It’s time! The Beat’s Annual Creator Survey is where we look forward to the year to come and reflect a little on what has just passed in comic, with opinions from a wide swath of industry creators, pundits and retailers. This time out, because 2016 was a little rough, I’ve added a question about what inspires our survey takers, because we can all use a little something to feel good about.
As in the past, I’ve made every attempt to include as diverse an array of creators, include female, POC and LGBTQ professionals. It is still not where it should be in reflecting the essential mix of voices that make up the industry, but we’ll continue to expend efforts on this.
Respondents also participating in voting for the Comics Industry Person of the Year; the winner will be announced later in the week.
As always, keep an eye on the “2017 Projects” list for some sneaky news. And thanks to everyone for taking the time to participate in what is a very busy time of the year for all.
Andrew Farago, writer, curator
2017 Projects: The Cartoon Art Museum is reopening in San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Square in spring 2017! I’ve also got two new books coming from Insight Editions: Totally Awesome: The Greatest Cartoons of the Eighties, and The Art of Harley Quinn.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2016? March wins the National Book Award, along with an Eisner Award. Great year for some great people.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2017?The personal is political. More satire, more social justice warriors, more hot-button issues…political cartoonists will be sharper and more outspoken than ever before, but so will traditional strip artists and comic book writers.
Guilty Pleasure: Sports, mostly. I plan to distract myself with a lot more basketball and baseball next year than ever before, and I’ll hold out hope yet again that the Cleveland Browns can field a decent team in my lifetime.
What inspires me: I’m incredibly fortunate to have so many great cartoonists in my life, from my wife, Shaenon Garrity, to all of the artists I know here in the Bay Area, so I’m never short on inspiration. But when I need to recharge, especially in the coming year, I think I’ll turn to E.C. Segar’s Popeye. He always stuck up for those in need, spoke out on behalf of the voiceless, and never backed down, no matter the odds. I think we’ll all need that kind of resolve in 2017.
Aimée de Jongh, cartoonist
2017 Projects: A new graphic novel for Dargaud, called ‘L’Obsolescence programmÄe de nos sentiments’. Written by Zidrou, drawn by me. Hopefully an English release will follow soon after the French and Dutch edition.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2016? March (Top Shelf). It’s amazing what the creators of this comic accomplished during the making of this trilogy. It gave the graphic novel a new stage and I think we as an industry will all benefit from that in the future. Also, the books are great and they should be on everyone’s Christmas shopping list.
Guilty Pleasure: Less awesome people dying
What inspires me: The Belgian-Spanish writer Zidrou, pseudonym of Benoöt Drousie, is one of the most productive and inspiring writers of the European comic scene at this moment. He’s writing funny comics for kids and adults, but also amazing graphic novels about life and relationships that people have. I wish his work would get a bit more appreciation in the US too, because it’s really good.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2016? Raina Telgemeier’s 500k first print run of Ghosts.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2017?I think it’ll come from Iron Circus Comics.
What inspires me: Taneka Stotts is an unstoppable force, even in the face of huge obstacles. She works so hard, and so much of what she does is thankless, but she keeps on going and puts so much good into the world.
Hazel Newlevant, cartoonist/editor
2017 Projects: Editing Comics for Choice and finishing my graphic novel No Ivy League!
What was the biggest story in comics in 2016?Shitty former cartoonist Mike Pence becomes VP-elect.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2017? Cartoonists becoming activists and responding to the Trump administration. Franìoise Mouly and Nadja Spiegelman’s Resist issue of Smoke Signal, and Comics for Choice, are already underway!
Guilty Pleasure: Finally reading the Serenity Rose collection on my nightstand.
What inspires me: Shivana Sookdeo draws sensitive and beautiful comics, and is also always tweeting ways to be politically active and what we should be yelling at our representatives about. She inspires me to take action!
