The Beat’s Annual Comics Industry Survey, Part Two: from Kieron Gillen to Steve Morris

Yet more previews and prognostication from a wide swatch of comics industry personnel.  As usual, quite a bit of news is sneakily placed in announcements of 2015 projects. Thanks to everyone for taking the time during the busy holiday season to participate, as always. Part one of this survey is here.


Photo by Charlie Chu

Photo by Charlie Chu

Kieron Gillen, writer

Yes, I’m busy. It’s a useful tactic to hide from those terrible human emotions I’m trying not to think about.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? Fraction/Zdarsky’s THE LICK-ED + THE DIVINE porn parody.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? Whatever Jamie and I do as revenge for Fraction/Zdarsky’s THE LICK-ED + THE DIVINE porn parody.
(Joking aside, seeing what counts as my generation of comic creators using their apex of creative power before the inevitable decline into obsolescence to actually have fun and play is something that I think is worth a think-piece or forty.)

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? No guilt, only pleasure.


Nat Gertler

2015 Projects: Writer on Jenny’s City: A Proposal (art by Tess Fowler on 2 finished stories, plus scripts, now available from Amazon), publisher on the reprint of the NYTimes best-selling JFK Coloring Book.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? The ongoing lack-of-demise of the comic book store. Despite having heard for many years now that they would go away because of online comic shops, because of comics in bookstores, because of trade paperbacks, because of paid downloads, because of piracy, because of the explosions of conventions providing a purchasing source for the occasional buyer, the shops still keep on going. In fact, locally they’ve done more than keep on going, as my distance-to-the-nearest-shop figure has dropped twice in the past few months when new, nearer shops opened up.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? The best story there can be: tons of good comics. Stuff bubbling up from the folks doing online strips, new series from people who have cut their teeth at the mainstream houses and are now dropping true vision through Image, animators who feel like expressing visions that may not make $100 million on screen, major works from long-time indy voices (hey, there’s a Scott McCloud GN coming in February!), reprints of things that should be easily discoverable on shelves rather than squirreled away in back issue bins. Really, the biggest story of comics will be comics.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? Getting the first couple collections of Buffy Year 10 and reading them all at once like a glutton.


Lillian Diaz-Przybyl, editor, Sparkler Monthly

2015 Projects: I’m head editor for a manga-style digital magazine, with a fem-focus, featuring almost exclusively female talent.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? A new Ms. Marvel, plus a future Captain Marvel movie? Excellent.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? Old dudes apologize for being dicks about cosplayers.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? New Star Wars!!!! EEEEE! Fingers crossed it’s not Phantom Menace all over again… (I definitely have reservations about JJ and co.)


Jim Ottaviani, writer

2015 Projects: An expanded version of THE IMITATION GAME for print. Yes, it’s about Alan Turing, and yes, the title’s the same as the movie starring that guy who’s going to be Dr. Strange. It’s a good title…and I thought so when I chose it, years before that guy who plays Sherlock started filming.

(Please don’t get me wrong; having watched the trailer a few times and hearing from folks who’ve seen the movie, it looks like Cumberbatch did a splendid job in the role. I hope it’s a good movie, and I look forward to seeing it once I’ve put the finishing touches on our version.)

Also, HAWKING, a book about another amazing British scientist with a movie out this year…and yeah, we started that book years ago too! Comics = labor intensive.

There are a couple more, but it’s too early to talk about ‘em here…

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? Amazon buys comiXology.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.” — Niels Bohr (attr.)

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? Reading more books by Elmore Leonard and more books about Teddy Roosevelt, though I won’t feel guilty about doing either one.


David Gallaher, The Only Living Boy every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

2015 Projects: The Only Living Boy, Green Lantern Corps for DC’s Convergence, Deadlands by IDW Publishing

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? Amazon’s purchase of ComiXology

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? DC Comics relocation and full integration with the WB.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? I’m really loving The Flash right now. Most of the comics-based TV shows are pretty spectacular these days. The quality of the writing and the drama is just top-notch. The only reason to feel guilty is that I should be writing instead.



megan_kelsoMegan Kelso, cartoonist

2015 Projects: a collection of short stories, the most recently finished is Cats In Service, available as a mini from Spit and a Half

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? Fantagraphics “comeback” with three bestselling books – Ed Piskor’s hiphop family tree, Eleanor Davis’ How to Be Happy and Simon Hanselman’s book

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? Seattle’s Short Run comics fest becoming the best alt comics fest in the country!

