Seuling, Schwartz among ComicsPRO Industry Appreciation Awards nominees

Phil Seuling

ComicsPRO, the retailer advocacy group, has announced the 2012 nominees for their third annual Appreciation Awards, which honor pioneers in the direct market:

The direct market has been crucial in developing comics’ place in pop culture and remains the way most comic-book stories get from creator to fan.  ComicsPRO 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.


The Industry Appreciation award honors current participants, while the memorial award honors DM icons who have passed away. Winners are selected by a vote of ComicsPRO members, and will be announced February 10 at the 2012 ComicsPRO Annual Membership meeting in Dallas, TX.

The nominees for the 2012 ComicsPRO Industry Appreciation Award:

Cindy Fournier
David Gabriel
Robert Kirkman
Eric Stephenson
Bob Wayne

The nominees for the 2012 ComicsPRO Industry Appreciation Memorial Award are Julius Schwartz and Phil Seuling.

2012 ComicsPRO Industry Appreciation Award Nominees

Cindy Fournier
Fournier is the VP of Operations for Diamond Comic Distributors. In the comics field since 1987, Cindy did work for the mail order division of  Mile High Comics. She then went on to work for Alternate Realities distribution company, which was then acquired by Bud Plant Distribution.  After Bud Plant sold to Diamond, Cindy was transferred to Hayward, CA, to run Diamond’s distribution center there. Since 1989, Cindy has been working for Diamond in its home office of Timonium, MD, where she oversees the myriad of duties related to transportation, warehouse management and operations.  In a very critical role for the industry, Cindy is responsible for pulling together all the various aspects of making sure retailers get their shipments in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

David Gabriel
A native of Massachusetts, a graduate of Boston College and life long comic book fan, David Gabriel has never been too far from comics. While working for Bernstein Investment Management & Research, Gabriel dreamed of creating a mecca for comics, a dream that came to life in 1999 as he started the New York City Comic Book Museum. Then in 2003, Gabriel joined Marvel and revolutionized their trade paperback program, quickly ascending to the position of SVP, Sales & Circulation, in 2007. From that position, Gabriel works with retailers to craft programs and incentives for the Direct Market.

Robert Kirkman
Robert Kirkman is one of the most public faces of comics since “The Walking Dead” has become a cable TV ratings sensation.  He broke into comics in 2000, and in 2003, Kirkman and Cory Walker created “Invincible” for Image’s new superhero line. Shortly after the debut of “Invincible,” Kirkman along with artist Tony Moore launched “The Walking Dead,” a series highly influenced by George Romero’s zombie movies. In July 2008, Kirkman was made a partner at Image Comics. As an Image partner, Kirkman was involved with reaching out to specialty retailers to find ways to improve Image’s presence in Direct Market stores.  Upon forming the Skybound imprint at Image Comics in 2010, Kirkman continues to focus on the best ways for publishers and creators to partner with specialty shops.

Eric Stephenson
A 20-year veteran of the comic book field, Eric Stephenson started in 1992 as Jim Valentino’s assistant during the early days of Image Comics, before becoming editor at Rob Liefeld’s Extreme Studios. While at Extreme, Stephenson also scripted numerous comics, including “Youngblood” and “New Men.” After a brief stint as a freelance comics writer, he returned to Image in 2001 as Director of Marketing. In 2004, he became Executive Director, championing diversity in content and spearheading the development of “Put the Book Back on the Shelf,” an anthology inspired by the songs of Belle and Sebastian. He succeeded Erik Larsen as Publisher in 2008, and has furthered Image’s efforts to partner with the Direct Market.

Bob Wayne
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 Senior Vice President—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.

2012 ComicsPRO Industry Appreciation Memorial Award Nominees

Julius Schwartz
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.

Phil Seuling
The organizer and founder of the New York Comic Art Conventions of the ‘70s, Seuling was a 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 when 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. Comic specialty shops are possible in part because of Seuling’s foresight more than 35 years ago. Phil Seuling passed away in 1984 at the age of 50.

Comments

  1. James Van Hise says:

    I expect a lot of people who will vote for Phil Seuling never met the man nor ever had to deal with him. Seuling created the direct market and then used intimidation tactics to try to preserve it as a monopoly run by him. Marvel and DC depended on his non-returnable comics so much that in the late 1970s when other dealers wanted to buy from the big 2 directly and go around Seuling, they’d be told, “Well, I’ll have to ask Phil Seuling and see what he says.” When Seuling phoned a small Maryland comics distributor who was trying to expand, and left a threatening message on the guy’s answering machine, the guy sued Phil and broke up his monopoly (Seuling once complained to me that the only reason he lost was because the other guy was crippled and confined to a wheelchair). Even after Phil’s Seagate just became one of the direct market distributors, he still hated his competition. Back when Pacific Comics existed 30 years ago, Bill Shanes (who is now with Diamond) once told me that after getting one of his not infrequent phone calls from Phil Seuling, that he’d seriously consider quitting the business entirely so that he’d never have to deal with Phil Seuling again. Phil was a great guy if you were his friend, but if you stood between him and a business deal he wanted to make, he’d make your life a living Hell. After the direct market opened up, Phil invented the concept of exclusive distribution deals. When The Comic Reader refused to sign an exclusive arrangement with him, he refused to carry them at all and they ultimately folded because Seuling effectively cut them off from a big share of the market. Elfquest was briefly exclusive with Seagate and when Phil criticized other distributors for exclusive deals and I pointed out that he was the exclusive distributor for Elfquest, he claimed that he was actually the “publisher” of Elfquest, something Wendy and Richard Pini were unhappy to later learn. When they decided not to be exclusive with Phil anymore, Seuling was so offended that he refused to distribute Elfquest at all–until he found that he was losing customers to his competition and had to relent and carry them after all. He was a ruthless businessman and I saw both the nice side of him and the bad side.

  2. X-fan says:

    Bob Wayne!!

  3. we are soooo glad comicspro is spending so much time on awards instead of working for the retailers they supposedly represent. how does an award by this organization further their mandate to strengthen the Direct Market retailers influence with publishers and help move the DM into relevance from potential irrelevance?

  4. This is the original Batman issue #497 titled “The Broken Bat” from July 13, 1993. It is #11 of the Knightfall series. In the story an exhausted Batman returns to Wayne Manor where Bane ambushes him in the Batcave, defeats him, and delivers the final blow: breaking Batman’s back, leaving him a paraplegic. Limited number of copies. First come, first served

  5. I worked for Phil Seuling when I was a kid in high school in New York. I never really saw the ugly side of him. He was mostly fair and square to me and the other punk kids he had working his New York cons. Phil introduced me to Jack Kirby and a host of other comics greats. I know people thought he was a jerk, but writing this, I realize, I actually liked the guy.

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