It’s been a whirlwind last few days in nerdworld, what with regime change at DC, Toy Fair and the ComicsPRO 2020 meeting., We’ll be trying to catch up with all of them, but here’s some information from ComicsPRO. The meeting is closed to the press, but if you search Twitter you’ll find tons of photos and enthusiastic tweets – the meeting is known as a great way to kickstart the year in comics and retailing, and the 2020 edition – taking place in Comics Town USA, aka Portland, OR – was no exception.
First, a clarification of some of my comments on DC’s presence at the event. I’m told that DC had never planned to have an extensive presence at the event, and only the marketing team of Letterio and Adams was scheduled to attend. So this was decidedly NOT a last minute decision because of co-publisher Dan DiDio’s departure. That said, DiDio was a regular at the event, so this was still a little unusual, even if planned.
I’m also told that there was a top secret presentation on 5G and other DC matters to big retailers, and reaction to 5G was…it’s not impossible. (Just what is happening with the FCBD Generation Zero issue is more properly covered in a DC update.)
Now to matters that should have been covered earlier. ComicsPRO presnets two awards annually, to people who have made major contribution to the publisher/retailer dynamic. One is a memorial award presented to someone no longer alive, and another to a living recipient. The awards, with winners and nominees, are below:
ComicsPRO 2020 Memorial Award
Winner: Robert Scott – owner and manager of San Diego-based comic book store chain Comickaze Comics. A comic book retailer for twenty-seven years, he also founded the Comic Book Industry Alliance (CBIA) online trade and discussion group – an early comic industry discussion group. He self-published under the AFC Studio banner and also provided creators with an alternate place to promote during Comic-Con with with his Comickaze Alt-Con programming.
Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson
ComicsPRO 2020 Industry Award
WINNER: Joe Field – a long-time comic retailer and founder of Free Comic Book Day. He was a partner in WonderCon for its first 15 years and served as ComicsPRO’s president for the organization’s first ten years. He once had a cup of coffee working for Stan and Joan Lee. He was involved in pre-ComicsPRO retailer associations with NCCDA (Northern California Comic Dealers Association), BACR (Bay Area Comics Retailers), CBRI (Comic Book Retailers International) and DLG (Direct Line Group). He asks you to vote for someone else… please!
Field had a rather interesting tweet with a slide from Marvel’s presentation with some optimistic news:
— Joe Field (@flycojoe) February 20, 2020
Bad news travels at the speed of light and good news lands with a thud but…facts is facts.
The Beat’s own Brian Hibbs had a VERY excited post, post ComicsPRO, on his Facebook page which I will excerpt:
We didn’t solve all of comics’ problems, but we took several giant running leaps closer. We welcomed the book publishers, and they embraced us back, hard (seriously, a market probably as big as “independent book stores” that is hyper-passionate and insanely knowledgeable about the fastest growing segment of publishing? They were kind of wetting themselves)
The first timers were feted, the vets were revered, our departed were honored, and our partners were celebrated. I can’t possibly think of a more important place to have been in comics than Portland than the last few days.
I am so tired right now that I can see through time, and we are all so talked out that the room sounded like a Dirk Wood cosplay convention, but I am somehow returning home with the flame burning high, bright, and FUCKING MOLTEN. I am recharged for another six months (at least) from the sheer awe and passion I took from my peers, and I hope they got the same from me.
He liked it, then!
Field also responded to his award, and also talked more about Scott:
The Memorial Award for 2020 went to Robert Scott, the San Diego retailer and founder of the Comic Book Industry Alliance, a hitching post for comics professionals to talk about business, exchange ideas and trade stock. CBIA was on the Delphi network but when Facebook groups became a thing, it really took the shine off other internet groups and the CBIA suffered for it.
Robert’s CBIA advocacy work kept a lot of comic book retailers, publishers and creators in touch with one another for many years. Robert was both a cantankerous argumentative conversationalist and a big bear of a sweet guy. He passed away in early December 2019. At the beginning of my remarks in the video here, I mention Robert and his wife Denise, since I know first hand that small businesses are a family affair even if other family members don’t directly work in the business.
I was very grateful to receive the other 2020 Industry Appreciation award. In my acceptance, I talked about how my business is so dependent on not just our wonderful FlyCo Faithful who shop with us day in and day out all year long, but also dependent on the work ALL comic book retailers do on a daily basis.
In order for our comics specialty market to be its best, we need the hard work, innovation and enthusiasm of every comic book retailer. The comics specialty market is a business built by fans, but we still need to apply sound business practices to keep our segment of the comic book business moving in the right direction.
Finally, Bad Idea released a video that included James Van Der Beek, and no one saw that coming, so…this start-up continues to do things no one else has done, and I’m kind of enjoying it.
We’re hoping to have more thoughts and reactions from ComicsPRO from retailers later this week.