Welcome to 2022 and the latest installment of our annual Creator Survey, looking back at 2021 and giving some peeks at 2022 – projects, prognostications, and a few previews. Look closely and you’ll find some news in the 2022 projects here.
We also asked people to look back on what they’ve learned from a second pandemic year – and the answers provide a very human window on what we’ve all endured.
We’ll be running answers all week, with the announcement of The Beat’s Person of the Year for 2021 on Friday.
Without question, 2021 saw seismic changes in the comics industry – from Marvel switching to Random House, continued record sales and as 2021 bowed out, Dark Horse finding a new owner. (A few respondents joked* about this in early December – little did they know this would be a 2021 story!)
As always, we’re eternally grateful to people for taking time to answer this. Comics people are good people.
Kazu Kibuishi, Writer/artist
2022 Projects: Amulet 9
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2021?The release of The Rema Chronicles: Land of the Blue Mist by Amy Kim Kibuishi. :)
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2021? Spending a lot of time skiing.
Pandemic Year Two learnings: I learned that people are more afraid of life than I would have thought. We need to move forward with less fear and guilt in our hearts.
Eric Reynolds, VP / Associate Publisher, Fantagraphics
2022 Projects: Ed Piskor’s RED ROOM, Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez’s LOVE & ROCKETS, Jordan Crane’s KEEPING TWO, RON REGE’s HALCYON, NOW: The NEW COMICS ANTHOLOGY, Antoine Cossé’s METAX, THE PASSION OF GENGOROH TAGAME Vols. 1&2, The COMPLETE POGO, Anna Haifisch’s SCHAPPI, Mikael Ross’s GOLDEN BOY: BEETHOVEN’S YOUTH, Conor Stechschulte’s ULTRASOUND, Alex Graham’s DOG BISCUITS, Anne Simon’s BORIS THE POTATO CHILD, Anders Nilsen’s THE END: REVISED AND EXPANDED, Noah Van Sciver’s AS A CARTOONIST, Simon Hanselmann’s BELOW AMBITION, Johnny Ryan’s BARELY HUMAN, T. Ott’s THE FOREST, Ben Marra’s DISCIPLES, and a new paperback edition of Daniel Clowes’s THE COMPLETE EIGHTBALL. And that’s just through the summer of next year.
Biggest story of 2021? The breakup of Diamond’s monopoly into three smaller monopolies.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? What affect the above has an already precarious infrastructure.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2021? At this point, I’m just ready for spring and summer already, so I can be in my garden. Summer pandemic is so much more fun than winter pandemic.
What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? Go outside.
Aron Nels Steinke, author
2022 Projects: Mr. Wolf’s Class Book Five: SNOW DAY
Biggest story of 2021? It was the return of Conventions and the Anime NYC and the dude from Michigan who went there with the Omicron variant and then got roasted on all the late night shows.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? Book publishing staff and employees will start unionizing.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? In 2022 I’m looking forward to meeting readers at shows again. I really hope we can do this safely. I’m hoping for outdoor summer shows regardless. Let’s find a way, people.
Pandemic Year Two learnings: Give yourself time to stretch your body. Stay healthy.
David Macho, Jack of all trades
2022 projects: TBA
Biggest story of 2021: Publishers changing distribution.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2021? Dark Horse being purchased by Apple!*
2022 Guilty pleasure: Being able to go to the movies, mask or not, again…
Pandemic Year Two learnings: That people who thought living my life, working at home for 21 years was easy… learned it’s not not. :P
David Harper, Writer/Podcaster
2022 Projects: More SKTCHD! More Off Panel!
Biggest s tory of 2021: The supply chain breaking everywhere, breaking everything in the process.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? Probably still the supply chain!
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022?I’m excited to go to more conventions! Feels weird to call that a guilty pleasure, but after getting back into it with ECCC, I’m here for more.
Pandemic Year Two learnings: Investing in my sleep is investing in my brain, so I need to remember to do that more.
Chris Ryall, WorldofSyzygy.com, Writer/Editor
2022 Projects: Launching Syzygy Publishing with Joe Hill’s Rain in January, Zombies vs Robots Classic in Feb, and beyond.
Biggest story of 2021? The broadening of content distribution, from the growth of Tapas and Webtoons to the advent of Substack comics, expanded ComiXology exclusives, and PRH tackling comic distribution.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? Probably the return of Saga, which happens this month so let’s hope I’m wrong and there are lots of bigger stories to follow.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? Back-issue-diving at conventions, which I’d almost forgotten how much I enjoyed.
What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic?That even introverts need support, companionship, and camaraderie more than we’re often willing to admit.
Erica Schultz EricaSchultzWrites.com, Writer/Editor
2022 Projects: I’m co-writing Bylines in Blood from AfterShock Comics with Aneke and Van Jensen. It’s in stores Jan 5, 2022. Forgotten Home (originally published digitally by comiXology Originals) with Marika Cresta and Matt Emmons has been collected in print form by Dark Horse and will be in stores April 5, 2022. Potions, Inc. is an adventure mini-series from Mad Cave Studios that I edited. The creative team is Erik Burnham and Stelladia. I’m not able to mention the other projects yet.
Biggest story of 2021? George Perez announcing he is not going to get cancer treatment is, hands down, the biggest story of 2021. When he retired a few years ago because of his failing eyesight, we were hit hard. It was incredibly sad, but he would still be with us. Now…It’s rough. Though I never met him in person, I have never heard a bad word said about him. Every colleague I know speaks so highly of him. His work has been incredibly influential on me, and so many other creators. Yes, his creations will live on, and we can flip through old issues to see what he’s given to the world, but it won’t be the same.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? With loads of creators just getting their Substack subscriptions started, it’ll be interesting to see how social media interactions are going to change. Sure, those with a Patreon page have been doing something similar, but (and I’m not sure if it’s true) if a creator is supposed to leave social media altogether to be exclusively on the Substack platform, that has to have an impact on things.
