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Apocrypha Entertainment Presents:


Welcome to the 50th edition of Comics Waiting Room 3.0.

A little history: the Comics Waiting Room first appeared online in January of 2004. That’s right- the CWR brand has been around for six years. I conceived and began the site as a group blog where myself and others would do edgy, smart work in writing about comics. Among those that were there at the beginning were Joe Rybandt, Graeme McMillan, Chris Allen, and Alan David Doane, names you’ll recognize from other online and print efforts. It was a pretty amazing group coming out of the gate, and we had a lot of fun.

Until it all went to hell, of course. Interpersonal conflicts arose, and ultimately everyone but me fell away from it. And I only kept it for branding purposes. I had landed a gig working for my former Comic Book Galaxy colleague (and now IDW publisher) Chris Ryall, doing a column for Kevin Smith’s Movie Poop Shoot site, and it more than kept me busy. My first year at The Shoot was a heady time, and I had the benefit of writing for a ridiculously popular and well-read site. I got email from across the globe, took calls from Hollywood.

It was fun. But as we all know, the fun always- always- comes to an end.

Chris and second-in-command Scott Tipton left The Shoot a couple of years later. Smith began making plans to change it over into Quick Stop Entertainment. And I had a decision to make about what to do next. I could carry over into the new site, with the new admin- they seemed like decent enough folks. But something was nagging at me, and after a while, I finally figured out what it was: if I stayed, I wasn’t growing. And I wasn’t developing my own brand. I’d still be polishing Smith’s- and he certainly didn’t need my piddly little help on that. The man’s a nerd icon and a Hollywood insider. No, I needed it to be about me. I needed control over my work and over my output.

My solution: CWR 2.0. Take the name from the original blog, buy the URL, and go into “business” myself. In July of 2006, I did just that.

For the first year or so, my crude web design skills helped me create a site where I posted reviews and columns written by me on what was generally a 5 days a week basis. But after a while, the pace began to wear on me. Plus, I got a little bored of things around here being just me. I wanted variety. So I decided to expand.

I had met Jess Blackshear in 2006, along with her husband Brandon Jerwa, at San Diego in a group setting of people who were just getting to know one another. We all got along famously, forming friendships that have only grown stronger and more important over time. Jess is smart, funny, talented, and since she was married to one of the biggest geeks I’ve ever had the pleasure to know, I thought her insights on relationships would be far greater than anyone else I knew. So I pitched her the idea of what became “Jess Knows Best” in 2007, and she came onboard that summer. I was no longer alone.

In San Diego that year, we were having a group dinner, and as I listened to my friend Vince Moore talk, I realized what a unique thinker he was, and how much I enjoyed hearing his perspective on popular culture. His was an academic and philosophical approach to geek matters, something we don’t get very often unless it’s in the Comics Journal. I knew immediately that I had to ask Vince to join the team. He said “yes”, and suddenly, we were three. That same con, I was talking to Matt Maxwell about writing and he brought up his old column “Full Bleed”. My memory tells me that I first offered to host the archives after Broken Frontier took them offline, but it quickly shifted into hosting new Full Bleeds starting that fall.

Now I had a quartet.

That San Diego, Brandon and Jess introduced all of us to their friend Elliott, a strange dude with an unhealthy obsession with all things Indiana Jones. In September or October, Brandon wrote me and suggested I offer Elliott a spot at CWR. Thus was born the Comic Culture Warrior. And to say that CWR wouldn’t have made it this far without Elliott would be an understatement. He designed all of those sweet covers in the first year of the magazine version. He designed a chunk of the individual column logos. He talked me through some of the more insane moments that have come with being the big kahuna here. In short, he became not just a good friend, but a great one. We wouldn’t have made it to #50 without Elliott.

CWR became a tree. Elliott brought us Avril Brown, and she became my trusted right hand in the reviews department. He suggested Saurav Mohapatra, already a friend of his. He also introduced us to Marissa Meli. Vince wrote me, and reminded me that, as diverse as we were, ethnically and gender-wise, we were “lacking the voice of the sister”. That led me to Jocelyn Saddler. Brandon’s longtime column for Dynamic Forces ended, and he came to CWR to join with his wife and the rest of us. He also introduced Steve Saunders to the group. A bunch of us knew Bryan Miller through an online group we participate in, and that’s how he came to join us.

We developed quite an operation here, in case you didn’t notice.

Back to fall of 2007. I was posting a couple of columns a week from folks, and doing reviews. But I began to question the way I was running things. Daily content is foolish unless you are truly a must-read daily site. And honestly, there are only three of those: Comics Reporter, Journalista, and The Beat. I don’t even think CBR or Newsarama are necessarily daily reads. So how could I maximize our visibility? How could I get people to pay more attention when we posted new content?

Someone left a copy of Rolling Stone in the staff breakroom where I work, and I had my answer. I had subscribed to that mag all throughout my teen years and early college years, and every two weeks I just devoured it. That inspired me, and I decided that in January of 2008, CWR would go the RS route: we’d become a magazine, and we’d go on a bi-weekly schedule.

So it began, a little over two years ago: Comics Waiting Room, version 3.0, a/k/a “the magazine version”. How have we done? Well, this marks the 50th time we’ve hit our deadline. How many comics do you read (excepting DC’s recent weeklies) that have hit fifty straight deadlines, never once being late? None? That’s what I thought. Our record for dedication and professionalism has been extraordinary. We’ve turned out an amazing amount of high-quality, thought-provoking work. We’ve received wondrous emails and comments full of praise. And in a testament to “we’re doing something right”, we’ve gotten intense hate mail and/or comments full of vitriolic (and even racist) words.

Remember: it’s always worse to be ignored.

I couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve done here. I’ve done it alongside a talented group of writers, and more importantly, I’ve done it alongside my friends. And as we wrap up issue fifty, the question becomes “what’s next?”

Comics Waiting Room 4.0, of course!

The magazine version of this site ends here. We’ll be changing formats in the next couple of weeks, for many reasons. A big part of it is time. Mine has certainly become more limited. I have a fulltime day job, plus I am now a college professor, teaching before I head into my office. I also do p.r. for NBM Publishing. I’m also focusing more on my non-comics writing. This came out at the end of 2009:

I’m currently working on a novel that will be serialized online this spring. There will be a collection of Aisle Seat material hitting bookshelves this year as well, and maybe even a “Best of CWR” book to come. In short: lots and lots of stuff on my plate. And I’m not the only one here with that problem; most of us here are in that same boat.

Let me make this clear, though: WE ARE NOT GOING AWAY.

CWR 4.0, though, will be a bit more traditional in structure and design. Details will come in a couple of weeks, but the same writers, the same columns you love, they’ll be here, and they’ll be fully available through your news reader.

In the meantime, though, I want to say a giant THANK YOU. Thanks to my writers, those wonderful friends who have joined me on this trip. Thanks to the creative talents that have taken the time to speak with us and talk about themselves and their projects. Thanks to the publishers that have supported me and supported CWR from the very beginning. And most of all, thanks to you, the reader. Without you, there is no purpose in doing this at all. Can’t wait to see you at CWR 4.0!

Marc Mason  

Visit CWR at Unsungheroes!     




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