The Beat is 10 today!!!

heidi_macdonald_gerard_butler
I actually don’t remember the day I started this blog—it was June or July somethingth 2004- so I’ve arbitrarily decided today will henceforth be The Beat’s anniversary. Ten long years of late nights, sleeping five hours, web crashes, Vietnamese Instant Coffee, Amon Tobin, Luke Vibert, Vitalic, Tipsy, Mahler, Stravinsky and Amy Winehouse. Ten years of stopping whatever else I was doing at some point to say “I gotta do The Beat now.” Ten years of watching the graphic novel industry grow, 10 years of a new golden age of comics, the rise and fall of manga, the rise and rise of comic book movies and TV shows, firings, hirings, 10 days that shook the world. Ten years of the internet changing every week or minute. When I began there was no Tumblr, no Twitter, no Facebook, no Youtube, no smart phones. People were so starved for entertainment that they actually read websites run by one person in their pajamas.

edu_anne.jpg
This is the third and final home for The Beat. Originally it was party of the Pulse, which was part of comicon.com, a site now little spoken of, but in its day it was an exemplar of the kind of smart, current writing about comics that only the internet could provide. IN honor of its origins, I’ve changed the background color to the original Beat background, JUST FOR THIS ANNIVERSARY WEEK THOUGH, so please enjoy it, take snapshots, and so on. The Beat was a persona I developed at The Pulse, first for a weekly column, and eventually a blog. It was the early days of blogging and everyone thought it was the future of journalism. In reality, it wasn’t even the future of writing about what you had for lunch.

tinker0hu.jpg
The Beat is actually more like 12 years old, if you go by the column that started it, but I forgot to celebrate two years ago, so here we are. I did dig up two pieces about San Diego from The Pulse days that kind of observed and classified a lot of how the rest of the decade would go. Part one here and part two, with my favorite headline of all times, “The Cromlech’s Secret.” What did a cromlech have to go with Comic-Con? I’m not sure any more, but back then you got to be really self indulgent.

co-closer.jpeg
In 2006 the Beat left Comicon for Publishers Weekly, where despite having the highest traffic it ever achieved, I couldn’t get a single person in the IT department to lift a finger to fix the many issues that had come up with the database. I wrote all about that here. (I didn’t write the postcript though, which was that after fighting tooth and nail with one particularly annoying web person at Reed who said she didn’t support WordPress sites, she ended up getting a new job where she converted a website to a ton of blogs using the very same template I used for The Beat. Why am I always right about these things?)
2055_4_31.jpg
Both of the previous iterations of The Beat had been done in by web admins who just didn’t take or didn’t have the time to fix things when they went wrong. When I took the site back myself, I resolved to learn how to do basic maintenance myself (with the help of Media Temple’s always polite techs and my developer Ryan Dickey and his partner Ron Croudy.) And thus I’ve entered the door to a happy world where just this weekend I updated WordPress, made a sitewide backup, crashed my server entirely for about an hour, discovered the error log was getting out of control, and repaired a broken table in mySQL to stop the error messages. I’m lovin’ it.
1903piraateillo.jpg
In this day and age it’s pretty crazy for one person to try and run a news site all by her or himself. It’s still only a part time job for me, but one that takes up a lot of my waking time, and has given me more satisfaction and amusement and opportunities than any other job I’ve had. I’ve had some other great writers and columnists who have added immeasurably to The Beat Experience, and more to come, but it’s still mostly my site. Despite the absurdity of a one-woman shop, The Beat is still in the top 10 comics news sites, and to be honest that still boggles my mind. That there are more than ten comics news sites, that is.
sd04d220.jpg
It takes an insane amount of work to keep going, though. Luckily I like to stay busy.

The other day at HeroesCon I was on a panel with Tom Spurgeon (who started Comics Reporter a few months after The Beat started), Chris Sims and Tom Heintjes talking about “comics journalism” or whatever. I said that in todays climate, in a time of increased competition, I had to be less self-indulgent, which sort of surprised Tom, I think. But it’s true. I wish I could just post nonsense about Clive Owen and dear, dear Gerard Butler all day (two early fixations of the site, the Hiddleston/Cumberbatch of their day, a personal touch that no one would go for today) but there are a dozen tumblrs and TMZ/Buzzfeed rip-offs to do that. You know how at the end of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Lo says “I wish that we’ll be in the desert together again”? Sometimes I wish I could just be in the cloud with Old Yeller dog food again.

images.jpeg
Everything changes. I think it’s more important than ever to be a source for accurate information about the industry and exposure for new comics projects, because tehre’s more meaningless crap out there, too. People complain when I cover non comics stuff, but when I started the site I covered every comic book movie WAY more than I do now. (I was digging through the 2004 pictures archives and there were hardly any comics — just endless photos of weird comics related things and movie stuff.) It’s less fun, and yet more rewarding, doing the site now because more people depend on it. With great power comes great hosting bills.

