Here’s part two of our annual survey on creators, the year behind, the year ahead and, this time, what inspires the people who inspire us. You can read part one here.
Liam Sharp, artist
2017 Projects: Wonder Woman: Rebirth
What was the biggest story in comics in 2016? DC: Rebirth
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2017? Wonder Woman!
Guilty Pleasure: Discovering even more post rock and new prog to listen to while working!
What inspires me: Bill Sienkiewicz
Josh Frankel, publisher Z2 comics
2017 Projects: A whole bunch but the most exciting one is Murder Ballads. It’s a crime story about an AR guy in the 90’s going on a crime spree to fund a record by two insanely talented musicians. While both the writing by Gabe Soria and the art by Paul Reinwand are flawless the big selling point is Dan Auerbach (one half of the black keys) and Robert Finley are providing a soundtrack for the book, that would be the music that the band plays in the story. Each book will be packaged with a dropcard with said soundtrack. It will probably be our biggest release to date.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2016? Has to be the return from the dead of DC comics and in equally important but not as reported news the demise of the Hastings chain of book stores. The yin and yang of this is that thanks to DC doing real well due to Rebirth sales are up but one of the biggest Diamond accounts is closing
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2017? I think you will see a few publisher’s go under or stop producing . One of the big problems with the comic shop market right now is that there is too much product and not enough dollars to go around. At Z2 we’ve been able to keep on going by being lean and mean but there are companies out there burning through capital. You saw it happen with Double Take. One of the big things people forget when it comes to anything is rich people hate losing money. So after awhile no matter how much investment you have if the sales aren’t there your sunk.
Guilty Pleasure: Pizza always Pizza but I don’t feel really guilty about it.
What inspires me: I’ve always found this one panel from Top Ten particularly inspiring where the horse god thing is dying. The one that True Detective riffed off of
KAPELA: Just look above you. Do you see? That is called the immense board of lights. And there is the Great Black and, strewn across it, small and surrounded and vulnerable and brave, there is the Great White.
COMMUTER: Oh. Oh, yeah. Of course. Hah. You know, that’s perfect. That’s really perfect. And the Great White… I mean, there’s so much more black. A-are we losing?
KAPELA: No. Once there was only black. We are winning.
2017 Projects: The Solar Grid. A digital-first B&W sci-fi epic I’ve been serializing at thesolargrid.net. Nearly a thousand years after the Earth has suffered an environmental catastrophe, two orphans find something from the planet’s past that disrupts its economic dependency on Mars forever.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2016? Angouleme claiming there are no significant women in the history of comics. *facepalm*
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2017? The 80’s and early 90’s are overtly fashionable right now. I suspect a resurgence of black & white indies akin to the boom of 80’s/90’s comics that brought about glorious things such as TMNT, BACCHUS, and SIN CITY. These are likely to be weird, cheaply produced zine-like things that will develop cult followings. Eventually to be collected in big, fat books put out by proper trade publishers that market to bookstores. I also see a couple of new publishers of avant-garde comix sprouting up, along the lines of Breakdown Press, Uncivilized Books, and Bergen Street Press. Mainstream publishers will attempt to ride the wave by getting indie auteurs on their titles. We’ve seen early signs of this with Marvel tapping into Farel Dalrymple for OMEGA: THE UNKNOWN, and DC tapping into James Harvey for WE ARE ROBIN #4. It’ll be like that but on a much larger scale, I think. And of course, many more “curated” lines/imprints.
Guilty Pleasures: I will spend my weekends out of the house. You’ll see, you’ll see!!
What inspires me: I am very much taken by the aesthetics of James Harvey’s work. It’s making me rethink everything.
Kazu Kibuishi, cartoonist
2017 Projects: Amulet 8
What was the biggest story in comics in 2016? Gene Yang
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2017? ?
Guilty Pleasure: Going on vacation.
What inspires me: Amy Kim Kibuishi and her amazing upcoming graphic novel.
2017 Projects: My Off Panel podcast will be continuing (and maybe growing), while I have some exciting freelance projects I can’t really talk about quite yet (but are very cool)
What was the biggest story in comics in 2016? It’s obvious, but to me, DC Comics completely turning their fortunes around both commercially and creatively was stunning. Rebirth has reawakened its fanbase and the admiration of retailers, while efforts like Young Animal and the Hanna Barbera line (!!) have shown DC to be willing to go very outside the box. Plus, The Sheriff of Babylon singlehandedly proved that Vertigo can (and will) continue to be relevant in a more Image driven age.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2017? Marvel’s going to have to make a significant countermove to DC, as fans and retailers are pretty over what they’re pushing these days. Who knows what it will be, but whatever they do will likely become the biggest story of 2017.
What inspires me: John Allison’s webcomic Bad Machinery. It makes me happy with its breezy fun, snappy dialogue and enjoyable simplicity, and makes me hopeful that normal lives can carry on despite monsters making their presence felt.
