ECCC 2023: The Meet The Comics Press Panel

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ECCC 2023: The Meet The Comics Press Panel

In the five years that I’ve been covering Emerald City Comic Con, I’ve had the chance to attend various events. I was in the audience when Christopher Eccleston—my all-time favorite Doctor—held court. I’ve been face to face with comic book pros from Image to other indies. And I’ve even participated in the age-old question of “who can beat who?” But this year was different, as I found myself on the other side of the table for the first time. I was invited to be part of the Meet The Comics Press panel by Popverse editor-in-chief Chris Arrant.

The panel featured a collection of journalists discussing the latest news in the world of comics, as well as the ins and outs of the business. I was joined by Popverse’s deputy editor Tiffany Babb, ComicsBeat editor-in-chief Heidi MacDonald, Matt Baume, Women Write About Comics’ editor-in-chief Nola Pfau, and Deb Aoki. Arrant moderated the panel, while Popverse staff writer Graeme McMillan gave a recap on Twitter.

The first news we discussed was Bill Watterson’s return to comics, as the Calvin & Hobbes creator is penning a new adult-oriented graphic novel titled The Mysteries. I grew up reading and loving Calvin & Hobbes. My love stemmed from the pure imagination and clever writing that Watterson brought to the table. Nola said they respected Watterson for “doing his thing and f***ing off for 20 years,” adding wryly that “Scott Adams could never.” Heidi also compared him to JD Salinger, who took a similar sabbatical from the public eye.

This also led to a discussion about negative reviews, as Matt suggested that The Mysteries may not live up to the hype. We also discussed how a comic book creator’s pedigree could outshine their projects and how hype often fuels the massive events that have become a part of Marvel and DC’s publishing cycle. This led to Deb talking about how manga is often an overlooked part of the comics world, despite being some of the best-selling comics in the market right now.

She drove the point home by talking about an interview she had with Bleach creator Tite Kubo during San Diego Comic-Con in 2018. When she asked Kubo when he found out about the massive following Bleach had in the West, his reply was a single word: “Yesterday!” Tiffany and Heidi also discussed how the publishing market favors a specific type of book and how certain sites don’t tap into the potential of that audience.

When Chris opened the floor to questions, one audience member asked about sending their original work for review to sites. Nola offered solid advice: check out what other sites are doing and then tailor the pitch toward that. Matt added to make the email pop, as he once picked up reviewing a book since it was described as “Murder, She Wrote in space.” But Heidi said the most important thing—if you’re emailing a comic to someone, make sure it has art.

Another person asked how we get our news and deal with blowback. Many of us (sans Nola) said we utilized Twitter. Heidi also said that she was slowly getting into TikTok as well. As for negative feedback, I relayed my stories about dealing with blowback from fans on my opinions regarding Batman and pointed out that critics cannot shape a creator’s career contrary to popular belief. “Michael Bay made five Transformers films. They’re awful. But they made money.”

The Meet The Comics Press panel was a unique and exciting experience. Over the course of five years, I’ve written for several sites and covered plenty of comics-related news. But to share the stage with other experts—and to be called an expert—is a whole new level. I’m forever thankful to Popverse for the opportunity, and I hope this is only the beginning.

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