There are more comics being produced now than ever before — from new releases to reprints and re-issues to comics coming in from outside the United States. And while the number of comics arriving weekly to your favorite store grows every year, the shelf space doesn’t. As comic books fight for your attention, some of the more entrepreneurial-minded creators are engaging their public directly. They do it with forums, newsletters, Facebook, Twitter and interviews with the comics press — but when does that leave time to … you know… create comics?
That’s where publicity person and uber-fan Jeff Newelt comes in. Newelt, who often goes by the moniker of “Jah Furry,” worked for years as a publicity director for major companies such as Samsung, but left it all to go solo and to take his love of comics — and the craft of making comics — to the people.
As the minister of hype for webcomics collective ACT-I-VATE and working with friends such as Paul Pope, Newelt has brought attention to their work by reaching out to journalists and by communicating directly with fans through Twitter and Facebook.
He’s also parlayed his skills into editing, as the comics editor for the online magazine SMITH and in gigs for Heeb and Royal Flush. He also headed up the recent grassroots Harvey Heads gallery, with artists from all over the world drawing a rendition of Harvey Pekar. Newelt also edited The Pekar Project, and is speaking at the “Remembering Harvey Pekar” panel next weekend at New York Comic Con.
Through it all, Newelt has become an indispensable part of the comics world, as well as a staple of the New York City comics scene. In many ways he’s a 21st-century Stan Lee — goodwill ambassador for comics to the outside world. He offers a unique perspective on the creators he works with, and the vibrant scene he lives in. Don’t expect any hard-hitting journalism — this is just me seeing what makes the man tick.