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#505961 - 12/31/02 03:59 PM In Praise & Defense of Rich Johnston
NicholasWyche Offline
Member

Registered: 10/17/02
Posts: 405
Loc: Memphis, TN, USA
I read Rich's newest column yesterday and found myself laughing hysterically. One question kept popping into my mind though; Why does the industry and online fandom give this man so much shit?
I've been reading Rich's column (in all of it's various homes) for the last couple of years and I've noticed a few things:

1) Accuracy-- More often than not this guy gets it right on the head. He consistently breaks new stories that turn out to be dead-bang on the money.

2) Integrity-- Rich doesn't pick sides or favorites. He dishes the dirt on every individual and company equally. He finds information and delivers it, no matter if it will make him friends or make him enemies. While Newsarama is content to steal stories from Wizard and print press releases as if they were news, Rich actually goes out and digs up information. Pulse (while a little better than Newsarama) still wears it's loyalties and preferences on it's sleeve while pretending to be journalists. Rich holds no cow sacred and gores them all in equality.

3)Entertainment-- In addition to all of the above, Rich's column is almost always funny, engaging, and entertaining while still being informative. And in the end, isn't that what any sane person wants from an information website.

In the final analysis, I think there is only one TRUE online mainstream comics journalist, and that individual is Rich Johnston.

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#505962 - 12/31/02 04:00 PM Re: In Praise & Defense of Rich Johnston
NicholasWyche Offline
Member

Registered: 10/17/02
Posts: 405
Loc: Memphis, TN, USA
I will need to amend the above statement with one caveat: As great as Rich Johnston is, dirk Deppy's JOURNALISTA! weblog is threatening to overtake him based on breadth of coverage and the fact that he updates it daily.

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#505963 - 12/31/02 05:49 PM Re: In Praise & Defense of Rich Johnston
Shoegaze99 Offline
Member

Registered: 06/15/02
Posts: 5325
Loc: Not Applicable, USA
Nick,

While I understand where your questions come from, since Rich Johnston does get slammed all the time despite doing what he does quite well, I think the answer is a pretty simply one: He's a dirt-digger and gossip guy, and people hate dirt-diggers and gossip guys. Many fans hate them because the dirt gets slung on their favorite creators; reader types hate them because they focus on the personalities behind comics rather than the comics themselves; and creators hate them because they're targets! It's much the same for those entertainment industry types whose job it is to dish out the dirt that stars's publicity people want kept under the rug. People pay attention to what they say with one side of their mouth while talking about what dirtbags they are with the other.

At least, that's my view.
_________________________
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#505964 - 12/31/02 06:08 PM Re: In Praise & Defense of Rich Johnston
Dirk Deppey Offline
Member

Registered: 12/10/99
Posts: 524
Loc: Seattle, WA, USA
For what it's worth, I read Johnston's column compulsively. I don't link to it that often, as there's only so much overlap in our interests, but it's always a great read.
_________________________
Read The Comics Journal :
for 30 years, the most respected and controversial magazine
of comics-related news and criticism in America.

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#505965 - 12/31/02 06:27 PM Re: In Praise & Defense of Rich Johnston
NicholasWyche Offline
Member

Registered: 10/17/02
Posts: 405
Loc: Memphis, TN, USA
Speaking of compulsion, Dirk, I have to check out Journalista! every day. You constantly have items that amaze and interest me. Thank you for your great work and keep it up.
The only thing your site doesn't have that I would love to see (and if it does, I'm missing it) is a forum for readers of your blog to discuss some of the items brought up. I don't ever see any discussion of the items over on the TCJ board and there are often some thought-provoking topics.
I imagine it would be a gigantic pain in the neck to maintain that forum, though, as well as the TCJ boards.

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#505966 - 12/31/02 06:27 PM Re: In Praise & Defense of Rich Johnston
Tom Spurgeon Offline
Member

Registered: 12/24/98
Posts: 1095
Loc: WCW Special Forces
I like Rich's column, too, although I have no idea who he's talking about half the time and don't care about 95 percent of the time. I think it's funny that someone would do gossip about comics, because the scene is so tiny, scattered and inbred and most of the people are so boring. One of the reasons we used to run a gossip column in the Comics Journal is because we thought it was funny to run items on the same four people every month. It's like gossiping about actuaries.

Anyway, he's annoyingly up front about it being a gossip column, and as far as I know he's always willing to print a documented refutation, so most of the shitty things I read about him just seem to me to be people who don't understand what a gossip column does. Although now that I think about it, maybe it's people who are mad that people who read gossip column accept it as true, which I could see being a particular problem amongst comics fans. But that isn't really Rich's fault. If that's true, it's the fault of the unsophisticated readership.

