In the wake of Joey Manley’s passing, I was asked to contribute to one of his obituaries. This is what I have to say:
Joey Manley changed the face of not only webcomics, but all of comics. He gave so many young, talented, yet previously unknown creators a chance and a voice in what has always been a difficult and sometimes hostile industry. He put a professional face on webcomics at a time when they were laughed at by the mainstream comics scene. He stood up for us. He had the vision to see that not only was there a place for webcomics as equal players in the industry, but that creators themselves could earn a living doing them. In 2002 it was radical idea. Now it’s been emulated by the mainstream publishers.
Many of us owe our careers to him. The list of creators who went on to make their mark after participating in ModernTales, serializer.net, Girlamatic, Graphic Smash, and later even WebcomicsNation is staggering. Without his encouragement, we may have never seen the work of luminary creators like Gene Yang or Raina Telgemeier.
But more than that, he brought all of us together in a time when we thought we were alone in an unfriendly, uninterested world. We’ve made lifelong friendships and working relationships because he introduced us, put us on a mailing list, and got us to fly out from all corners of the country (and beyond!) to meet at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2002. That was the moment that changed us from wannabes into professionals.
Maybe we could have done it without him, but I doubt it. Joey gave us hope. He helped us become who we were meant to be and kept cheering us on, even after we left his stable.
Joey Manley was a great man who changed not only comics, but us. His life may have ended abruptly and far too soon, but it had a profound effect on many of us. I am honored and grateful to be a part of that community.
Godspeed, Joey. Thanks for everything you did for us. We love you.
Here is all of us at SDCC 2002. How little we knew what was in store for us.
From left: Derek Kirk Kim, Joey Manley (front), Cat’s GF (sorry, i can’t remember her name), Cayetano Garza, Jim Zub (bottom) Jesse Hamm (far back), Chuck Whelon, my then-GF Stef (front), Lea Hernandez, Shaenon K. Garrity, myself, Andrew Farago. (Photo courtesy Jim Zub.)