The ICv2 Awards are the on-line continuation of a tradition that began in Internal Correspondence, the print predecessor of ICv2, over a decade ago. These awards are given as a way of reflecting on the events of the year and to draw some conclusions from them. The ICv2 Awards are based entirely on the business impact of events on retailers, as determined by the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
Comic Company of the Year -- Marvel Comics
How could we have chosen any other company? Behind the huge attention brought by the Spider-Man movie and a revitalized editorial operation, Marvel posted the only volume increase in pop culture store orders of the Big Four comic publishers in 2002 (up 14% for the year, see 'Weak Finish to a Strong Comic Year'), which on its own accounted for over half of the total growth in the market in that channel.
In the process, Marvel improved its balance sheet substantially with its first profits in years (see 'Marvel's Q3 Blows Away Expectations'), withdrawing from the brink of collapse where it had been through and beyond its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.
While Marvel's biggest editorial triumphs may have been in Q4 2001 (Origin, its 9-11 books), it did a solid job of building from strength this year by expanding its book program, mounting a solid Spider-Man publishing program (see 'Marvel Talks Spider-Man Movie Tie-Ins'), getting its books into a wider range of venues (helping to build the next generation of comic buyers), and keeping Marvel characters in the public eye with relentless public relations efforts.
While many retailers disagree with Marvel's no overprint/no reprint policy, and dislike President Bill Jemas' occasional inflammatory comments, no-one could disagree that Marvel has fueled industry growth in 2002, and that's been a good thing for everyone in it.
Marvel also capped its post-9-11 efforts by donating $1 million to the Twin Towers Fund (see 'Marvel Hands Over $1 Million to Twin Towers Fund'), a remarkable achievement for a company that publishes primarily products under $5.
Kudos to Marvel for its remarkable year in 2002.
Comic Product of the Year -- Shonen Jump #1
Viz Communications' Shonen Jump #1 was our choice for comic product of 2002 for a number of reasons. First, with over 300,000 copies in print, this book is generating over $1.5 million at retail, a rare number in comic publishing these days (see 'Shonen Jump #1 in Third Printing'). Second, it strongly connects the comics medium with TV by showcasing properties prominently featured on Cartoon Network, which is driving sales in a number of categories in pop culture stores (see 'Shonen Jump Line-up Tied to Cartoon Network'). Third, it connects comics to the Yu Gi Oh CCG, the hottest new product in games this year (see 'Shonen Jump #1 To Include Ultra Rare YGO Card'). The package is also notable--a fat perfect-bound page count in a $4.95 periodical.
The launch represented a big risk for Viz -- there hasn't been a successful anthology title in U.S. comics in decades, manga had not previously been shown able to generate this level of sales, and a high circulation b/w product was also unusual. But with this kind of reaction to the first issue, it makes it seem possible that Viz might be able to achieve its lofty goal of a 1 million copy per issue circulation within two to three years (see 'Interview with Viz Management Part II').
For Part 2 of the ICv2 2002 Comic Awards, see 'ICv2 2002 Comic Awards, Part 2.'