Goodbye Bold Italic

Jennifer Maerz
Apr 7, 2015 · 3 min read

In 2010, I was offered the chance to work on a crazy new experimental publication for three months called the Bold Italic. I’ve been here for five wild and amazing years.

The risk that a trap door would open one day and I’d fall through has always been worth it, because The Bold Italic has burned with possibility from the beginning. I’ve had the chance to work as an editor at a publication that highly values storytelling, voice, and design and has aimed to create something radically different — which was enough for me back in 2010 to quit my job at an alt weekly and step into The Bold Italic’s magical unknown.

For the first couple years, there were only five of us on staff and our office was often little more than a co-working space with all of us crammed around a single table. We were a transient operation, scrappy and silly and spilling over with all the ideas we had for the city. And we persevered well past those first three months into one year, and then another, and another.

We also stepped out from behind the site to bring our celebration of the city to life. The Bold Italic has hosted block parties, Big Gay Birthdays, a creativity conference, and a speakeasy where you learned about the history of speakeasies. I was able to produce some dream events — neighborhood dinners in unique locations with Stag Dining Group, wildly fun formals with Dusty Stax and the Gold Star Band (who I later hired to play my wedding), and a very special event at the San Francisco Zen Center where we merged the worlds of meditation and experimental music. We traveled the West Coast on our Bold Rush, bringing The Bold Italic’s content, shop, and some very SF partners (American Tripps Ping-Pong and Rice Paper Scissors) with us to Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle. I’m proud of all of this, but as Editor-in-Chief, I’m most proud of the content we’ve produced in the five years we’ve been around.

Where else would you see essays about race (“I’m Not Your ‘Black Friend’,” or “Are There Fat Asians? Yes. I’m One of Them”) coexisting with content about “Guys with Fancy Lady Hair” or our kid food review series, which landed one four-year-old on Good Morning America? We had stories that were ridiculously funny (our naked office April Fool’s Day joke has to be high among them) and painfully serious (Michelle Tea’s story about the open secret of having a miscarriage). We were an ongoing conversation about what it means to live in San Francisco, in the Bay Area, in Marin, in Los Angeles, and that conversation was fraught with humor, with anger, with frustration, with eloquence, with insight, with flippant attitudes, with so much of what you encounter when you live in these cities.

The Bold Italic was an experiment in trial and error. We didn’t have strict guidelines about what we could or couldn’t cover, and we used our space in the media world to try out so many ideas, some of which resonated and others that fell completely flat or instigated streams of wrathful comments. But through everything, those of us committed to this site — from the staff to our wonderful pool of freelance writers and illustrators and made-up chart makers and photographers — we created this site out of love for our city and a passion for expressing that love in new and unusual ways. I’ll be forever grateful to Gannett for letting us tell our cities’ stories in our own way.

I’ll miss all the incredibly bright, fun, funny people who made up The Bold Italic team, people who were down to walk into the same abyss of uncharted media waters for the chance to do something completely different. My coworkers and freelancers are truly special humans willing to take so many gambles both personally and professionally. I’ll miss the commenters, who for all their shit talking about what we did, were still loyally following the site — although, of course I’ll miss the people who talked to us like good friends in those comment sections even more.

Most of all, I’ll miss this beautifully silly, often visual, and very real conversation we’ve been having with San Francisco every week for the last five years. It’s going to feel a lot quieter in my life now without all this chatter. Thanks to everyone who was part of this magical discussion with us. We’ll miss you all.

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