Laura Hudson Leaves ComicsAlliance as Editor-in-Chief
As most of you know, I’m the editor-in-chief of ComicsAlliance. I created this site a little over three years ago at the behest of AOL, and because I am a very lucky person, it somehow grew from a weird little blog where I was the sole contributor — an awkward era I in no way encourage you to revisit — to one of the biggest comics sites on the Internet with a staff of enormously talented editors and contributors who have made ComicsAlliance into something so much larger than just me, something shaped and infused with the individual passions and personalities of some pretty amazing people. It has been, without a doubt, the most gratifying professional experience of my life, which is also what makes this the most difficult post I’ve ever written for the site: because it’s the one where I tell you that I’m leaving.Let me say first and foremost that this was 100 percent my choice, and a choice that I struggled with, painfully, for a very long time. AOL and Huffington Post have been nothing less than consummately supportive of me, my staff, and our content, and I owe huge debts of gratitude to so many people there for giving me the support and encouragement that made the site possible and allowed it to become something very different than the usual comics blog.
As for why I’m leaving, ultimately it’s not because I want to say less, but because I want to say more. I haven’t had much of a writing presence on the site in recent months, and it’s not an accident; there are an astonishing number of invisible tasks that go into running a website this size, and as time has gone on, it’s been increasingly difficult to be both an editor-in-chief and a writer in a way that would allow me to do justice to either job. If I could be two people, if I could do more, I would — and for a long time I tried. But right now I have to choose one, and I choose writing, for the same reason that so many people in the arts choose to do what they do: because I can’t not.
It has been pretty incredible to have the chance to create the sort of comic book site that I had always wanted to read, and unbelievably satisfying to discover that so many other people wanted to read it too. ComicsAlliance has been been my life, my passion, my entire world for over three years, because I don’t know how to give less than everything to what I do. And the moment I stopped being able to do that, I stopped being right for this job — I stopped deserving it — and it meant it was time for me to get out of the way and give someone else a shot. And that’s what I intend to do.
I won’t be gone entirely, however; it’s very likely that you’ll see work from me on this site in the future, as a writer and not an editor. But if you’d like to keep up with me in the meantime, I’ll still be on Twitter, where I will continue to post links to my articles, 140-character rants about social justice and karaoke, and pictures of my cat.
What happens next? Well, from your perspective, dear reader, probably not much will be different. For the near future the site will reside in the capable and experienced hands of our senior editors, Andy Khouri and Caleb Goellner, with more information to come in the weeks ahead about the new leadership structure of ComicsAlliance. While change is, as always, terrifying, I encourage you to fear not. This site means the world to me, and my number one priority has been ensuring that the mission, tone, and quality of the site and its staff remain consistent and faithful, while continuing to innovate and grow. As canned as it sounds, I can say with complete honesty that I have nothing but confidence and excitement about the changes that are coming, and unlike many such statements I have seen in a wide variety of press releases, it has the distinct advantage of being true.
One more thing before I go. As the countdown to my departure began ticking away, I started thinking about what I wanted to write before I left: something important, something relevant, something that spoke to an critical issue in comics in way that would somehow represent everything I’d done on the site and everything I felt about it.
But in the end, the big, ambitious editorial about the problems in comics or the future of the industry never came together, and the last thing I wrote on the site was a post on Boggle the Owl, an inspirational Tumblr feed by a woman who never considered herself a cartoonist, but felt compelled to made a comic anyway — one that ended up influencing tens of thousands of people in incredibly powerful ways. And I think that’s kind of perfect. Because at the end of the day, when I think about the art form that I have devoted my life to for so long, I don’t think about dehumanizing, exploitative corporate machines, or derivative, depressing cash grabs or any of the disappointing and disenchanting things you see when you work behind the scenes for long enough and watch the sausage get made.
What I think about is how comics are magic, and even better, how they the are the most practical and accessible kind. How anyone can pick up a pencil and engage in the extraordinary gestalt of words and pictures to create a form of art that is unique and very special, and one that I am quite simply in love with. I think about a community of people who are defined by their creativity and passion, people who do what they do not because they think they’re going to make a lot of money, but because they love it so much that they can’t not. And for all of the problems that exist in this industry — and they are legion — I feel very, very lucky to be a part of it.
Because comics is bigger than its worst impulses, or its ugliest faces. Because comics don’t just belong to corporations, or to superhero fans, or to indie fans, or to children, or to critics, or to boys, or to anyone who thinks they have some sort of monopoly on this medium. Because the only criterion for admission to the clubhouse of comics is loving comics, and anyone who tries to keep you out — by telling you they aren’t for you, by making you feel unwelcome, by treating you like you don’t know enough or that you don’t belong — is arrogant, petty and wrong, and they need to get out of your way.
Comics are yours, and they belong to you. Don’t let anyone — anyone — tell you differently. I never did, and it worked out pretty ok for me.
Special thanks to Caleb Goellner, Andy Khouri, Chris Sims, Brian Childs, Eugene Ahn, David Brothers, Kerry Callen, Aaron Colter, Adri Cowan, Lauren Davis, Curt Franklin, Bethany Fong, Chris Haley, Carol Hartsell, Esther Inglis-Arkell, Stephen Lenz, Tim Leong, Graeme McMillan, J. Caleb Mozzocco, Chris Murphy, Matt Seneca, Rusty Shackles, Tucker Stone, Dylan Todd, David Uzumeri, Brian Warmoth, Josh Wigler, Matt Wilson, Douglas Wolk, David Wolkin, Andrew Wheeler, the entirety of Periscope Studios and all the ComicsAlliance staff members of past and present (and fuuuuuture) who have often been not only respected coworkers but valued friends and excellent human beings whose hard work, talent, and hilarity have made the last three years a gift I don’t know how I could possibly have deserved, but one I was incredibly grateful to receive.
tl;dr. Thank you all, for the privilege and the honor of running this site for all these years, because it has been everything. I’ll see you all around.