We all knew this time would come and come it has. We have decided to bring RAZED’s Terrorizing and Highly Inconsistent Reign of Terror™ to a close. But first! Here is our valentine to you:
Eric Olsen and I launched RAZED on June 6th, 2015. I’ll never forget that detail because our running joke was that the date was basically 666 (6/6/1+5 = 6).
I had exactly one (1) piece on McSweeney’s that April when Eric floated the idea of creating a humor site together. We immediately agreed to take every swing we could at parenting culture. The dumbass listicles, the vanilla veneer of “helpful” articles that grind your soul to butt dust, the absolute rejection of anything dark or difficult about being a parent, and the relentlessness of modern parenting in general. We were both sick of Sarcastic Mommy being the one acceptable mode of parenting humor — always ending predictably with a “but it’s all so worth it” DEPLOY THE ‘CHUTE line.
We wanted dark. We wanted fucked up. We wanted DESIGN. Good lord why do writers / satire / humor / all the funny and writing things have the absolutely worst designed sites on Earth? We wanted illustration. We wanted weirdos. Most of all, we wanted to have a real good time.
And we wanted it all in six weeks.
What’s funny to both of us now is how secretive we were about creating RAZED (Eric’s wife didn’t even know what he was working on for God’s sake.) Looking back, I’m not even sure why we committed to keeping it so thoroughly stealth other than secrets are fun. Working on a creative project with creative co-conspirators and then winging it out into the world as a free gift — SURPRISE, ASSHOLES! — is fun. Watching people get it was the most fun of all.
Alas, RAZED was not built to last. At least not when it’s a thing that makes no money, costs us money to keep going, and is run by two people who combined have four kids, actual paying jobs, and about ten non-paying creative projects between us (books, bands, you name it.) But it’s also important to mention that, like a small business, it doesn’t help to tell people you loved their business after it closes. Or to not act on that love while it’s plugging along. As you watch humor sites fall left and right, please recognize that when you don’t spend your social capital sharing, tweeting, whatever-ing the work you’re enjoying, shutting down is exactly what’s going to happen. It’s hard to keep something going when you feel like you’re trying to get laughs from a black hole.
My point being, YOU NEED TO SUPPORT THE THINGS YOU LOVE IF YOU WANT THEM TO STICK AROUND. <end speech>
Co-concepting, co-creating, and editing RAZED was a big turning point in my creative life. I learned to be a humor editor and it had a profound impact on how I write. I was able to bring everything forward from my “real job” as a creative director to ensure RAZED was a solid brand — the consistency of our voice and visual approach is something I’m incredibly proud of. But beyond our own personal experiences and growth, Eric and I are as proud of the writers and illustrators who wrote or illustrated their very first or only humor piece for us as we are of those who went on to McSweeney’s or The New Yorker or agents (!).
Sarah Letteney was a core illustrator for RAZED from the beginning and consistently turned out the most wonderfully fucked up illustrations for us — then went on to The New Yorker. Brooke Preston was an early contributor before she went on to co-found The Belladonna and write a book. Sarah Hutto was also with us very early on (and even took over our Twitter account for a while!) before she blew up all over The New Yorker, The New York Times and basically everywhere why even list them all. Andrew Martin currently has one of the top trending pieces on McSweeney’s. Kristen Mulrooney had one of the most popular pieces on McSweeney’s for all of January and her first humor piece ever was for RAZED over the holidays! I could go on and on. We are proud, proud parents. We will forever be grateful for the talented writers, designers, and illustrators who believed enough in what we were doing to pitch in and do it with us — for free.
Before we say FAREWELL, F*CKERS! for good, behold RAZED’s Top 10 Most Popular pieces from the entire run of the site:
- At #10: “51 Things You Should Never Say To A Mother Ever”
- It’s me again at #9 (this thing is obvs 100% rigged): “21 Parenting Listicles I’ll Be Perma-Writing in Hell”
- #8 is from Eric so 200% rigged: “Advice I’d Be Giving My Fictional Son If My Real-Life Daughters Weren’t Constantly Interrupting Me
- #7 FINALLY SOME REAL WRITERS: “A Petition for Coitus: Burns vs. Burns” by Sarah Hutto
- #6 “Welcome To Our Year of Radical Honesty” by C.G. Garcia
- #5 “Things I’ve Yelled At My Son While Biking Him to School” by Sloan Schang
- #4 “Ask Yourself: Grilled Cheese or Quesadilla” by Sloan Schang (repeat!)
- #3 The only timely piece we ever ran and our first color illustration (by the excellent Scott Lenhardt): “How To Talk To Your Kids About Gay Marriage”
- #2 “Transcript, Episode 6, Season 666 of Dora the Explorer: ‘Dora Visits The Underworld’” by E.R. Catalano
- And at #1 one of the most berzerkers laugh-with-yer-piehole-open pieces of all time: “How About You Do Sex to Me for Mother’s Day” by Sarah Hutto
If you haven’t had enough, it’s worth scrolling all the way through our archives as well as checking out our first issue. We launched the site with five pieces, interestingly enough that’d be the format we’d return to in our final year. Eric and I helped stock the writing side of things for our launch but I knew we were off to the races when Darren Higgin’s and Noel Corley’s pieces landed in Ye Old Submissions in box. Check out “I’m Stepping Down From This Kids’ Game to Spend More Time With My Family” and “PRO/CON: Driving The Family Into The Lake.” I still guffaw reading them now and the illustrations are *chef’s kiss.* Darren was also our copyeditor throughout our run and honestly he was too good for us. Which we know now because he told us. A special shout out to Michael Dabbs who is not only my design partner in the real world (is the world real anymore?), but also designed all our killer mastheads. I mean, I’m starting to think the whole point of creating RAZED was to one day end up with a heart / middle finger GIF.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to, read, laughed with or at (we’re not picky), or cheered on RAZED. We will miss bringing our particular brand of darkness into your lives. However, we will not miss getting entirely-too-personal essays and/or advertisements for cheese as submissions.
This piece was adapted from my newsletter, AMATEUR HOUR. You can subscribe here. Each newsletter also includes links to excellent, interesting, funny, or just plain bOnKeRs things I’ve come across.