Media Release — The direct market remains the way most comic-book stories get from creator to fan. ComicsPRO, the largest organization of direct-market retailers, wants to honor those people who stand in that gap and help smooth that process. From publishers, distributors, marketers and more, a lot of people are involved in bringing the stories we all love to market. ComicsPRO would like to stand up and recognize those who have been simply the best at what they do, making the comic-book direct market more successful for all of us.
ComicsPRO has created The ComicsPRO Industry Appreciation Award to honor these individuals, and the first winners of the award will be announced at this year’s ComicsPRO Annual Members’ meeting in Memphis, TN from March 25-27.
There are two categories for the Industry Appreciation Award, one for professionals who are still active in the business of comics and one for those who have passed away and left an indelible mark on the profession of comic book specialty retailing. After a period of accepting nominations from members, the ComicsPRO Board of Directors presents this final ballot. Members will vote for one Award recipient from each category.
The 2010 nominees for the ComicsPRO Industry Appreciation Award:
o Neil Gaiman
o Steve Geppi
o Paul Levitz
o Dave Sim
o Bob Wayne
The 2010 nominees in the posthumous category for the ComicsPRO Industry Appreciation Award:
o Will Eisner
o Carol Kalish
o Phil Seuling
o Julius Schwartz
“ComicsPRO member retailers have been enthusiastic in working to make this award a reality,” said Joe Field, ComicsPRO President and the owner of Flying Colors Comics in Concord CA. “This award is unique in that it specifically highlights the contributions of professionals who have made—and still make— Hall-of-Fame level contributions to the business of comics.”
“The ComicsPRO Annual Membership meeting is the most business-focused of the meetings and conventions on the industry calendar,” said Amanda Emmert, ComicsPRO’s Communications Coordinator. “At the meeting, ComicsPRO members want to highlight the achievements of people who have made this industry a better and more successful place to work.”
ComicsPRO is the retailer trade and advocacy group with more than 140 members comprising more than 180 storefronts in 36 states and six Canadian provinces. The goals of ComicsPRO are to be the united voice of advocacy for direct market retailers, to provide educational and mentoring opportunities to current and future retailers, and to offer opportunities to reduce some of the mutual fixed costs retailers incur. Information and membership applications are available at http://www.ComicsPRO.org.
Brief biographical notes that accompany the ballots for the award follow.
Gaiman is the award-winning author of Vertigo’s perennial best-selling SANDMAN series, the first comic book series to win the coveted HUGO award for Science Fiction and Fantasy. Gaiman’s writing has won many awards, including the Nebula, the Bram Stoker, the 2009 Newbery Medal and 19 Eisners. Gaiman’s popularity as a prose author has led to crossover success, as readers of his books often seek out his comic book work as well. Gaiman has also won the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s Defender of Freedom Award and the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award.
As the founder and owner of Diamond Comic Distributors, for 27 years, he has provided an even hand in guiding the comic specialty market through good times and challenging times alike. Diamond Comic Distributors became the successor to direct market pioneer Phil Seuling’s distribution dream when Geppi took over New Media/Irjax’s warehouses in 1982. He bought out distributor Bud Plant in 1988 and main rival Capital City in 1996. Steve Geppi is also a former comic book retailer. Geppi has served on the board of the CBLDF, is the founder of Geppi’s Comic Museum, owner of Gemstone Publishing and is still an avid comic book collector.
The president of DC Comics from 2002–2009, Levitz has worked for DC for over 35 years in a wide variety of roles. In the early ’70s, Levitz co-wrote and published a popular comic fan magazine, The Comic Reader, one of the early publications aimed at the comic shop market. At the age of 18, Levitz became a professional comic-book writer, penning the tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes. At age 20, he was the editor of Adventure Comics. For the next three decades, he served the company in a variety of editorial and executive roles. Levitz led DC Comics to found the Retailer Representative Program to get focused feedback from direct market retailers. Levitz has also served on the board of the CBLDF.
In 1977, Dave Sim launched Cerebus, which became the longest-running independent series of all-time. Twenty-seven years and 300 issues later, Sim wrapped up his magnum opus. A tireless promoter of his series and the direct market, Sim’s art, lettering, and storytelling innovations have influenced a new generation of independent storytellers. Sim was an early proponent of the trade paperback, keeping his “Cerebus” storylines in print in so-called “phonebooks.” In the 1980s and early 1990s, Sim promoted self-publishing and creators’ rights. He published “The Cerebus Guide to Self-Publishing” and helped create “The Creator’s Bill of Rights” with Scott McCloud and others. His most recent projects include “Judenhass” and “Glamourpuss.”
Wayne, a former comic book retailer in the Dallas/Fort Worth TX area, joined DC Comics in the mid ’80s as a Direct Sales manager and has been on the forefront of the changes in the comics business ever since. Currently serving as DC’s Vice President of Sales, Wayne has always maintained his loyalty to the field of comics specialty retailing and has been responsible for many of DC’s retailer-friendly best practices. Wayne is a recipient of the Inkpot Award, commemorating his years of service to the comics industry and his work with Comic-Con International.
A true visionary and comics industry pioneer, Eisner’s touch has been felt in all aspects of the comics community. On the creative side, Eisner’s breadth of material spans the eight decades of American comics history, veering from his earliest efforts in adventure and superhero comics while the medium was in its infancy, to 35 years of more mature work best exemplified by the standard-bearer for all graphic novels, A Contract With God. His impeccable design sense raised the bar for every artist that came with and after him. On the business side, Eisner understood the unique relationship between creator and retailer, founding the “Spirit of Comics” award that recognizes the work of the industry’s brightest retailers. Eisner passed away in January 2005 at the age of 87.
As Marvel’s Direct Sales Manager from the mid-’80s to early ’09s, Kalish was instrumental in professionalizing the field of comics’ specialty retailer. With her guidance, Marvel engaged the retail community to push sales, not only of Marvel products, but all products leading to a more profitable direct market. Kalish spearheaded programs to make cash registers and discounted store fixtures available to retailers wanting to upgrade their operations. Carol passed away in September 1991 at the age of 36.
Schwartz started his career in 1932 as the co-publisher of Time Traveller, among the first science fiction fanzines. Schwartz, along with Mort Weisinger, founded the Solar Sales Service literary agency in 1934, where Schwartz represented such noted authors as Alfred Bester, Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, and H. P. Lovecraft. Schwartz also helped organize the first World Science Fiction Convention in 1939. In 1944 he went to work as an editor for All-American Comics, which soon merged with National Periodical Publications to form DC Comics. Schwartz was best-known for his work at DC Comics, which reinvigorated the superhero genre in the comics industry. His updating of 1940s characters for the modern era revolutionized DC Comics. He died in February 2004 at the age of 88.
The organizer and founder of the New York Comic Art Conventions of the ’70s, Seuling is the founder of the direct-market form of comic-book distribution. Seuling, a school teacher with a passion for comics, arranged distribution deals to buy DC and Marvel Comics direct from the publishers. In 1974, Seuling founded Seagate Distribution, which sold comics non-returnably, and the Direct Market was born. In an age where comic shops were merely second-hand collectors’ stores, Seuling saw the potential for making a direct connection between comic publishers and their most rabid fans. In a real sense, our livelihoods are possible because of Seuling’s foresight more than 35 years ago. Phil Seuling passed away in 1984 at the age of 50.