Here’s part four or our annual comics status report, with contributions from publishers, cartoonist, writers and execs. As usual, lots of news tidbits and previews in the upcoming projects here.
Be back here tomorrow for the big wind-up!
Our 2014 publishing schedule is our best ever. Highlights include:Locke & Key: Alpha & Omega HC
Popeye: The Classic Newspaper Comics by Bobby London HC
Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Artist’s Edition
X-Files: Conspiracy crossover with Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Crow, and Ghostbusters
A Mars Attacks mini-series by Sam Kieth & Chris Ryall
Ragnarok by Walt Simonson
Charles Schulz’s Peanuts Artist’s Edition
Parker: The Hunter by Donald Westlake with illustrations by Darwyn Cooke
Ongoing V-Wars comic book series by Jonathan Maberry and Alan Robinson
Jim Steranko’s SHIELD Artist’s Edition
Alex Toth: Genius Animated
Kill Shakespeare Board Game
Cerebus: High Society — The Audio Digital Experience DVD
Mike Mignola’s Hellboy Artist’s Edition
An ongoing Rocketeer comic book series by Mark Waid
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers Micro Comic Fun Packs
Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland by Eric Shanower and Gabriel Rodriguez
Transformers/GI Joe crossover by Tom Scioli
What was the biggest story in comics in 2013? The biggest story for IDW is that we saw saw growth in every channel– direct market, book market, eBooks, mass, and specialty.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2014? New distribution opportunities for eBooks.
For IDW specifically, while it received little attention in the comic press, we created a new format with the My Little Pony Micro Fun Packs in late 2013 and had strong sell through at mass. In 2014, we’ll have Micro Comic Fun Packs for both Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that will be in market the same time as the new movies. Like eBooks, we expect the Micro Fun Packs to be a great feeder system for the direct market.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2014? Not really a guilty pleasure but I’m looking forward to Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King.
Van Jensen, writer
2014 Projects: I’m writing Green Lantern Corps for DC Comics, and 2014 will see the publication of both an omnibus edition of all four volumes of Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer (out from Top Shelf) and an all new Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer story (the slayers encounter a vampire-infected zoo!) that will be published digital-first.
I’m excited and a bit terrified to be venturing into self-publishing. In early 2014, I’m launching a Kickstarter for the very first graphic novel that I wrote, The Leg: The Remarkable Reappearance of Santa Anna’s Disembodied Limb. In case it isn’t obvious, the book follows the former Mexican president’s disembodied leg as it adventures through 1938 Mexico. Jose Pimienta illustrated the book and Matthew Petz colored and lettered it. The book is 100 percent complete, so it will be ready to print as soon as the Kickstarter wraps up.
I’ll also be writing another comics series, but that isn’t announced yet. Shhh…
What was the biggest story in comics in 2013? This is probably a dumb-sounding answer, but comics were the biggest story in comics this past year. Sales are booming for monthly series from big publishers as well as smaller ones. (Holy cow, those My Little Pony numbers!) And there are just too many good books coming out to even hope to read half of them (but if you haven’t read March from Top Shelf, well, I don’t know what’s wrong with you). Rather than digital damaging print, it appears that they only strengthen each other. All in all, it’s a great time to be a creator, and an even better time to be a reader.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2014? In terms of what is most talked about, it seems like it’ll be DC’s pending move from New York to Burbank, and how that will reshape DC (if at all), as well as what that will do to change the NYC publishing scene. I’ll just be thinking about all my friends at DC and hoping things work out for the best for them.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2014? I don’t have much interest in Marvel, but man that Captain America movie looks pretty damn awesome.
Todd Klein, letterer/historian
2014 Projects: Sandman Overture, The Unwritten Apocalypse, Fables, Fairest, Dead Boy Detectives, Batwoman, and soon the third Nemo book by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2013? DC’s New York offices moving to Burbank, CA in 2015. Truly the end of an era, and as someone who’s written a lot about the company’s history on my blog, as well as a staffer for 10 years, I’m very sorry to see it happen, though the move was not unexpected.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2014? Will Marvel follow suit? It seems quite possible.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2014? Once again, more of Kevin Smith’s “Comic Book Men” on TV. Sure, it’s all preplanned, not much “reality” involved in this reality show, and the comments by the store staffers are often crude and off-putting, but somehow I love watching it anyway.
