ComicsPRO Names Industry Appreciation Award Nominees

Official Press Release

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.

Our members have created the ComicsPRO Industry Appreciation Award to honor these individuals. They created the Industry Appreciation Memorial Award to honor those who have passed away but whose work left a positive mark on the comics specialty retailing. More information available at www.comicspro.org/IAA

Members sent in nominations for the award through November 2011. The finalists were narrowed down by ComicsPRO's board of directors and ballots were sent to ComicsPRO members in December. The winners of the 3rd annual award will be announced at the 2012 ComicsPRO Annual Membership meeting in Dallas, TX on Friday, February 10th. Information at www.comicspro.org/meet12

The nominees for the 2012 ComicsPRO Industry Appreciation Award are, in alphabetical order:

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.

We would like to thank all of the nominees for the work they do (and have done) to improve the comics specialty market!

ComicsPRO is the retailer trade and advocacy group representing comic book retailers across the U.S. and Canada. 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 www.ComicsPRO.org.

Brief biological notes that accompany the ballots for the award can be found below.

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.

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