TCJ.com/fail

Much of the blogging this week was devoted to sneering and snarking at our host, TCJ.com. I started things off by noting that, after two months, the site still sucks. Suat concurred, only moreso. In comments, former TCJ editor Robert Boyd also agreed. Bill Randall, somewhat despite himself, did a guest post offering tcj.com his professional advice as a web marketer.

A number of folks also weighed in from around the blogosphere, including Johanna Draper Carlson, Heidi at the Beat (Update: and Heidi again, even nastier this time) and Sean Colllins.

In coincidental eat-your-hear-out-news, Comics Comics got a lovely redesign and Fantagraphics publisher had a major article analyzing the direct market and book market which he wrote for…the Comics Reporter. (Both links and schadenfreude courtesy of that Sean Collins link above.)

And also coincidentally — while we were all sneering, tcj.com had what was probably it’s best week thus far, at least in terms of content. They posted a brand spanking new knock down drag out Kevin O’Neil interview conducted by Douglas Wolk; a monumental three part history of the Direct Market from the archives courtesy of Michael, Dirk, and Gary; a short but very good essay by Dirk about the shake-up at DC; and a timely essay on the Captain America vs. tea partiers brou-ha-ha, which even energized the comments for a moment there.

On the one hand, this hits a lot of the things I said I’d like to see more of on tcj.com: interviews, a greater presence from editorial; and more creative use of the archives (I don’t know if I said that last one, but I should have.)

On the other hand…it’s when the content is going great guns that you really feel the crappiness of the site design. The direct market essays have already disappeared down the pooper shoot. Sticking the O’Neill interview to the top of the page seems like a good move given the options — but it still looks amateurish, and results in everything else essentially being invisible for the entire week. And there are still those what-the-fuck moments, this week provided by Ken Smith, who, love him or hate him, needs to be moved to his own blog.

Still, improvement is improvement. I feel more hopeful about tcj.com’s future than I did when I wrote my post at the beginning of the week, and I am duly grateful.

Update: Gary Groth responds with a bunch of good news, including a new staffer, plans for a news feed, and plans to do some more redesign. All of which makes me cautiously optimistic that this may be the last edition of tcj.com/fail.

Also on HU

Our new blogger Caroline Small (better known as Caro if you read our comments sections) started out with a bang, reviewing The Bun Field and discussing copyright and free culture.

Richard Cook reviewed the Planet Hulk DVD.

And I did a short review of the comic about copyright, “Bound By Law?”

Also, inspired by all the web design talk, I added a couple of features to the sidebar there, including a search function and a Recent Comments section. Let me know if the changes work for you all, or if there’s something else I should try to put over there. My wordpress skills are pretty lame…but I can always give it a try.

And no download this week…because I’m busy working on my essay for our Ariel Schrag roundtable, which will start tomorrow. We are focusing on her last book, Likewise, and Ariel herself is going to guest post (probably at the end of the week.) Critic Jason Thompson is also going to do a guest post, so there’ll be a lot of activity here. We’re starting tomorrow, so click back.

Utilitarians Everywhere

At Splice Today I explained why indie rockers Untied States can’t get out of the avant garde alive:

Not that Untied States has just one influence. “Not Fences, Mere Masks,” has a few bars lifted from the Beatles to break up the Sonic Youth. “These Dead Birds” sounds like Sonic Youth pretending to be the Beatles until it shifts into just sounding like Sonic Youth. And “Grey Tangerines” sounds like Robyn Hitchcock fronting Sonic Youth.

Other Links

I liked this discussion of the politics of yaoi.

I liked these awesome Japanese gag cartoons.

And though I maligned him earlier in the week, I nonetheless liked this essay on abstract comics by Kent Worcester.

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