It’s that time! We’re kicking off 2018 with our annual survey of creators, journalist, retailers and other comics industry insiders for their look back at 2017, their predictions for 2018 – and along the way a lot of previews and news about what’s coming in 2018. Our enormous thanks for all who participated this year; it’s a wide-ranging swath of observers who have a lot to say about where the industry is going.
And as always keep an eagle eye peeled to the “2018 projects” named here – there’s some tidbits of news here and there as well as some previews of exciting projects.
And on Friday we’ll announce the Person of the Year! Commence the countdown:
David Harper, journalist
2018 Projects: More episodes of my weekly comics interview podcast, Off Panel, more features on comics, and possibly another big project coming soon
What was the biggest story of 2017? It was a big year for big stories. While Marvel’s consistent unimpressiveness (and changes at the top), DC’s continuous outside-the-box thinking (and Super Hero Girls’ rise), Bendis leaving Marvel, and more are all huge, the biggest story has to be harassment in all meanings of the word. Whether you’re talking Eddie Berganza getting fired for harassment after the BuzzFeed story (or Lucas Siegel’s more quiet story), #MakeMineMilkshake and the “Diversity & Comics” crew, or any of the other assuredly numerous stories involving harassment of some kind, it’s been a monster that will probably only become bigger in the future.
What will be the biggest story of 2018? What’s Marvel’s relaunch going to look like? Because it’s going to happen.
Guilty Pleasure of 2018: Watching Geostorm and The Snowman when they come out digitally because I love me a good bad movie.
Who or what inspires you? The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. I appreciate a comic that endlessly tries to find non-violent solutions for typically violence based problems, and one that looks for the good in everyone despite the darkness that is so pervasive these days.
Josh Frankel, publisher Z2 Comics
2018 Projects: UGH! I can’t answer this yet as we are announcing in Jan/Feb but something pretty pretty big for us at Z2 Comics
What was the biggest story of 2017? Probably DC finally cleaning house of Eddie Berganza. The question to me is will the cleansing continue or stall. There’s still a lot of people who have done sleazy things in comics still working.
What will be the biggest story of 2018? I think there are going to be two big stories in 2018. 1. INSERT NAME HERE outed as harassing creep. Expect that to happen more than once. On a more structural side I think the continued weakness in the direct market and competition is going to drive a few publishers out of business
Guilty Pleasure of 2018: The new Avengers movie
Who or what inspires you? Mister Miracle probably the best take on depression I have seen in a comic.
2018 Projects: -I’ve been editing Michael Lark & Greg Rucka’s Lazarus for a while now, and the main series comes back in a major way in 2017. It went from a fanciful dystopia to something much less fanciful thanks to our current bigot-in-chief and his hateful cronies, but hopefully we can clean house in 2018 and Lazarus can go back to being a cautionary tale, instead of foreshadowing our collective tomorrow. Anyway, expect fantastic action, horrifying situations, great design, moody colors, and an overall fun time at the end of the world.
-I started doing limited run podcasts under my Brothers Before Others umbrella. The Way We Move (6 episodes) is about making do in 2016 and Speakertalks (12 episodes) is about getting one person’s take on one song and the place it has in their life. This winter, my first project is going to be called Never Be A Winner, and it’ll be about video games. You can subscribe here: http://essays.iamdavidbrothers.com/subscribe-to-podcast/ . New projects show up when they show up, but once they debut, they’ll be weekly until they finish.
-The Creators for Creators grant (http://creatorsforcreators.org) has begun accepting submissions for the $30,000 grant to be awarded in 2018, the second year of the non-profit. I co-founded the grant with a host of actual comics creators—I like to help people make their comics, not actually make them—and I’m astounded at their generosity. If you’d like to submit or donate, check out the site, read the rules, and do what you do.
Jamila Rowser wrote it, Robyn Smith drew it, JA Micheline edited it, and you’re gonna read it in Spring 2018. It’s Wash Day, starring Kim & Cookie, and I can’t wait for it to drop. Follow them on Twitter (@jamilarowser, @elevenafter, @robsmithing) to stay up to date.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2017? Gotta be harassment, right? We’re focused on sexual harassment right now, and we’re actually seeing people named, shamed, and fired for their sins, which is great. Comics is rife with people who are keen on abusing their power to get their way, get laid, or simply flex for their own ego at the expense of others. I say “people” there very specifically: men and women in comics are both guilty as sin of various types of shadiness, and all of it has to be scrubbed out. Luckily, comics will get by just fine without those people, so my vote is to clear ’em out and bring on the new blood.
