Continuing our annual survey of creators and what happened in 2021 and what we can look forward to in 2022, as well as a look as how we’ve been surviving this pandemic.
Also of note, the huge huge news stories in 2021 that changed the landscape of the industry completely. Lots of viewpoints below; thanks again to all who participated.
You can read Part 1 here.
Tom Muller, Designer and Creative Director
2022 Projects: I’m continuing to work with Marvel’s X-office on the very cool DESTINY OF X era of the X-Men titles, and designing the awesome HOME SICK PILOTS by Caspar Wijngaard & Dan Watters. There are few unannounced projects in the pipeline; both in and outside of comics.
Biggest story of 2021? I thought it was really interesting to see the push into digital channels become (once again) a hot topic in the industry. I’ve always been a supporter of digital comics for many reasons (one being accessibility and reach outside the expected channels) — so creators using platforms like Substack to launch new content is, I think, definitely the start of a (gradual?) shift in perception and distribution of stories. ComiXology’s push with original content (notably Scott’s Snyderverse) is also a signal that there’s more ways to release stories than the traditional models. Also, the push of blockchain technology by way of NFTs into the art space. So far it’s proven to be unpopular within the comic industry and fans for a variety of reasons — but I think it is something to keep an eye on.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? I think digital distribution is going to continue to be a big talking point next year. On the one hand it will be interesting to see how ComiXology will fold into Amazon’s Kindle platform as was suggested; and I don’t think NFTs will go away. We’ve seen some publishers testing the waters in 2021; and I won’t be surprised if some are looking at how to use the blockchain to sell and distribute their products beyond novelty releases, because if anything NFTs play with the same collectability mindset that has been part and parcel of fandom.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? A long and lazy summer.
What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? The one thing I’d advise anyone is to treat your work like work: limit it to 5 days a week, normal working hours, break for lunch, and don’t answer work emails in the evenings and weekends. Don’t take social media too seriously.
Jeffrey D Brown, cartoonist
2022 Projects: I’m working on three or four books, none of which are at a point for me to talk much about – but maybe a follow up to Batman & Robin & Howard, a different superhero-ey humor book, and I believe I’ll have another humor book based on a TV franchise out there
Biggest story of 2021? All the changes in the business side of the industry, especially publishers jumping to new distributors (yet the comics remain the same!).
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? Comic creators will finally stop chasing the dream of Hollywood money and realize the future is in video game adaptations, even though Sam & Max did it years ago.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? Watching Thor: Love and Thunder, hopefully in a theater
What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? I’ve learned that playing pick up soccer at lunchtime two or three times a week really helps my mood and attitude for the rest of the day, because essentially I am a child and need to get out of the studio for recess.
Mark Siegel, author/artist/editor
2022 Projects: Too many to mention!!
Biggest story of 2021? American Born Chinese Netflix series
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? Can’t say yet. One of three First Second projects still under wraps.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? A trip to somewhere tropical. If I can.
What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? SLEEP is key. Getting good sleep. Among top priorities. Whatever it takes with regards to screen time, exercise, fresh air, diet, sane schedules, dosing of news/social media—whatever supports a good, deep night’s sleep is my new mandatory.
Barry Deutsch, Cartoonist
2022 Projects: I’m working on Wings of Fire, more political cartoons, and a graphic novel project I can’t talk about in public yet. :-p
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? In these times, anything in public can be a guilty pleasure – so I’m looking forward to seeing some musicals.
What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? I’ve learned that ADHD sucks. I mean, I knew that already, but I’m always relearning it.
Scott McCloud, Cartoonist, Author
2022 Projects: Continuing work on my massive nonfiction book about visual communication for First Second Books, and another very special project I can’t talk about quite yet!
Biggest story of 2021? The continued failure of superhero comics (good or bad) to come anywhere close to the market success of superhero movies and TV shows.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? A new Wertham-style backlash against comics in the classroom?
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? Sitting in the front row with Ivy and popcorn for anything with Duane Johnson; no matter how dopey!
What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? I’m grateful for my job (cartoonists invented social distancing) but more aware than ever of how little flexibility most jobs offer—and now many cartoonists have to take those crappy jobs on the side just to survive.
Kwanza Osajyefo, storyteller
2022 Projects: Wrapping up the rollout of WHITE, the sequel to BLACK
Biggest story of 2021? NFTs. While still relatively adjacent to comics publishing, for artists it’s been quite a paradigm shift.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? Blockchains. Cryptocurrency is now taxed by the US government and we’re seeing more business flock to this technology daily. It won’t be the same in a few years but it isn’t going away.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? More movie release streaming. Spielberg caved so chop-chop movie studios. I’ll pay a slightly lower ticket price to not breath other folks hot breath.
