Larry Marder, President
Larry Marder’s Beanworld has delighted readers from grade school to grad school for more than a generation, earning him a spot on the New York Times’ Graphic Books Best Sellers List.
Marder is a firm believer in Marcel Duchamp’s observation that it is the viewer that makes the picture. Shortly after his difficult birth, his mother took one look at his lopsided head and exclaimed, “Why does he look like a bean!” So is it any wonder he’s devoted his creative life to exploring the relationships and adventures that make up Larry Marder’s Beanworld?
Marder was born in Chicago in 1951 and grew up in Highland Park, Illinois. He spent the first third of his life pursuing art. His interests in comic books and Native American mythology started at an early age. He was educated at Hartford Art School where he became engrossed in conceptual art and underground comix. It was in this period that his iconic Bean shaped characters were first developed. Marder earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in 1973.
After college, Marder went to work as an advertising executive in Chicago by day, and by night created the most peculiar comic book experience Tales of the Beanworld, first released in 1985 by Eclipse Comics. 21 issues were published until 1993. Then Marder went off to “join the comic book circus” full time, as the Executive Director of Image Comics and later President of McFarlane Toys. What he intended as a short sabbatical from Beanworld, ended up stretching into fifteen years.
To the delight of his fans all over the world, Marder returned to creating Beanworld full time in 2007. Currently in print are three hardcover volumes: Wahoolazuma!, A Gift Comes! and Remember Here When You Are There!
Marder lives in Orange County, California.
Milton Griepp, Vice-President
Milton Griepp has been in the pop culture business for over 35 years. After receiving his B.A. and attending graduate school at the University of Wisconsin (and working through college in comics retailing and distribution), he formed Capital City Distribution with John Davis in 1980. As an officer and beginning in 1984 as CEO of Capital, he grew sales for 14 consecutive years, building Capital into a profitable international company with over $150 million in annual sales of pop culture products to retailers around the world.
Since selling Capital in 1996, Griepp has continued using his expertise in the industry as a consultant in the publishing, retailing, distribution, toy, and educational fields.
Beginning in 1998 and extending to mid-2000, Griepp was chairman of Next Planet Over, then a venture-funded, San Francisco-based geek products e-commerce company. From October of 1999 to May of 2000, when the company was sold, Griepp took the additional role of CEO.
In addition to continuing his consulting, Griepp founded ICv2, the #1 information source on the business of geek culture, in 2001. ICv2 publishes a Website, ICv2.com, with daily business news; and Internal Correspondence, a magazine with in-depth market analysis, bestseller charts, and forecasts of bestselling products in the graphic novel and hobby game categories. ICv2 also conducts annual conferences for industry leaders on critical topics including digital and media trends in geek culture.
Griepp has served as a board member and advisor for Iconology, Inc., parent of comiXology, the leading digital comics platform in the U.S., since 2009.
Jeff Abraham, Treasurer
Jeff Abraham is president of Random House Publisher Services (RHPS), a division of Random House, Inc., the largest U.S. trade book publisher. RHPS is a leading provider of sales, distribution, digital and technology services to a broad portfolio of prominent independent publishers, including National Geographic Books, Rizzoli, Wizards of the Coast and many others. In the last few years RHPS has expanded its reach and established successful partnerships with Graphic Novel and Manga publishers, including DC Comics, Kodansha, Archie, and Vertical.
Mr. Abraham’s involvement in the publishing industry began in the mid 1990s as CEO & president of Optimedia, an electronic publishing solutions provider in the STM field, working with clients such as Oxford University Press, Elsevier Science and the American Medical Association. Drawing on his deep experience in IT and innovative business approaches, Abraham also served as Executive VP of Sales & Business Development for AirSphere, an aviation technology company. He continued using his experience in the publishing industry as the Executive Director of the Book Industry Study Group, a non-for-profit trade association dedicated to creating a more informed, empowered and efficient book industry supply chain for both physical and digital products.
Mr. Abraham is a graduate of the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University.
