Quick, Swamped, Future

Comic Foundry #2 (Spring 2008)

This should be out in Direct Market stores on Wednesday. It's the new 64-page issue of the culture-focused comics-and-sundry magazine, now in full color for $5.98.

I think it says quite a lot, maybe enough, that literally the first thing at the very top of this issue's front cover is a shot at Wizard, the joke helpfully italicized so that absolutely nobody could possibly miss it. It made me smirk, but I couldn't help but think of the implications; Wizard's similar topping claim is silly enough, and I get where the Foundry joke is coming from, but it does rather presume that everybody who's going to look at the cover will be immersed enough in comics culture miscellany to 'get' the gag. Everyone else might scratch their head and try to think of other magazines that cover pop culture in a gender-neutral way, like Entertainment Weekly or something, and wonder what this magazine is trying to be. It's weirdly self-limiting.

I mention EW in particular because Comic Foundry never fails to bring it to my mind. This issue is more reminiscent than ever, what with the addition of color (it's now totally obvious how much that b&w hurt the prior issue), and the absence of the more unique features from the debut - there's no fiction, no essays on gender-in-comics. The first half (or so) of the magazine is a barrage of short interviews, highlights, suggestions, sidebars (lots of those), previews, lists and graphics. The second half (or so) contains longer interviews, profiles, in-depth lists, and other assorted features. They've even added a three-page Reviews section, of the familiar 'one feature, a smattering of capsules' type.

A friend once told me that this magazine is kind of a perfect storm of current print publication trends -- the brevity, the modularity, the sleekness -- and that seems right, from my experience as a reader. I expect a lot more comics coverage from print outlets will look like Comic Foundry's in the future, if maybe as planted into preexisting forums, rather than filling new magazines.

For what it's worth, this magazine does a good job of keeping its content current, despite the long gap between this and last issue (it's not infallible, though - have you heard, perchance, of the Haruhi dance?); it's also very catholic in its comics scope, perfectly willing to jam brief, glossy coverage of Achewood, Kevin Huizenga, noted Iron Man storylines, sports manga, upcoming New Gods toys and Dave Sim into the space of seven pages, with no fuss at all. It's actually pretty comics-focused too; the 'culture' bits mainly boil down to chats with television and film performers about their geek cred and stuff, with some t-shirt/sneaker recommendations. And a snark-free feature on LARPing!

It's all very quick and simple, and I get the feeling that's the intent; it sure reads like the sort of magazine you'd polish off in twenty minutes and toss out for recycling. Not a lot of it stuck with me, although Senior Editor Laura Hudson's feature interview with Matt Fraction is pretty substantial. I'm still not convinced that a 64-page quarterly magazine is the best vessel for such "hotness," as Editor in Chief/Art Director Tim Leong puts it; it doesn't seem to have much that stands out from what the determined reader can find online with greater speed.

Ah, but Comic Foundry doesn't read like something for that 'determined' reader, tricky cover jokes aside. As a compilation, it's affable enough. I bet you already know if you're going to read it.