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#505967 - 12/31/02 06:33 PM Re: In Praise & Defense of Rich Johnston
NicholasWyche Offline
Member

Registered: 10/17/02
Posts: 405
Loc: Memphis, TN, USA
Quote:
Originally posted by Shoegaze99:
Nick,

While I understand where your questions come from, since Rich Johnston does get slammed all the time despite doing what he does quite well, I think the answer is a pretty simply one: He's a dirt-digger and gossip guy, and people hate dirt-diggers and gossip guys. Many fans hate them because the dirt gets slung on their favorite creators; reader types hate them because they focus on the personalities behind comics rather than the comics themselves; and creators hate them because they're targets! It's much the same for those entertainment industry types whose job it is to dish out the dirt that stars's publicity people want kept under the rug. People pay attention to what they say with one side of their mouth while talking about what dirtbags they are with the other.

At least, that's my view.


Valid point, 'Gaze. I would only counter with the following thoughts: Rich is, in reality, doing the same thing that print/broadcast journalists do. Or, at least, he is closer to a genuine journalist than any other onlne comics "news" person/venue. He goes out and digs up "dirt" (information) that the other venues either ignore or are not willing to do the work to get. He then publishes the items AND he identifies wether they have been corroborated or not. He even goes to the extent of putting a BS-barometer on each item to gauge how likely they are to be true.
When it comes to actual news, all of the other sites I've seen simply netcast press releases and other company-sanitized information for mass consumption. I can understand that the publishers (and the creators) want to control the information that is released about them, but when the subject of the news item controls the spin, the truth is very seldom to follow.
I would say you observations about why they (and the fans) get upset is spot on. No one likes it when they (or their heroes) get splashed with the truth. And, like it or not, Rich gets the truth more often than he deosn't.

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#505968 - 12/31/02 07:21 PM Re: In Praise & Defense of Rich Johnston
Dirk Deppey Offline
Member

Registered: 12/10/99
Posts: 524
Loc: Seattle, WA, USA
Quote:
Originally posted by NicholasWyche:
Speaking of compulsion, Dirk, I have to check out Journalista! every day. You constantly have items that amaze and interest me. Thank you for your great work and keep it up.
The only thing your site doesn't have that I would love to see (and if it does, I'm missing it) is a forum for readers of your blog to discuss some of the items brought up. I don't ever see any discussion of the items over on the TCJ board and there are often some thought-provoking topics.
I imagine it would be a gigantic pain in the neck to maintain that forum, though, as well as the TCJ boards.


Thanks for the kind words, Nicholas.

¡Journalista! is hand-coded; putting in links to message board threads for each item would have to be done manually, and is therefore officially more trouble than it's worth. Besides, starting new threads each time I updated the weblog strikes me as too egotistical. I assume that if someone wants to discuss something they read in ¡Journalista!, they'll start a thread themselves.
_________________________
Read The Comics Journal :
for 30 years, the most respected and controversial magazine
of comics-related news and criticism in America.

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#505969 - 01/01/03 02:00 PM Re: In Praise & Defense of Rich Johnston
Jamie Coville Offline
Member

Registered: 01/23/99
Posts: 660
I know some creators hate (or dislike) Johnston for saying "X" title will be cancelled. Word spreads around and that it came from a rumor column doesn't always spread with it.

As a result, readers drop the title and retailers drop their orders. Quite often cancellation rumors happen to borderline titles and the rumor could kill it. Which really sucks if it's a false rumor. Sometimes the freelancers working on it really need the money.

But I honestly don't blame Rich for this. He quite often tries to help the rumored cancelled titles. Deadpool and Black Panther being titles he's "reported" on numerous times but hadn't been cancelled.

And the ugly truth is he's sometimes right. I do recall him saying previously that the freelancers had no idea their title was cancelled until it popped up in his column. Then after phoning their editor, they find out it's true. This is a good thing as it gives the freelancer more time to find new work.

I recall a few years back when Larsen was working on Nova, Marvel had decided it was cancelled before the 1st issue shipped and they wanted him to keep it quite. They were hoping to catch people "by surprise" with the cancellation so nobody would drop the title.

After a few months Larsen ignored them and began telling people unless sales went up the title was going to be axed. He tried to bring up sales, but with little success. Title was cancelled as originally planned, with issue #7.
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Jamie Coville
http://www.TheGraphicNovels.com

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#505970 - 01/02/03 11:00 AM Re: In Praise & Defense of Rich Johnston
Lev Bronstein Offline
Member

Registered: 07/06/02
Posts: 52
Loc: Montreal
Originally posted by Tom Spurgeon but emphasis is mine!
Quote:
I like Rich's column, too, although I have no idea who he's talking about half the time and don't care about 95 percent of the time. I think it's funny that someone would do gossip about comics, because the scene is so tiny, scattered and inbred and most of the people are so boring. One of the reasons we used to run a gossip column in the Comics Journal is because we thought it was funny to run items on the same four people every month. It's like gossiping about actuaries.