Running this site hasn’t gotten any easier since I started. The main reason is that there is so much more news of comics and comics culture to cover! Sales are up, outlets are up, schools are up, awards are up, women are up, kids are up, webcomics are up, countries that were just mucking around when I started now have actual comics cultures. Conventions have gone from 200 to 2000*. We have transmedia and motion comics now, although those can usually be ignored. We have comics on the web evolving into a new artform, tablets giving readers a new experiences, and the cloud changing the idea of ownership entirely. And Disney bought Marvel and Amazon bought Comixology. And still every day, men and increasingly women are slaving over a table with ink stained fingers, hoping to pay the rent and touch a heart or two. They don’t want to be forgotten. That’s one of the reasons I’ve fought tooth and nail to keep most of the beat archives up all these years. Other websites are lost to the sands of time, but I’ll keep this site up as long as I can physically do it. No one wants to be forgotten.

When I started this, I believed that comics were not only a “legitimate artform” but an artform of the future. Given their growth in the last ten years, I think I was right about that, too. And the best is yet to come.

Even though I sometimes wish I was back in the desert with Old Yeller**, there’s no turning back. There’s a new icon here around Stately Beat Manor.

clint-dempsey-soccer-world-cup-ghana-vs-usa3.jpg
When there’s a job to be done, it gets done.

There are hundreds of people I need to thank for helping me over the years, and I would sit here for another decade trying to think of them all. So I’ll just thank the basics: Rick Veitch and Steve Conley at The Pulse for getting me into this web thing; Calvin Reid for his unstinting support; my parents, Suzu and Philip, for all they have done for me; and Ben McCool for making me laugh. And Todd Allen, Todd Alcott, Torsten Adair, Steve Morris, Mark Coale, Bruce Lidl, Maggie Siegel-Berele, Jessica Lee, Cindy arias, Shannon O’Leary, MK Reed, Kate Fitzsimons, Zainab Akhtar, Michel Fiffe, Marc-Oliver Frisch, Rich Johnson, Paul O’Brien, Padraig O Mealoid, Henry Barajas, Matt O’Keefe, Jeffrey Gustafson, Jason Enright, David Carter, Chris Rice, Jeff Trexler, Aaron Humphrey, Amy Chu, Laura Sneddon, Serhend Siricioglu, Brett Schenker, Brandon Schatz, Joshua Rivera, Nicholas Eskey, Kate Willaert and the rest for their great writing and insights. And all my awesome advertisers, who make this possible.

And always you, dear reader. As long as they have wifi in the desert, I’ll be here.

riding_into_the-Sunset.jpg
_____________
*exaggeration
** god that sounds horrible

TCAF Bound

photo.JPG
We’re off on the road to TCAF! The only thing harshing my mellow is the Newark Airport monorail being down, but otherwise the charming Porter Air experience is already in full effect with cappucino and cookies. I’m on the same flight as Tom Spurgeon, so if aliens abduct the plane, Steve and Zainab should be on alert.

As usual I’ll be sporadically posting to bring you the full comics love in. Stay tuned for more reports from the airport lounge!

Writers wanted: C2E2 and beyond

bagge sweatshopAre you going to C2E2? The Beat is not for the FIRST TIME. Torsten will be there for all the inside story as only Torsten can cover it, but if you have a hankering to listen to people make awkward banter about upcoming comics and then race to feverishly type it up, you may be just the person we’re looking for! If you’d be interested in covering it for The Beat, email me at comicsbeat at gmail dot com.

I’m also looking for writers for San Diego. I cannot get you a hotel room or pay your airfare but you will get a four day press badge if you are accepted, and access to media events. I’ve begun putting together our team, and it’s going to be stellar!

We’re also looking for more regular writers, seeing as the last batch we had have all graduated to running major news sites, becoming online editors for newspapers and getting award nominations. So time for the next generation to step in. I view writing for the Beat as a partnership—I’m looking for fresh viewpoints and insights, and a passionate love for comics. In particular, I’d like to run more reviews—we get a ton of material here that just isn’t being covered, and although I know a lot of people think that reviews are a mugs game, I think well-written reviews have a place.