I’m also curious to see how the new distribution deals are going now that they’ve been fully implemented and have been allowed to get their sea legs.
Lastly, the announcement of a union being formed within Image Comics will be interesting to keep an eye on. Unions don’t appear overnight. There are months and months of negotiations, but I see promise in that.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? Despite having so much going on for 2022, I’m going to try and make more time for sleep. So sleep is my guilty pleasure. And any freelancer knows they feel guilty when taking time for themselves. Time is money, blah blah blah.
What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? True self-care in a freelance-based industry is kind of impossible.
Lisa Y. Wu Sales/marketing/PR Consultant
2022 Projects: Multiple projects for AWA Studios and Top Cow/Image Comics
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? Macbeth Play with Daniel Craig
What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? I realized how truly divided people are and how racist this country was. I worked remotely for years before, there wasn’t an impact.
Van Jensen, writer
2022 Projects: In January, I have launching. It’s a neo-noir about a private eye working in a post-fact world. Published by Aftershock, co-written with Erica Schultz and illustrated by Aneke.
I have a Dark Horse series (not yet announced) that I’m co-writing with my pal Jay Baruchel, illustrated by Alessandro Micelli.
I’m finishing a graphic novel (can’t share the publisher or artist yet–sorry!).
And my first novel will come out either late 2022 or early 2023. It’s a murder mystery with a big, weird sci-fi aspect to it.
Biggest story of 2021? Sales! Once again, the Death of Comic Books has come and gone. Sales are up across the board. The shops that survived 2020 are largely thriving. And publishers are looking for new projects. All good signs.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? My hope is that it will be the unionization of Image Comics staffers, and that it will build into a larger conversation and movement toward organization in the industry. There are always countless comics fans who waiting for a chance to take an open job. But just because the labor supply is endless, it doesn’t give employers (publishers) the right to treat staff members like garbage. And who knows, maybe this will also push the conversation into the insane laws that prohibit freelancers from unionizing.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? I haven’t been to a movie theater in two years. I don’t know what movie it’ll be, but I think it’s time.
What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? I have two young children, and I’m their primary caregiver. The lockdown was really tough. I talked to a therapist, which I highly recommend. And I found that CBD really helped with anxiety. The thing that really transformed my life was that I started a landscape design company (on top of writing). I spend a ton of time outside, lifting rocks and digging holes. Highly recommended!
Ursula Murray Husted, cartoonist
2022 Projects: My next book is a 2023 release, so 2022 is just working on that.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? I think Tim Probert’s second Lightfall book is coming out in 2022? The first was fabulously escapist and I am sincerely looking forward to the second one. I have also promised myself a new fountain pen.
What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? A full-spectrum SAD light doubles as excellent zoom/teleconferencing lighting.
John Patrick Green, Cartoonist
2022 Projects: The impending release of InvestiGators series: Braver and Boulder (2/22/2022), the fifth book in the series, and book six: InvestiGators: Heist and Seek (book 6, Fall 2022). Also writing and illustrating the seventh book, along with co-writing the spinoff series, Agents of S.U.I.T. (for release in 2023)!
Biggest story of 2021? Not exactly a juicy story, but I’d say the continued growth of the kids comics/graphic novels market.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022?Hopefully something positive, like supply/distribution issues all resolved, or conventions are back, baby, and no one got sick at one this time. Or maybe it will be about whoever buys Dark Horse.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? In-person events! Conventions! Book tours! Seeing movies in large groups! Being able to do things a little more spontaneously. But also continuing to be a vegetable and watch all the streaming Marvel, Star Wars, Star Trek shows, etc.
What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? I’ve always been much of a hermit and generally work in isolation, so the pandemic hasn’t changed me much in that regard. But I really miss talking about comics with friends or peers in more spontaneous settings, like when just running into someone at a con. I don’t need that all the time, but it was nice to get a few times a year, and Zooms don’t really cut it. I miss the surprises, like doing a show and finding your table is next to someone unexpected. Virtual meetings and conventions have been an okay stopgap, but they just don’t have that. And Zooms definitely don’t have any chocolate fountains.
Investigators Book 5: Braver and Bolder preview pages:
Michael Uslan, Originator and Executive Producer of the Batman movie franchise
2022 Projects: 1. My Broadway play, “Darknights and Daydreams,” based on my memoir “The Boy Who Loved Batman.” Produced with The Nederlander Organization and expecting to open December 2022.
2. My new book to be published March 1, 2022 entitled “Batman’s Batman,” the sequel to my memoir “The Boy Who Loved Batman.”
3. Our next film, “The Batman,” opening March 4, 2022 in theatres.
4. The return of Michael Keaton as Batman in November 2022.
5. 2022 announcements of two amazing streaming series.
Biggest story of 2021? The return of Michael Keaton as Batman. DC brings us Batman ‘89 and Superman ‘78.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? 1. NFT’s and artists v. big companies.
2.Discovery takes over Warner/DC from AT&T.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? Celebrating the 10th anniversary of Chris Nolan’s ”The Dark Knight Rises;” the 30th anniversary of Bruce Timm’s “Batman: The Animated Series;” the 30th anniversary of Tim Burton’s “Batman Returns;” and the 40th anniversary of Wes Craven’s “Swamp Thing.”
What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? “Normal” is never returning. We must push ourselves out of our comfort zones and prepare to remain relevant in what will be the “new normal.”
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