Marc Arsenault, publisher Alternative Comics
What was the biggest story in comics in 2016? Comic con/caf/event over-saturation. We felt that quite strongly in silicon valley this year.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2017? Kree battleships land on the National Mall and visit the Air and Space Museum to pick up their lost data recorder.
Guilty Pleasure: Monsters Vol. 1: The Marvel Monsterbus by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, & Jack Kirby
What inspires me: John Porcellino’s King Cat
2017 Projects: I’m in the middle of writing my creator-owned comic BLACK. The story asks the question what if only black people had super powers and explores how a world like that would work. It’s a 6-issue series, in stores now but concludes in 2017.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2016? I’m supposed to write about one of the major publishers latest campaign gimmicks, right? Hehehe!
I think the biggest story of 2016 is diversity. The growing consumer audiences are non-white and we’ve seen a huge shift (from one big publisher) to represent these readers╒ backgrounds through characters that look like them.
It was already happening in the independent comics world, and now some of those creatives are being freelanced for mainstream commodification. It will be a great day when they are included as staff members who guide the content.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2017? That’s hard to say. Good art is disruptive, but comics do that on a micro level. Creators’ independent work doesn’t necessarily translate with the same integrity or vision through the marketing cache of the big two.
I think Lion Forge’s Catalyst is the place to keep our eyes fixed. They have some very strong provocateurs over there that will likely tap some uncharted territories.
Technology has certainly not been as disruptive as expected.
Perhaps it’s better to entertain what I╒d like to see. It would be amazing if the Boom!/Archaia merger continued a trend where most of the independent publishers became a franchise publishing brand. Then they would represent a bigger slice of the market, and offer consumers a unified brand to focus on.
Guilty Pleasure: More independent work. I still read superhero stuff, but there isn╒t much new territory there except nostalgia. Stuff like Paper Girls, Southern Cross, and The Sweetness are more challenging comics stories.
Also finding hours in the day to play Final Fantasy XV. I never thought about how much creating a comic would cut into my free time.
What inspires me: I am biased, but I’m inspired by the team behind BLACK; Tim Smith 3, Jamal Igle, Khary Randolph, Sarah Litt, Ashley Woods, Sarah Stern, Patricia Daguisan, Robin Riggs, David Sharpe, Matt Pizzolo and all the fans.
Seriously, UNBUNTU! If not for every single one of these people I’d not have the means to express this story and contribute to a medium that I love.
2017 Projects: Still drawing the daily strip Skin Horse (www.skin-horse.com) and editing manga for Viz Media. Got an Adventure Time comic out this month, with art by the great Roger Langridge. Working on a new regular online comics gig.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2016? The triumph of YA graphic novels, with creators Raina Telgemeier and Gene Yang in particular experiencing banner years.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2017? Degenerate art.
Guilty Pleasure: Low-budget horror movies on Netflix.
What inspires me: Tom Hart
Steve Lieber, artist
2017 Projects: The Fix at Image Comics
What was the biggest story in comics in 2016?Matt Furie’s stoner frog becoming the face of the alt-right and our nation’s descent into nightmare. https://thenib.com/pepe-the-frog-to-sleep-perchance-to-meme
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2017? I’m really, really hoping that I’m wrong, but I think we’re going to see more cartoonists fall victim to political violence.
What inspires me: Sam Glanzman, still doing the work he loves at age 92.
2017 Projects: Legal work of various sorts for media, tech, and fashion ventures
What was the biggest story in comics in 2016? Luke Cage & Supergirl emerging as cultural icons & influencers (we’ll understand their significance fully 20-30 years from now — there’s something rather intriguing emerging here vis a vis influence on pre-teens)
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2017? Catalyst Prime & the birth of the Lion Forge universe
Guilty Pleasure: The project is secret, alas.
What inspires me: Art Pinajian (Armenian artist/cartoonist)
Joe Field, owner Flying Colors Comics
2017 Projects: Always working on the world’s largest comics related event, Free Comic Book Day! Plus I’m always working on fun surprises in store at Flying Colors Comics.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2016? The story of the first part of 2016 was the strength of DC Comics Rebirth initiative and what was looking to be a record year for comic sales.
The story of the second part of the year was how Marvel’s new title introductions crashed with a thud.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2017? Hoping for a major Marvel turnaround because the industry is stronger when the big players are firing on all cylinders.
But the major story could be how the market shares of the the big publishers get further diluted into the enormous breadth of the rest of the market.
Guilty Pleasure: I’m looking forward to a year with two vacations after a year in which I took no vacations. When you work for yourself, your boss can be very difficult at times.
What inspires me: Will Eisner. When things start looking tough, I remember him repeatedly telling retailers over the years the following story. Since he got into comics in the mid 1930s until his passing in 2005, every three years or so he’d be told by some comics big wig or another that it was time to get out comics because the business wasn’t going to be around much longer.
Will’s career lasted almost 70 years— and he never gave up. He persevered even when things looked the bleakest. I think of this story every time I have a rough day in this business and wonder how long I will last in it. Will’s inspiration keeps me going.
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.