Sadly this is not a lucrative business, however I’m going to work up some kind of rev share model for payment. Be forewarned, the rev you share will not buy more than a peanut butter sandwich…which is what I had for dinner! See, partnership!

These are exciting times for comics and I’m excited to see the voices emerging to talk about this time. As always, I am especially open to diverse viewpoints. Comicsbeat at gmail dot com

Sick sick sick

4-1.jpg
I gots the con cruds which has killed The Beat dead in its tracks. Sorry about this lost week. Hopefully back in the flow for MoCCA!

BTW when I’m sick, I drink BAI coffee-tea-fruit juice. That Cosy Shack Ride Pudding and a mix of diet pepsi and orange juice (gross but effective) bring me back from the dead.

A very special day at The Beat

201403140128.jpg
Some house keeping:

• I’ll be busy with the judging in the Society of Illustrators inaugural Comics and Cartoon Art Annual much of today (poster above by my hero, Rutu Modan); I’m part of an embarrassingly star-studded judging group so I need to bring my A-game, as they say. Immediately after the judging I’m hopping on a place to go to the first ever MGA Con in Macon, GA. All of which is to say I won’t be around much today for the Beat. So to keep everyone busy for the weekend, I’m going to catch up with some art and previews I missed earlier this week.

• I’m sad to be missing the Diamond numbers today — I’m pretty curious to see those after the low-ebb of January.

• Many people have been complaining about an getting a pop-up Android virus here on the Beat. I’ve disabled any ads this may have been connected to, and my webmaster is on vacation until Monday but as soon as he comes back we’re making this the top priority. If you have any problems with pop-ups or loud ads, please send me a screen cap if you can. My ad network can selectively disable these. My reader experience is way more important than the pennies I make from these ads.

• I added a spot on the sidebar to sign up for an email mailing list. I don’t actually have anything to mail out at the moment, but I probably will at some point soon. I have no idea what it will be but all the web kids tell me you have to have a mailing list. Needless to say, this list will go no further than my a hard drive since I wouldn’t even know how to sell it anyway.

Okay that’s it! Have a great weekend!

The Beat is on the move again: Middle Georgia Comic Convention and Emerald City

Hey kids, two shows coming up this month, First:
201403071842.jpg

Middle Georgia Comic Convention 2014
This is a BRAND NEW SHOW, held March 15-16 at the Macon Centerplex in Macon, GA. I have NEVER been to Georgia before so this will be a first. Other guests include Mark Bagley, Colleen Doran, Francesco Francavilla, Brian Stelfreeze, Justin Jordan, Tommy Lee Edwards and MORE. There will be some Walking Dead background players there, but since they are local, it seems appropriate. As I said, this is a first time show but they are trying to ahve the kind of intimate, local show that has been booming of late. Should be a good time.

And then

eccc

Emerald City Comic Con
Once again, Ben McCool and I will both be on hand, at table F-10. This will be our first time there in years and from everything I’ve heard it has become a huge super con, so this will be quite an experience.

I cracked the Google Authorship Code!

WARNING: nerd computer internet content to follow. If you don’t like this, walk away.

For months, I have been trying to get my Google Authorship established.

If you don’t run a website you probably just went “huhhhhhhnnn???” but as part of its ever evolving quest to supply only the highest quality results, Google last year started emphasizing “authorship” for its search results, authorship being that little picture you get next to your results and your name next to you result. Like this was a matter of LIFE OR DEATH, many web experts proclaimed. I have pretty good ranking, and I had all my settings correct or so I thought but I could never get that picture to pop up. WHY? I tried resetting all my meta settings, linked up my Google+ page—their most important criteria—and still nothing, even though I was in nearly 2000 circles, an unshabby amount. I went on Google’s webmasters forum and someone with inner knowledge of Google—you can never actually talk to someone who works at Google—walked me through everything I needed to do. STILL NOTHING.

But one thing she had suggested. My G+ profile photo was in black and white. Maybe that was the problem.

Well, I liked my black and white photo, but finally the other day I gave in and put up a color picture.

And a few hours later….

5318334fd535cf2ff5000038.jpeg

Voila. Of course, I hate this photo, but I dare not change it now.

