That’s it — we’re wrapping up our annual look into what’s on the minds of the comic industry — from creators to retailers to publishers. Thanks to all who participated, and thank you for sticking with us. On monday, the results of our COMICS INDUSTRY PERSON OF THE YEAR voting! It’s a close race and you may be surprised at the results.
2012 Projects: In the next week I should have my own domain name up and running (at ladiesmakingcomics.com), and I will be on a few panels about comics at Boston’s Arisia convention next weekend. My big plan is to launch some merchandise– I’ve been hoarding hi-res images of public domain Golden Age art by women, as well as getting in touch with some underground legends to discuss licensing of some of their art. Right now it’s mostly a matter of finding the right fit of an online printer/vendor. Of course, I am also going to continue to build the Women in Comics Wiki every free moment I have. My pie-in-the-sky project is getting DC to let me into their archives to check out Julius Schwartz’s ledgers; I’ve been salivating over the prospect since Martin Pasko mentioned on Word Balloon that Julie kept meticulous records of who worked for him, and I’m given to understand that said records still exist. Our knowledge of women who worked during the Silver Age is comparatively sparse to the other eras, so I’m hoping to rectify that to some extent. (Any one who wants to help me with any of the above can reach me at ladiesmakingcomics at gmail!)
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011?: For short-term effect, the DC New 52, of course. But since Marvel already took back the market share in December, I think the only long-term impact will be on their own internal canon (if that). For long-term, the rise of Kickstarter as a funding tool– most notably for Womanthology and the Harvey Pekar memorial.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? More day-and-date digital and digital exclusives. I’m also really hoping for some print-on-demand announcements as well– there are a lot of comics in Marvel and DC’s back catalogs that I completely understand why they don’t think they’d merit an official print run (especially non-supergenre comics), but that I’d still like to have sitting on bound on my shelves (instead of sneezing over longboxes of back issues at conventions!) Combined with digital sales, it could also be useful for guiding their editorial decisions for new titles.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? Sneakily checking my news feeds and blogging during class during my last semester in law school (Just kidding, Mom and Dad!)
Raina Telgemeier, cartoonist
2012 projects: I’ve got a middle-grade graphic novel called DRAMA coming out in September from Scholastic/Graphix. It’s about kids putting on a play for their middle school, and all of the creativity, struggle, heartache, and joy that that entails.
My husband, Dave Roman, and I also have a short piece in the upcoming all-ages Explorer: The Mystery Boxes anthology (March, Abrams/Amulet) titled “Spring Cleaning.”
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011? I loved the recent story that the top-selling Kindle comic download on Christmas day was self-published by a 14-year-old girl! I think we’ll see more and more of that sort of thing as we move forward into the digital revolution.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012?
Crossover, crossover, crossover. The line between comics and “real” books gets smaller in the eye of the public every day. Let’s erase it completely!
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? I’m looking forward to starting another new graphic novel for kids! I love making comics for young readers so much. Also, potato chips.
2012 Projects: Working on the ComicsPRO Annual Members’ Meeting, Feb 9-11 in Dallas. All comic book specialty retailers really need to make it a priority to attend!
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011?: The biggest story was the one no one wrote— that is, after years of trumpeting the rise of digital comics, print comics had a strong year and, if anything, digital isn’t a replacement format, but an additive one
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? Big Ethel will get a sex change. I mean, hasn’t Archie Comics pretty much done everything else?
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? Comics: Whatever James Sturm’s next project is— but I find no guilt in that at all!
Of Any Kind: Learning more family and baseball history as I try to decide if I should formalize my findings into writing a book or a graphic novel (don’t wait underwater, please)
Lorelei Bunjes, Director of Digital Services, IDW
2012 projects: Transformers Autocracy! It’s IDW’s first digital only comic and I couldn’t be happier with the creative team of Chris Metzen, Flint Dille and Livio Ramondelli for this and more thankful for the hard work of editor John Barber and Carlos Guzman. I’m happy I just got to be a part of putting it together.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011?: IDW Publishing moving its storefront apps to ComiXology
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? So much can change from now to December but right now I think Womanthology in terms of seeing what it’s larger impact will be.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? Mass Effect 3
Kat Kan, Collection Development Librarian/Graphic Novel Specialist at Brodart Books & Automation, “Graphically Speaking” columnist for Voice of Youth Advocates, graphic novel reviewer for Booklist, school librarian
2012 Projects: my “Graphically Speaking” column appears in every issue of VOYA, and now people can read a digital edition at http://www.voya.com – new issues are published in February, April, June, August, October, and December
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011? It seems there were a number of stories. For me, the two that stick out the most are DC’s New 52 – mostly because they’ve got my 17-year-old son reading even more comics, and the whole digital comics situation. Publishers and retailers are really going to have to figure out how to deal with this, but I think it will be interesting to see more stats on who is reading digital comics.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? The continuing growth and impact of digital comics on the industry as a whole.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? It’s not guilty – I’m just glad my husband is alive and doing well after his multiple heart attacks and surgery in September. I’m looking forward to our family continuing in good health.
