Retcon Punch Signing Off

by The Retcon Punch Editors

The panels above come from Gail Simone and Ardian Syaf’s Batgirl 1. This was the very first issue that we wrote about together. Our discussions were embarrassingly rudimentary then, but contained our primordial fascination with how comics inspired us. That eventually became Retcon Punch’s mission — treat all comics like the works of art literature that they are.

That was seven years and like three DC re-launches ago, and since then Retcon Punch has become an integral part of our lives and the way we experience comics. Now we’re perched on the precipice of exciting opportunities, and it’s mighty tempting to stay on the comfortable forum Retcon Punch has provided for us. But Barbara Gordon is right — it’s time for us to stretch our legs.

As a consequence of that stretching, this will be our last post, at least for the foreseeable future. The site allowed us to connect with so many amazing creators and fans, and interacting with y’all has been the best part of this experience. We just wanted to thank everyone for reading our pieces and participating in the conversation for all these years.

Michael: I hate saying goodbye, hate it. But nothing lasts forever and all of those applicable cliches, right? I have this philosophy: you move into a new place, get some picture frames, etc. to place on the wall and you brag about how cool that thing is, right? But eventually the frame fades into the background and you stop noticing it as much – it’s a fixture, as if it has always been there. I have, on many occasions, taken Retcon Punch for granted in such a way. Because as commonplace as it eventually felt to write on the new comic book releases of the week, it was in reality a genuinely extraordinary opportunity. I had been knocking my head against the wall trying to get writing gigs and somehow – I can’t even remember – I stumbled upon Retcon Punch. I was brought on as a guest writer and eventually became “Associate Editor” – pretty snazzy, no?

But even cooler than snazzy titles was the recognition and positive feedback we received from the creators of the comic books we covered. It was a mutual form of respect: we dissected their work and pointed out their deeper meanings and in return they thanked us – everyone felt seen and acknowledged. And I know that writing for Retcon Punch has sharpened my skills as a writer and observer. I was not afraid to ask Patrick and Drew for notes and suggestions on any of my piece. They gave me great feedback that helped focus my writing and direct my attention to details I tend to gloss over. I even got to meet Patrick and Drew in the real world this past April at C2E2 and it was a blast. Spencer, I’m sure we’ll have our day as well. So yeah, thank you to everyone who has ever read our pieces on Retcon Punch: family, friends, fans and creators. Thank you to Patrick, Drew and Spencer for the opportunity – feels like we’ve been doing this forever. The source is escaping me, but I’ll conclude with with a final caption that I’ve always loved: “Never the End.”

Spencer: I was a reader and fan of Retcon Punch long before I first joined its staff. The kind of writing Patrick and Drew were doing here was exactly the kind of comics analysis I wanted to read, and when I got the opportunity to start writing for the site myself, it was one of the happiest moments of my life; not only did I feel seen and validated, but I got to help put out the kind of comic book writing I thought — and still think — the world desperately needs. I could fill pages and pages with things Retcon Punch and I have achieved that I will never forget, but ultimately, I’ll always be most proud of the actual work we produced. From beginning to end, Retcon Punch has been my platonic ideal of comic book coverage. I’m going to miss it more than I can even begin to articulate right now, but I’ll always be so proud of what we’ve accomplished together.

But Retcon Punch has helped me grow so much as a person, too. Change has always been my kryptonite. In elementary school I cried when teachers changed classroom decorations; I bawled my eyes out when favorite childhood tv shows went off the air; even as an adult, I had a hard time dealing with creative turnover on my favorite comics. But life is, perhaps more than anything else, change and endings, and Retcon Punch has helped me to understand and embrace that. Whenever Patrick and Drew would approach the rest of the staff with new ideas for the site, I was always hesitant. I loved the site so much just the way it was that the thought of it changing terrified me. But every time the change was for the best, and each change helped the site look and read better than before. Even when it came to writing the articles, early on I often felt like I could write about a particular issue forever, constrained only by my word count. But eventually I started to reach a point where I could just feel when an article was over. Maybe I had more to say, but it wasn’t the time to say it; I’d reached the end, and I wasn’t going to find a better way to conclude no matter how much I wrote.