Does this actually mean anything? Supposedly people like clicking on things with pictures, and now that my Authorship is claimed, Google is just going to love me to bits.

I posted this in hopes that, with my new found amazing ranking power, people having the same problems might find this solution. Because I live to help others. But seriously, the other thing I learned in all this: Google wants you to use Google+ and favors people who do. So join those circles and share those articles! If you’d like to Help The Beat (and who doesn’t) click on that Google+ button at the top if you would like to share a story with a nerdy audience of techies and Torsten, since that seems to be who uses G+.
531836b0d535cf9c57000008.jpeg
BTW, Torsten has been rocking his Authorship badge for a while now. You go, Torsten! G+ I’m telling ya.

News alert: Abe Vigoda is still alive

It’s been a week to remember out mortality. Close to home, two excellent comics journalists, Bhob Stewart and Bill Baker passed away, leaving many friends behind, and the death of comedian/director/Ghostbuster Harold Ramis was a shock to all of us.

So on a more cheerful note, I’d like to remind everyone that Abe Vigoda, Godfather and Barney Miller presence, is still alive and turned 93 this week.
tn-500_screenshot2011-04-12at3.20.53pm.jpg

vigoda.jpg
I was once able to share the same general oxygen as Mr. Vigoda, and it is a moment I will never forget. I’m glad I had the chance.
311483_2314596900577_65461780_n.jpg
I guess what I’m trying to say is…treasure those moments. Pick up the phone. Reach out. You won’t always have the chance.

Podcast Alert: Stuff Said reveals everything you need to know about Heidi MacDonald

201402240347.jpg

I can’t believe I didn’t mention this before, but I recently guested on Gregg Schigiel’s podcast Stuff Said, and I have to say, this is, by far, the most in-depth interview I have EVER EVER done. Or probably ever will do. I talk about my ENTIRE career. Gregg really did his research on this, and the annotations to the podcast alone should tell it covers just about everything. So yay, that is done, and it was actually fun!

I haven’t listened to other episodes of Gregg’s podcast, but other guests include such folks as Erik Larsen, Mark Waid and Eric Stephenson. If they are interviewed in the same manner, these are must listens!

Back to the fray

WARNING: NERD CONTENT

Okay I got my old computer back although they replaced so many parts it’s practically a new computer. They didn’t replace the hard drive though, and everything was right where I left it. SWEET.

One thing they did take out was the 16 gigs of OWC RAM I installed a few years back. The MacBook Pro supports 16 gbs of memory but it isn’t Apple approved, so I got 8 gbs of brand new memory. Interestingly, since getting the machine back, the fan has been silent (knock wood). This is great because it used to start wailing like a chain saw on as soon as I turned on the machine, and if I sat with it on my lap I had a rash from the heated body of the computer wherever it touched me. This is a common complaint about recent MBPs—some say the thermal paste used to insulate the components wasn’t applied properly, blah blah. There are a lot of conspiracy theories about this particular make of Mac. I can’t say any of my experiences disproved those theories—however, you never hear from people whose machines are working just fine, either.

Anyway I wonder if the overheating was due to all the extra RAM? I may never know. I got my OWC RAM back but I doubt I’ll put it back in. I’ll see if I can struggle along with 8 gigs.

I never had a laptop go kerflooie two years in before, although I use this one a lot more than previous laptops. Although it was not up to modern tasks, my 12″ Powerbook (still one of the cutest computers ever) chugged along bravely—despite being dropped many times, including three years in a row at San Diego—and the silver-plated keyboard is perhaps the nicest feeling keyboard of any Mac I have used. Other Apple conspiracy theorists say that since Jobs died, Apple products are meant to fail a few years in. I hope that isn’t true, because I will never ever go PC.

So yeah, that happened. I came out way ahead because of all the support from you, my readers, and I will never ever forget that. In my worry wort way I keep thinking something horrible is going to happen. I’ll be busy backing stuff up and clouding it and so on for the next few days, but yeah, we’re here to stay!
V0 master

Still running on impulse power

grayspapaya.JPG
My computer will be in the shop most of the week, so I’m still working on my old G4 with its amazing 1.25 gigs of RAM. So I’m going to have to take it easy for the week because it takes forever to do anything on this computer, and I’m not going to invest in a more modern backup until I see if my MBP comes back from the dead intact.