On top of that, we’ve seen organized harassment campaigns, largely against women and people of color, from fans, trolls, and even/especially creators. We’ve got creators who play coy with Nazi imagery for no apparently good reason. Creators who follow critics around because they don’t like what they have to say. Comics is working on the harassment problem, but it needs to work harder and faster, because the future of comics is being chased out of the industry by the dinosaurs. (In real life, the dinosaurs died and now we burn their remains for fuel, at least until we can find something better. Let’s do that again. Call it four-color climate change.)
I’m hoping that we can start talking about racial harassment in 2018, but speaking as someone who has been looking at the subject (and has been a victim of it in a variety of ways) for quite a long while now…I’m not gonna hold my breath. But let’s at least give it a chance, though, all right? It’s a conversation worth having.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2018? I hope it’ll be companies finally getting serious about diversity, but more likely, we’re going to continue seeing revelations and fall-out from the white-centric boy’s club atmosphere that pervades mainstream comics. We started the race, but there’s still miles left to go when it comes to flushing out garbage people.
My best case scenario is that we’ll see more women and non-whites being put into positions where they have hiring power behind the scenes and are treated on par with their peers in public, rather than being (extremely talented, in my experience, but still functionally) cosmetic or temporary additions to publishing lines. One of those is definitely cool and exciting, but the other can actually create the real change we need in the industry.
If not that, hopefully more and more companies, creators, and industry figures pledging to do the bare minimum and simply treat people (fans, fellow creators, behind the scenes people, staff, etc) better on every level. Kindness and self-awareness are small steps, but it’d go a long way toward fixing a lot, I bet. Pardon my Pollyanna.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2018? A “guilty pleasure” is a fake idea. If you like it, it’s just a pleasure. It doesn’t matter what other people think about it or you!
I’m looking forward to the return of Tite Kubo in Shonen Jump for a one-shot and whatever it is that Emma Ríos is cooking up next. They’re two creators with an incredible sense of style and storytelling, and I’m excited to see what they cook up for us next.
Who or what inspires you? Richie Pope’s Super Itis is on my short list for best comics this year. Zainab Akhtar introduced me to it and I immediately passed it around the office and to friends, because the execution and message were so on point and ruthlessly emotionally resonant. It’s dope to see people working at a high level, and even better to read a book and immediately feel like you have to push it on other people.
Chris Duffy, writer editor
What was the biggest story of 2017? Graphic novel category still growing, esp in YA.
What will be the biggest story of 2018? There will be a new major player in comics distribution.
Who or what inspires you? Ramona Fradon.
Marc Arsenault, publisher, Alternative Comics
What was the biggest story of 2017? Jack Kirby
What will be the biggest story of 2018? Prediction: Major creative direction changes at DC Comics
Guilty Pleasure of 2018: Reading alot of Alan Moore ABC comics that I missed the first time around.
Who or what inspires you? Tristan Wright
Steve Morris, journalist
2018 Projects: The MNT is our comics newsletter published once a month through Patreon and features interviews, reviews, news reports and paid guest essays by some of the best critics in the industry today – and next year we’ll be launching our site! In, uh, direct competition with The Beat. Let war commence! Erm, I mean, if you don’t mind, Mac.
What was the biggest story of 2017? Some of the missing stairs got pointed out, after years of behind the scenes silencing.
New people are coming forward with their stories all the time, and this isn’t something that’ll be handily cleared away, no matter what industry professionals might hope. We’ve seen Eddie Berganza fired from DC, Andrew Kreisberg fired by Warner Brothers, and several other people in the industry named as abusive, intimidating harassers, using their positions to proposition women and make it impossible for people to work in the medium they love. From Nate Edmondson to Shon Bury to Andrew Burkholder to Lucas Siegel: this stuff has spread across every part of the comics industry.