2017 Projects: Harley Quinn Bi-weekly, The Jetsons, building up Paperfilms and introducing Trio Entertainment in a few month.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2016? The insane amount of conventions happening everywhere and the fact that there is just a limited amount of comic creators that actually bring in fans. The reality of the fact that these creators have less and less time to do shows because of schedules, so now the cons have to start treating the comic pros like they do their entertainment talent. It’s what happens with so many creators seeing how promoters treat them, at times, like lesser guests. This year, we saw a lot of that change.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2017? My guess is that both Marvel and DC Entertainment will start to police the comic conventions and shut down unlicensed product at conventions other than original sketches. I think they will start to hold the actual promotors responsible for the content they are featuring as well. We have seen this with bootleg movies and such, and now they will be going after unlicensed product related to their characters. If you are a creator only selling prints of other people’s characters, now is the time to get your original ideas on the page.
Guilty pleasure: I am really looking forward to the FAN2SEA cruise coming this January. I think it’s the ultimate fan convention/vacation and will inspire, hopefully, many new ways to involve the fans beyond conventional conventions.
What inspires me: This is a tough question to answer because I am inspired by generations of people working in our fiend and feel it would be unfair of me to point out just one, so I will aim closer to home and pick my wife Amanda Conner. In public, she is funny, genuine, smart and always has time for everyone she meets and always leaves a positive and sweet impression. In her illustrations, she makes people smile and brings the viewer into the scene. Her characters have a life behind their eyes and she totally understands that not everything about the heroes we love has to be dark. There is a joy to her work, even when it goes to crazy places, that everyone gets. On a personal level, she is my rock and the love of my life and I cannot imagine a single day without her in my life.
Emma Houxbois, journalist
2017 Projects: Nothing that’s been announced publicly yet, but you can see my above the line comics debut in DC/IDW’s Love is Love anthology!
What was the biggest story in comics in 2016? The controversy around the Angouleme Grand Prix nominations in January.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2017? Something ugly, unfortunately. The last couple years have been marked by losses, gains, and skirmishes on the topic of diversity and representation in the industry, and the emboldening effect that Trump’s (presumptive) election has had on reactionary elements will likely make the situation even more fraught.
Guilty Pleasure: I don’t really believe in the idea of guilty pleasures, but Motor Crush, Motor Crush, Motor Crush. I came back to reviewing comics in 2014 specifically to cover Stewart, Fletcher, and Tarr’s Batgirl, so seeing them reconvene with the benefit of that experience and expanded freedom to shape their own story is a pure rush.
What inspires me: Julie Maroh. Watching BDegalite grow from an ambitious manifesto for change to grabbing international headlines by butting heads with FIBD within a matter of months was breathtaking. There’s a lot of people to look up to in comics right now, but she more than anyone has pushed me to stay the course and fight for change.
Tony Lee, writer
2017 Projects: To be honest, I’m moving a little out of comics and into films – I have four movies and an episode of a BBC One drama in production in 2017. But in comics I have a series of new GNs for Hachette aimed at children, my last Walker Books ‘Heroes and Heroines’ GN, on Grace O’Malley and a couple of licensed character minis that I’m super excited about.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2016? Rebirth bringing back certain characters.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2017? There’s a whole ton of these at the moment, but I think there will be large shocks in the big two.
Guilty Pleasure: I’m hoping we get the Ted Kord Beetle / Booster team up!
What inspires me: The Oatmeal. Sometimes you need to laugh.
2017 Projects: I’ve been writing some satirical horror detective stories, about things like why the musicians are dying all of a sudden (http://www.indignantmedia.com/all-the-dead-musicians/) and the intersection of baseball curses and political families (http://www.indignantmedia.com/the-curse-of-the-goat/)
What was the biggest story in comics in 2016? More companies shifting resources away from the DM to chase the Scholastic market and having success there.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2017? Is this the year Marvel finally plays the reboot card? [Cue the sounds of 1000 retailers crying out at once.] If not, keep an eye on the fallout from AT&T’s attempt to buy WB. If it goes through, there will be fallout. If it falls through, there will be fallout.
Guilty Pleasure: A little birdie told me DC was FINALLY going to reprint the Strazewski/Parobeck Justice Society run.
What inspires me: I finally got to read Jack Kirby’s Prisoner comic and if ever there was a time to revisit The Prisoner, it’s 2016. Too bad there weren’t more issues.
