Considering Comic Book News Sites

Apropos of nothing in particular, I was thinking about websites devoted to comic book news. Isn’t the internet great? What did fans do before it was invented? It got me thinking about the variety and the ones I go to first and read.

CBR – Comic Book Resources – is the daddy of comic book news sites for me. It’s the first place I go to in my daily comic book news visits. There are several reasons for this.

One is purely design. The layout of the site is clean and efficient. There are adverts placed strategically on the site, but not obtrusively. There are separate columns for archives on the far left, most recent news items on the left-centre and most recent columns on the right. It is pleasing to look at, doesn’t feel crowded even though it contains a lot and doesn’t hurt the eye with excessive flashing or lurid colours.

The next reason is the regularity of content. Press releases, film-related gossip, previews and interviews are up regularly, not to mention the columns. The columns are another reason for CBR’s dominance, hosting Steven Grant, Augie, Rich, even Warren Ellis for a long while, not to mention a variety of others, from pros like Joe Casey & Matt Fraction, Erik Larsen, Robert Kirkman, to fans like the recently added Buy Pile. All together, an excellent package.

Newsarama is the next click on my bookmarks for comic book news. They complement each other when it comes to the big events like the cons, but also in their approach. CBR is more professional, whereas Newsarama is more relaxed.

I don’t particularly like the layout; the blue reminds me too much of the colour used in the many PowerPoint presentations I’ve had to suffer in my years as a scientist, and the excessive advertising is overwhelming, merrily distracting the hell out of me by flashing away at the top and side, and interrupting the items. The mini-items list on the right seems an afterthought, and the way that the headline for the main items looks like it should be a clickable link, but isn’t, annoys me for some reason.

The variety of items is pretty good, from previews to interviews and now the occasional column, but the one thing alone that takes Newsarama down is the format in which forum posters comment directly under the news item. CBR has forums, but sensibly has links to take you their; Newsarama lets anyone empty their pointless brain nonsense immediately afterwards, which just detracts from the piece immeasurably. Read them at your peril.

The Pulse [EDIT: site no longer exists] at Comicon.com also suffers from an unpleasant design; the darkness of the page is offputting, the constant left frame of adverts as you scroll, the blue background, the odd choice of green for titles (both on the main frame and to the right), made even worse by the underlining, something I particularly hate, and the promo text being too close to the title beneath it.

I visit The Pulse only rarely; apart from Warren Ellis’s erratic columns there, I’ve found little to suggest regular repeat viewing, and the presence of headings such as ‘What will you be buying?’ just smacks a little of desperation. They try to cover a broad spectrum of comic books, which is admirable, if a little scattershot. However, Jennifer Contino seems to do a good job of getting decent interviews.

The Comics Continuum is a site I used to visit for the occasional titbit and previews, but the advertising put me off and the odd layout (telling you what the pieces for the day are, but you have to click the link for the day to get them all on one webpage, rather than just the pieces you want to see; I understand why they do it that way, I just don’t like it) meant that I gave up going there with no regret.

The Beat by Heidi MacDonald – nice, clean design, well-presented layout, clarity of a blog that links to all sorts of comics-related news in all media. It’s nice to see what is happening in the larger world, but it’s not a site I need to see daily.

There are other sites out there that haven’t become part of my daily reading habits.

The Comics Reporter is in the same blog style as The Beat, and is Tom Spurgeon’s accumulation of comic book news, seemingly sifting through everything in print online, covering a more-academic base of the world of comics, as well as his own perspective on particular aspects of the comic book industry. It isn’t a regular haunt of mine, but it seemingly has a niche in the blogosphere, which must mean something.

Buzzscope [EDIT: site no longer exists] has news, but I know it more for the regular items they house, such as Clandestine Chum Greg’s Comics You Should Own, the brilliant interview by Michael Avon Oeming with Warren Ellis, and the hilarious remixes by Tim O’Neill. They seem to try and cover everything, not just comics, including manga, anime, toys, games, music and movies, and this very broad scope applies at each mini-site, making it too much to read (for me, at least).

Broken Frontier is a site I only recently came across. Nicely designed, if a little busy, it seems to have a mix of news, reviews and columns for a nice mix. Further investigation is needed to see if it warrants a regular clicking.

Comic World News is not a site I really know anything about. It has a colourful design, with a mix of news, reviews and a variety of columns, including those of regular bloggers, such as David Welsh (of Precocious Curmudgeon) and Graeme McMillan (who used to bring us the joy that was Fanboy Rampage), and formerly the home of Ed Cunard (The Low Road). Each column has its own icon, which is a nice touch, and the site is well-laid out and easy to navigate, which is something I admire (compare with Newsarama, for example). I shall have to visit more regularly, if just for the columns.

So, have I missed any important sites out? Do you disagree with my choices? Are there too many comic book news sites out there? Do they try to cover too many areas, trying to be all things to all fans? Let me know; because, as should be evident, I like new things …

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