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.
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.
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.
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?)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
** god that sounds horrible
To be honest, the red didn’t even feel out of place until you mentioned it.
Happy Birthday to the Beat!
Also: Happy Canada Day for any fellow Canadians reading this.
where did the time go?
Happy anniversary, Heidi!
Happy anniversary! Here’s to 100 more!
Congratulations Heidi, a massive achievement. I am very honored to play a (very) small part.
I do love that you chose a picture from our time interviewing Gerard Butler at the top! ;) It was a proud day.
The original background is a nice touch. I remember when it started there was some Neil Gaiman quote along the lines of “Look out.”
I remember reading those early days of the Beat and thinking “hey, that would be great to do.”
::Raises a toast to Heidi::
CONGRATULATIONS and HAPPY DECADE-VERSARY!
Yay! Thanks for being the first thing I read every morning. And for being.
The Beat = the Best!
Yours is the only comics news blog I read with any regularity, Ms. Heidi. Thanks for keeping up & keeping on. There are many stories that I suspect we wouldn’t have been talking about if it wasn’t for Stately Beat Manor. When I’m next in NYC, I’m gonna buy you a celebratory cup o’ java.
Wow! Cheers to that and many more years to come!
BIG HUGE CONGRATS!!
Thank you, Heidi and congrats. Here’s to 100 more!
i started reading the Pulse back in 2002 and assumed that you had already been blogging for years!
Mazel tov, Heidi! And never be reluctant to talk about your interest in Gerard Butler’s sweet man abs!
I remember when The Beat debuted at Comicon.com and I also assumed I was coming in late to the party. I really enjoyed the indulgent asides and tangents, and writing in the first person plural. It really gave it a fun personality and now feels like it was a rough template for the likes of Nikke Finke.
Happy birthday to the Beat and congrats to you, Heidi!
Congratulations, Heidi! I don’t know how you do it, but I’m glad you do! Here’s to the next ten years.
While it might not be blogging, I do recall you had your own “clubhouse” on AOL circa 1995. I discovered that after joining Friends of Lulu. (We’re on a road to Berlin…)
Somehow, I can picture you in the desert, in one of those stainless steel campers, with a crank generator and a satellite phone that allows you to post to the Internet. With a few rescued Nureongi keeping you company.
Congratulations on 10 years with The Beat!
I remember the first time I actually met you, way back in 2005 when you interviewed some author (Neil somebody) on book tour at the Hollywood Book Fair. I have it on video somewhere (but not online). Keep up the good work!
We’ve not always agreed on everything over both our (luckily) long careers, but you have always been a badass, and ten years of covering comics with alacrity, interest, and an open mind is a stellar achievement!
Can I motion to keep the red top?
It’s very striking and (dare I say) “Zap!” “Pow!” comic bookey!
We’ve been enjoying “The Best of” instead of going to bed at a reasonable time…
Congratulations, Heidi! We’ve seen a lot in the last 10 years, haven’t we?
Happy anniversary! I can’t believe it has been ten years already! The Beat has always been on my daily reading list, and I look forward to the twentieth anniversary!
Happy Anniversary! Thanks for keeping the doors open, the lights on, and giving us news and perspective to keep us warm and informed!
Wow, congrats, Heidi! 10 years is a helluvva thing – here’s to many more!!
The Beat was one of the first comic book journalism sites I started following and boy was it a game-changer. Until that point, I’d been reading comics in a vacuum, ignorant of many issues facing the industry (and I was working in a comic shop at the time!). You and Laura Hudson inspired me to start writing about comics and to become further engaged with the comic book community and I haven’t looked back since. So a big THANK YOU and congratulations!
Congratulations, Heidi. I can’t believe how fast time flies… but I’m glad your comics reporting has been a part of my life these past 10-12 years :)
On the internet, ten years is a lifetime. Thanks for fighting the good fight every day.
Congrats, Heidi – here’s to another 10+!
Congratulations Heidi! It takes a lot of time, energy and creativity to blog daily — not many peeps make it to their 5th anniversary, much less their 10th! So a big cheers, kampai, salut to you and The Beat! Thank you for always speaking up, having a strong point of view, championing good comix, good ideas and good people, and always looking like you’re having a lot of fun doing it! Looking forward to many more years of reading your work!
Congratulations and happy 10th anniversary, Heidi!
Congratulations on 10 years, I very much appreciate the news, knowledge and even entertainment (the Sales charts & comments they elicit!). Here’s to 10 more!
Wow. I remember working at my campus paper back in like ’06, browsing the web for topics to draw about, and getting linked over here from USA Today’s Pop Candy blog. And two things hit me:
A) “Dude, this blog is run by the former editor of Disney Adventures’ comic section” (which I lovvved as a kid);
B) “This is more than just previews and interviews for Marvel and DC stuff!”
I’ve basically made this a daily stop ever since (though following your Tumblr feed now means the mountain comes to Mohammed), and as a result, my understanding of comics as a broader artform has deepened and expanded. Congrats on the anniversary– may The Beat never die.
In 2004 I was fortunate enough to thank you personally at SDCC for wasting hours of my time at work reading your columns and reportage on the sites that were your prior online homes. Been a loyal and happy reader for the entire duration! So here’s to ten wonderful years and hopes for your continued destruction of global productivity!
Kudos and congrats, Heidi! May The Beat go on for years to come!
BEAT posts are like potato chips; can’t consume just one.
Congratulations! Please don’t ever stop :)
Fantastic Heidi! I’ve been here since the beginning, and hope to be around another 10, 20, etc! I remember following you over from another blog you did with someone else. That was a cool comics blog too. Through your blog, you were the highlight to find walking through conventions. All the best!!!
Congratulations on the anniversary, Heidi! Thanks for all the news, commentary, and entertainment. I’m looking forward to more! And thanks, also, for those wonderful boosts for libraries and librarians.
Quite a landmark! Congratulations from Monaco :-)
Congratulations! Keep up the good Work.
Keep rockin it, H-town. You’re still the best there is in the game!
I imagine your job sometimes feels like spitting into the ocean, wondering if anyone out here notices or cares. I notice and care. Probably should mention that from time to time, and this is a better time than most. Thanks.
Thanks, Beat. Congrats for sticking it out this long. It’s a real honor to be mentioned in that group of talent writers. I can’t wait to see you and all the new faces at San Diego soon!
Congratulations, Heidi. Thanks for all your hard work over the last ten years (which I’m sure has occasionally been thankless), and for all the people (like me) whom you’ve helped along the way.
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