And I’ve grown enough to realize that that’s the point we’ve reached now. I’ve told so many people that Retcon Punch was my dream job. I thought that, if the site ever ended, I’d leave kicking and screaming, or find a way to keep it going even if I had to do it alone. To be honest, I’d keep writing for the site as it’s been the last few months the rest of my life if I could. But now feels like the right time to bring things to a close, and I never could have recognized that, much less found peace with it, without everything I’ve learned here. Thank you, Patrick, Drew, Michael, everyone who has written for Retcon Punch in the past, and everyone who has ever read our work, for helping me grow so much. I never could have done it without you. I think the four of us will go on to do great things, and I hope all of you come along with us, whatever form that takes.

Drew: Perhaps the bar for “life-changing experience” is pitifully low when you’re an aimless twentysomething, but looking back as a decidedly less-aimless thirtysomething, I owe this site a great deal for giving my life direction over these past seven years. Obviously, there’s the comics, the medium I had only passing familiarity with when we launched but has come to define my adult life and career aspirations. I had no idea there was so much to unpack from every panel, but now that I know, I don’t ever want to leave. The discussions we’ve had on this site opened up an entire new world to me, a world I’ve come to call home, and for that, I’m eternally grateful.

But “the site” is just a convenient stand-in for the people it represents. I’ll start by thanking our readers. I’ve been routinely touched and inspired by our comments section and social media mentions — you all have some deep, thought-provoking insights into comics that have added so much to our conversations. But I’m also inspired by our silent readers who never commented — watching our numbers grow over the years has assured me that there is an even larger community of comics fans hungry for the kind of in-depth analysis that excites me so much. We would have called it quits a long time ago without your support.

I also want to thank all of the writers, artists, colorers, letterers, designers, and editors whose works we’ve analyzed over the years. It’s maybe too obvious to say this site couldn’t exist if you weren’t making comics for us to discuss, but we wouldn’t have much to discuss if you weren’t so good at making comics. Our analytical positions often championed the role of the reader, but that’s only because we had to go toe to toe with what you were already putting in.

And finally, I want to thank all of the Retcon Punchers. There’s too many for me to thank individually, but I’ll make special mention of Spencer and Michael — two “internet only” friends that have made the leap into real flesh-and-blood friends I’ve shared adventures and meals and good times with. Retcon Punch started as an excuse for me to stay in regular contact with one of my dearest friends, and as much as the site changed over the years, it never really stopped being about that. I’m so grateful to Patrick for being with me every step of the way, and I look forward to whatever comes next.

Patrick: As usual, my cohort have already expressed most of my sentiments more beautifully than I could have ever hoped to. I’ll echo that I’ve also learned an enormous amount about comics and art and writing and probably a thousand other marketable skills that I’ll be putting on resumes forever. But it is, of course, the people we have worked with, and whose work we analyzed to death, that have had the most impact on my experience. I am sincerely touched and humbled to be among such giants. Thank you Michael and Spencer for giving the site life and humor and insight for so long. And thank you to Drew for being the other half of my brain for the better part of a decade. My talents and sensibilities were forged in a fire we burned together, and I don’t think I’ll ever make a creative decision in my life without Drew’s voice in my head.

As I sit at my computer, hours before we publish our final post, I’m stuck in a position I’ve been in literally thousands of times. I know that I have been moved, and I know that I am supposed to articulate something about how I have been moved. And just like our discussions, I have to resist the urge to simply rate the quality of my experience. After all, Retcon Punch never once published a “review.”

But what the hell? Writing with Retcon Punch has been an A+ experience. The friends I’ve made working on the site are 10/10 friends. Every convention, every creator interaction, every reader comment has been five-star. I give “my last seven years with Retcon Punch” my highest possible recommendation.

I am very much looking forward to what comes next. Expect to see amazing work from former-Retcon Punchers for the rest of your life, because these are some of the smartest, most insightful people in comics.

Thank you to the all the wonderful contributors that have worked with us over the years: Shelby Peterson, Peter Kilkuske, Taylor Anderson, Scott Baumgartner, Jack Ehlers, Ethan Andyshak, Greg Smith, Mike Logsdon, Michael Capristo, Siri Hellerman, Pete Pfarr, Suzanne Nagda, Andy Lindvall, Shane Volpoe, Ryan Desaulniers, Mark Mitchell, Ryan Mogge and countless guest-writers.

You can always keep up with us on twitter. Patrick is @patrick_ehlers, Drew is @d_baumgartner, Spencer is @ThatSpenceGuy, and Michael is @CormacMichael

8 comments on “Retcon Punch Signing Off

  1. It’s kind of beautiful that you opened this with a scene from Gail Simone’s Batgirl. Not only does it bring the site full-circle, but my journey with it as well. I first found Retcon Punch because Gail Simone retweeted one of the site’s Batgirl reviews. I read it and immediately loved what y’all were doing; I left a comment and got a quickly reply back, and I’ve never left since. It’s fate, I think.

