Newsarama is clearly the industry leader among websites covering Marvel/DC, with CBR in a pretty strong second place. Newsarama offers few feature columns, often addressing points of continuity murkiness or ground-level independent comics. Thus the site's blog was a very welcome addition when it launched, as it added some much needed personality to the site. CBR has historically had a much stronger roster of respected and influential columnists, but hasn't been quite as strong in breaking news. The official site blog, the transplanted Comics Should Be Good, is similar to Blogorama in that it helps put a human face on the site, though I always feel like there's a wider gulf at CBR between main site and blog than at Newsarama. (I suppose there's also Comicon. I just visited the Pulse for the first time in ages, and it looks like there's more content than the last time I checked. The loss of Heidi MACDonald's The Beat certainly hurt Comicon; there's still a link to it on the main site, giving it a bit of an unkempt, derelict quality.)
By comparison, Wizard's newly-redesigned site every bit as ugly as everyone says. It looks to have the same number of articles as its competitors, at least one of which is written from the POV of a fictional character. So that's at least one distinguishing feature. At one time the site also featured roundtable discussions of comics and news (I'm not sure if they're still around or not). These discussions have the potential of selling the contributors' personalities to the reader, but I have no idea if they're effective in doing this for most visitors to the site. In fact, I have no idea if Wizard even wants such a thing; I'd assume Gareb Shamus, et. al., want to promote the Wizard brand more than any of the writers. Strangely, though, I don't see as many of the characteristics I identify as classically Wizardian on the website. There are occasional references to the physical features of female characters, but a lot less of the "10 most killer supervillain henchmen costumes" type material that I associate with the magazine. In reality, I have no idea if that's what's actually in the magazines anymore. The website sure isn't telling me.
That's what strikes me as most unusual about Wizardworld.com--hype for the magazine is almost conspicuous by its absence (especially given the amount of hype for Shamus' IFL stockholder boondoggle). It seems like Wizard is trying to provide a website that's more than just a promotional vehicle for the magazine--it's just doing a half-assed job. There's little to differentiate the site from c. 2004 Newsarama, CBR, or Comicon (two of which are much more attractive than Wizard due to the addition of blogs). I think Wizard is trying to follow the model of sites like Sports Illustrated, which emphasize original content rather than hyping the magazine. There's a clear division of content at those sites--news and time-sensitive analysis goes on the web; investigative journalism and interviews are the domain of the magazine. Wizard hasn't quite perfected this yet, it seems--the website offers long interviews, and Wizard has never, ever pretended to be a venue for genuine journalism. Wizard's identity is much more linked to heavily-illustrated "best ever" lists, discussion of which superhero beats which in a hypothetical fight, cheesecake pictoral reviews, and fantasy movie casting. This means that Wizard is effectively competing against blogs, which is probably where this wacky stuff belongs. Or it would be, if we weren't such a cynical, Silver Age-obsessed lot. (To their credit, Your Mom's Basement occasionally features material like this, only much funnier than I remember anything in Wizard ever being.)
So Wizard the magazine might be filling that particular niche. But is it enough for people to pay for it? There are probably a few people still relying on Wizard for industry news, but the majority of its audience have to be buying it for other reasons. A blog replicating Wizard's brand of of drooling fanboy idiocy seems like an ideal addition to their website, but such an addition would surely harm sales of the print version. And yet Wizard's frequently anemic web presence suggests irrelevance in the face of sites like Newsarama, which offer instant gratification in terms of news and analysis (all the more enticing thanks to the long feedback sections for every article). It's hard to imagine Wizard lasting in its current form for another 20 years; its current readership will surely grow tired of its adolescent hijinks, while newer readers will gravitate towards the internet (especially blogs, I would think--we're going to have some exceptionally jaded youngsters on our hands in a few years). In the end, I wonder if Wizard itself will have to relocate to a middle ground between its current format and that of The Comics Journal in order to survive.
-Controversial, potentially anger-inducing* musical thought of the day: Is it time to rehabilitate the later work of Marc Bolan? Did this already happen and I missed it? I've been listening to one of those T. Rex boxed sets, and I actually like a lot of the later period stuff. Yeah, I realize that these songs have been cherry picked, but I've always been the kind of person who'd rather have an album with one or two great tracks and a bunch of dreck than an album full of inoffensive but forgettable junk. I think listening to the Descendents conditioned this behavior.
*I really don't expect any well-balanced individuals to react that way.
-Since I've gotten good video game information here in the past, I thought I'd pose the question to you folks: what's a good news-oriented blog for video games? I've been meaning to find a better news source for that stuff.
So anyway, I bought Trader Joe's frozen cheese and green chilies tamales today, and I'm sad that I've missed out on these tasty things for all these years. I'm really starting to develop a taste for roasted corn, and these tamales are loaded with that flavor. I actually enjoyed the corn casing more than the cheese filling. No, I didn't eat the corn husk wrapping--the package warned me not to. My wife, whose Coloradan upbringing and omnivorous eating habits have granted her a greater familiarity with tamales, had the beef filled versions. She said they were good "for a microwave meal." She was also baffled by the presence of a solitary piece of carrot in one of the tamales. Take that for what it's worth (probably more than the words of a tamale neophyte like myself).