With so many people being named as harassers, the major western publications have something to think about as we head into 2018. Marvel have an EIC who embarrassed them one day into the job; Image keep giving new work to people who have previously been accused of harassment; DC just launched a new line of art-centric comics stories which have no women involved as creatives. There’s a clear cause-effect here, and every publisher needs to think about what they’re doing with their operation in the new year.
What will be the biggest story of 2018? Oh it’s going to be hugely depressing, you know. America and the UK in particular both seem hellbent on running straight into a series of laws and tax plans which’ll hurt freelance writers and artists so intensely that we’ll see a lot of people, sadly, dropping out of the business. I think that’s going to be the big story of the year – people moving on to safer prospects. Trump and Brexit have both had a huge toll on the well-being of the people who make art, mentally and professionally, and I don’t see that reducing as both those stupid mistakes start completely imploding in the new year.
On a conspiratorial level, I do also wonder if Marvel will still exist in their current form by the end of the year. It seems unlikely.
Guilty Pleasure of 2018: Right, back to the comics stuff and away from the blegh ugh sigh industry nonsense. Tell you what – I’m genuinely well up for the return of Jean Grey. My first X-Men comics had her as the heart and soul, with Grant Morrison offering her a very specific voice which made the X-Men feel like a home and refuge. I don’t care much for the mechanics of her return, but I hope she’s well-written, engaging, and nice. Comics could use a few more decent-minded characters.
Who or what inspires you? This may be unfair and generalising, but I think Joe Illidge has made a massive impact with Catalyst Prime. I know a lot of people are involved at Lion Forge and it’s a collaboration, but I do consider him to be the heart of a lot of that line of books. Joe has written some strong criticism of comics across the years, but look what happened as soon as he took the job at Lion Forge and had the chance to do something himself – he immediately put all his talk into action. He hired men and women of color, he spotlighted characters who don’t get seen anywhere else, and he’s built an imprint with personality.
He’s a pretty inspiring figure – I always respect somebody who backs up what they say. Not everything he says is something I agree with, but there’s unequalled passion in everything he puts out there.
Véronique Emma Houxbois, journalist
2018 Projects: Right now just the afterword for the deluxe hardcover of The Infinite Loop! Going back to college does that to a girl. Womp, womp.
What was the biggest story of 2017? It was a really wild year, but nothing else managed to really polarize the industry like Howard Chaykin’s The Divided States of Hysteria did. There’s been a lot of things over the last couple years that have revealed pretty significant generational fault lines around issues like diversity, hiring, and harassment, but the reactions to that comic, and the infamous lynching cover, intensified those divisions even more than say, Secret Empire did.
Chaykin is an agitator, it’s what he’s always been, but what he did with DSOH lit a fire like nothing he’s done before because the Trump administration has shortened a lot of fuses, made people feel a lot more vulnerable than they have been over the last eight years. It came off to a lot of people like sticking a finger in an open wound, and Image’s response to it didn’t win anyone over who hadn’t already dug in. You can get more visceral reactions in this environment, but the question you have to be asking yourself as a creator is what are you exploiting to get that reaction and what are you accomplishing with it?
What will be the biggest story of 2018? Probably plans to wind down the publishing arm of Marvel and license its output to smaller publishers like IDW. The expansion of Star Wars comics at IDW is a sign of things to come, I think.
Guilty Pleasure of 2018: I’m pretty immune to guilt, but in the spirit of the question: Riverdale. It just runs on pure emotion and kind of mocks any attempt to take it seriously. Like, the big party drug is called Jingle Jangle, they don’t want you thinking, they just want you to feel something. Also, The Doom Generation director Gregg Araki is getting an episode in 2018, so that promises to be memorable.
Who or what inspires you? Jen Bartel. Watching her grow in recognition and ability from a bunch of neon cosmic cat faces to doing mind bending interiors for America has been an incredible journey. Her aesthetic in general, bringing a really strong, unapologetically feminine presence is something that we pretty desperately need on a cultural level both in and out of comics. There’s always been a certain amount of pressure to tone down those impulses in comics and we really just do not live in a decade that is all that friendly to the girlish in terms of fashion and culture either. So it means a lot to have someone like Jen working in that space in novel and beautifully crafted ways.
