The Future of The Nib, Again

Matt Bors
Matt Bors
Jul 1 · 4 min read
Illustration by Sim Mau for The Nib

It was reported Friday that First Look Media made the decision to end funding for The Nib along with shuttering the web magazine Topic.com at the end of July. That is true and something that I’ve been dealing with the results of for a few weeks now.

That leaves me writing yet another post on Medium (heh) about what the future of The Nib will look like.

First Look is working with me to return the publication to my control, preserve the work published online, and allow me to continue the publication on my own. If you are a supporting member, you should know the Scams issue of the magazine is currently at the printer and will ship this month. And the following issue — the Animals issue — has already been commissioned. I will publish it independently. Sign up here to get them.

This will be a big shift, 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.

A lot could be said about new media and the struggle to find stable funding models… but I’d like to take this moment to highlight what The Nib has accomplished in the last six years.

  • The Nib has put over $1.5 million into the hands of cartoonists.
  • We wrote and storyboarded dozens of animations for Topic.com.
  • We launched a print magazine and membership program and people responded with a whopping $168,000 in support.
  • We have published more than 4,000 new comics. I’ve lost count of the precise number. They’ve been read by tens of millions of people.

I’m grateful for the opportunity I had to do all this work with the aid of many fine people at First Look, from designers to engineers and beyond, who worked behind the scenes to enhance our comics.

I get a lot of credit for running The Nib, but the publication wouldn’t be what it is today without the tireless efforts and talent of my team.

Eleri Harris has been with me since almost the beginning and has shaped The Nib through her sharp editing, cartooning skills, and background in journalism. Somehow she found the time to write and watercolor the massive true crime series Reported Missing, the longest comic we’ve even published. The publication is immeasurably better because of her.

Matt Lubchansky, in addition to becoming one of the best political cartoonists in the country, has worn so many hats at The Nib it’s unbelievable — including serving as the editor on my own comics. Each week we trade ideas about the news and our fingerprints are all over each other’s work. My comics are better because of Matt.

Sarah Mirk is an indefatigable talent—writing some of our most popular comics and animations, editing non-fiction, reporting, always generating ideas, and finding the time to draw a new zine every day. Her incredible positivity and desire to problem solve has helped us get through this moment.

Andy Warner is a master cartoonist with enough ideas to last him a lifetime of work. His Nib archive speaks for itself and he brought in a focus on international issues and artists that resulted in some of our best work. He is in fact such a good comic journalist and editor it’s actually baffling to me he wasn’t hired out from under me.

That goes for all my editors and the contributors we publish, who constitute many of the best cartoonists on earth. We see support for comics from readers, but not so many editors, websites, and companies.

The New York Times recently dropped its international cartoonist Patrick Chappatte in a senseless move and, this weekend, Michael De Adder in Canada lost a gig in relation to an instantly-viral Trump cartoon. We published it and paid him while most websites who never publish comics rushed to embed his tweet of the image and suck up the free traffic. Ghouls.

Text from a friend

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.

I’m going to keep it going and I need your support to do so.

Matt Bors

Written by

Matt Bors

Cartoonist and editor of The Nib. Sign up for the newsletter: http://tinyurl.com/hpt7zve