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? Star Wars


Shannon OLeary, writer

2015 Projects: The Art of Regular Show (Titan Books)

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? The Shia LaBeouf plagiarism of Daniel Clowes story. It showed how influential comics storytelling has become and had a lot of traction outside of comics circles as well.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? Don’t want to venture a guess.




Debora Aoki, writer

2015 Projects: working on write-ups from International Manga Festa 2014 in Tokyo

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? Raina Telgemeier’s reign over the NY Times Bestseller list. Comics are for kids, by women and dammit, they can sell MORE than the capes and spandex stuff. why people focus so much energy and angst about what superhero comics aren’t why aren’t we celebrating what is really reaching out to new readers instead of catering to the already converted?

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? if anyone publishes the Steve Jobs manga in the US, i’ll be super-duper stunned — it could be a big cross-over hit.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? More Food Wars manga — probably the most saucy comic about food aimed at teen boys ever.

bryan talbot

Photo by Joel Meadows

Bryan Talbot, cartoonist

2015 Projects: A third graphic novel in collaboration with my wife, Mary Talbot, which we’re keeping quiet about, for the time being, and the 5th and probably final Grandville volume. The 230-metre illustrated history of Sunderland I’ve drawn, currently being sandblasted into granite flags, will be laid in the new city square. I’m also involved in organising Britain’s first Graphic Novel Convention.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK, the biggest ever exhibition of comics ever held in Britain, held at the British Library, London, May – August

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? San Diego Convention Centre sinks under the weight of movie & TV fans

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? Watching Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap”




Steve ‘Hurricane’ Morris, The Spire, pundit, bunny lover

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? Lordy, I can’t even remember anything that happened. The thing freshest in my mind was seeing comic artists trying to turn on Janelle Asselin after she critiqued an overly sexualised DC cover, only to fail publicly, spectacularly, under the overwhelming conviction of her argument. Janelle exposed a whole load of privilege within the industry (both from fans and from creators), and kickstarted real, industry-changing criticism regarding how the world of comics treats female fans and characters. It may not be the biggest story of the year, but it was certainly the one I found most inspiring.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015?  How comic companies are going to honour their pledge to spotlight minority characters. Will Falcon remain Captain America all year? Will the current ace run of Sensation Comics last through 2014? Will Thor remain female? Is Catman going to finally be confirmed as bisexual, after years of off-comic teasing? 2015 feels like a year where comic companies will be forced to properly follow through and support characters like Captain Marvel and Batgirl, who received high-profile marketing when their new books launched this year. I want these books to continue on, but sales are faltering, and I don’t know if companies have a long-term plan to support them. What will fans do if all the dusty white blokes reclaim all the solo titles?

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? I’m fervently holding out hope that somebody gets in touch with Taylor Swift’s people and lets her write comics of some kind – any kind.


Janelle Asselin, writer/editor

2015 Projects: Only thing I can talk about is writing for ComicsAlliance!

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? Young women as the fastest growing demographic!

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? Mostly just hoping for another year of great comics.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? More Outlander on Starz! Absolutely my guilty pleasure.



Mike Baehr, marketing director, Fantagraphics (Photo by Jonas Seaman)

2015 Projects: Cheech Wizard’s Book of Me by Vaughn Bode is my first editorial assignment at Fantagraphics. I’m working with Mark Bode and it’s shaping up to be the biggest, bossest Cheech collection ever. That should be out in late Spring/early Summer. I also dreamed up a special collectible edition of Ed Luce’s Wuvable Oaf collection which will also be out in Spring. Oaf fans, be on the lookout for an announcement soon.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? The Kirby family/Marvel settlement, which reverberated through the past, present, and future of the industry.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? Fantagraphics will announce a filmed entertainment division, with 2,200 employees in a deluxe office high-rise in L.A. The publishing arm will remain in the house in Seattle, which, for an amazing 26th year in a row, will not burn down.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? Spending too much of my meager salary on comic books, as always.


Zak Sally, cartoonist, publisher

2015 Projects: wrapping up Sammy the Mouse. AUTOPTIC. PFC 5. other things that are so important and secret, i don’t even tell myself.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? “Shia LeBouf” actually translates to “Shit A Beef”. it’s true, look it up. (was that this year?)

