Erik Enervold, a graphic designer and initiator of the Free Comic Book Day signage program, has announced the formation and launch of a 'progressive, non-profit trade organization to serve the comic book industry.' The International Comic Arts Association (ICAA) has announced a number of new initiatives including a Comic Arts Ad Council, which would fund industry-promoting advertising campaigns, a Media Council, which would put out press releases to various media outlets, as well as a number of outreach efforts including the ICAA Class Project (to get comics in the classroom), Comics With a Cause (to raise money for charities), ICAA Seasons Readings (to support holiday giveaways a la 'Toys for Tots'), and The Comics Kids Club (to promote comic book reading among children).
While all the announced initiatives are laudable, the problem for an organization such as ICAA is gaining critical mass through the support of a number of publishers, distributors, retailers and fans. Membership in the ICAA is open to all of these groups, which brings up a structural problem---the interests of manufacturers, retailers, distributors and fans do not always coincide on every issue.
But before that structural issue needs to be addressed, the ICAA has to gain a foothold in the industry, which could turn out to be a mighty task. It's unlikely that the notoriously indpendent pop culture retailers will immediately throng to join.
As for the publishers, there already is a comic book industry trade organization for publishers, the CMAA (Comic Magazine Association of America) and it appears to be the very model of a dysfunctional, quarrel-ridden and impotent trade organization. The CMAA's problems demonstrate the need for a real comic book trade organization that could promote the industry, but they also demonstrate how difficult a task building such an organization can be. Perhaps Mr. Enervold has the ability to herd cats -- we certainly hope so.