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ComicsPRO releases recap on annual conference

Promotional art for the ComicsPRO Comic Industry Conference. 
Promotional art for the ComicsPRO Comic Industry Conference. 

The ComicsPRO organization has provided the following release with details about the recent ComicsPRO annual conference, held this year in Portland, Ore.

My personal wrapup can be found here:

Read more about the ComicsPRO Comic Industry Conference in Friday's Oklahoman and at NewsOK. 

From ComicsPRO:
ComicsPRO Comic Industry Conference Portland Wrap-Up
• Board Election Results Announced
• Retailers Collectively Brainstorm Industry Improvements
• Industry Awards to DC Retail Support Team, Len Wein, Dave Hawksworth
• Publishers Initiatives to Bolster 2018 and Beyond

ComicsPRO, the retailer trade association, held its 12th annual Comic Industry Conference in Portland, Oregon on February 22-24, 2018. More than 160 comics specialty retailers attended, along with dozens of publishers, vendors, and distributors. Major industry business issues were discussed, geared at developing ways to push the comics market forward.

ComicsPRO President Peter Dolan, introduced the new Board of Directors. John Dudas, of Carol and John’s Comic Book Shop (Cleveland OH) and Tim Stoltzfus, of More Fun Comics and Games (Denton, TX), are replacing retiring board members Jamye Foster of Southern Fried Comics (Hattiesburg, MS) and Chris Brady of 4 Color Fantasies (Rancho Cucamonga, CA). Dolan thanked Foster and Brady for their service and introduced the two new board members to the group. Dolan also announced the addition of Colin McMahon of Pittsburgh Comics (McMurray, PA) to the board as Patrick Brower of Challengers Comics + Conversation (Chicago, IL) decided to step down from the board. McMahon will finish out Brower’s remaining term.

A new feature of the 2018 ComicsPRO conference was a retailer brainstorming session. “This conference focused on discussing the problems and potential solutions experienced by storefront retailers," said Marco Davanzo, Executive Director of ComicsPRO. “We analyzed and discussed ways to deal with these problems. Over the next few months, the organization will be working with our valued partners in the industry to implement some of them.”

Recognizing that the direct market was the lifeblood of the industry, keynote speaker Dinesh Shamdasani, formerly of Valiant Comics, urged all comics publishers to “bet on retailers. That’s what Valiant did and they reaped the rewards.”

Publishers announced many initiatives during the conference to help retailers, including:
• IDW will be absorbing Diamond's 3% reorder fee for graphic novels.
• Boom! Studios is becoming a Diamond "premier Publisher" in April and is offering celebratory retailer incentives. Boom!'s retailer program – Boom! Guarantee - is the gold standard in the industry because of its returnability.
• Aftershock pledges to continue to work with retailers through social media pushes and with creator appearances.

“I was very impressed by our valued publishing partners stepping up to the plate to offer retailers some help in these turbulent times," said Peter Dolan, President of ComicsPRO. “Everyone left here feeling energized. While there isn't one magic bullet to fix what’s wrong with the industry, I’m optimistic about the year ahead. It’s going to take all of us – publishers, retailers, creators and distributors working together.”

Three ComicsPRO awards were given at the conference:
• The Industry Appreciation Award went to the DC Comics Retail Support team for their efforts in providing comics retailers the information and innovative tools to build their DC business.
• The Memorial Award went to Len Wein for his work as a creator, an editor, and for broadening the fandom that supported the existence of the Direct Market. Wein’s wife Christine Valada accepted the award.
• ComicsPRO's first ever Unsung Hero Award was given posthumously to Diamond Comic Distributor’s Outside Sales Manager, Dave Hawskworth, who unexpectedly passed away on January 9th, 2018. Dave’s wife, Patti Hawksworth, was on hand to accept the award.

Both Valada and Hawksworth gave moving speeches and were met with standing ovations from the retailers, publishers, and distributors in attendance.

The ComicsPRO Comic Industry Conference and Annual Membership Meeting is the only annual retailer-driven event in the industry, often cited as the most important business-focused event of the year.

ComicsPRO is a non-profit trade association dedicated to the health and progress of direct market comic book retailers. ComicsPRO allows retailers to speak with a unified voice on important industry issues, provides educational and mentoring opportunities to current and future retailers, and provides ways for members to reduce fixed costs.

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Matthew Price

Features Editor Matthew Price has worked for The Oklahoman since 2000. He’s a University of Oklahoma graduate who has also worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and was a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund intern for the Dallas Morning News. He’s... Read more ›