2011 Canadian Comics Wrap Survey: Kevin Boyd

I figured that perhaps I should do one of these as well… who am I?
I am the organizer/coordinator and a co-founder of the Joe Shuster Awards. I’ve been a longtime reader and collector of comics and graphic novels, but I’ve been a self-publisher, a seller/dealer, a convention owner/runner, a price guide adviser, and for the last five years I’ve also been coordinating the Canadian guests and programming at Canadian comics events like Fan Expo Canada.

What was your involvement in comics in 2011?
Aside from the awards (which were presented at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo in June) and this blog, I worked on Fan Expo Canada(TM) and Toronto ComiCON events, and coordinated some Industry Night events with the Toronto Cartoonists Workshop. I also assisted grading company CGC at C2E2 and the New York Comic Con, helping them obtain autograph requests for fans.

What was the highlight of the year for you re:
(a) comics publishing in general?
I’d be tempted to say DC’s New 52, but that is waning… so I’d actually say the fact that mainstream publishers are embracing digital formats seriously is the big story of the year. Albeit it’s just testing the waters without any real strategy, and it is literally changing the business of comics, whether we like it or not and whether they intended to do that or not. No one seems to know yet how to integrate the existing (yet declining) print markets with a complimentary digital strategy that doesn’t throw out the direct market. My hope is that the highlight of 2012 is that someone comes up with a formula that integrates a multi-media roll-out strategy that makes everything all warm and cozy.

(b) comics by Canadian creators?
Canadian creators are at the forefront of comics publishing on all fronts – webcomics, self-publishing, mainstream comics, comics for kids and alternative/artistic comics making this another banner year for Canadian creators. Some of the Canadian publishing highlights for me are… in no particular order: Chester Brown’s Paying for It, Darwyn Cooke’s Parker: The Martini Edition, the success of Francis Manapul’s The Flash, John-Paul Eid’s Le Fond de Trou, Jeff Lemire’s Animal Man, the huge success of Kate Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant strip collection, Michel Rabagliati’s Paul au Parc, discovering the amazing webcomics of people like Emily Carroll and Connor Willumsen, reading Jon Klassen’s hilarious I Want My Hat Back before giving it to Deb’s nephew, that Fantagraphics is putting out these astounding collections of Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant, and finally… knowing that Annie Koyama is out there making it possible with Koyama Press to offer such unique creative voices a chance to shine.

Was 2011 a good year for you?
It wasn’t bad. I’m really happy we were able to successfully take the awards to Calgary this year, and I’m looking forward to doing them in Montreal next year and I’m happy for the longer time to run the process.

Was 2011 a good year for comics?
No, and I’m not talking about content here… there’s always going to be great content, mediocre content and filler material published. We are in a bit of a financial slump as there’s simply too much diversity of product and not enough people out there to buy it, and piracy is eroding the need for people to buy it.

As a consumer, I used to purchase 25-30 comics a month, now I’m purchasing 25-30 BOOKS, and that’s the equivalent of 100-200 comics a month, and more than half of those books are reprints of comics more than 20 years old. Considering we are in the golden age of comic reprints, the past is sucking money away from our future. Older fans have lapsed too deeply into nostalgia and the younger generations of creators are left fighting for attention in order to gain an audience.

On top of all of that, digital piracy is killing the industry and certain publishers are dumping their print product so quickly that it erodes the customer’s need to advance order their product or buy it new at the store. We end up down a path we’ve already seen is killing CDs (music companies are no longer going to make them in a year – making you buy digitally instead), and movies and television shows on DVDs and BLURAYs (Netflix, iTunes and digital piracy make buying at the higher release price something to avoid as the companies will start lowering the costs in weeks now instead of months).

Part of being on the scene is exhibiting at public events. Which Canadian ones (if any) did you support in 2011 and how do you feel they went for you? Did you exhibit at any American events?
I worked at FanExpo and the Toronto ComiCONs, and organized a couple of gallery shows. I attended the Calgary Expo and Montreal Comic Con, as well as TCAF, Word on the Street Toronto, and a couple of other local events. I cannot stress how important it is for people to support their local events and to maintain a social network with people who do similar work and/or share similar interests as it expands on our definition of community.

I also attended C2E2, The Pittsburgh Comicon, San Diego Comic Con International, and the New York Comic Con.

What do you have coming up in 2012?
More of the same. A revised Toronto ComiCON on March 10-11, the new Fan Expo Vancouver in late April, FanExpo Canada August 23-26, and the 8th Annual Joe Shuster Awards Ceremony on September 15th in Montreal (at the Montreal Comic Con). I plan to try and attend C2E2 (Chicago), the Calgary Expo, TCAF, San Diego Comic Con, Baltimore Comicon and the New York Comic Con. I just submitted my first Overstreet Price Guide Market Report in years, and the price guide goes to print in July, in time for San Diego. The process for the 2012 Awards is well underway, as we prep for the end of the year and the start of the nomination cycle.

Any final comments on 2011?
Yes. We need to continue to erode the walls that separate us, and 2011 was a great year for that.


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