The Nib is Shutting Down, But It Had One Hell of a Run
The Matt Bors-led comics website and magazine informed, enlightened, and entertained people for a decade.
Hello, dear readers. Parker here.
A bit of sad media-related news as the comic website and magazine The Nib announced that it will be shutting down at the end of August. If you spend any amount of time on social media (at least the same parts of social media I’ve been on for the past decade or so), you’re probably familiar with The Nib, even if you don’t know it.
Mister Gotcha? That’s by Nib editor and publisher Matt Bors. Famous moments in history, reimagined by centrists? That’s another Nib creation, by Kasia Babis.
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KC Green’s 2016 update to the “This is Fine” comic that’s become a ubiquitous internet meme? Pepe the Frog creator Matt Furie’s comic killing off the character after it was appropriated by the alt-right? Those were both published at The Nib.
Bors announced the impending shuttering of the publication yesterday in a blog post. Here’s an excerpt:
This was an incredibly hard decision to make and there’s no one factor involved. Rather it involves, well, everything. The rising costs of paper and postage, the changing landscape of social media, subscription exhaustion, inflation, and the simple difficulty of keeping a small independent publishing project alive with relatively few resources—though we did a lot with them. The math isn’t working anymore.
I’m really proud of what we have accomplished. Over the past decade, The Nib has published more than 6,000 comics and paid out more than $2 million to creators. Countless book projects have launched from Nib pieces and a number of creators had their first professional comics published with us. For ten years we were the outlet supporting political cartooning and showcasing the possibilities of nonfiction comics. Rather than enduring years of painful cuts and diminishing output, I’d rather go out while The Nib is still in a place that feels respectable, rather than run the publication into the ground.
This is an all-too-familiar story in the world of media, especially in recent years. It’s heartbreaking to watch play out again and again, over and over. The Nib, Mel, Bitch magazine, BuzzFeed News, MTV News, and so on. Layoffs and closures, sometimes (see: BuzzFeed News) in the service of corporate greed-related cost-cutting; other times (see: The Nib) as a result of it just being a really difficult time to run a media company with any sort of overhead.
As Bors notes in his blog, one way you can support his work and the work of the other comic creators over at The Nib is by purchasing a copy of its forthcoming (and final) issue. Or, of course, you can purchase back copies. (Personally, I recommend snagging a copy of Bors’s Justice Warriors book, a satire about “capitalism, cops, corruption, and celebrity.” It’s great.)
If you’ll allow it, I just want to heap a bit more praise on The Nib and the great work everyone over there has done over the past decade.
A lot of the work The Nib published is very personal, like Joey Alison Sayers’s comic about “a lifetime of coming out” or Mady G.’s story about agoraphobia and the pandemic. Some of the comics the site published, like Ted Closson’s heartbreaking story of his friend Shane Patrick Boyle’s life and death (Boyle died after coming up $50 short on a GoFundMe page), Maia Kobabe’s excerpt from Gender Queer: A Memoir (years before it became, as the New York Times called it, “the most banned book in the country”), or Mallorie Udischas-Trojan’s account of what it’s like being the target of a years-long internet pile-on, helped provide readers with a perspective they otherwise might not have gotten.
There was great journalism, too. Isabella Rotman and Sarah Mirk’s piece on the “invention of monogamy,” Mirk’s collaboration with Chelsea Saunders on the history of abortion, and “Orcas Are Swimming Towards Extinction” by Levi Hastings all taught me things I didn’t know prior to reading them.
I could go on and on with praise for The Nib and the extraordinarily talented people who helped make it. Artists like Tom Tomorrow, Mattie Lubchansky, Gemma Correll, Jen Sorensen, Kendra Wells, Brian McFadden, Linette Moore, Andy Warner, Niccolo Pizarro, and dozens of others who’ve contributed to The Nib over the years are, in my opinion, legends.
The world will be worse off without The Nib, and unfortunately, I’m sure it won’t be the last beloved (to me, at least) media organization to fold. But for now, I just want to congratulate Bors on the decade-long run he had over there. And to all the writers, artists, and illustrators whose work I’ve come to admire because of The Nib, I’ll follow your work wherever you go.
That’s it for today’s edition of The Present Age. Thanks, everyone! - Parker
One of the only reasons I’m able to keep The Present Age up and running is that I pretty much do everything here myself. It’s a one-person operation, so my costs are generally (with the exception of the occasional freelance piece I’ll commission from someone else) pretty limited. Still, things aren’t exactly stable (which is why I’m so thankful to those of you who subscribe and/or have upgraded to a paid subscription).
Now I feel incredibly guilty for all the times I read it online without paying for it. Who knew being a broke cheap ass could damage businesses dependent on revenue?
Seconded, heartily. Hate to hear The Nib is closing shop.