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The Beat Returns to its Independent Roots Under Heidi MacDonald

The Beat

There’s one less comic site featuring conflicts in ownership. The Beat has returned to its independent roots after being acquired by Polarity in 2017. Polarity is the parent company of Oni Press and Lion Forge Comics creating a possible conflict. But, today, that ends as its again under the sole leadership of Heidi MacDonald, the site’s founder.

In the announcement, the acquisition is described as a “limited partnership to provide additional resources and infrastructure.” That partnership was “intended to empower the site to reach new heights and grow the audience for inclusive comics coverage.”

Established in 2004, The Beat has been covering the world of comics, graphic novels, comic cons, and pop culture daily to an audience of both fans and industry influencers. It is a two-time nominee for the Will Eisner Award in the Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism category and the winner of the Shelf Dorf Award for Best Comics Blog. In 2017, The Beat was added to the Library of Congress’s historical archives.

The conflicts within major comic news sites run deep and are common with many being owned by comic publishers or the parent company of media conglomerates which also produce media those sites cover. Disclosure is limited (though legally obligated) but these deals bring with it deep pockets to fuel coverage, conflicts and all.

The lesson, support independent journalism.

Lion Forge Launches Syndicated Comics, LLLC and Acquires The Beat

Owner and publisher at St. Louis–based comics and graphic novel publisher The Lion Forge, LLC has formed a sister company, Syndicated Comics, LLC, that has acquired the widely recognized, authoritative voice of the comic book industry, The Beat, and announced a strategic partnership between Lion Forge and Syndicated Comics to support The Beat and its editor-in-chief, Heidi MacDonald.

Established in 2004, The Beat has been covering the world of comics, graphic novels, comic cons, and pop culture daily to an audience of both fans and industry influencers. It is a two-time nominee for the Will Eisner Award in the Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism category and the winner of the Shelf Dorf Award for Best Comics Blog. In 2017, The Beat was added to the Library of Congress’s historical archives.

The Beat isn’t the first comic blog/news site to be owned by the subjects they cover. The Comics Journal is owned by Fantagraphics. Bleeding Cool is owned by Avatar. Comic Vine/Gamespot is owned by CBS Interactive.

On her site, MacDonald wrote:

I’m a little sad that everything I write about Lion Forge comics will now have to be labeled as hype and sponsored content, but I’m going to have the same standards for covering them as I have for every other company. They put out some good comics, and I want to help people know about that, as I always have.

We’ll have to wait and see how that disclosure about the relationship will happen going forward. Both TCJ and Comic Vine feature their owners in small text at the bottom of their front page. Bleeding Cool features no disclosure on the front page.