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La Plume Est Morte; Vive La Plume

I got the news in an email from Matt Bors on Friday evening:

After three and a half years, First Look Media has decided to no longer fund The Nib at the end of July and me and my team will be let go as part of a broader shift at the company.

Well, shit.

I have mentioned The Nib more than a few times since it launched, because it is unique (and I’m using that word precisely). They publish editorial comics and nonfiction comics and reportage comics, but a wide variety of creators (some of whom, disclaimer, are personal friends), most of which I love and a few of which I actively despise¹.

You know what? Good on The Nib for not catering to me 100%, for making me confront what I consider to be lazy or obvious cartooning in service to crappy or self-indulgent worldviews. Matt Bors and his editorial team have done amazingly good work, and more importantly they pay cartoonists.

And, hell, he’s been through this before, when Medium decided to drop them; at the time, Bors ran a Kickstart and printed a book and found a new home at First Look. Since he got there, he’s ramped up the quality, ramped up the breadth of cartoonists and reporting, and took a few shots at Glenn Greenwald, Michael Tracey, and other faux-left provocateurs. They launched a magazine which is very, very good, and a subscription program in concert. They were bringing in eyeballs and doing damn good work. But First Look Media is pivoting to video (a thoroughly discredited idea) and jettisoning The Nib in the process.

But this time is different. Bors isn’t looking for the next billionaire-whim media startup to settle in at and get cut from:

This will be a major setback but I will be devoting all my time to continuing this publication with contributions from all the editors and cartoonists who have made this publication what it is.

To assure you about where the print magazine is at: the fourth issue of the magazine is at the printers now and will be shipped in early July. The fifth issue, the Animals issue, is in the works and I will be printing it independently.

To be honest, this was a shock. When I got the letter, I thought it was going to be the notice that with the fourth issue of The Nib magazine going to print, it was time to pony up and subscribe to see the fifth and subsequent issues. Seems like I’m not the only one that was determined to help The Nib survive; in a post today at Medium (irony!), Bors tells us:

I founded this publication almost six years ago to highlight political and non-fiction comics in a media environment that doesn’t support them. So I’m not ready for the funeral yet and I’m sorry if it sounded like one. I just needed a minute.

As news of all this broke we had our single biggest day of membership signups. Hundreds of new supporters pledged — on a Friday night no less. I feel emboldened by that.

I refuse to walk away from this project or let it die after the successes of our last year. There are are too many of you who have expressed support and written to say how important it is to you. There is too much going on in the world that demands biting political cartoons and non-fiction comics. [emphasis mine]

The surge in memberships is continuing, and it looks like Bors just might be able to carry off his own pivot — The Nib wasn’t established enough to go to a full-bore subscription site when Medium dropped them, but the word is out now. Hell, non-comics-specific publications like The AV Club are covering the story, and not as part of comics coverage … it’s a general news story.

As for the cartoonists of The Nib, even with the upheaval that’s going to be dropping in the near future, they’re still cranking out relevant, informative, timely cartoons — here are just two from today. You’ll see work of this length every once in a while from The New Yorker or maybe Vanity Fair, but you’ll see multiple instances each week at The Nib.

I’m a subscriber by virtue of the Kickstart, and I’ll be continuing that sufficient to keep getting the magazine in print. I mean, hell, I pay US$15/month to the service that backups up my opinion-like screeds, I may as well do at least as much to support the dozens of cartoonists from around the world that do such good work. If you value the same, join me.

Spam of the day:

This message is from a trusted sender.
Note: Our Ladies are seriously attractive ????

Okay, A) You can’t just type in the phrase This message is from a trusted sender in the body of your email and expect me to take it seriously, and 2) If you’re trying to get me interested in your porn-based phishing attempt, maybe don’t take stylistic cues from T-Rex???

¹ And it’s not like he ever commissioned Ramirez or Garrison.

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