Jimmie Robinson, cartoonist
2012 Projects: Bomb Queen
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011? I want to say DC Comics’ New 52, however even that rests with the gorilla behind the new digital storefront. Much like the man of the year for TIME magazine is *the protester*, I’m thinking the biggest story of the year for the comic industry is the delivery of digital content across multiple platforms. I mentioned this last year in my end-of-the-year survey for THE BEAT. I don’t believe the other shoe has completely dropped, yet. But I’m expecting it in 2012.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? When a key title from a major publisher will begin or transfer to 100% digital and be a successful model for other titles. This will be the other shoe dropping or at least getting close to the floor. Likewise, we should see the competition between tablet delivery platforms tighten up and become interchangeable. Couple that with some new superhero franchise films and we can see a firm setting in the new digital marketplace. This is not to say that brick and mortar comic stores will fade away, in fact I see quite the contrary. Smart stores will diversify and table-top gaming will continue to grow, likewise, publishers will move to more graphic novels and packaging incentives not available for digital delivery. In short, the biggest story will be how comics finds a firm footing in the new world. How comics reinvents itself for a new generation and goes beyond mere opportunistic quick bucks to positioning a primary path for the future.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? I’m looking forward to my marriage in the spring and settling into a new system of production. I’ve often seen couples and married folks at comic conventions and read about them in the industry news, but I’ve always been single while working in the comic industry. This meant I would pour 100% of myself into whatever I was doing, however, I would lack certain ingredients of life that could actually inform me as an artist. Perhaps I’ll be able to attend a convention or a signing and see it not as a calculating career move but rather more of an enjoyable adventure.
Stuart Moore, writer
CIVIL WAR: The Marvel Novel (Marvel, 6/12)
JOHN CARTER: The Movie Novelization (Disney, 2/12)
Assorted Spider-Man & Transformers comics
A few original projects, too
The Marvel Novels (post-CIVIL WAR)
BINARY, an original graphic novel my packaging company is putting together
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011? This was the year that digital comics became a going concern. We’re still not at a point where tablets are common enough for most people to switch from paper, and I’m not sure that’s going to happen as quickly as predicted — even the iPad is a little small to read Marvel & DC books in traditional, full-page format. And the iPad is still a luxury item. But change is definitely happening.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? I have two predictions, one worrying and one positive:
WORRYING: I’m afraid a defection of even 10% of the market to digital is going to cause havoc in the direct market. All the big publishers are working to support retail stores right now, and that’s to everyone’s credit; but I am afraid we’re going to see some stores close.
POSITIVE: The flip side of that is that you’re likely to see more original, creator-owned work released digitally first. The trick, as always, is making it pay enough that artists can afford to work that way. (Writers have a bit more flexibility — we can work on several projects at once, and run a loss leader if we want to.)
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: Complete Newspaper Sundays Volume Two 1933-1937 by John F. Dille and Rick Yager
James Lucas Jones, editor, Oni Press
2012 Projects: THE SECRET HISTORY OF D.B. COOPER by Brian Churilla; BAD MEDICINE by Nunzio DeFilippis, Christian Weir, Christopher Mitten & Bill Crabtree; New HOPELESS SAVAGES by Jen Van Meter & Meredith McClaren. Unannounced projects from Joe Harris & Adam Pollina, Danielle Corsetto & Madeline Rupert, and many others.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011? The DC “don’t call this a reboot” relaunch was obviously a massive deal for a great many comic readers, retailers, and pros. The critical reception may have been mixed but nobody can deny the impressive sales numbers and crazy atmosphere that surrounded DC Comics’ September.
But for me, I think the bigger story for the whole industry is the loss of Borders to bankruptcy. We lost 400 sales venues in the U.S. for graphic novels and a chain that almost single-handedly broke manga to a new audience has been wiped out.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? I think 2012 is primed to be a tipping point for digital. Between the propagation of affordable portable devices and virtually every publisher moving to digital day-and-date releases with their print counterparts, the digital market has the potential to grow into a legitimate portal to new customers and new revenue for publishers of all shapes and sizes.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? As a LEGO maniac, the little plastic bricks will continue to rule me. New Superheroes and new Lord of the Rings sets will be all the nerd rage, but it’s the 2012 City sets with their “Forest Ranger” motif that have me jazzed. Moonshiners and bears, oh my!