    I know I already left a pretty mushy goodbye up there, but the rest of y’all’s goodbye’s really got to me too. Michael, I too hope we get to hang out some day (I’m sure we’ll all hit the same con at some point), and I look forward to seeing the group chat continue to light up whenever you get mad at Heroes in Crisis lol. Drew, becoming flesh and blood friends has been awesome on this end as well, and I look forward to continuing to navigate subways and the Javits Center hallways with you. Patrick, every time I’ve gotten a compliment on a piece from you or even just you reaching out to get my thoughts on a work-in-progress has meant so much to me. You know you’ve kinda, basically adopted me, right? But having you three as peers has meant so much to me. We’re a great team, and I hope we get to work together again in the future. And you know I’m going to keep talking comics with y’all. Nothing’s gonna stop that.

  2. I would just like to say it’s been an amazing journey with you guys since I discovered your wonderful and incredibly insightful site back in ye olde days of 2013. The level of care and attention you all gave to my favorite medium helped provoke such thoughtful discussion that it helped me see and appreciate comics in a brand new—and scholarly—light. Thank you so much for that.

    I was also very fortunate to have guest-written a post with you back during Jason Aaron’s first run on Thor (one that he continues as of this post!). Again, it was an invaluable experience for comics loving and learning. Not to mention, it was just plain fun : )

    I wish you all the very best in your future endeavors and hope to hear at least some of your names in regards to future comics works, whether that be critiquing or writing the books themselves. Thanks again for the years of stellar work and for sharing it with the rest of us. Excelsior!

  3. Damn, this is hard to write. And I’m just a silly commenter writing trash in the comments

    I suspected that this was going to happen soon, but I’m not prepared. I still remember finding this site, when Genevieve Valentine linked to one of the amazing pieces you guys wrote on her Catwoman. I immediately fell in love. This was the sort of site I had been looking for for so long. You guys took comics seriously in a way that so few other websites did. Instantly, I put this website on my daily rotation. I can’t even think of any other site like this. I have found some fantastic comics critics in my time, but Retcon Punch was the only website I found where every writer on the site wrote the sort of pieces I was looking for. No other site so uniformly took comics seriously as an artform.

    And here is where I admit that, as a rule, I don’t post comments. I usually just lurk, as one of the silent readers. But, for some reason, I thought I had a different take on the first issue of Bendis’ Iron Man that was compelling enough to post, and I got hooked. Just had to keep commenting. Feels fitting that one of my last comments was on Eve Ewing’s first issue of Ironheart. Back to the beginning.

    But I have learnt so much, and not just from the practice of regularly commenting every week. You guys taught me so much, and I have grown to a critic. I am actually in the planning stages of my own blog (which is likely not going to primarily be about comics, though I plan to have space for comics somewhere on the site). And I don’t think I would be at the place to actually properly start a blog without my three years here

    Even for me, a silly commenter, this has been a space for experiences. I got to do some experimental posts I am really proud of, like my initial piece for the first issue of the Vision, my mirrored comments on DC Rebirth/Steve Rogers, Captain America 1, my elaborate Secret Empire comments. Not only have I grown as a critic from my comments, I got the chance to put my money where my mouth is and try some of my own advice in comments. Honestly, the amount of thought and effort I put into the structure of my Secret Empire comments and on the message I was presenting with my use of form is probably a big reason, other than the gross misogyny, reactionary themes and bad writing, that recent Tom King work pisses me off so much. After all that effort I put into stupid comments, seeing King ruin his own work so he can do the same sort of thing as a stunt is frustrating.

    But it wasn’t just the comments I got to write. I have actually had Ales Kot reply to my comment on his work and got to have a brief discussion with him. I had someone on Twitter tell Nick Spencer to make sure he read my comment beneath one of your Secret Empire pieces. I even had a freakout when I saw Ta-Nehisi Coates link to one of your Black Panther pieces with praise and I worried whether or not he had read further down and saw my comment.

    My only regret is not finding the chance to do a guest post for you guys. I once sent something in on the Guest Writer Initiative, and got no response. I kept meaning to have another go, because the idea of truly having my name up there, just once, would have meant everything.

