Without warning and little fanfare, the new TCJ.com site launched earlier today, under the stewardship of the people from Comics Comics. Dan Nadel and Timothy Hodler are now co-editors, with Kristy Valenti staying on as editorial coordinator. Meanwhile, Gary Groth will continue to work on TCJ's print incarnation. Gone is the blog format, replaced by an online magazine format categorized into regular columns, features, reviews and event listings. Holder introduces the new TCJ, and new content can already be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here...
This is very much a thorough scrubbing of the site. The archives are mostly incomplete. And all former online content is MIA, at least for now. Also unmentioned is the status of many of the old contributors.
All in all, this is a welcome change, especially after the last anemic site relaunch. Bringing in the Comics Comics guys is a smart way to recruit new talent who are much more in-tune with the web. Holder and Nadel will hopefully provide much needed editorial guidance as well as a stronger identity to TCJ's online incarnation, which is desperately needed in order to compete with other comic sites. But it does reinforce the impression that TCJ's online and print versions are becoming more and more like separate entities with diverging content, resources, and ongoing editorial priorities.
Tom Spurgeon notes the passing of the TCJ message board. He also interviews Nadel and Holder, covering the pertinent areas. Here's an excerpt, which answers a few questions:
...we knew from the start that we wanted to start fresh and produce a unified site. Sub-domains didn't work because we didn't see any reason to carve up the site into fiefdoms. So yes, the departure of Deppey's Journalista!, as well as the other previously existing sub-blogs, can be tied to our coming on board. Also, in regards to Journalista!, in these days of RSS feeds, there seems to be less need for that kind of comprehensive link-blogging than there used to be.Sean T. Collins recounts the disappointing history of TCJ.com:
In the absence of a strong vision like what Groth’s was for years in the print version, off-brand aspects of the magazine’s website — its Mos Eisley-esque message board; Noah Berlatsky’s pugnacious Hooded Utilitarian group blog — filled the void, to the dismay of many readers and creators, and even to the dismay of the people involved in those aspects of the site themselves. The problem was compounded when the Journal radically reduced its print output (it is currently an annual), leaving a relaunched website plagued by unwieldy design, hazy editorial focus, and sporadic posting by its contributors to pick up the slack. With the recent shutdown of Journalista, HU, and the relatively new group blog The Panelists, it was clear some kind of major change, likely one devoted to streamlining and focusing the magazine’s editorial output online, was in the offing.