Ted McKeever, cartoonist
2012 Projects: MONDO
A Black & White 3-issue Golden Age Format series starting in January from Image/Shadowline
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011? DC’s re-starting their entire line of titles.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? The revelation that when given the greatest opportunity to truly
make seriously creative and bold changes, all DC did was rebuild their house using the same plans and blueprints they’d used for the last 10 years.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? G4’s Adam Sessler’s game reviews. I’m not a big game player, but Adam’s reviews are always awesomely heartfelt as well as subversively hilarious. And I’m a big fan of both, as well as of him.
Christian Beranek, writer/publisher
2012 Projects: In addition to my continued work at The Webcomic Factory I’m pushing to finish Unhappy White Girls and Blood and Bones so I can fulfill commitments to backers on Kickstarter. After that I’ll be devoting my time to 20% (a comic about a restaurant in Hell) and my first ongoing series.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011? DC’s New 52. I wish it was something different such as a new title that brought in a whole new demographic swelling our readership tenfold, but apparently rebooting (it seems like this happens every six months now) an entire superhero universe is it.
I’m not going to knock their efforts. DC has clearly given their fans a reason to get excited and I think it’s helped some retailers stave off shutting their doors for another year. The question is will the sales and excitement sustain let alone grow?
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? Digital pricing. We’re at the precipice. We can either price our comics in a manner that promotes downloads and expands our audience or keep them jacked up to appease brick and mortar retailers and Diamond. I love the store guys, they have always been good to me over the years, but as an indie I never saw the sales I felt we could truly achieve.
If a book did well at a shop I’d ask the retailer “Hey, would you like to order more?” and they would say “No, we sold out. We’re good.” This kind of thinking does not promote growth. You don’t hear of something like The Hunger Games “selling out” of copies. Comics should ALWAYS be available in some capacity if someone wants to read them. Digital allows this.
Steve Jobs made sure music downloads we’re .99 cents each at the advent of ITunes. Prices fluctuate now, but that low entry point allowed entertainment consumers the ability to get accustomed to buying music online.
Sadly I don’t foresee the comics industry adapting fast enough to keep up with change and thrive. We’re a very stoic “wait and see” group. We fall in love with one way things are done and kick and scream trying to maintain it when we should just let go and move on to better ones.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? Reading comics! I just got a Kindle Fire and downloaded a bunch of books including All Star Superman. I read the first five issues a few years back and need to finish the story. The device really has me excited about reading again because I travel so much and love having comics available on the go.
Oh, you mean guilty pleasures! ;-)
Adam Koford, cartoonist
I’m self publishing the next collection of the Laugh-Out-Loud Cats in 2012, and a few secret projects related to comics and video games that I can’t talk about just yet.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011? DC’s reboot was noteworthy for bringing comics into the media spotlight. I quickly lost interest once it was clear they’re still not interested in making comics I can share with my children, but it was fun to hope for something new from DC.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? The effects digital distribution. I hope retailers find a way to stay afloat.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? I’m really looking forward to the upcoming Adventure Time comics.
2012 Projects: I have an essay in the upcoming “Chicks Dig Comics” from Norwegian Press. The book is scheduled for April but is available for pre-order now! http://madnorwegian.com/424/books/chicks-dig-comics-a-celebration-of-comic-books-by-the-women-who-love-them/. Other than that just continuing the blog and doing the podcast.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011? The DC Comics reboot. It was big, ballsy and, in many cases,a combination of brilliant and baffling. I’d also say a big story was the increased dialogue around female creators and characters, or lack there of in comics driven by the the DC Reboot/Batgirl of SDCC and the success of Womanthology. Watershed year? History will show that, but it was definitely one to remember.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? With all the big publishers now committed to day and date digital whether digital can help grow the overall industry. Additionally as DC hits the six month mark on the reboot whether the numbers will hold up.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? Reveling in the marketing machine around “The Dark Knight Rises”. I love when Batman movies come out and it seems everyone (or almost everyone) becomes a superhero fan. It’s kind of like how every four years the Olympics turns everyone into a fan of track and field and wrestling. Batman toys, food, promos and joint-marketing – I want it all! And this time there is the added bonus of Catwoman.
