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ComicsPRO Industry Appreciation Awards to BOOM! Studios and Golden Apple founder Bill Liebowitz. Former retailer and DC Exec Bob Wayne delivers keynote on lessons learned and speaks with a call for inclusion

At this past week’s ComicsPRO Comics Industry Conference in Charlotte, the ComicsPRO Board of Directors and members recognized the BOOM! Studios Team and former comics retailer Bill Liebowitz of Golden Apple in Los Angeles for their work in being forward thinking innovators aimed at making the comic book direct market more successful for all comic retailers, publishers, and distributors.

Some of The BOOM! Team!: From L to R, Morgan Perry, Retail Sales Coordinator, Spencer Simpson, Sales Manager, and Filip Sablik, President of Publishing and Marketing
Photo provided by Ralph Mathieu

ComicsPRO members voted the BOOM! Studios sales team with the Industry Appreciation Award for their progressive and innovative retailer partnership program, featuring affidavit returnability, promotional material and early first looks at upcoming projects. Presenting the award was Jenn Haines, owner of The Dragon in Guelph, Ontario Canada and Vice-President of the ComicsPRO board. “I was so proud to be part of the original Innovators program, and even more proud to be part of the Boom! guarantee program, which excels in providing comprehensive support for our stores. Filip, Ross, Morgan, and the rest of the team are amazing, passionate, and committed to comic shops. It is truly a pleasure to call them our partners,” said Haines.

Ryan and Sharon Liebowitz
Photo provided by Ralph Mathieu

The ComicsPRO Memorial Industry Appreciation Award went to the late Bill Liebowitz, founder of Golden Apple Comics in Los Angeles. Bill’s wife Sharon and son Ryan accepted the award and it was presented by former ComicsPRO President Joe Field. In addition to being a successful comics retailer, Bill was co-founder of Rhino Records, and comics’ first real ambassador to Hollywood in the way he promoted comics as an entertainment medium on par with any other. Mr. Liebowitz was also co-founder of The Direct Line Group, an early and effective retailer lobbying group. “My friend Bill Liebowitz was out in front of the camera on many occasions animatedly telling media about the fantastic entertainment in comics, while at the same time working hard behind the scenes for the benefit of all comics specialty retailers,” said Field.

Photo provided by Christina Blanch

Bob Wayne’s keynote address encompassed his many roles in comics, from fan to retailer to publishing executive, urging the entire industry to embrace what he called “the power of tolerance, diversity, and representation.”

Mr. Wayne highlighted the tenacity and resilience of comics specialty retailers, adding “I’m not opposed to wider availability of comics at retail, but during my professional career a lot of energy has been used trying to get comics into places like Toys r Us, Tower, Circuit City, Virgin, Blockbuster. And you know one of the big differences between those retailers and comics retailers? You’re still here!” 

The ComicsPRO Industry Awards ComicsPRO are given each year at the organization’s annual meeting. One award is for still active professionals in the business of comics, with the Memorial Award for the outstanding efforts of former comics professionals in building a better market for comics, helping specialty retailers to thrive. ComicsPRO member retailers nominate candidates with the Board of Directors narrowing the list to a slate of finalists, upon which members then vote.

The nominees for this year’s Industry Award were:
• The BOOM! Studios Team 
• Steve Geppi 
• Jonni Levas 
• Margaret “Maggie” Thompson 
• Gene Luen Yang

The nominees for this year’s Memorial Award were:
• Batton Lash
• Bill Liebowitz
• Joseph Henry “Joe” Simon
• Don Thompson 
• Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson

The ComicsPRO Annual Industry Conference is the only annual retailer-driven business 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 comic book specialty 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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