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? That new Pope will write a comic, and it’ll be better than anyone expected.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? 1) breathing.
2) “World, Get Your Shit Together” by Pope Francis, drawn by Josh Bayer (48 page Risograph zine, $3)
3) swearing.

Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 12/18/14: Get well soon, Norm Breyfogle

§ Veteran Batman artist and nice guy Norm Breyfogle has suffered a stroke, as reported by his ex-wife. He’s expected to make a full recovery but send good thoughts.

coversofstolenbooks 00002

§ Wow Cool/ Alternative Comics recently suffered a break in robbery and a bunch of indie comics were stolen. Boy are they in for a surprise! You can see the whole list in the link, and some covers above. As Wow Cool is a distributor as well as a publisher, it wasn’t just Alternative Comics that were taken. You can help out by buying some books.

§ Kieron Gillen talks The Wicked + The Divine at Vox.

§ And very influential Boom!/BoomBox editor Shannon Watters gets interviewed at CBR:

I consider it a really important part of my job because I feel like a kid who read “Adventure Time” is not just going to put down “Adventure Time” and call it a day. Well, maybe he or she is, but when I was a kid, I wanted to know everything. I looked at the ads in the back of my comics and was like, that looks really cool, I’m going to go get that. I had a gateway drug comic and it all spun out of that. I really want to kids to read “Adventure Time” and then read “Dinosaur Comics.” Or see a cover that they really like and seek out that person’s personal work. You don’t want to create a kids comics culture that’s just predicated on them buying “Adventure Time” because they love “Adventure Time” and then being done with comics. You want to create a situation where you have turned these kids onto this art form and now they’re checking out everything–or they’re making their own comics. Not everything is going to be to everybody’s taste, and so scouting new talent and interesting talent and people who are doing interesting things is just so, so important. Getting those people’s stuff in front of people’s eyes is essential and one of my favorite things about my job. I devote a lot of time and energy to that and a lot of time and energy to thinking about who’s going to bring the best to a certain book or concept. I’m lucky that I get to that. I’m really lucky BOOM! encourages me in that way.


§ In advance of the Mumbai Comic Con this weekend founder Jatin Varma recommends comics from many continents.

Here’s a video of New Yorker cartoonists Sam Gross, Arnie Levin, Lee Lorenz and Victoria Roberts chatting with Richard Gehr at SVA.

§ Director Tim Burton helped kick off the “modern” superhero movie with Batman, but now he’s totally over it.

“Marvel, they have their thing and there’s a certain formula to it all which seems to still be working,” Burton told Yahoo Movies. “But how many times can you say ‘you’re wearing a funny costume’ with the tights and stuff? That’s been going on for 20 years now. Yes, we all know that superheroes are damaged individuals. Maybe we need to see a happy superhero?” Later in the same interview, he added “you think we need more superhero movies? It keeps on going. It’s amazing how long it’s been going for and it just keeps getting stronger and stronger. Some day people will get sick of it.”


§ BEST OF/FAVORITE COMICS OF 2014 LIST CORNER: Mental Floss has a list that goes from She Hulk to Study Group with conviction.

§ And two people with lists I really enjoyed Robert Boyd and Whit Taylor.

SDCC ’14: Darth Vader #1 from Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca

The second book in the new Star Wars line at Marvel will be ‘Star Wars: Darth Vader’, from the creative team of Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca.

[Read more…]

Kieron Gillen, Marguerite Bennett, Phil Jimenez and Stephanie Hans on ‘Angela’ #1

Angela, the character created by Neil Gaiman in another lifetime as part of the Spawn universe, will be receiving her own ongoing series later this year from the creative team of Kieron Gillen, Marguerite Bennett, Phil Jimenez and Stephanie Hans.


I don’t know how we reached this point either, but that’s a packed lineup of creators up there. Jimenez is superstar enough, and his presence bodes well for the project. Gillen and Bennett will co-write the series, with Hans working on a back-up strip which’ll appear in each issue. That looks like her work on the cover as well.

The book will follow the character – revealed to be Thor and Loki’s sister in an Original Sin miniseries which either has or hasn’t started yet – as she decides to head off and make a name for herself in the Marvel Universe, primarily through the method of slashing people up and presumably growling at them a whole lot.