Andrew Farago, writer/curator
2012 Projects: I’m planning Cartoon Art Museum exhibitions featuring The Avengers, Mad Magazine, a tie-in with our second annual Latino Comics Expo, the 20th Anniversary of Image Comics, the 30th Anniversary of Love and Rockets, and about a half-dozen others at this point, and I’m hoping to announce some side projects in the near future.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011? “Loss” is the word I think of when I look at comics in 2011. Newspapers closed, publishers shut down, books got canceled, and we lost Bill Blackbeard, Gene Colan, Jerry Robinson, Joe Simon, Bil Keane, Dylan Williams, Dwayne McDuffie, Rosalie Lightning Hart, Eduardo Barreto, and Bill Gallo, among others. As I’m typing this on December 28, I’m hoping for the year to end quickly so that we can make it through the end of the year without any more sad news.
On the plus side, DC’s relaunch seemed to help comic shops quite a bit, Kate Beaton got tons of mainstream press, the comic convention scene has continued to grow, Kickstarter proved to be a huge boon for self-publishers, and I’m meeting new and upcoming artists all the time, so it’s not all bad.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? On the mainstream front, Marvel will try something big to compete with all of the attention that DC’s relaunch got. The Avengers, Spider-Man and Batman movies will make tons of money at the box office and in toy stores, and this might be the year that comic shops are able to capitalize on increased awareness of these characters.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012?
Meeting the Image Comics founders at the Image Comics Expo in Oakland this February. It’s going to be like 1992 all over again.
Blue Delliquanti, cartoonist
2012 Projects: I’m drawing a nonfiction political comic written by David Axe, The Accidental Candidate, that will be serialized on Cartoon Movement starting January 2012. I also assisted Nathan Schreiber on the art for Health Care Reform, a nonfiction comic about the recent health care bill, that is out now. I have stories in both Womanthology and the erotic comics anthology Smut Peddler as well. And I am planning on launching a webcomic, O Human Star, in early spring 2012. Phew!
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011: If I’m allowed, I would say that Womanthology and the New 52 tie for the spot, because both stories reflect different sides of how the industry and the audience have shifted and changed this year. It seems like the goals, ambitions and successes of Womanthology, read in tandem with the misadventures of the New 52 launch, sparked a discussion that we needed to have, especially in terms of who reads, who creates, and what sells.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012: I’m interested to see what Marvel will do to tie in with the big film properties that are happening next year, like The Avengers. It would be great if they actually did something that effectively drew in new readers.
2012 Guilty Pleasure: Tumblr. Tumblr is a great place for a cartoonist to be and share their work, but it can swallow you alive if you’re not careful.
Faith Erin Hicks, cartoonist
2012 Projects: I’m drawing two graphic novels right now: Bigfoot Boy, a young readers GN for Kids Can Press with J.Torres writing and a graphic novel adaptation of an unpublished YA novel called Voted Most Likely for First Second Books. I have another graphic novel called Friends With Boys coming out from First Second in February 2012, and in the lead up to publication it’s being serialized online for free (link above). So go read it, lovely internet peoples! I also write and draw a goofy online comic called The Adventures of Superhero Girl
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011? I think it was the success of Kate Beaton’s Hark A Vagrant book. I was really excited by it, especially how the book was embraced by those who don’t necessarily read comics. I’m sure many people who’d never set foot in a comic store got that book for Christmas. I’m always looking for comics to give to people who don’t read them, to try and convince them of the vibrancy and diversity of the medium. Maybe I’m too much of a pollyanna with this outreach, but I truly believe there is a comic out there for everyone, and if I can just find that gateway book, maybe I’ll have made a brand new comic reader. I started reading comics very late in life, and only became the hardcore comic consumer I am through the diligent suggestions of a few knowledgeable people. I also think the continued success of Raina Telgemeier’s comic Smile is a big deal. Smile is another comic I like to give to non-comic readers as it’s a wonderfully accessible book.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that comics will unify like Voltron and form a single digital format which will be beloved the world over and everyone will make money on it and get their very own pony.
