Big news, kids! As you can read in the PR below, The Beat has been acquired by Syndicated Comics, a new division of Lion Forge.
After two years with Hiveworks, five years running this solo, three years with Publishers Weekly and three with Comicon.com, original home of The Beat, I’ve made the most momentous team-up of all.
What does this mean? In the short term, nothing. I’ve been doing this daily for 13 years, and will continue doing it just the way I’ve always done it. That’s why Lion Forge wanted to partner with the site.
In the longer term, if you’ve been reading my posts tagged “meta” over the years, you know that in this time the archetype of running your own little bedroom blog has gone from wild and sexy frontier rebel, to bold tech entrepreneur, to sad hermit cowering in the basement clutching a thermos of coffee. When I started the site there was no social media, no FB, no Twitter, we wore onions on our belt, blah blah blah. Keeping the site running has always been my #1 priority but with that came many sleepless nights, many bowls of thin gruel, and many corners cut and wish lists that would always be wishes.
I’ve been in talks with many deals for The Beat over the years – in fact hardly a year goes by where I don’t dust off my Powerpoint and tailor it to some new suitor. The talks never went too far either because of money or vision or both. In the end I would ask myself, “Will I make more money partnering with myself?” and the answer was always myself. Bet on yourself, that’s usually the best bet of all.
With Lion Forge, however, it’s not a bet but a plan to keep doing what the Beat does, only better.
I can’t thank Lion Forge’s owner, David Steward II, and president, Geoff Gerber, enough for putting together a deal that preserves the Beat’s autonomy while adding it to a diverse and growing company that publishes the kind of comics that I know we need to move forward as an industry. I also want to thank Rich Johnson, Syndee Barwick, Jeremy Atkins, Christina Stewart Devin Funches, Andrea Colvin, Hazel Newlevant, Joe Illidge and the rest of the Lion Forge team for all their help with this.
That said, we know there are may potential conflicts of interest here, we’ll be confronting those and setting up some firewalls to make everything as transparent as possible.
I want to thank Jojo, Isa, Audrey, Erin and Kisai and the rest of the Hiveworks team. They were the best partners I could ever have asked for and after a decade of hosting agony, The Beat was finally technically sound. The Hiveworks model for webcomics is incredibly important, and anyone who is lucky enough to be asked to join their family, I would recommend them without any hesitation.
As for the Beat’s new family, if I was just sitting around fantasizing about what kind of comics company I’d like to be partnered with, I’d be hard pressed to improve on the reality of Lion Forge. With an emphasis on kids and YA comics, beautiful editions of foreign comics, superheroes that reflect the colors of the real world, and a behind the scenes staff that includes a true gender and racial mix, I truly believe this is the way comics should be. It’s a team I’m proud to join.
I’m a little sad that everything I write about Lion Forge comics will now have to be labeled as hype and sponsored content, but I’m going to have the same standards for covering them as I have for every other company. They put out some good comics, and I want to help people know about that, as I always have.
This is an incredibly exciting day as I share this news with you. I’ve often written about how the digital world has evolved and I see more and more changes coming soon. Having more resources to weather those changes and take advantage of them means we’ll just be doing more of what the Beat has always done best.
Finally, a big thank you to the Beat team, especially Alex, Todd, Kyle and Hannah, for helping keep the site going when the going got tough at Stately Beat Manor, and all the other great writers (really a huge list and I’m terrified of forgetting someone). People think this is Heidi’s show, but it’s really a collaboration. I also must thank Jeff Trexler, who gave gave me guidance through this process.
As I always say in my deck, comics and graphic novels are one of the fastest growing and most important mediums of the Information Age. I’ve been chronicling their evolution and growth for a long time, and there is so much more to come. Vistas we can only imagine as we sit here now.
And The Beat will be there to report on it as it happens. You can count on that.
Owner and publisher at St. Louis–based comics and graphic novel publisher The Lion Forge, LLC has formed a sister company, Syndicated Comics, LLC, that has acquired the widely recognized, authoritative voice of the comic book industry, The Beat, and announced a strategic partnership between Lion Forge and Syndicated Comics to support The Beat and its editor-in-chief, Heidi MacDonald.
“My personal mission is to see readers all of ages, ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, and gender identification reflected in the comics media,” says new publisher David Steward II. “Heidi MacDonald and The Beat have been THE authoritative voice of our industry, presenting insider knowledge in a format that is welcoming to a broad audience. Following the closing down of ComicsAlliance, we all need to work to preserve diverse and inclusive coverage of comics. This partnership furthers my personal desire to see the industry grow and continue to reach new readers.”
“The Beat has survived many ups and down in both the comics business and the journalism business, and joining Lion Forge is a natural evolution of our mission,” says founder and editor-in-chief, Heidi MacDonald. “The comics medium is more vital, diverse, and groundbreaking than ever, and with the resources we now have, we’ll be able to bring these developments to an ever-wider audience. I’m grateful to David Steward and the whole Lion Forge team for their vision in forging this partnership and incredibly excited about what the future holds.”
Heidi MacDonald is an award-winning editor and journalist who has been covering the comics industry for more than 20 years. As an editor at Disney and DC Comics, she edited such titles as The Lion King, Scooby Doo, Swamp Thing, and Y: The Last Man. She has spoken about comics and their culture around the world and cohosts Publishers Weekly’s graphic novel podcast More to Come.
Established in 2004, The Beat has been covering the world of comics, graphic novels, comic cons, and pop culture daily to an audience of both fans and industry influencers. It is a two-time nominee for the Will Eisner Award in the Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism category and the winner of the Shelf Dorf Award for Best Comics Blog. In 2017, The Beat was added to the Library of Congress’s historical archives.
About Lion Forge Comics:
Lion Forge Comics strives to publish comics that everyone—regardless of background or ethnicity—can identify with. The original graphic novel Andre the Giant: Closer to Heaven was nominated for three Glyph Awards, as well as the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity. Lion Forge Comics also includes the Roar imprint for young adults and the CubHouse imprint for readers twelve and under. It is also home to the Magnetic Collection of premium and critically acclaimed comics and graphic novels, boasting multiple Eisner Award nominees. From licensed properties, including Dreamworks’s Voltron Legendary Defender, original work from top independent creators, and the original and all-inclusive Catalyst Prime superhero universe, there is something for every level of comic fan, young and old, across multiple imprints and formats.
Lion Forge Comics—Comics For Everyone. Visit www.lionforge.com for more information.