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The Beat celebrates its 20th birthday (and independent journalism) at WonderCon

The Beat Editor-in-Chief Heidi Macdonald led a panel full of contributors to chat one of comics' longest running websites

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In honor of The Comic Beat's 20th anniversary, Editor-in-Chief Heidi Macdonald, as well as current and previous contributors Nancy Powell, Matt Maxwell, Henry Barajas, Jeff Trexler, Taimur Dar, and Patrick Meaney chatted twenty years of The Beat from its early days to today.

Matt Maxwell kicked off the panel talking about the early days of the site and the impact, at the time, of early comics bloggers (with a healthy shout out to Popverse's very own Graeme McMillan). The conversation then turned to The Beat itself and the impact it's had on the industry. Jeff Trexler from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund took time to point out how important of a platform The Beat has been and how his pieces on the site about legal issues were read by reporters and actual people working on the cases he was writing about. Trexler also pointed out that his writing at The Beat led him to his work at the CBLDF.

Another major topic during the panel included the complications of being a journalist and the subsequent importance of independent platforms like The Beat. "I always felt empowered to say what I needed to say and I never shied away from that" contributor Henry Barajas shared about his time writing for the site. Patrick Meaney added that because of media consolidation, not everyone is interested in telling the truth about the only few companies that exist, "That makes independent journalists even more valuable."

The importance of independent journalism rang throughout the panel, even to the very last audience question about what it's like to be independent in the current media landscape. Macdonald responded with a reminescence of old sites that have come and gone (and all the writing with), and cites that as why she still owns The Beat. "It's a real bad time," Macdonald shared, "and I'm really thrilled to be celebrating 20 years of doing this."

A murderer's row of comics writers regale packed room at Wondercon

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Tiffany Babb

Deputy Editor

Tiffany Babb is Popverse's deputy editor and resident Sondheim enthusiast. Tiffany likes stories that understand genre conventions (whether they play into them or against them), and she cries very easily at the movies— but rarely at the moments that are meant to be tearjerkers.