One of the founders of online comics journalism has stepped down from their long time post. Mike Doran, fo-counder of Newsarama, one of the very first comics news sites on the web, has left his position at GamesRadar+, which absorbed Newsarama as a standalone site. Popverse has the news, and writer Graeme McMillan has a good summation of the journey.
Doran started writing about comics online in a series of postings on the Prodigy message boards in 1995, eventually titling the posts ‘Prodigy Comic Book Newswire’; as his posts started being shared in different locations online, the posts were retitled The Comics Newswire, then The Newswire, and eventually, Newsarama — a brand co-created with Popverse contributor Matt Brady.
Moving from message boards to the wider internet, Doran and Brady’s Newsarama columns would appear on early genre entertainment sites like AnotherUniverse.com, Mania.com, and Comicon.com between 1998 and 2002, at which point Newsarama would become a website in its own right thanks to early funding from Kevin Smith. Doran would temporarily leave the site to become Marvel Comics’ marketing communications director just months after Newsarama.com’s launch, returning three years later.
Newsarama would then become a football in the media consolidation moves of the oughts, going from Imaginova in 2007 to TopTenREVIEWS in 2009, and current owner Future PLC in 2018.
In 2020, the standalone Newsarama site was absorbed into the GamesRadar+ site, and Newsarama’s archives, a valuable resource for the history of comics and pop culture in this century, were purged, showing how much Future PLC thought about their archives of content.
What was left of Newsarama has had various personnel changes over the last year or so. Chris Arrant, a mainstay as managing editor, left to launch Popverse last year. Former Beat ME Samantha Puc was hired last year, but quietly let go in late 2022. Former ComicBook.Com writer Rollin Bishop was then hired as Managing Editor for the overall Games Radar site. Staff writer George Marston remains, but the overall fate of the comics coverage seems to be in doubt.
When I helped launch the comics news site The Pulse in 2002, along with Jen Contino, we were replacing Newsarama on Rick Veitch’s Comicon.com site as a daily news source. At the time, Newsarama, founded and run by Doran and Matt Brady, launched as its own site and spirits were high everywhere. Competition was fierce, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that we often clashed with Doran as we competed for scoops in a way that today’s internet reporters would be shocked by. (If you found something out you could often write about it, as opposed to today when creators would sooner smash their phones with a hammer than reveal upcoming plans to a journalist.)
So it is fair to say that Mike and I had a rocky relationship at times.
That said, I haven’t interacted with him in more than a decade, and we’re all competing against Father Online Advertising Revenue these days, not each other. Mike is a foundational figure in the history of comics journalism, and I’m sad to see him leave a place that was so ground breaking and innovative, and I hope he goes on to something cool.
The state of online comics journalism is pretty bad right now. The state of journalism is bad. I almost wrote “couldn’t be worse” but that’s not true, at least there are still outlets. However, with advertising revenue dollars fiercely competed for, and advertising itself in rebuilding mode, topics that don’t get traffic at pop culture sites are being eliminated and sadly, comics stories just don’t get traffic. There’s still ComicBook.Com and CBR, one other site…and The Beat. The Beat will stick around, but if you want to make sure we do, hit up our Patreon!
If it seems crass to plug your Patreon in a story about a competitor’s downsizing, well…that’s the world we live in. As I told Amon Tobin the other day, “At some point you need to support the artists you love *directly. The music/books/comics publishing systems that pay people are deeply flawed or no longer working.”
(•Okay, I posted it on his Instagram but he did like my comment.)