Suzette Chan, Features Editrix for Sequential Tart
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011? DC New 52. A commercial success for DC that floated all boats in 2011.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? Survival of artists in the industry. The superstars are safe. The independent web-based self-publishers may hang in. If the US economy continues to stagnate, what will happen to the middle classes of the creative set in comics? Will there be fewer resources or contracts available to them?
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? End of the world madness around December 21, 2012. Mostly, I’m looking forward to the cartoons debunking / mocking this.
Dave Roman, cartoonist
2012 projects: TEEN BOAT! The only book to combine the angst of being a teen with the thrill of being a boat…in full color! Available from Clarion Books on May 8th.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011?: In my tiny world, the biggest story is Toronto retailer Peter Birkemoe opening up Little Island, the first comic shop specifically dedicated to comics for small people (kids). His main store The Beguiling already had great relationships, proving books to libraries and schools. Opening a dedicated family-friendly storefront says a lot about the continued potential for growing the graphic novels market.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? With e-readers and tablet devices becoming ubiquitous, I’m curious to see who can position their digital comics to compete against the convenience of illegal downloads. I’d love to see a viable venue for creators to publish e-books that can bring more of us closer to living wages directly from the sale of content.
On the flipside, I’d also love to see more people in 2012 balancing the convenience of e-reading with the aesthetic joy of lovingly produced physical objects. Reading the Fantagraphics reprint collections of Donald Duck or Peanuts is a unique experience that can’t be replicated on even the best LCD screen. There are so many beautifully printed art books and interesting graphic novels being published. I’d hate to see appreciation of typography, page flow, production and graphic design all fade away. So I’m blindly optimistic that in 2012 we’ll hear more about people supporting independent bookstores and shopping locally…while still reading mass market paperback novels and playing Angry Birds on their Kindles.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? I’d like to make it out to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at some point! Maybe during Leaky Con? The idea of Wizard Rock bands performing at a Harry Potter theme park sounds like the best kind of nerdy fun.
MK Reed, cartoonist/writer
2012 projects: Americus came out this year! About A Bull continues, + Cute Girl Network, a romance story written with Greg Means & art by Joe Flood, will come out in maybe like 2014 or something from First Second.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011?: iPads?
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? DOOM! Every three weeks some kind of new mess will infuriate the comics internet. DC & Marvel will again do some damn thing that pisses off women/non-white guys, that gets defended by white guys. More of the old fanboy base will die off/ start being laid off by age discrimination/ become disenchanted with comics, and the direct market will shrink that much more without making efforts to expand its customer base. The most innovative books of the year will be grossly outsold something stupid like The Farting Adventures of Fartman, except that’ll be an app next year, but the most talked about comics thingy will be a movie anyway; so whatever, the same as every other year pretty much.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? Raising my halfling thief to 7th level.
Ben Towle, cartoonist
2012 projects: Mainly my ongoing webcomic, Oyster War
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011?: The Jack Kirby lawsuit. The settlement of this suit in favor of Marvel is a huge blow to the idea that past creators have any legal stake in their creations. The decision effectively applies the work-for-hire concept–legally established in the U.S. copyright act of 1976–retroactively to the artists who created the foundation of today’s superhero comics publishing business.
While I think most folks probably assumed this decision would favor Marvel legally, I–like a lot of folks–remain pretty stunned that a company with Marvel’s assets can’t see fit ethically to provide even some small financial compensation to the Kirby estate.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? A genuine digital “all in” from the major comics publishers. There was a lot of noise about companies going “day and date” with monthly books this year, but the current pricing structure is designed to perpetuate the status quo; it’s not part of a genuine embracing of digital delivery. In 2012, the “big two” are going to have to fish or cut bait, as we say in these parts.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? I can’t wait for the Tintin movie to come out on DVD so I can rent it and then gripe about it profusely!
Mariah Huehner, writer/editor/cartoonist
2012 projects: Well, the adaptation of Anne Rice’s Servant of the Bones I was working on just wrapped up and will be collected soon, as well as the2nd storyline on True Blood: The French Quarter, written by me and David Tischman. Unfortunately I can’t reveal any of my upcoming books yet, but I’m working on a bunch of very exciting writing and editing projects for 2012 that will be weird and wonderful. I can probably mention that I’m working on a graphic novel of my own that I plan to self-publish, called Unforgivable. Now that I’ve said it I have to finish it, right?
