Exciting News For Our Readers

This is a weird one, but in keeping with my original plan for this site being a repository for things I didn’t put elsewhere. Below is the written-but-never-sent-for-technical-reasons (no, really; the site was down on the day it was supposed to go out) final edition of the Comics, FYI newsletter, from July of this year. Preserved for historical purposes, and a fun look back (for me, at least) about where my head was at in the summer before I started at Popverse full-time.

To a certain generation of British comic book readers, the phrase “Exciting News For Our Readers” (or variations on the same; sometimes it would “Great News”) had a chilling effect whenever it appeared on the cover of one of their favorite titles, because it was generally understood to be a coded way of announcing that the comic in question had been canceled.

Okay, that’s perhaps a little reductive; British comics of the late 20th century were rarely outright canceled, after all. Instead, the practice was to take two or three of the most popular strips from the title – almost every UK comic was an anthology, filled with multiple strips and characters running anywhere from one to eight pages per issue – and place them in another comic, which would add the canceled title’s logo to its cover for a brief period in an attempt to lure in some new readers who’d been following along with the now-gone comic. The “Exciting News” for readers was that two of their favorite comics were now teaming up to become one all-killer, no-filler title, in theory.

To be fair, it was this practice – referred to by those in the industry as “Hatch, Match, and Dispatch,” for reasonably obvious reasons* – that resulted in the addition of Strontium Dog and Ro-Busters to 2000 AD back in the day, both of which now considered essential parts of the beloved anthology’s DNA even though they originated in the short lived title Star Lord, so it’s clearly something that did what it was supposed to. Similarly, other classics like The Thirteenth Floor** long outlived their original homes thanks to this strategy, finding new fandoms in the process.

The reason I’m telling you all of this is because I, too, have some Exciting News For My Readers: this is the last edition of the newsletter for the foreseeable future. Sorry, all. (Especially those who just signed up in the last few days, which turns out to be a surprisingly high number for some reason. Read the archives, at least?) Here’s the “exciting” part of things, though: as of next week, I’m going to be a staff writer for ReedPop’s Popverse site, where I’ll be doing more of the kinds of things I’ve been doing here, and more besides.


As I said back in the first newsletter in January, I started this as much as anything for a chance to do the type of writing that I didn’t feel I had the opportunity to do anymore after leaving THR’s Heat Vision blog as a regular contributor***. What I didn’t expect to happen at the time was that a number of different things would happen very quickly after that email went out, including the first in a number of calls with Popverse editor Chris Arrant where we talked about what comics journalism could be, what it used to be – look, we’re both old – and the potential for what at the time was a secret, mystery thing that Chris was planning that turned out to be Popverse. (He really kept things under wraps for an impressively long time.)

While all that was happening, the newsletter quickly grew into something I enjoyed doing – and something that felt as if it could actually provide some kind of service to readers, at least to the extent that anything in comics journalism is necessarily capable of. (I’m old enough to be simultaneously cynical and optimistic about such things, I confess.) I say that as much as anything to let you know that deciding to put this newsletter on indefinite hiatus isn’t something I took lightly, nor something that I haven’t gone back and forth about a bunch of time in the last week or so as the Popverse gig came together. (It’s still coming together; I have a bunch of paperwork to fill in after I send this out. As someone who’s been freelance for more than a decade, I’d forgotten quite how much paperwork was required for such things.)

There are a number of stories I’d planned for future newsletters – a number that I’d started to report and even write up, only to put aside while waiting on more information or final quotes or whatever – that will, I suspect, end up as stories on Popverse****; there are a number of developing and/or unfinished stories to follow up on that I’m sure I’ll be pursuing there, as well. Basically, while this newsletter is taking a nap, almost everything that you would find here, you’ll find there, and more.

I still have a lot of love for the newsletter format, and think there’s a lot of potential to be unlocked in news delivery this way; I’m purposefully looking at this as an “indefinite hiatus,” if only because I reserve the right to resurrect this at a later date, dammit (or else use this for sneaky mailings when everyone least expects it; don’t be that surprised if it happens). For now, though – well, as of Monday – anyone looking for me should be taking a look over at Popverse.

* The hatching was the creation of new titles in the first place, in case you’re wondering.

** The Thirteenth Floor is a British horror strip that should be far better known than it is; created by Judge Dredd’s John Wagner and Alan Grant, and featuring stunning art from Jose Ortiz, it’s essentially the 1970s Wrath of the Spectre concept with a twist, as a sentient (and sentimental, albeit also sociopathic) computer called Max protects working class folk from bullies of all sorts via a supernatural floor that can bring people’s nightmares to life. It’s genuinely amazing stuff.

*** I also said in that first newsletter that I was planning on this eventually turned into a paid newsletter, which clearly didn’t happen; I think that was for the best, in the end.

**** I’d planned on doing a lot more interviews and profiles for the newsletter that just didn’t happen for all kinds of reasons. Expect more of that on Popverse too.


Meanwhile, panels for this year’s San Diego Comic-Con have started to be rolled out – both on Comic-Con’s own website, and via promotional emails from those organizing said panels – and not only am I at the show, I’m on no less than three panels this year:

Comics Journalism: Newsletters and TikTok and Blogs, Oh My! Thursday July 21 at 5:00pm, Room 23ABC

The world of writing about comics is changing yet again, with new ventures appearing, old formats arising again, and all new ones finding innovative ways to talk about comics, from Substack to TikTok and back. Heidi MacDonald (The Beat) joins Chris Arrant (PopVerse), Graeme McMillan (Comics, FYI), Joelle Monique (IHeartRadio), Barbra Dillon (Fanbase Press), and others for their annual discussion of the state of comics journalism.

Adapting the World of Blade Runner for Comics Friday July 22 at 2:00pm, Room 29AB

Titan’s critically acclaimed and beloved Blade Runner comics series returns! Blade Runner Origins co-writer K. Perkins (Paper Girls, Batwoman) and Blade Runner 2029 writer Mike Johnson discuss with journalist Graeme McMillan adapting and expanding the classic neo-noir world for comics.

Image Comics: The Secrets Behind Captivating Comics Storytelling Sunday July 24 at 11:30am, Room 10

A freewheeling conversation between Marcia Chen (Lady Mechanika), Joe Benitez (Lady Mechanika), Erica Schultz (The Deadliest Bouquet), Tina Horn (SFSX), and Wyatt Kennedy (Bolero). Moderated by Graeme McMillan.

The first Comic-Con I ever did was to do the Comics Journalism panel, back when I was doing Fanboy Rampage!!! (That was… maybe 18 or 19 years ago at this point?) Time is a flat circle, I guess…? Anyway: I’ll bet at Comic-Con! Come see my panels but keep your distance because Covid.

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