Anyway, he's annoyingly up front about it being a gossip column, and as far as I know he's always willing to print a documented refutation, so most of the shitty things I read about him just seem to me to be people who don't understand what a gossip column does. Although now that I think about it, maybe it's people who are mad that people who read gossip column accept it as true, which I could see being a particular problem amongst comics fans. But that isn't really Rich's fault. If that's true, it's the fault of the unsophisticated readership



Tom, you've just boiled down the Comics Journal philosophy in two brilliant paragraphs.

I have no idea who he's talking about half the time and don't care about 95 percent of the time.
Comics Journal: Only aware of what interests TCJ.

the scene is so tiny, scattered and inbred and most of the people are so boring.
Comics Journal: This month featuring an in-depth interview with Seth/ Chester Brown/ A Hernandez/ Joe Matt. Repeat sequence interminably.

it's the fault of the unsophisticated readership
Comics Journal: If you don't agree with us, you're stupid.

It's so very fortunate for their employees that Fantagraphics publishes some of the best comics literature, and massive amounts of comics pornography. Pays the rent. I doubt that TCJ does, unless contributors (as with most vanity press endeavours) work for free.

-Lev

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#505971 - 01/02/03 12:08 PM Re: In Praise & Defense of Rich Johnston
Chad Anderson Offline
Member

Registered: 10/26/01
Posts: 57
Um, Lev, sorry for the thread drift, but I think you're a tad off base. First, I think Tom was speaking for himself, not the Journal (does he even work there any more?).

And while it's true that the Journal doesn't do as much reporting on the mainstream as the other comics news outlets, it's not like they totally ignore it, either. I'm going off the top of my head, so I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot of stuff, but I seem to remember a pretty lengthy interview with Alex Ross in recent memory, as well as an interview with Steve Rude in the last couple of months. And when the Journal does interview a mainstream creator (or any creator, for that matter), you can be sure that the interview will be fairly definitive, as opposed to the pretty shallow interviews you see in most other publications.

In addition, even if they did totally ignore the mainstream comics world, so what? How often do CBG and Wizard report on Top Shelf or the Drawn and Quarterly folks? Between those two publications, the TwoMorrows stuff and all the online news outlets, I think fans of the mainstream are pretty well served. Or, to put it another way, just because Rolling Stone doesn't cover classical music doesn't mean they're evil, it just means that classical music's not part of their editorial focus, and I think that Gary Groth and all the Fantagraphics folks are pretty up front about their bias against superheroes. I personally disagree with that bias, but I'm not going to let it keep me from enjoying all that TCJ has to offer.

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#505972 - 01/02/03 12:34 PM Re: In Praise & Defense of Rich Johnston
Matt Brady_dup1 Offline
Member

Registered: 08/31/99
Posts: 1517
Just to offer the democratic response....

Quote:
Originally posted by NicholasWyche:
While Newsarama is content to steal stories from Wizard and print press releases as if they were news, Rich actually goes out and digs up information.


I'm still waiting for someone to offer the example of the story that was "stolen" (meaning, I assume, taken from Wizard whole cloth without any work having been done on Newsarama's own...) from Wizard. Occasionally, we've made deals with publishers to break stories online that Wizard has a print exclusive to, but as for stealing, I'm still waiting for examples of what seems to have become a mantra that's swallowed and repeated without an independent thought.

But you're right on one count - I've never actually dug up information on my own. My office doesn't even have a phone! Everything written up on Newsarama is handed to us on a silver platter by little Asian boys who are owned by the big publishers. They only give me stories that are approved for publication by a committee that is, to this day, shrouded in mystery. That committee makes sure none of the stories will get any publisher angry, of course.

Gotta run - one just rang my doorbell now....oooo - maybe it's from Marvel!

In all seriousness, at least with Newsarama, I think you're comparing apples with oranges, and getting mad when you're finding that apples aren't orange-colored, come in sections with a removable skin, and are citrus.

Generally, we cover different areas. I wouldn't dream of running a picture of Mark Mmillar on Newsarama poinintg out how he apparently has gotten fat or that Dreamwave moved to a new studio. It doesn't fit with our coverage, but does with his. A Pro sequel? Sure, but when there's confirmation and something more than a rumor which, apparently, we both heard in early December. I don't have a traffic light to gauge rumor from truth, so I've got to opt to reporting on the truth, not rumor.

And one of my resolutions is to be more entertaining - and by God, I will do it in a way where everyone who reads Newsarama will be entertained in exactly the same way - or not, depending on your personal taste.

MattB
newsarama.com

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