ROBOT 6 has confirmed rumors circulating this weekend at Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo that parent company AOL has shut down the comics news site ComicsAlliance. The move came Friday amid the abrupt closings of AOL Music and several music news and video sites.
Launched in its current form in August 2009 by Laura Hudson (AOL had briefly operated a lower-profile comics blog with that name), ComicsAlliance featured a mix of news, humor and commentary and a staff of contributors that most recently included the likes of Caleb Goellner, Chris Sims, Andy Khouri and David Brothers. Hudson left the site in June 2012, to be replaced as editor-in-chief by former Vertigo editor Joe Hughes.
It’s not just the loss of jobs for good writers that’s unfortunate. It’s that Comics Alliance, which I started reading under Hudson’s leadership, was a place where liking comics wasn’t incompatible with thinking about the race and gender of people who created them, or where you could enjoy something and still interrogate why you enjoyed it. So much of popular culture coverage is geared towards either trivia or towards feeding the beast of unalloyed enthusiasm that brooks no criticism or analysis. Comics Alliance was a place where the highest form of liking something was taking it seriously, giving it credit, and also assigning it responsibility. Pieces like Laura’s analysis of the presentation of Starfire in the New 52 made a valuable argument that sexism wasn’t just bad for its social impact on readers, it made for bad storytelling and bad art. If there’s any upside to this unfortunate news, I hope that Comics Alliance writers find new jobs quickly, and bring that ethos to a whole range of new publications that could benefit from it.