No idea, actually. Although I guess the continued fight over digital platforms and pricing will be the talk of the twitters.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? I’m going to cry like a baby while watching Brave, that’s for sure, but I refuse to feel guilty about that.
Mike Perkins, cartoonist
2012 Projects: Although I’ve now finished up the 31 issue run of Stephen King’s The Stand the final issue doesn’t see a release date until January – with a hardcover collection of the final arc (The Night Has Come) in the shops and online in February. I’m currently illustrating an open ended run on Astonishing X-Men, collaborating with Marjorie Liu, from the March due issue #48.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011? The new 52.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? Possibly The Avengers movie, although I’m always interested to see what Mark Millar has hidden under his cloak.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? I’m guiltily looking forward to checking out Marjorie Liu’s upcoming novel: WhipStitch, a murder mystery involving an elderly dominatrix, her nursing home friends — who are all part of the “old ladies dominatrix club” — and a sentient teddy bear named Mr. Darcy.
2012 Projects: It’s another busy year for writing, for me. Zayne Carrick returns in STAR WARS: KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC – WAR from Dark Horse, launching January 11. The final issue of MASS EFFECT: INVASION also ships in January — and in June we have the launch of the next STAR WARS: KNIGHT ERRANT storyline, called ESCAPE. On the prose side, I’ve got a story coming up in the ARMORED anthology from Baen Books in March, and then in July my Sith short stories and a new novella are collected in the STAR WARS: LOST TRIBE OF THE SITH paperback from Del Rey. And my historical research continues as well on The Comics Chronicles — we just posted the end-of-year top seller
lists from the last 20 years.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011? Very clearly, the DC relaunch changed the trajectory for the Direct Market. Up until the late summer, the story for the year was not especially different from 2010, except for a significant dropoff in trade paperback orders. But most of the dollars in the Direct Market come from new comics, and the relaunch was able to replace most, if not all, of those by year end. This, despite the average price of comics having dropped this year.
I think the important thing about the relaunch is it showed that there is enough cash in the comics shop system to create a quarter-million copy seller, if the right project comes along.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? The history of comics industry recoveries tells us that one big event funds the next. It’s not enough for a relaunch to create a one-time boost in cash flow; that cash has to have somewhere to go, another big project from that publisher or another one. That’s what helped the comics industry in the 2002 recovery — we started hitting on all cylinders, with Wolverine: The Origin helping to put Dark Knight Strikes again on shelves, which helped Transformers, and so on. What’s on future slates is out of my historical bailiwick, but I would expect that publishers are working already to take
advantage of this moment.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? As a news junkie, the election is full of guilty pleasures. And if Intrade gets legalized in the U.S., you may not see me for a while!
Mark Askwith, journalist
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011? The iPad. The move to digital comics has been in the works for a while now, but the iPad signaled a major shift, and 52 was probably the project that highlighted this.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? I think the comic book story of 2012 will be the impact of the continuing shift to digital. How will comic book companies make the transition to digital? What will the impact on the sales of the dead tree editions? Monthly comic sales seem destined to shrink, but I think we’ll see more books in Absolute or Special Editions like the IDW art books, as publishers realize that there is a growing market for prestige presentations.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? Not quite guilty pleasures, but there are several movies I can’t wait to see- notably Dark Knight Rises. Also not quite a guilty pleasure- TCAF! The Toronto Comic Arts Festival has become my favourite annual comic book event.
Jim Demonakos, convention director/musician/writer
2012 Projects: My first graphic novel, THE SILENCE OF OUR FRIENDS, debuts January 17, 2012 (co-written by Mark Long and illustrated by Nate Powell). Plus, the annual Emerald City Comicon (March 30-April 1, 2012)
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011? The DC 52. It was an event that everyone was talking about in one way, shape or form. Regardless of its ramifications on the DCU, in terms of engaging people on every level, from fan to pro, in some kind of discussion, it was a huge success.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? I still feel like we’re on the cusp of a Netflix-style digital program from publishers. Additionally, I expect that we’ll likely see someone, probably not one of the mainstream publishers, push their way to try to a digital-only model.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? Snickers Blizzards (from Dairy Queen)
Rachel Deering, cartoonist
2012 Projects: Anathema and The Other Side
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011? Definitely Womanthology. To see so many female creators come together and make a book to stand as a testament for what women want to see and read in comics was phenomenal. I hope the book serves as a beacon to other female creators, to let them know that it’s okay if you don’t draw muscle bound dudes like Kirby, and it’s okay if you don’t write cheesy punch-em-up stories. The world needs all kinds of comics, so please share yours with the world. Bravo Womanthology!