Calista Brill, editor
2014 Projects: We’re just getting Fall 2014 out to the printer, and it’s a crazy good list. We’ve got Farel Dalrymple’s magnum opus, WRENCHIES, on that list and it’s going to BLOW PEOPLE’S MINDS. Ditto Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki’s Spring title “This One Summer” and Danica Novgorodoff’s brilliant Coen-brothers-style look at love and death in modern China, “The Undertaking of Lily Chen,” which is coming out this winter.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2013? My short term memory is about twenty minutes long, so I’m going to say The Fantagraphics Kickstarter, which happened recently. There’s probably a better answer but I won’t think of it until I hit “send” on this email.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2014? Literally every answer I came up with for this question was sarcastic, so I think I’m going to leave it unanswered.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2014? Finally catching up on SLEEPY HOLLOW. I’m hoping Orlando Jones actually starts writing his own fanfic (for the show he stars in) as he has sort of threatened to do.
Kurt Busiek, writer
2014 Projects: ASTRO CITY, monthly from Vertigo, by me, Brent Anderson, Alex Ross, J.G. Roshell and Alex Sinclair — we’ll hit our first full year of the new series in May, and swing dramatically into the second with heroes and villains old and new, and experience life among the superhuman for a continuing variety of perspectives. Plus a couple-three other projects that haven’t been announced yet, but we should finally get to see some of them in 2014, so I’m non-specifically excited!
What was the biggest story in comics in 2013? The continuing — and growing — strength of Image Comics, who seemed to deliver hit after hit with terrific talent doing compelling, distinctive work. It’s been amazing to see how they’ve just kept launching new, strong, really engaging books.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2014? Some movie, probably.
No, seriously, I’m guessing it’ll either be something related to DC’s West Coast move — if I remember correctly, the move itself doesn’t take place until 2015, but they’re sure to undergo changes as they prepare for it, and some of those changes might have big repercussions — or else it’ll be the continuing story of comics and digital media, as we see print and the web entwine even more, with new successes along the lines of BANDETTE and PRIVATE EYE, and an ever-greater awareness that the “new newsstand” — the feeder market for comics readership is online.
But I look forward to finding out what it really is, since it’ll probably take us all by surprise. And involve Wolverine.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2014? Catching up on my reading. Which I’ll feel guilty about because I’ll keep thinking I should be working instead. But unless I want to be crushed by falling books and graphic novels, I’ve really gotta start making a dent…
Andrew Farago, writer/curator
2014 Projects: Personal projects include the years-in-the-making Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History from Insight Editions, and writing the introduction for the first collection of Bobby London’s Popeye from IDW.
At the Cartoon Art Museum, we’re currently hosting Grains of Sand: The Sandman 25th Anniversary exhibition and retrospectives featuring Ronald Searle and Steve Purcell. Upcoming shows will feature M.K. Brown, Mike Zeck, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2013? I’m in a positive mood right now, so I’m going to say “community.” It was a really brutal year in a lot of respects, but I saw the comics community rally behind cause after cause this year. Artists drawing pictures for Bat-Kid in San Francisco. The outpouring of support for Stan and Sharon Sakai. Helping creators to get back on their feet after personal and professional setbacks.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2014? We’ll probably see some really big names doing digital-only comics, or digital-first comics, as the big publishers keep trying to expand that market. Offsetting that will be the continued growth of high-end collections like IDW’s Artist Editions and more completely unexpected reprint projects from publishers like Fantagraphics, Drawn & Quarterly, and IDW. It’s a rare month that doesn’t have at least one press release announcing a collection I never thought would see the light of day.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2014? I’ve got a potential project with Thien Pham that would fall into this category. Barring that, I hope this is the year we finally get the Adam West Batman on DVD.