    And I can only spend so much time discussing my own insignificant contributions because of everything you guys have done. Whether it was finding new perspectives on issues I love, or helping me understand the value that can be fund in books that just don’t work on me. Despite wanting to, I don’t think I’ll ever become a fan of Slott’s work. But even if there is some peculiar magic to his work that just doesn’t work on me despite agreeing with his choices, I have always appreciated the chance to see how that magic affects people who aren’t immune.

    And I’ve enjoyed every chance to talk to you guys in the comments. Whether it was about the issue itself, or some other topic (I always remember one big one about comic book movies and how often the second is really better than the first). Every moment of this site has been a joy, and I’m going to miss it.

    But there is only one thing left to truly say.

    Congratulations everyone on seven fantastic years, and best of luck on all your future endeavours. With Retcon Punch, you’ve all proven to be people to watch

  4. Damn it. Love this web site. You’ll be missed! Thank you for all the years and reviews/talks. Some of them really made my reading of books much better and more interesting. Thanks again guys. Hope to see you again 🙂

  5. I don’t really want to write this and have kind of been putting it off for a few days.

    This is the only comics website I’ve read for the past three or for years. There was no reason to go elsewhere – you all read and wrote about comics in a way that was deeper than any other site. I’d stopped commenting as much (amazing what a full time job, coaching CS game design teams, and taking college classes can do to ones free time), but I read whenever I could.

    We never lined up in terms of what we liked and what we read, even though what you wrote definitely influenced what I looked for. I actually don’t remember even how I found this place. The first real conversation I can remember with you guys was about Hawkeye (a dork with a bow). I think my favorite memories about RetconPunch was every year going back through the years “best of” lists and commenting on “this is three (then four, then five) years I’ve been commenting here!” (I was stating to get ready for this year, too.)

    I’m going to miss this place, even though I was down to visiting only a couple times a week. I don’t know of any other place like it on the internet and I’ve always been surprised there wasn’t a larger audience here, but I guess that’s the way things go when you want to think about things in a deeper or different way than the masses.

    In the end, Thanks. I now read a wider variety of comics in a different way than when I first stumbled upon your corner.

    I still think Invincible is the best comic you guys never covered, and you should start at issue 1 some day and read the whole damn thing. It’s brilliant and shows the evolution of the creators as much as the characters. I still think Hawkeye is a dork with a bow, but Fraction made him interesting.

    I’m really going to miss this place.

    (and i’m posting anonymously because I really have had a hard time with wordpress and passwords this year. Every log in seems to fight me.)

    Best of luck in your new ventures,
    Greg

  6. I haven’t posted here in a long time, but since this is going to be my last opportunity, I felt I should chime in. I’ve fallen off the comic book wagon pretty hard in the last 2 years – it’s not that I’m no longer interested, but real life (moved twice, working crazy hours, had a 3rd kid) has gotten in the way and I’m WAY behind on all my pulls.

    Long story short, even though I haven’t caught up on my reading in ages and I have a huge stack of unread TPB’s glaring at me from my bookshelf, I always kept this site bookmarked, because I KNEW that when I finally found the time to catch up on Saga, Lazarus, etc, that I would want to come here and read your take. Very often, I re-read issues after reading the discussions on here and got a much deeper appreciation of them because your insightful commentary opened my eyes to things I’d missed on my first read.

    I had some great conversations with posters from this website in many comment threads, and got to contribute 2 or 3 guest pieces which was a great experience. I actually felt I got a little unlucky since the few times I co-wrote a post ended up being on issues I didn’t enjoy much, but the experience forced me to analyze them anyway, and either discover some elements I could relate to or at least understand better why those particular issues didn’t really engage me. It was difficult, and I have enormous respect for all the contributors here for doing it on the regular, as other commenters have pointed out, the depth of analysis on this site was unparalleled. Even tough I wasn’t visiting regularly anymore, I’m sad to know that when I finally get caught up I won’t be able to rejoin this little community and debate with you all, I always thought this was a place I would eventually return to.

    In the end, what I really want to say is thank you. This website made getting more seriously into comics (I jumped on the weeklies with the New 52, like you guys) more enjoyable in every way – but giving me food for thought, a place to debate intelligently about the material, inspiration for new titles to try out. Truly, it was a blessing with excellent timing, and I’m sad to see it shut down. I wish all of you nothing but the best in your future endeavors. Thanks again!

    Gino

  7. Sad news for us but great news for the contributors. A great site, always well written and much appreciated. All the best for your future endeavours!

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