St. Louis comics and graphic novel publisher Lion Forge has acquired The BEAT: The News Blog of Comic Culture, a pioneering blog focused on comics trade news, founded and directed by longtime PW graphic novel reviews editor Heidi MacDonald.
As a result of the acquisition, MacDonald, who founded The BEAT in 2004, will leave PW to continue as editor-in-chief of The BEAT on a full time basis. The site will continue to be headquartered in New York City.
To house all of the assets of The BEAT as well as all future content created by MacDonald and her editorial team, Lion Forge publisher and founder David Steward II has created Syndicated Comics, a separate company controlled by Lion Forge. Lion Forge is a fast growing independent comics and graphic novel publisher founded in 2011. The company now has about 30 employees in St. Louis, Chicago and New York City.
The acquisition of the BEAT comes after the Library of Congress announced earlier this month that The BEAT will be archived as part of the historical records at the LOC.
Lion Forge president Geoff Gerber said that LOC’s plan to “archive the BEAT protects The BEAT’s past. David Steward II is working to ensure its future and legacy.” Lion Forge/Syndicated Comics will “take over all the nuts and bolts of running the site, so Heidi can focus on great journalism and great commentary.” Gerber added: “Syndicated Comics has no operations other than The BEAT, but we are evaluating what quality content expansion The BEAT can pursue with additional resources.”
Syndicated Comics, he said, will immediately increase the BEAT’s “budget for freelance writers and we plan to add more coverage.” Gerber said to look for changes and additional features in the coming months, including adding media formats such as video and podcasts: “We want The BEAT’s readers to be able have a range of media to consume.”
And look for expanded convention coverage: “More shows and even more thorough coverage,” Gerber said. “We want to free Heidi from business management and put her in places and on platforms where she can talk about the industry.”
The BEAT was an early example of a news blog focused on the comics and pop culture industries. The site was founded and directed by MacDonald, previously an editor at Disney Comics and DC Comics, who also did most of the site's early reporting and commentary—as well as all of the basic technical maintenance of the site. Indeed, MacDonald sold ads, updated the site daily and kept the whole enterprise running and relevant to the industry even when facing thin financial support.
The BEAT has since developed into a full-service news platform with a growing staff of writers reporting on virtually every aspect of pop culture. It is one of the best known sources of news and commentary on the comics industry. The site has been nominated twice for a Will Eisner Award for Best Comics-Related Journalism.
MacDonald joined PW as a freelance reviewer, editor and writer more than 10 years ago, eventually becoming the PW graphic novels review editor. She has been instrumental in establishing overall comics coverage as well as graphic novel reviews at PW during her tenure.
MacDonald said, “The BEAT has survived many ups and downs in both the comics business and the journalism business, and joining Lion Forge is a natural evolution of our mission. I’m grateful to David Steward and the whole Lion Forge team for their vision in forging this partnership, and incredibly excited about what the future holds.”