§ It’s a new year and everyone is promising a new look! Here at The Beat, we’ve added Kyle Pinion and Hannah Lodge as Entertainment editors, in conjunction with their own site, Geek Rex. I’ll still be weighing in with a few choice observations, but Kyle and Hannah are much better at this stuff than me.

§ ICv2 has a new look! with bigger pictures and all. They are also launching a Pro site later in the year.

§ Zainab Akhtar announced some changes at her outstanding Comics & Cola site, commensurate with all the quetsioning that goes into doing something you love in a field that doesn’t pay much:

I like writing about comics. A lot. So I’m going to continue doing that here. However, I simply can’t pore as much time and energy into it as I did last year (where my life ended up revolving around it, and I spent way too much time online, which fed into being sucked into a particular temperament which I’d rather stay away from), so that means a reduced capacity to some extent. I want to write more in-depth pieces, do a bit more research, running alongside bits of news and reviews, and the theory is this will free up more time to do that. I want to get organised and set specific time aside to write, too. Leaving things open- writing whenever, wherever, meant I was too laid back, rushing around to get things done, a lack of focus, and that all time was effectively writing time eating into pretty much everything else.

Whatever you do is fine, Zainab.

§ In the wake of Tom Spurgeon moving to Columbus to run CXC, he’s been foreshadowing changes to The Comics Reporter. In the meantime, he wrapped up the year with delayed convention reports: the San Diego Comic Con, SPX, CAB and ICAF, and the new CALA in Los Angeles. The CAb report includes Robert Boyd’s write-up of the crazy Raymond Pettibon panel, which he thought was an entertaining train wreck, but it did include a quote which was one of the best lines about comics ever:

“One drawing can also have its own narrative, its past, present and future embedded in it.” This says something that I’ve long believed about comics — that panel-to-panel storytelling is not the only way to depict narrative time. Comics and visual art in general prior to the invention of cinema often employed different means for this.


§ In regard to the above, it is dismaying to me that Tom Spurgeon remembers things that happened in July better than I remember what I did on Monday. His report did jog my memory about something I never got around to writing here though: the shrinking of the off sites and what many people told me was the convention organizers taking firmer control of some elements that had been sort of running on their own steam outside the show. This doesn’t have anything to do with comics, per se, but it is changing the feeling of the event. I’m told that many local businesses jacked p their fees for venues, and studios and gaming companies, noting that what happens in San Diego actually does stay in San Diego, said no thanks.

For instance, the San Diego Wine and Culinary Center was the site of the first Tr!ckster in 2011—located directly across the tracks from the convention center it quickly became the best comics hangout ever. However the next year, Tr!ckster, the alternative comics signing/party space founded by Scott Morse, got priced out and Sega moved in. Sega stayed there for 2013, but in 2014, there was nothing going on there. Nada. Just some people sipping wine once in a while. I’m told they raised their rental fee to a level that no one wanted to pay.

If I were a venue owner in San Diego, I imagine I’d expect the goose to keep laying golden eggs, but they turned into just good old goose eggs in 2014. Will people be back in 2015? We have a mere six months to find out!

§ Speaking of Comic-Con and CCI, five more guests have been announced for WonderCon: Darwyn Cooke, Greg Horn, Braden Lamb, Shelli Paroline and Babs Tarr.

§ Multiversity did a The Comics Internet Aggregate Rankings for Best Comics of the Year, but they did miss a lot of lists.

§ By now I’m sure everyone has seen Sam Raimi confessing to Chris Hardwick that Spider-Man 3 wasn’t too great.

It’s a movie that just didn’t work very well. I tried to make it work, but I didn’t really believe in all the characters, so that couldn’t be hidden from people who loved Spider-Man. If the director doesn’t love something, it’s wrong of them to make it when so many other people love it. I think [raising the stakes after Spider-Man 2] was the thinking going into it, and I think that’s what doomed us. I should’ve just stuck with the characters and the relationships and progressed them to the next step and not tried to top the bar…

I know I wrote about this at the time, as did everyone else, but the character of Venom was pretty much forced on Raimi by the studio (And producer Avi Arad) and it was obvious that he didn’t care. Spider-Man 4 was to have starred The Vulture, another vulnerable old man, the kind of character that Raimi is interested in…but the studio wasn’t too hot on it. And now, no one even knows what Sony is going to do with the Spider-Man franchise.

§ SF Gate profiled all the thriving comics shops in San Francisco.

Hibbs may be bearded and have long hair, but he’s the antithesis of the unwelcoming “Comic Book Guy” on “The Simpsons.” Sitting down for an interview, Hibbs apologizes for the mess in a back room that’s actually pretty clean. The store itself is full of light, has room to browse and the floor looks clean enough to perform surgery — a barely familiar scene to anyone who patronized one of the dank man caves selling comic books in the 1980s.

Greet! Sell! Comics shops aren’t just for nerds any more.