An ongoing series, the book will be edited by Wil Moss, and start in November.

ONE AND DONE: Finding a Creative Team You Trust

Most of the time, trying to find a comic or two to buy in a given week is very hard. This week, it wasn’t at all. I’ve been looking forward to The Wicked + The Divine ever since it was announced. And now that it’s finally on shelves, I can tell you why.

One of the pleasures of getting into comics–and any medium, really–is identifying creators whose work most resonates with you. It’s the fun part, where you go to your library and scour its hopefully well-stocked comics section, checking everything you can out and requesting more from other branches.

You learn what you like and what you don’t. You gain an appreciation for how comics are different from any other medium. You delight in all the radically different kinds of stories that can be told by them. You remember the names of the people who told them.

If you’re lucky, you’ll find a creative team that you love, one that works together frequently and consistently tells stories that you enjoy. For me, one of those teams is that of writer Kieron Gillen and artist Jamie McKelvie.

Gillen and McKelvie are often described–by themselves and by others–as a pair that makes comics like pop songs. Their stories, from Phonogram to Young Avengers to this weeks The Wicked + The Divine #1, are ones that are boldly, helplessly, passionately about exactly what they say they’re about. They’re stories that don’t care for subtlety as much as they do about feeling alive, if only for one dance.

They don’t give a damn about being remembered, but while they’re here, you’re not going to ignore them.

The Wicked + The Divine is both the purest form of that ethos they’ve built up over nearly a decade of collaboration, and it’s also weirdly restrained in a way that feels mature and measured. It’s a title that knows it won’t be ignored, and it’s settling in to tell an assured story in its own way.

A lot of that comes from the contributions of the rest of the creative team–the colors from Matthew Wilson are remarkable, and the work of designer Hannah Donovan has done a lot to give the whole venture a strong visual identity–the reading experience starts with the front cover and ends with the back one. It’s elegance makes most books on the stands look sloppy.

There’s been a lot of hype for this book, and all of it is deserved. If you go into a comics shop and only have cash for one book, your $3.50 will be well spent on The Wicked + The Divine.


Sex Criminals #6 also came out today. Now, there’s not much I can say about Sex Criminals that hasn’t already been said (and if no one’s told you about it go buy the first trade or borrow it from a friend. It’s fantastic), but I want to take a moment to talk about why you should buy this particular book as it comes out and not wait for a trade.

It’s the letters page. The Sex Criminals letters page is one of my favorite things in comics right now, for lots of reasons. The obvious one is that it’s absolutely hilarious–mostly because it shows how truly essential Chip Zdarksy is to the book’s sense of humor–but the other is because that’s where the book walks the walk.

Sex Criminals is lauded not just for being a great story well told, but for being a thoughtful, mature, look at sex and sexuality, a safe place in an industry that is often a mess of problematic sexual politics. When it hit stands, the response was overwhelming. People wrote Fraction and Zdarsky in droves.

Readers were connecting with the story in a very real way, and wrote in to share and laugh and confirm the one great truth the story is anchored in: we’re all alone together.

Every issue of Sex Criminals comes with pages and pages of letters. They’re a joy to read, and they don’t get published in the trade paperbacks (they are included on the digital versions if you buy from Comixology, though). Sex Criminals is a comic that’s worth buying; anyone will tell you that.

UPDATE: Commenter BrianMc weighs in with another, more cost-effective option for buying Image books digitally: 

“One need not buy Sex Criminals digitally from Comixology. Image is selling its books DRM-free, multiple format, for 50 cents under the paper cover price, via” 

Thanks, Brian!

But there’s this extra reason that makes making a monthly trip to the comics shop or download on Comixology worth the higher expense: it’s that wonderful reminder that there are people like you out there. People who love comics, and love seeing that they’re full of stories that are a little bit like their own.

As always, support your local comic shop if you can, patronize your local library if you have one, and say hi on Twitter if you like.

Be back in a week.

Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie to Leave Young Avengers in 2014

In a post made to Tumblr yesterday, writer Kieron Gillen announced that once the current run on Young Avengers finishes, himself, Jamie McKelvie and Mike Norton (and therefore also colourist Matthew Wilson, most likely) will not be returning for the much-implied ‘season 2′ of the series. To commiserate, I’ll be posting repeated images of Noh-Varr into this article, so we can appropriately work through our feels during this difficult time.