Van Jensen, writer/ambassador
202y Projects: A true crime graphic novel with Nate Powell that will be published by Simon & Schuster’s Gallery 13 imprint. A graphic novel project with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. A series with Dusty Higgins, Valkyrie Beer Delivery, on Stela. Outside of comics, my debut short film, Pisser, will be on the festival circuit. I’m directing a music video for Far Out Family. And I’m developing a TV series.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2016? A comic won a National Book Award! This has never happened! Amid the despair of the 2016 election, it’s been a true silver lining to see the success of the March series. Way to go, John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell (and the Top Shelf team).
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2017? Seems likely to be the year that within the industry we collectively realize how strong the book market for comics is and turn a lot more of our focus there. Anyway, that’s certainly the big story for me.
Guilty Pleasure: I have another kid on the way, so I’m not expecting to do anything beyond work and being Dad.
What inspires me: I hit on this already, but Nate Powell. He’s one of the finest cartoonists we have, but he’s also incredibly compassionate and actively working through his art and actions to make the world a better place. He’s a fighter. In writing a book for him, every day I push myself to up my game, to create a work of art worthy of Nate’s talent, ethos and vision. I’m honored to be his collaborator and lucky to be his friend.
David Macho, packager/translator
2017 Projects: Love is Love, and plenty others. :)
What was the biggest story in comics in 2016? Love is Love
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2017? Young Animal
Guilty Pleasure: Having the time to read more comics. :P
What inspires me: Chelsea Cain and Mockingbird
Keiler Roberts, cartoonist
2017 Projects: Koyama Press is releasing my new book, Sunburning, in May 2017
Guilty Pleasure: I’m getting a lot of children’s books by Dare Wright for myself for Christmas. They’re really bizarre and maybe too troubling to read to my daughter. I can’t wait to get lost in her world. There’s no guilt there though. I’m also getting a bunch of expensive makeup. I’m a sucker for that.
What inspires me: Noah Van Sciver put out a lot of books this year, so he’s been on my mind. He’s a very creative storyteller and I love his drawings.
2017 Projects: I have two projects currently in the works that haven’t been announced yet. I’ve written a story for #EndTheStigma: A Mental Health Anthology for release next year by Tee Vixen Franklin. The artist on that is Emily Pearson.
I’m also hoping to launch a new series called 12 Devils Dancing with Dave Acosta some time in 2017. It will be submitted to publishers, but, as with M3, if none choose to greenlight it, it will be self-published under Vices Press.
Lastly, I’m writing the third installment of the Wacky Collection with artist Claire Connelly, titled Eve: The Immortal Lobster. It’s a double issue that we’re planning on having that for NYCC 2017.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2016? The fan backlash against Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz’s Captain America is Hydra story was big news. Roxanne Gay being named writer on World of Wakanda was big news, too. Wonder Woman’s confirmed bisexuality was big news to some.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2017? I would LOVE it if the big story was the announcement of Sonny Liew and I collaborating on a Hawkgirl ongoing series based on our story in the DC New Talent Showcase╔but that’s just a creative team dreaming right now.
I think the release of Wonder Woman in June will be big news, considering it’s a female led film, and the first in DC’s cinematic universe.
Guilty Pleasure: I don’t really have a guilty pleasure because I don’t think you should be ashamed to like what you like[unless it’s BvS]
What inspires me: Bill Sienkiewicz inspires me because of his talent and his commitment to activism within the community. He’s also been a wonderful friend and support throughout my career.
Rick Lowell, Casablanca Comics, MeCAF
2017 Projects: Preparing for MeCAF (Maine Comics Arts Festival), happening in June in Portland, Maine.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2016? Marvel, DC and Image Comics continuing efforts to flood the market with a glut of product. It seems as if the goal is quantity over quality.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2017? Consolidation in the retail, publishing and distribution segments of the market. It will be a thinning of the herd, resulting in an overall stronger market.
Guilty Pleasure: The Kamandi Challenge from DC Comics.
What inspires me: Sergio Aragones will always bring a smile to my face.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.