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? If I had to chance a guess, I’d say that it will be the hugely successful books coming out of Kickstarter. I think fantastic things are on the horizon for creator owned books. 2011 was just the tip of the iceberg.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? I don’t really have guilty pleasures. I like what I like, without shame or fear, haha.
Dan Goldman, cartoonist
2012 Projects: I’m entering the third year of work on my comic series RED LIGHT PROPERTIES with lots of new announcements coming soon.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011? Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo becoming the biggest independent comics publishers on the scene; the idea of an author’s fans helping produce the work has become a major empowering force in any medium. Watching Molly Crabapple and Alex DeCampi and OCCUPY COMICS and WOMANTHOLOGY and a gaggle of others GET IT DONE without signing lousy deals that lock up rights and dole out tiny percentages just to get the work is a major and happy shift.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? Open-source rich-media tools for creating enhanced digital comics, the likes of which the world ain’t yet seen. The storytelling DNA of comics can’t help but mutate in these new containers, and once this gets easier for the authors themselves to produce… we’re going to see comics storytelling take another evolutionary leap.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? Having already seen the sneaked pilot for David Milch and Michael Mann’s LUCK, I’m counting days until the season officially begins. Milch’s writing is a big touchstone for me and I’m looking for another bath of narrative genius.
Leon Avelino, publisher Secret Acres
2012 Projects: Sean Ford has been working like a dog to get Only Skin finished. This is by far the most dramatic overhaul from serialized issues to complete graphic novel that we’ve ever seen. Sean became one hell of a cartoonist over the course of seven issues of Only Skin and he’s gone back to page one to bring all of the art and story up to speed. There are very few of the nearly three hundred pages that he’s left untouched. We’re beaming over the book Only Skin is shaping up to be. We’ve also got comics coming from Eamon Espey, John Brodowski and Theo Ellsworth. We’d say more about those, but we love surprises.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011?
For most, the biggest story in comics in 2011 was DC’s relaunch of their entire universe. It isn’t so much that the books are radically different, or even that there was entirely new talent involved, but the sheer audacity of it was impressive. We can argue all we want about the quality of the books themselves, but it seems inarguable that the move was a huge success. For those of us who could care less about cape books, the loss of Dylan Williams and the resulting re-dedication to comics for so many (the most fitting way to honor Dylan) was the biggest story in comics in 2011. If we could all do enough to be missed like Dylan is, the world would be a better place.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? Last year we wondered if 2011 was going to be the end of the periodical comic in the mainstream market, but DC’s 52, and the resurgent indie chapbook, pretty well killed that question dead. At some point, one of the bigger players in the digital market will emerge as the iTunes of comics, but that’s not a story as these things happen at a glacial pace. Warner and Disney could outsource their comics publishing, a wonderful doomsday prediction, or they could move those operations to California, but the former is unlikely to ever happen and the latter won’t happen in 2012. It’s boring, but the real story for comics is whether or not 2012 will be a growth year for the industry. We’d bet that it will be.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? With no installment of the Fast and the Furious franchise on the slate for 2012, we’re going to have to go with provoking rabid, frothing political arguments between normally apathetic folks. Gotta love a presidential election year.
Larry Marder, cartoonist
2012 Projects: All color volume–Larry Marder’s Beanworld Book:3.5 published by Dark Horse Comics, June 2012. Also Beanworld digital comics on the Dark Horse app sometime in 2012.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2011? Success of DC New 52 in a generally slow economy.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2012? Something totally unanticipated but I suspect it will have something to do with same day publishing of digital comics.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2012? Watching old movies on TCM with my wife, Cory.
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.