Happy New Year, faithful Beat readers. Hoping it’s a happy and healthy one for all. 2015 was a challenging year for many of us with many changes blowing through the world of comics, but, in the words of Omega the Unknown, “to resist change is to embrace despair.”
Of course none of this would have been possible without The Beat’s elite cadre of writers, led by managing editor Alex Lu, who not only keeps the trains running on time (more or less) but is also an important voice, the kind of passionate, informed comics reader that represents not only our staff but our readership. And of course I remain ever grateful for the wonderful writing by Kyle Pinion and Hannah Lodge, Edie Nugent, Alexander Jones, Matt O’Keefe, Tireless Torsten Adair, Todd Allen, Jeff Trexler, Henry Barajas, Zachary Clemente, Nick Eskey, Lindsey Morris, Davey Nieves, Brandon Schatz. Kate Willaert, Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson and our two fearless chart analysts David Carter and Xavier Lancel, who added Gallic flair and wit to Marvel’s charts this year. They are truly the best and I’m privileged to work with them.
For the record here are the top 10 stories on the Beat this year; most of them earned their place due to some posting on a more popular website, but it does show that people are very interested in what pants superheroes are wearing:
#11 is the all time perennial:
from early 2014; this is by far the most cited piece ever on The Beat and I’d like to think that Brett Schenker’s solid methodology did a lot to cement the diversity revolution that has swept over the field in the last few years.
Photo by Dave Musson
Photo by Dave Musson
And now, because it’s New Year Day and you are either sitting there eager to start your new plans for the year, I’d like to offer this from Andrew WK. The party hard musician is also a motivational speaker and he writes an advice column for the Village Voice. Recently he answered the question ‘Do You Ever Get Stage Fright?’ and his answer applies to anyone anywhere who ever tried something they were afraid to do:
From the first time I ever went up onstage (as a six-year-old, to give my first piano recital), this feeling of an all-encompassing and transcendent fear descended on my spirit and remained there. In fact, it has only increased over time. I would’ve thought that after thirty years of performing, these feelings would’ve subsided, but instead, they’ve actually grown stronger and deeper.
But other feelings have also grown alongside them. Feelings of determination. Feelings of focus. Feelings of a deep and insatiable need to do this work, no matter what. A commitment to fulfilling what I know I should fulfill — of doing what I know I must do in order to be worthy of the opportunities I’ve been given — in order to fulfill my own humble yet very important destiny. It never really gets easier to be alive, but you get better at handling the challenges you’re confronted with, and you get used to the feeling of impending doom, of some sort of cataclysmic disaster being right around the corner. I think that’s just the natural pressure of mortality. The key is to harness this pressure and use it for good. You realize you can feel these things without letting them prevent you from living your life. And when you can face those feelings in small but meaningful ways — like playing a show in spite of your stage fright — it counts as a genuine victory and a moment of triumph.
There is much much more in the piece and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Mr. WK speaks to something that I’ve noticed in my own creative process and that of other successful people: channeling fear or doubt into a positive. Let’s face it, we’re all scared shitless all the time to do anything. Andrew Wk may look like a devil-may-care partyier without fear, but bravado masks insecurity. I bet even the late great Lemmy Killmeister was insecure once in 1974. Fear is universal; it’s overcoming that fear that propels people to greatness or even just achieving personal goals.
So if you are sitting there wondering how you are going to do the thing you’ve dreamed of, please heed the words of Andrew WK. He’ll get you through.
And just to give this a comics twist, AND to start things on an even more positive note, here’s a podcast with Andrew WK via David Harper and Sktchd
Andrew WK, the musician and King of Partying, is this week’s guest on Off Panel as he joins to talk comics, music and fandom. WK comes on and talks why comic books are his kind of party, the communal experience of comics and music, why comic conventions are such special experiences, the positivity and power of fandom, embracing your passions, what he enjoys about comics, how he keeps his passion for live music, his pursuit of joy in all things, and more. It’s a shorter episode, but it’s a good one.
A lot’s going to happen in the next 365 days. Meet you back here in a year.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.