By its very nature, pop-culture is most often seen and presented as a light and fluffy affair. And though there are always exceptions, or perhaps even that exceptions abound, the general thrust of major pop-culture news and commentary institutes, and especially these of the comics, is to keep their content, look and feel on the lighter, more colorful, side of the attitude scale. This is not necessarily a criticism of the prevailing phenomenon, magnified by the proliferation of such outlets on the web. It is simply a persistent reality, for better or worse, which rules the thrust of most all sources for news and information on the medium. And even though more exceptions abound in the private expanse of the blogosphere, this has not proven enough to have a lasting visible impact on the big league trend setters.

Standing apart from all these are a few notable enterprises, to whose credit a more selective and in-depth approach to news and commentary remains a mainstay. Tom Spurgeon, proprietor and operator of The Comics Reporter, whose professional origins as editor of the equally serious Comics Journal, has successfully established himself as a unique leading voice for a more insightful approach to comics journalism.

Though it doesn’t cover all the current news items appearing at major outlets, TCR has carved a niche for itself for its commentary on major events and behind the scenes of the industry. The analysis always digs deeper beneath the surface of convention to reveal new insight, driven by a prevailing sense of the betterment of the industry, and seen in a more long-range historical perspective, unhindered by what’s necessarily viewed as being currently popular.

An additional aspect of the site is the array of material it covers, bringing together the wide range of genres from Indies, manga, cartooning and mainstream superhero, and everything in between, under one roof, giving them all their due regard as equal constituents of the comics world. Every visit to the site becomes a treat of sometimes obscure but pertinent information that major outlets can’t  allow themselves the time or space to carry. From publications to exhibits and other events in the comics periphery, the impression one gets from visiting the site regularly is that nothing truly eventful is able to slip under its radar.

TCR also carries some of the more comprehensive listings for creator and publisher websites, along with an ongoing bibliography project, and topped off by an array of indexed compilations of comics stores, distributors, and other useful utilities.  When adding Tom’s daily birthday wishes to comics and comics related notables, which is of the most extensive seen anywhere, viewing the site becomes a sojourn into another realm, unmatched in its vibrancy and rich in unique detail, leaving a lasting and fulfilling impression that there exists nothing else like it for an all-encompassing serious approach to comics related content.

Tom Spurgeon is co-author of Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book along with Wildwood for King Features Syndicate, which also makes him a comics creator and certainly a candidate for Portraits of the Creators Sketchbook. That his Wikpedia biography was lacking a copyright-free image clinched the subject for our next entry.

Tom Sppurgeon: Portraits of the Creators Sketchbook.