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011?: What wasn’t, really. There were the old reliables, like what continuing impact digital will have, the DC re-launch, and shows like The Walking Dead continuing to do well. There’s the shifting landscape of e-publishing and self-publishing, which is showing that people can be successful independently of any brick and mortar publisher. There’s the ongoing issue of diversity in comics which is not going away, so I think folks might want to start listening on that one. For me personally it was Womanthology, however. It was the Little Comics Project that Could that turned into a Really Big Deal literally overnight.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? I suspect that, just like years previous, it will be something no one really predicts. But I do think self and e-publishing are going to become more and more difficult to ignore, and publishers are going to have to step up and start considering what other audiences besides the assumed “core” want more seriously.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? Probably indulging in the same nerdy geekery I always do and having long conversations about the nature of stories. Apparently that topic never gets old to me. And making more ridiculous things out of fimo, like octopus teacups and dragons.
Joe Harris, writer
2012 projects: The Fury of Firestorm (DC Comics), Spontaneous Collected Edition (Oni Press), The Hashishian OGN (Oni Press).
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011?: “The New 52” relaunch of the DC Universe and how that rippled through everything from the company’s domination of the Direct Market, to day and date digital releases and the sucking up of oxygen for creator-owned titles.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012?The further decline of the direct market and the continued rise of digital distribution.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? The GOP Primaries. They’re like a cockfight in a dingy basement or two fighting fish unleashed on one another, only much more irrational and nasty and the only ones who get hurt are wealthy, mean and over the moon nuts.
Cheese Hasselberger, cartoonist
2012 projects: On top of our continuing Comixology anthology series, House of Twelve is working on a new crop of web comics, hopefully debuting this summer.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011?: DC’s New 52, despite some rather depressing stumbles (poor Starfire, back to being the teen spank material of my youth, only sluttier), DC’s relaunch has been a pretty great success. Not only was it well received critically, but the revamp reinvigorated interest with people like myself who hadn’t seriously read a DC book since I was a teenager. I went from picking up the occasional book here or there to reading three titles a month, more often then not supporting their aggressive digital strategy and using their Comixology based iOS app. It was a a bold and long-overdue (IMO) change that the editors there deserve a tip o’ the hat for.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? As I’ve said in previous Beat Year End Surveys: Digital, Digital, Digital. I should say first, I’m a bit biased as House of Twelve is available on Comixology’s Comics app. It’s been a huge 2011 for digital comics, Comixology (and Comics+, Graphic.ly) have proven that not only is there a larger market for comics then the direct market had ever dreamed, but one that’s willing to actually pay or content. Discovering a new financial stream in such a niche market is pretty amazing and they deserve all the accolades they’ve received. What I’m looking forward to specifically, and I hope we start seeing some of it this year, is new creative ways to exploit and manipulate the platform. I envision almost on-the-fly experimenting with delivery and content, evolving beyond what we safely consider comics today. Creators shouldn’t be constrained to 4 panel jokes or 2×3 ratio page sizes, or even static images. Animation, audio cues, interactive storytelling are just examples of ideas I’ve started to see crop up online, I can’t wait to see what’s next.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? This summer I’ll come face to face with my first offspring, I can’t want to introduce him to the Walt Simonson Thor Omnibus, which will most certainly be 10 times his size, and for him to then puke on it.
John Shableski, GN/comics market development consultant
2012 projects: Launch Jinx GN project/campaign with Archie Comics at Winter ALA with J. Torres and the Archie folks.
In April it’s the inaugural Wildcat Comic Con here in Williamsport PA. Guest speakers: Josh Neufeld, Tania Del Rio, David Small, Barry Lyga, Tracy White, Mark McKenna, Oscar Winner Tom Woodruff, Emmy-winner Dean Haspiel and a whole host of talented writers, librarians, educators…
Also have something involving a major award in the works(cant share the details just yet)
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011?: The fracas over B&N’s deal with DC. It shows that the real world of retail is starting to get a sense there may be something interesting to sell in comics.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? Bob Wayne leaves DC to run Marvel? Riiiiight. Actually, I think it’s going to be something coming from deviantART.com
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? Watching Toddlers and Tiaras to see if I can predict which mom/monster will completely snap and kid will grow up to become a sniper.
Greg Pak, writer.filmmaker
2012 projects: “Dead Man’s Run” with Tony Parker (the first issue of which comes out on January 18), “Doctor Strange: Season One” with Emma Rios, and a creator-owned thing I can’t talk about just yet. I’m also collaborating with my longtime partner-in-crime Fred Van Lente on a non-comics thing that I also can’t talk about just yet. Oh, and something new’s coming with my graphic novel “Vision Machine.” That I can’t talk about just yet. ;-)
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011?: The recession and the hit the comics market has taken as a result.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? The recession and the exciting new risks creators will take as a result.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? Baking. Pumpkin cupcakes, yo! I’m using the great Kim Ima’s awesome “Treats Truck Baking Book,” which you totally should buy.