2014 Projects: A collection of my autobio comics, many of which appeared on TheRumpus.net, will be published by 2D Cloud in the spring of 2014, titled Dragon’s Breath and Other True Stories. My graphic memoir, Turning Japanese, will be serialized on the web starting in 2014, and published (also by 2D Cloud) in 2015.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2013? The Fantagraphics’s Kickstarter. How impressive that they managed to pull that off! I don’t understand why some people found it so controversial. We, as comics readers, ought to work our asses off to keep what we love alive.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2014? The industry for indy comics (and publishing in general) is changing so quickly, I think anything is possible in the near future. Maybe someone will figure out a way to make money off these things. I suspect, also, that there will soon be advances in e-publishing.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2014? My lips are sealed!
Shaenon K. Garrity, cartoonist
2014 Projects: Still drawing my daily strip Skin Horse, co-written with Jeffrey C. Wells and now colored by the remarkable Pancha Diaz, as well as my weekly X-Files recap strip Monster of the Week.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2013? All the amazing Shigeru Mizuki comics Dark Horse is putting out. It’s shameful that it took one of the biggest names in Japan so long to make it into English translation, but now his work–the closest thing I’ve seen in comics to the writing of Kurt Vonnegut–is spread out before us in a delicious manga buffet. Second place is the Barnaby collections, because now I have nothing left to pray for but Trots and Bonnie.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2014? Hopefully, a Trots and Bonnie collection.
Tom Spurgeon recently had a brief but pithy post on The Comics Reporter on how the industry still has a long way to go when it comes to respecting creators, defending their rights, and taking care of their lives and livelihoods. He wrote, “We need to take better care of ourselves.” Let’s make 2014 the year we take better care of ourselves.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2014? How many times can a single human being watch Zardoz? In 2014, we find out.
Mike Dawson, cartoonist
2014 Projects: ANGIE BONGIOLATTI, an original graphic novel, coming from Secret Acres this spring.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2013? The comics industry feels more fragmented than ever. In the last year I’ve gone from being somebody who feels he has a pretty good handle on what’s happening in comics and who’s making them, to someone who has absolutely no clue about at least 75% of what’s going on out there. Also, the word “industry” feels silly to say. The comics landscape feels very decentralized, which makes it feel like not an industry. I assume publishers still have to rely on distributors like Diamond or some of the book distributors, but it doesn’t surprise me anymore to hear of comics people completely opting out of that. Conventions feel like an integral part of selling books, and online feels like THE way to build an audience and a reputation. Both things seem pretty non-optional nowadays.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2014? I feel like “the floppy” made a comeback in recent years. I’d like to see xerox printed ‘zines come back into fashion now. I don’t mean just minicomics (because those don’t feel like they ever went away), but people reviewing culture in print, writing reviews, printing interviews. Maybe this is already happening with Studygroup magazine and Comics Workbook.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2014? X-Men Days of Future Past
James Kochalka, cartoonist
2014 Projects: The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza comes out in March 2013. This is the first of three graphic novels in a series for First Second.
Also, I just released SuperF*ckers Save Christmas as a digital-only release on comiXology. (By the time you post this, it will probably be available from other vendors too.)
What was the biggest story in comics in 2013? Sadly, the passing of Kim Thompson. I personally was also hit pretty hard by the passing of my friend Joey Manley… the administrator of my americanelf.com website.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2014? Hopefully it won’t involve people dying.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2014? Video games. Lots and lots of video games. I feel guilty about that because I could draw hundreds of more pages a year if I didn’t play. On the other hand, video games are art… and there’s worse ways to spend your time then wallowing in art. Plus I could probably draw hundreds of extra pages a year if I just stopped taking lunch breaks, and I don’t feel guilty about eating lunch, so I should probably just enjoy it.
Kuo-Yu Liang, VP sales & marketing, Diamond Book Distributors
What was the biggest story in comics in 2013? Walking Dead comics hitting 10 years, and TV show breaking records. Both are good omen for the industry.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2014? DC moving to California. With Boom, Dark Horse, DC, Fantagraphics, IDW, Image, Oni, Skybound and VIZ (not to mention Amazon), the center of gravity for comics is shifting westward.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2014? More Lazarus, more Saga, more Revival, more Manhattan Project, more East of West.
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.