I did discover a version of Firefox called TenFourFox which allows me to run things like Twitter, Gmail and Tumblr. Actually it works pretty well for basic shit. Basic shit does not include Golden Globe worst dressed galleries, and that is sad. (I don’t need to see galleries to know this however: Paula Patton, just don’t.)

As for why there is a picture of the now-closed Gray’s Papaya on 8th Street at the top of this post…I was wandering around my old neighborhood this weekend and every place I used to hang out is closed. 8th Street is now a solid row of $15 cocktail bars with black enamel facades and gold outlined lettering. WTF? Did they pass an ordnance or something? Well, everything evolves. The last time people bought shoes on 8th street is when everyone thought a G4 Powerbook was the hot new thing.

Anyway, I’m still figuring things out, but hopefully I can do a Kibbles ‘n’ Bits tomorrow. Send me your Kibbles and your bits!

I hope to continue earning your support

24291940e0a6ace8_landing.jpg
Wow.

When I started fretting about my computer repairs yesterday, Tom Spurgeon offered to suggest that people donate some money to help out, and I didn’t say no. (Tom Spurgeon is good people, in case you didn’t know that.)

And then you guys started hitting the Paypal button.

My immediate bill was covered within an hour, and I said no one needed to give any more, but you guys kept giving. And kept on. I’m not ashamed to say that several times yesterday afternoon, my eyes were not entirely dry.

Thanks to the immense generosity of Beat readers I have enough to fix my computer, pay off some longstanding bills regarding the Beat and invest in some much needed upgrades and back-up equipment, like a new Time Machine-ready drive. And a Thunderbolt cable. The rest is being put in a rainy day fund to pay for more improvements, pay writers and so on.

I also hope to pay it forward with supporting more Kickstarters and helping people who also need a hand.

I can’t thank you all enough. Seriously, I’m so humbled and grateful. Comics people are the best people. This IS a community. Sometimes it feels like the same $20 goes around and around as we pass it along helping whoever needs it the most, buying a collection, pitching in on a Kickstarter, sometimes just helping pay the rent. But as long as that $20 is going around, we’ll keep going.

In the meantime, I am chugging along on my old computer (the racehorse will be back in a a few days they tell me) which isn’t compliant with a lot of software, so I’ll just be hitting the high spots where I can.

But once again….thank you. Thank you all. I’ll say it one more time.

Comics people are the best people.

The pink and blue striped screen of death

3_13_Large-computer.jpg
Well the old Mac Book Pro decided to throw a tantrum last night, and after a night of crying and weeping, it’s still throwing a gray screen of death at me, despite all the hardware tests saying everything is a-okay.

Despite my frequent admonitions to “Command-S yes yes yes” I hadn’t made a full back up for…a while. Time Machine is your friend. Your very bestest friend in the world. I’m going to let the old gray mare cool down (not very hard in today’s 1 degree temps) and see if I can revive it with some tools. Otherwise…Tekserve, you are my friend!

So needless to say posting delayed. I tried pulling out my old adorable 12″ G4 as a backup and it wouldn’t even load Gmail on Safari, such is the data/memory load now for the internet.

Merry Christmas to all

20131225-005826.jpg

Power is back where I’ve gone for Christmas, but the internet may be out for days. So no blogging until things are back to “normal.”

In the meantime, here’s a little old James Jean Santa art and our most sincere wishes for a safe, happy, and healthy Christmas and a great New Year! The Beat would be nothing without its faithful readers.

Where I’ll Be: Miami

 

logo_miami-book-fair-276x3001

THIS WEEKEND!!!

• November 22-24th I’ll be in Miami for the Miami Book Fair, a fabled event which I am thrilled to witness with my own eyes. I’ll take part in a panel on Saturday at 4:30 called “Graphic Novels in Libraries, from Banned to Blowing Up” with Karen Green, Rich Johnson, Robin Brenner and George O’Connor. You can see all the comics programming here. The MBF is one of the biggest events in all Miami, one of the biggest book festivals in the US, and I’ve never been before so I’m eager to experience the hoopla firsthand. Also, never been to Miami, so…mojitos here I come. I’ll be kind of in and out at this, as by then I can only imagine my interest in travel will be at a low ebb. Except after that I’m going to Maine for T-Day. Will the cats even remember me by then?

Happy Birthday, Heidi MacDonald!

Hey, do you want to know a secret? Do you promise not to tell? A whoa-whoa-whoooo. So anyway, today is HEIDI MACDONALD’S FLIPPING BIRTHDAY!!

[Read more…]