Dale Cendali, Secretary
Dale Cendali is a nationally recognized leader in the field of intellectual property. She is a partner in the prestigious law firm of Kirkland & Ellis, where she heads the firm’s Copyright, Trademark and Internet Practice Group. She has successfully litigated and tried numerous high profile cases and has argued before the United States Supreme Court. Her clients include myriad prominent individuals and companies who rely on her for her expertise in copyright, trademark, patent, Internet, trade secrets, defamation, false advertising, privacy and contractual matters. She has extensive experience representing clients in the entertainment, consumer products and technology sectors. Managing Intellectual Property Magazine named her trial victory for J.K. Rowling in the well-known “lexicon” fair use case the “Copyright Trial of the Year.”
Dale has been repeatedly ranked as a “top tier” lawyer for Chambers USA, which describes her as “one of the best lawyers in the country” in her field who combines” intellectual acuity” with a “tough hard working attitude”. The National Law Journal has named Dale as one of “America’s Top 50 Women Litigators” and also as one of the “50 Most Influential Women Lawyers in America.” Super Lawyers magazine named her as one of the top 100 lawyers in New York, and profiled her in the feature story titled, “Truth, Justice and the Cendali Way.”
As the title of the profile hints, when she is not trying cases, Dale is an avid comic book collector and fan and has been since she was five years old. She is a big believer in comics as an artform and is deeply committed to the arts since her days as President of the Yale Dramatic Association. Among her pro bono representations was the successful defense at trial of The Martha Graham Dance Center in a case that threatened the Graham legacy.
Dale writes prolifically on legal issues and has chaired numerous bar committees. She is also an adjunct professor at Harvard Law School, where she teaches copyright and trademark litigation.
She is a graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School.
Joe Ferrara was a full time musician until 1976 when he moved to Santa Cruz and opened Atlantis Fantasyworld as a hobby. His retail career grew and in 1996 Atlantis received the “Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award”. Since 1998 Joe has served as facilitator for the judging process and is the presenter of the award at the annual Comic-Con International.
Joe has been actively involved in the Santa Cruz community, serving two terms as President of the Downtown Association, one term on the board of the Visitors Council and two terms on the Downtown Commission.
Joe and his wife Dottie have been married for twenty-two years. They have four children, seven grand-children and three great-grandchildren.
Born in the “Little Italy” section of Baltimore, Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. president and chief executive officer Stephen A. Geppi has risen to the pinnacle of the comic book distribution business. Throughout his meteoric rise in business he has never lost sight of the importance of faith, family and community service.
Mr. Geppi learned the importance of hard work at an early age when he had to leave school to support his mother. At nine, his first job was bundling comics and magazines for a local used magazine dealer and he opted to receive part of his compensation in comics.
Later, he took a job with the U.S. Postal Service. It was during his tenure with the post office that he happened upon his young nephew, George Kues, reading a comic book and a host of memories came flooding back. He began asking customers on his mail route if they had any old comics and started attending the weekend comic shows. He soon realized he was earning more money from buying and selling comics than he was from his position with the post office.
He opened Geppi’s Comic World, a small store on Edmondson Avenue, in 1974 and soon expanded to four stores. By 1982, his distributor was failing and he decided to move into distribution. Armed with an unparalleled memory and intuitive sense of people, in just over a decade’s time Mr. Geppi expanded his comic book distribution business to over 28 cities across North America and Europe. Today Diamond Comic Distributors is the world’s largest distributor of English-language comics serving as the exclusive distributor for many of the comic industry’s leading publishers including DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Dark Horse Comics and Image Comics.
In addition to his distribution business, Mr. Geppi’s business interests include Gemstone Publishing, Inc.- publishers of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide as well as other collectible price guides. His publishing concerns also include Baltimore Magazine, the oldest city magazine on the East coast, in which Mr. Geppi saw an opportunity to celebrate the many facets of his beloved hometown.
Mr. Geppi has been profiled in numerous local and national publications including The Baltimore Sun, The Baltimore Business Journal, Baltimore SmartCEO Magazine, The Washington Times, The Washington Post, The Towson Times, Success, The Robb Report, Inc. Magazine and Warfield’s Business Record. He was the spokesman for advertising campaigns for AT&T and Warfield’s Business Record, and has been featured on various televisions programs such as CNN’s Pinnacle, ESPN, and a host of local news shows.
A recipient of the prestigious US Department of Commerce “International Achievement Award” as well as a 1993 “Entrepreneur of the Year for Maryland” and most recently the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citzenship, Mr. Geppi has been honored in his hometown for his professional accomplishments and his tireless philanthropy.