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Let’s Get to the Bottom of this ‘Revolutionary War’ Malarky

Revolutionary War, announced a few months ago, is an interconnected mini-event thingy which’ll be happening next year, using many of the Marvel UK characters. Headlined by writers Andy Lanning and Alan Cowsill, the story will start with a one-shot in January and then move into a series of focus one-shots with various stars returning.

As more information has started coming through – and as it’s our national day of burning revolutionaries in ceremonial pyres – I felt it high time we got a closer look at what’s going on with the event.

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SDCC’13: Wolverine Origins II by Kieron Gillen and Adam Kubert

Marvel have announced that in November Kieron Gillen and Adam Kubert will be taking on the daunting job of creating a follow-up to Wolverine: Origins. Picking up straight after the original book ended, Origins II will see Wolverine facing up to who he is, and where he has to go next. [Read more…]

SDCC’13: PIXIE!!! Oh, and Young Avengers: Afterparty

Announced at the Cup O’ Joe Panel is Young Avengers: Afterparty, a two-issue jam comic which’ll see Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie welcome in a number of other creators for some stories and dancing. Also, some of these stories will feature PIXIE!

[Read more…]

Review: Young Avengers #6 aka the Kate Brown Issue!

It’s not often that a superhero comic gives me chills, particularly when we’re talking villains, but then it’s not often you that see a superhero comic from someone like Kate Brown.

Young Avengers #6

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Review: Young Avengers #1

People who know me are generally surprised when they find out I’m a huge fan of Phonogram, the ode to the power of music from Kieron Gillen and James McKelvie. Britpop does not seem to coexist easily with a love of Rob Zombie and Sparta, but only if you don’t realise that a love of any music is a love of all music. Rammstein segues easily into Blondie then morphs into I Am Kloot. For some, comics and music are two very different disciplines but for me they’ve always intertwined in a way that I can’t quite explain.

Every comic has its own soundtrack, every character their own story told in songs. One album I picked up last year generated an entire comic script in my head. And one comic I picked up at the weekend, Young Avengers #1, made me dance with joy.

Young Avengers #1

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Marvel Now: Everything is Annotated

One of the more interesting aspects of Marvel’s relaunch is how involved some of the creators have been in discussing their craft with fans. While Jonathan Hickman’s formspring account has been pinging away daily with fresh questions from Namor and Black Panther shippers, several other writers have set up frequent ‘annotations’ after the release of each issue. It’s rather interesting, if you’ll permit me to slip into British excitement. Rather sodding well interesting indeed, chaps. I’ll briefly run through the various writers and books you can catch up on, as a quick Sunday treat:

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Kieron Gillen Discusses Iron-Man: The Godkiller

Conference calls! You love them, Marvel loves them, and today saw the first in a new wave of conferences take place. This time we were here to talk about a surprise, which turned out to be Kieron Gillen, and his second arc for Iron Man – ‘The Godkiller’.

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Iron Man enters the Marvel Now orbit with a relaunch, shiny artist, and British writer at the helm. Kieron Gillen and Greg Land are the new creative team on Tony Stark’s series, following on from Matt Fraction’s run – but without touching heavily upon it. This is a fresh start, with Greg Land’s unique style particularly well suited to the vacuous world of nightclubs and celebrity which Tony hangs out in.

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Image at NYCC: New books from Gillen, McCann, Hickman, Asmus, Fraction, Chaykin, Diggle…..

Image have yet again taken to the stage at a major convention and revealed a number of high-profile titles, this time offering new books from Kieron Gillen and Ryan Kelly, Andy Diggle and Jock, Jim McCann and Janet K. Lee, as well as a number of other writers and artists. Let’s run through them all, while at the same time thinking about how dreamy Eric Stephenson is. Images will be updated as they hit the net:

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Young Avengers relaunches! Gillen! McKelvie! Loki! America?!

Marvel have finally announced that, yes, they will be publishing a new volume of Young Avengers this January, from the creative team of Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matt Wilson. Revamping the team somewhat, this new volume of the title will see Kid Loki form a new team made up of Wiccan, Hulkling, Kate Bishop, Marvel Boy, and Ms America Chavez.

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