With Further Ado #86: Interview with Joel Meadows of Tripwire Magazine

Tripwire was one of those magazines about comics that always made you feel smarter after you read it. Or maybe that conversion happened right when you bought it. It was a gorgeous magazine and always looked smart too.   I’m excited to say that Joel Meadows, the man behind Tripwire, is at it again and Tripwire is returning. I had a lot of questions for Joel, and he had a lot of thoughtful answers.

Ed Catto: The news that Tripwire is returning is just fantastic, Joel. But first, can you tell me, or remind me, how it all started?

Joel Meadows: Tripwire began way back in March 1992 – or actually it began the previous year. We published one issue of a magazine we called The Review, which was a very basic fanzine that I did with someone I went to school with. We printed about 100 copies, but it was fun to do. So, we came up with Tripwire in February 1992 and published our first issue in March 1992. At that point, I was doing it with a neighbour of mine and someone I went to sixth form college with. We launched the same weekend as Vertigo.

EC: I loved those Tripwire issues. In your opinion, what made it special and unique among all the Geek Culture magazines?

JM: When it started, we were a lot more sarcastic and a lot more irreverent towards our material. I was only nineteen when it began, and I learned a hell of a lot as we continued to publish issues. We had a very British attitude to our material, which initially was comics and music, but we dropped the music and replaced it with film and TV in 1999. We were prepared to take chances, and we were the first place to cover the Vertigo creators, like Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, Peter Milligan, and Frank Quitely. I was a big fan of former UK magazine Speakeasy, and I think that had a big influence on me when it came to Tripwire.

EC: Which issues or articles were you most proud of, Joel?

JM: That is a big question, and it’s hard to answer that. I rarely go back and look at pieces I have written, and that applies to my freelance journalism. I always thought that we had a good rapport with Mike Mignola and I am also quite proud of the Jamie Delano 2020 visions interview I did for our Tripwire Fifth Anniversary Issue in Spring 1997.

EC: Why did Tripwire have to pack up and go away for a while?

JM: The market was changing in 2011. We had switched to an Annual print format but advertising was a challenge. So we put out our 21st anniversary book in 2013 and switched to the web in 2015 after a couple of digital only issues. We have been running the website since then.

EC: So here we are. What has led to the return of Tripwire?

JM: I really missed producing articles for print. Every now and then I would glance through old issues of the magazine and I was reminded of all of the different things that we did over the years. So we started planning for our return earlier this year and began to plan for the content of what is now our first print issue since 2011.

EC: What are the things that you want you to keep exactly the same?

JM: We always covered a cross section of different subjects like art, illustration and behind the scenes film features. So we intend to continue to reflect this diverse mix of subjects with the new iteration. Also we are bringing our strip section back, Stripwire, which will include work from the likes of Roger Langridge, Will Simpson, and a Sherlock Holmes strip written by myself.

EC: Follow-up question: What are the things you want to change?

JM: The market and the industry has changed with an increased emphasis on creators from different backgrounds making inroads into comics and genre and we are keen to reflect that too. The first issue has an interview with British Asian writer Ram V, and Joe Illidge is putting together a feature on creators of colour to watch those who are working in comics.

EC: Your site has been very robust and engaging. What’s your secret?

JM: I have always been very keen to make that as diverse as possible, covering comics, film and TV and reflecting the range of material out there. So it has always been important to act as a curated site offering people a glimpse into all the cool stuff out there from other people but also to run originated material we produce ourselves, whether that’s video, audio or written pieces.

EC: Please tell us a little about the Tripwire Podcast, Joel.

JM: The podcast is an attempt by us to offer a small snapshot into the world of genre, whether that’s comics, film, TV or even games and toys. We have been putting a new one out every two weeks, and we shall continue to do that moving forward. It is very much a part of our plans for the future of Tripwire.

EC: How do think the world has changed since you published?

JM: I think it’s almost unquantifiable to tackle this one. When Tripwire started back in 1992, there was no Twitter, no Facebook and no real internet. Image Comics had just started. Comics as an industry has altered almost beyond recognition since we started. So, the hope is that with our idiosyncratic approach, that we can still offer readers a mixed palette of different but interesting things from the various worlds we cover.

EC: One last one – the reality of the COVID-19 outbreak is particularly hard on the entertainment industry. It’s especially daunting for musicians who generate income by performing and comic creators who generate income from conventions. Any suggestions on what we all can do to continue to support our favorite creators?

 JM: That is another huge question, but I have seen people running virtual comic cons in recent weeks because of the impact that the cancellation of various big comic cons has had on the industry. So, if people like the work of their favourite artists or musicians, they should vote with their wallets and buy their work and share their enthusiasm with the world so that more people get to know about them. Beyond that, hopefully things will settle down throughout the summer.

EC: And how can fans get their copy of Tripwire, Joel?

JM: It is available to buy with the Flash cover from your local comic shop, item number MAR202164, or via Indiegogo for the Kieron Gillen cover .

We shall also be making both of them available from our own website too www.tripwiremagazine.co.uk .

EC: This is sounds wonderful. Thanks, Joel!