Mr. Geppi’s philanthropic activities include board and/or committee positions with numerous organizations including The Greater Baltimore Committee, The Johns Hopkins Heart Institute, The Maryvale Preparatory School, Pathfinders for Autism, The Signal 13 Foundation and The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, of which he was formerly president.
Jennifer L. Holm
Jennifer L. Holm is a New York Times bestselling children’s author and the recipient of three Newbery Honors for her novels Our Only May Amelia, Penny from Heaven, and Turtle in Paradise. Jennifer collaborates with her brother, Matthew Holm, on two graphic novel series — the popular Babymouse series and the bestselling Squish series. She is also the author of several other highly praised books, including the Boston Jane trilogy and Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf. She lives in California with her husband and two children.
Paul Levitz was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1956, and entered the comics industry in 1971 as editor/publisher of The Comic Reader, the first mass-circulation fanzine devoted to comics news. He continued to publish TCR for three years, winning two consecutive annual Comic Art Fan Awards for Best Fanzine. His other fan activities included editing the program books for several of Phil Seuling’s legendary New York Comic Art Conventions,. He received Comic-con International’s Inkpot Award in 2002 and the prestigious Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award in 2008. Levitz also serves on the board of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
Levitz is primarily known for his work for DC Comics, where he has written most of their classic characters including the Justice Society, Superman in both comics and the newspaper strip, and an acclaimed run on The Legion of Super-Heroes, a series he’s recently returned to write. Readers of The Buyers’ Guide voted his Legion: The Great Darkness Saga one of the 20 best comic stories of the last century, and visitors to the site comicbookresources.com selected the same story as #11 of the Top 100 Comic Book Stories of All Time. Cumulatively, Levitz has written over 300 stories with sales of over 25 million copies, and translations into over 20 languages. As a DC staffer from 1973, Levitz was an assistant editor, the company’s youngest editor ever, and in a series of business capacities, became Executive Vice President & Publisher in 1989 and then served as President & Publisher from 2002-2009. He continues as a Contributing Editor, but is now concentrating on his writing.
Levitz also teaches Writing For Media at Manhattanville College, Comics & Graphic Novels in Pace University’s MS in Publishing program, and the American Graphic Novel at Columbia University.
Andrew McIntire is the Senior Director of Retail Operations for national comics retailer Things From Another World (TFAW.com). He began his career there in 2008 in the marketing department, eventually serving as Marketing Director before transitioning to overseeing the day-to-day retail operations of the organization.
Prior to joining the TFAW team, Andrew explored a variety of eclectic occupations, including stints in the aerospace and printing industries, spending the better part of a decade as a freelance graphic designer, and a number of years working in event and concert security. When asked, he will confirm that working in comics is a dream come true, and equals working as a bouncer in terms of being the most interesting job he has ever had—with the added bonus that to date no one in comics has tried to stab, shoot, or run him over.
Andrew is actively involved in the pop-culture and geek communities of Portland, Oregon and has most recently served as the Founding President of the Portland Geek Council of Commerce and Culture (PGC3.org) and on the Clackamas County Economic Development Commission. Additionally, Andrew is a proud member of ComicsPRO, a firm advocate of the idea that “A rising tide lifts all ships,” and tirelessly extols the benefits to be gained through collaboration—often well beyond the point when everyone else has grown tired of listening.
Andrew is a graduate of Portland State University, and lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife, Boynn, their cats, Isis and Tucker, and the nicest (and arguably dumbest) dog on the planet, Silas—along with a bevy of itinerant strays that his wife routinely welcomes into their home.
Working in the comics industry for more than 20 years, Chris Powell is now the Executive Director of Business Development for Diamond Comic Distributors. He was previously employed as the General Manager & CRO of Lone Star Comics / mycomicshop.com. Chris has served as the President of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and was a member of the Founding Board for ComicsPRO, the Direct Market comic retailers’ organization. He served on the Board of Moderators for the Game Pro Symposium, the Advisory Board for the Game Store Resource Forum, and helped launch the ComicsPRO Mentoring Forum for new and potential comics retailers. Chris wrote the column “Comic Sense” for Krause Publications’ Comic & Game Retailer magazine and presents regularly at industry panels geared toward retailers and fans.