project run by other, former AVClub staff.

    http://www.avclub.com/articles/an-update-from-the-av-club,97016/

  4. Will Naslund says:

    “No matter what your passion is, people online want to tell you you’re stupid for having it. Comics Alliance, to me, was a site which refused to fall into that pit.”

    You’ve got to be kidding. Though some material on CA (most of Andrew Wheeler’s writing, some of David Brothers’) was interesting and provocative — the general editorial thrust of CA was ‘the stuff you like (especially if you have the temerity to like any of DC and/or Marvel’s current offerings) is problematic and you should feel bad for liking it.’ and also ‘comic fans suck — especially if they’re dudes’.

    Now I guess one could argue that the hipster-progressivism / it’s-only-cool-to-dig-superheroes-if-you-can-do-so-ironically mode that CA generally operated in somehow represented a new, heretofore underrepresented, voice in the larger blogospheric commentariat — but it was hardly, IMHO, a valuable one — let alone one that had the intellectual integrity to engage in the discussions it initiated in anything resembling in good faith. Few, if any, of the writers there engaged in discussions in the comment threads (which themselves were poorly/ arbitrarily/spottily moderated) and most were content to straw-man and mis-characterize dissenting viewpoints to absurd and dishonest degree.

    Comics bloggers who approach their fandom experience from a progressive standpoint are fine by me. For example, Colin Smith, of Too Busy Thinking About My Comics, has done just that from his blog’s inception — but he does so in a way that fosters thoughtful dilaogue rather than the hipster-progressive gameplaying that was CA’s primary stock in trade.

    I’ll keep a look out for Wheeler’s new material, check in on Brothers’ writing at 4th letter from time to time, and consider revisiting Sims’ stuff if he remembers how to be funny (as opposed to the self-satisfied internet white-knighting that characterizes the bulk of his recent output) — but on the whole, CA’s dependence on ‘social justice’ wankery and bad faith discursive tactics did the comics blogosphere no favors and, without them, the overall signal-to-noise ratio can only improve.

  5. They should all go and post at

    http://www.comiccollectorsguide.com

  6. Red Comet says:

    I’m surprised that a lot of news/blog comics, games, and pop culture sites are even still around given how little money they bring in for the size of the staff that they have. I guess that’s why most of them are also corporate owned instead of independent.

    In the future I expect most nerd sites to either be corporate owned employing good little mouthpieces (a job in advertising basically) or independently run sites by someone with a day job that likes to put their opinions out there.

  7. awesomedude says:

    i agree with Will. I loved Comics Alliance, and they produced great thoughtful pieces that i enjoyed BUT………………

    they also made it a point to hate on white male comics readers. never so much so that i couldn’t enjoy most of the site, but denying that it was there is silly. It was totally there.

  8. M. Gaze says:

    It was the perfect site for stunted pseudo-sophisticates whose emotional dial was permanently stuck at “bored scorn.”

    Good riddance.

  9. Elliot says:

    It’s a shame. I enjoyed much of what they offered up. Their willingness to be both enthusiastic and critical about the genre they loved, and to engage with social and political issues were for me the best things about the site. They introduced me to a lot of good comics. Plus they pissed off most of the right people.

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  1. [...] Sadly, popular comics website Comics Alliance was shut down by parent AOL over the weekend. The Beat bids it a fond farewell. [...]

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