Steve Orlando, writer
The Unexpected, Justice League of America, Supergirl (See preview pages below)
What was the biggest story of 2017? The ongoing fight for diversity and representation
What will be the biggest story of 2018? Unfortunately, still the ongoing fight for diversity and representation
Guilty Pleasure of 2018: Bingo Love from Image Comics
Who or what inspires you? The Dregs – the confidence of the work from creators new to such a large stage inspired me to re-evaluate myself and my work, and strive to be better.
Sarah Horrocks, cartoonist
2018 Projects: Goro and Twisted Romance
What was the biggest story of 2017? Akira Yoshida.
What will be the biggest story of 2018? Sexual Harassment
Guilty Pleasure of 2018: More Yuri comics
Who or what inspires you?
Ian Macewan. I got to see the pages for the book he’s working on at RCCC and they’re so good, like beyond reason good, after seeing them I went home much hungrier to improve–I felt like the possibilities of what you can do with ink had expanded a little bit. I’m sure when the book with those pages drops people will ignore it like they always do with any thing great, but he’s amazing, and his work is extremely inspirational to look at. Especially the originals.
2018 Projects: Currently translating the three-volume (700+ pages total!) Inside Moebius for Dark Horse. Teaching Comics Theory at Portland State University. Editing the new Mage series by Matt Wagner, published by Image Comics.
What was the biggest story of 2017? Eddie Campbell & Audrey Niffenegger tie the knot? Eddie Berganza finally gets the boot from DC? Brian Bendis loses 40 or 50 lbs., officially signs with DC, and then almost dies (all unconnected, apparently)? I dunno; I don’t read a lot of industry news.
What will be the biggest story of 2018? Emil Ferris sweeps the Eisners! (I *wish* this’d be the biggest story of 2018.)
Guilty Pleasure of 2018: I no longer feel guilty about *any* of my pleasures, but I am looking forward to the publication of Inside Moebius. After having worked on the translation for the past year, I’m anxious for the three books to finally see print.
Who or what inspires you? I guess I’d have to say EMIL FERRIS, again. Her personal story is inspiring and her graphic novel is inspiring: it’s quite unlike anything else! If we can name a couple here, too, I’d also have to say I was very inspired reading MOEBIUS in the original French. Previous translations of his work haven’t really gotten across his genius inventiveness with languageâ€”very tough to do, of course, since wordplay in French obviously doesn’t translate into English. But it’s clear to me, having now read a great deal of his work in its original form, that he was a consummate trickster and experienced an enormous amount of pure joy (joie de vivre) in the making of his brilliant comics.
Jenn St-Onge, artist
2018 Projects: A couple projects that are currently unannounced, one a comic for an IP I’ve been interested in working on for a while, and one a graphic novel with a pretty big book publisher!
What was the biggest story of 2017? I hate to be a downer, but the adage of “comics will break your heart” seemed to be at the forefront this year. Too many reminders that if you aren’t a straight, white, cisgendered man working for DC/Marvel, you’re “ruining” comics and deserve harassment. I feel like the big two had more than one mess up this year, but the “Hail Hydra” arc seemed in particularly bad taste. Oh, and the firing vs protection of known abusers in the industry. Shit, 2017 just kinda sucked wow.
What will be the biggest story of 2018? Hopefully a wider range of creators and stories getting mainstream promotion and consumption. Maybe the crack down of trolls and abusers in the comics community, especially on social media?
Guilty Pleasure of 2018: Honestly getting rid of Twitter harassers would be just A+
Who or what inspires you? Naomi Franq is endlessly inspiring to me, both in her work and attitude. Seeing her updates make me want to step up my comic game.
Andrew Carl, editor Locust Moon
2018 Projects: Once Upon a Time Machine vol 2 from Dark Horse, and a series called Only Hope.
What was the biggest story of 2017? The good times at Marvel.
What will be the biggest story of 2018? Scared to even guess.
Guilty Pleasure of 2018: Hopefully Black Panther winds up more than a guilty pleasure, but we’ll see.
Who or what inspires you? Sam Bosma inspires me with every new comic he does.
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.