My copy of The Comics Journal #300 has traveled with me into a new apartment, to various vacation spots, and from the kitchen to my bedside and coffee table since it published in December 2009. Among its reviews and columns, it features eleven conversations between pairs of artists and comics writers. For almost two years, it’s been a palate cleanser and my go-to vacation read when I am on a long plane ride. All the while, publisher Fantagraphics promised that issue #301 would bring about a change in format whenever it released. So I waited.
In August, The Comics Journal #301 finally escaped incubation. It is different: #300 clocked in at 288 pages and #301 weighs in at 688 (well over double the page count); its trim size is stubbier and easier to hold--these are just the aesthetic differences. Issue #301 has a clear focus: The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb. A 47-page interview with Crumb and publisher/co-founder Gary Groth kicks off the issue’s theme, followed by over 100 pages of reviews of Crumb's adaptation (ranging from “An Epic Visualized” to “Crumb Finally Finds His Limits”), culminating with a roundtable of responses from the reviewers to each other’s assessments. It’s a lot of Crumb-on-Crumb and everyone-on-Crumb writing, so a familiarity with his Genesis is highly recommended (we selected it as a Best of the Year pick in 2009), but the beauty of issue #301 is that this is by no means all there is.