What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? I learned that I actually do need social interaction on occasion.
Tea Fougner , Editorial Director, Comics, King Features
Biggest story of 2021? What platforms and publishers owe the people that make the content that drives their business. We saw big challenges to the way media companies compensate creators for their work-for-hire ideas while making millions and even billions from them. Substack’s investment in comics creators has had the larger comics community questioning the ethics of a platform that invests in marginalized talent but fails to cut off access to people who use the same platform to spread hate. And platforms like Patreon and Kickstarter signaling interest in the blockchain/cryptocurrency/NFT space has ignited conversations about what happens when platforms get swept up in tech trends that don’t serve– and might be counter to– the needs or interests of creators. Finally, the union efforts at Image Comics puts a spotlight on labor issues among the people behind the scenes working to make comics every day, and how they deserve a fair and safe workplace.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? Given how it is more directly impacting other industries at the moment, likely a continuation of efforts and dialogue around worker and creator rights.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? Apart from a (measured) return to some smaller shows so I can meet more awesome cartoonists and buy their stickers and washi tape and enamel pins, honestly I’m just really looking forward to eating a lot of chocolate.
What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? It’s even more important to take breaks when you work on the same couch you used to relax on! I take “commuter” breaks and play phone games the same way I would on the train at the beginning and end of every day, and it has helped so much with giving myself the same liminal space between home and work that actually commuting did. I just started playing “I Love Hue Too” on iOS and it is so soothing.
Rich Douek, Writer
2022 Projects: DC’s Weird Love Tales, Happy Hill, and more!
Biggest story of 2021? Substack getting into the comics business.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? Conventions coming back full swing, how the community moves forward post-COVID (If the world actually moves past COVID by then)
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? Closing out a bar after a night with some good friends.
What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? I’ve gained a lot of confidence in my work, and feeling comfortable speaking up when I disagree with something, or have an idea I want to discuss. Working remotely forced me to be as accountable to myself as I was to others – meaning, I had to get up and get going every day not to catch a train to the office or punch a clock or something, but just because that’s what I needed to do that day. It turned out to be a really good thing for me, and helped me feel more capable and in control of what I was doing, which translated into being more confident.
Jim Ottaviani, Writer
2022 Projects: EINSTEIN, with art by Jerel Dye, completing a trilogy on big ideas — and larger than life personalities — in science that started with the #1 NYT Bestseller FEYNMAN and continued with HAWKING.
Biggest story of 2021? The distribution changes that affect the direct market. Even if the rest of the fabled supply chain was working the way it always did, the moves made by publishers to change how stores get their weekly comics has made a difficult year even messier.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? More time spent with my dog, more time spent writing, and less time spent on the day job.
Shaenon K. Garrity, Writer, editor, cartoonist
2022 Projects: My first graphic novel, THE DIRE DAYS OF WILLOWWEEP MANOR with art by Christopher Baldwin, came out this year. My next graphic novel, STEAM, with art by Emily Holden, is in the works, and I just sold another script I can’t talk about yet. My webcomic SKIN HORSE, cowritten with Jeffrey C. Wells, is in its final story arc, and we plan to bring it to a close next year.
Biggest story of 2021? In many ways this was a great year for comics, especially YA and manga. But this increased visibility has precipitated a backlash, with efforts across the country to ban graphic novels dealing with issues like race, sexuality, and social justice. Books with LGBT+ themes are especially under attack.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? If Kickstarter goes through with its proposal to move to blockchain, it will alienate many of the comics creators, myself included, who use it to fund self-publishing. Crossing my fingers that they walk this terrible idea back.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? I continue to watch all the horror movies in the world.
What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? I really, really like being able to go to a coffeeshop and work.
Brian Schirmer, Writer
2022 Projects: New ongoing. New OGN. New anthology piece. All TBA.
Biggest story of 2021? The sad news about George Perez – and the fact that he revealed it in such a state of grace.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? Vault Comics dominating sales and reviews, with new releases from Big Name Creators… who might have previously gone to Image.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? I, for one, don’t subscribe to the notion of “guilty” pleasures, but one thing I am looking forward to that might fit the bill for others — experiencing the wide variety of movie theatres in Los Angeles when we move there in the Spring!
What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? I deleted my Facebook account in April and I don’t miss it one bit. I also started a Note on my phone titled “What I Did”, wherein I track my daily highlights. More than anything, this helps me get over those occasions wherein I feel like I’m unproductive. The Note always proves me wrong! The Note is also where I was even reminded of deleting Facebook — otherwise, I never really think about it at all. :)