Ron Perazza, editor
2012 projects: I’ve been kind of flitting at the edges of the comic industry since I left DC last summer. I can’t really mention what I’ve been working on just yet but soon…
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011?: I think two somewhat related things happened in 2011 that will affect comics in deep, profound ways for a long time. The bankruptcy and closing of Borders was huge. Four hundred mainstream stores where people could have access to comics – gone. That directly impacts every comic creator and publishers ability to get comics into the mass market and cultivate new readers.
However, at the same time, Womanthology shattered every fundraising record for a comic project on Kickstarter – and they did it without the backing of a major publisher or editorial hook of a major character or brand. It’s an amazing success story. It’s also concrete evidence that the way we think the comics industry works is changing.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? Digital publishing and the impact of digital in every facet of the publishing process – fundraising, marketing, distribution, etc. For a variety of reasons the comic industry has wading into the water very (often painfully) slow. It’s time to sink or swim.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? Hanging out with my family. I don’t know if that’s a “guilty” pleasure though.
Calista Brill, Senior Editor, First Second
2012 projects: Random sampling! Faith Erin Hicks’ FRIENDS WITH BOYS, Lucy Knisley’s RELISH, Molly Crabapple & John Leavitt’s STRAW HOUSE, Lark Pien’s STORIES FROM THE WARD. It’s a goddamn cornucopia of awesome comics all up in this mug. That is to say: we publish very fine graphic novels here at First Second.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011?: For me, personally, the high point was going to TCAF for the first time and having my MIND BLOWN.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? Toss-up between Alison Bechdel’s new book and the ongoing digital comics evolution. We’re sort of beholden to the iPad right now and it’ll be interesting to see how the new fancy color Nooks and Kindles et al compete. Oh, also: I’m really excited to see what’s going to come of the new partnership/co-ownership of Abrams and the terrific UK-based indie graphic novel publisher SelfMade Hero.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? I’m finally going to get caught up on Archie. Have you seen the brilliant melodrama coming out of the Archie universe these days? I gotta get on this.
Chris Roberson, writer
2012 Projects: At the moment, I’m working with Mike Allred on iZOMBIE for Vertigo (and I’m about to start work on new script for Shawn McManus for our Cinderella arc of Fairest); with Francisco Biagini on Elric: The Balance Lost for BOOM!; the Moy brothers on Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes and with Rich Ellis on our new creator-owned title Memorial, both for IDW.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011? The increasing importance of digital delivery, and in particular the rise of Comixology as one of the top-selling iTunes apps for the last few months of this year. For ages, people have been saying that we need an iTunes for digital comics, so that readers could go to a central digital store and buy whatever they wanted. For the last few years there have been some promising contenders for the role, and I’ve watched with interest to see which would come out on top. And as much as I like some of the other alternatives, it’s clear that Comixology has established themselves in 2011 as THE digital comics supplier. It’s been fascinating to see how my own buying habits have changed, and now I’ve reached the point where I read individual issues almost exclusively on the Comixology app on my iPad, and go to my local comic shop every week to pick up trades, back issues, and the few titles I can’t get digitally yet. That’s a difference of degree, not of kind, but the REAL impact digital delivery is having is on those readers who CAN’T find the comics they want in a store, either because there ISN’T a store near them or because they live overseas and have to wait a ridiculous amount of time for American comics to reach them. And the fact that the Comixology app is free means that comics can become a digital “impulse buy” for people who have never even been to a comic shop before; if they see a review online, think that a book sounds interesting and want to check it out, within three of four clicks they can be reading that comic right on their phone, computer, or tablet.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? This year was a rough one for a lot of folks in comics, as the effects of a sluggish economy continued to be felt. There are a lot of writers, artists, and editors who had jobs at the beginning of the year that they don’t have at the year’s end. With the coming year, are things going to get better? Are they going to get worse before they get better? Or they just going to keep getting worse?
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? I’m not sure if these count, since I don’t really feel guilty about them, but I’m really looking forward to the new ADVENTURE TIME comics that BOOM! is doing with Ryan North and Shelli Paroline. My seven-year-old daughter and I watch every new episode of that cartoon together, usually more than once, and we can’t wait to check out the comic. And on a personal level, my wife Allison and I are looking forward to finally making our long discussed move to Portland this coming summer, where we’re told that sometimes water falls from the sky; having lived for so long in a place where it gets hot enough in the summer to LITERALLY burst into flames, some water falling from the sky sounds pretty awesome to us.
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.