Yesterday, Comics Buyer’s Guide posted on the blog CBGExtra that its publisher, Krause Publications, has decided to cancel the long-running comics news and reviews magazine, following the March issue. Founded in 1971, the publication originally known as The Buyer’s Guide For Comic Fandom sprung from a fan community that had become more organized in the '60s, creating a market for reliable sources of information about the medium and its industry. The Buyer’s Guide began as a vehicle for ads, items, and previews provided by comics publishers and retailers, along with information about where to find back issues (and how much they were worth). But the tabloid developed its own editorial voice over time, offering opinions and appreciations along with the news.
Krause acquired The Buyer’s Guide in 1983—before Krause itself was purchased by F+W Media in 2002—and hired longtime contributors Don and Maggie Thompson to serve as editors, while changing the name to Comics Buyer’s Guide. The Thompsons played a prominent role in raising the profile of the comics medium in the ’80s and ’90s, at a time when coverage of comics was moving from the margins to the mainstream. (The Thompsons also played a prominent role in the history of The A.V. Club by parenting Stephen Thompson, our founding editor, who’s now at NPR Music.) When Don Thompson died in 1994, Maggie carried on as the CBG editor, guiding the publication as it shifted from a weekly newspaper to a monthly magazine, and as it adapted to the digital age. Since 2006, Brent Frankenhoff has served as editor, with Maggie Thompson as senior editor.
When asked by The A.V. Club whether she was surprised by yesterday’s news, Maggie Thompson responded, “Given the metamorphoses of collectibles advertising and electronic communications, my guess is that few these days are surprised at changes in the world of print publications. The time in which the comics field had one printed focal point has long since passed.”
Indeed, as the Internet made it easier for comics fans to find news and connect with back issue dealers, Comics Buyer’s Guide became less of an essential resource, at least in comparison to its stature in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. But it leaves behind a remarkable legacy in its original columns (including Peter David’s “But I Digress…” and the Thompsons’ “Beautiful Balloons”), original art (including cartoons by Fred Hembeck), and campaigns to assure that the creators of essential works of popular art are properly recognized and compensated. According to Thompson, “In the time since the announcement, editor Brent Frankenhoff and I have been inundated by messages from people who are telling us (some for the first time) of the changes CBG has made in their (personal and professional) lives. I’m proud that CBG was able to help those who needed it for more than four decades. That goes for fans, professionals, and researchers.”
For more about Comics Buyer’s Guide’s place in comics history, fans are urged to read the long, personal reminiscence that John Jackson Miller posted on The ComiChron after the news broke. Miller, who’s been involved with CBG in varying capacities since 1993, offers his own insider’s perspective on why the magazine mattered, and how the changing marketplace affected it.
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