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The 2022 Creator Survey Part 3: how did the comics industry survive last year?

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Here we are at Part 3 of our annual survey – and getting more sleep seems to be a continuing topic for so many creators. IN addition there’s a look at some of the new comics coming from Tapas and Harper Alley more thoughts on self care and more creator headshots, which is why you come here, we know.

In case you missed them, here’s Part 1 and Part 2.

 


Ben Hatke, Author

2022 Projects: A graphic Novel called Things in the Basement and a short illustrated prose book called Reynard’s Tail.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? I hope it’s how many creators and readers get to meet each other again, out in the wild.

What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? Hugs.

What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? The importance of daily walks.


Andrew Farago, Curator, Writer

2022 Projects: I wrote the foreword to the next Funky Winkerbean collection, hitting stores in January 2022, making me the envy of all my friends and family in Northeast Ohio. Coming up are a full year’s worth of exhibitions and programming at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco, and I’m working on a few comic strip archival projects, too.

Biggest story of 2021? Adaptability. Whether it was conventions and comic shops and museums and classrooms figuring out how to serve the public or creators and publishers trying to make sense of an ever-changing world, everyone’s getting things figured out. Book tours and conventions and big events are happening again, and we’re starting to get some sense of what the new normal is.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? Positivity. Looking forward to stories about good people doing good things and having nice things happen to them. That would be great, wouldn’t it?

What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022?  Seeing friends at comic conventions again. It’s been way too long.

What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? I’ve noticed that FOMO is a thing of the past, which is kind of nice. Instead of feeling jealous of my friends when they share photos of themselves hanging out with comic creators or celebrities, I think “good for them!” and move on. Taking things day by day and trying not to get overwhelmed by everything else going on in the world has helped me get through this.


Kurt Busiek, writer

2022 Projects: ARROWSMITH: BEHIND ENEMY LINES, ASTRO CITY, AUTUMNLANDS, FREE AGENTS, THE MARVELS

Biggest story of 2021? Probably all the distribution changes, which retailers and publishers seem to still be adjusting to — the disruption of the Diamond monopoly after so many years opens up a lot of possibility (and possible pitfalls) for comics retail.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? Je ne have a clue pas.

What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? I’m too tired to look forward, but I’ll welcome it when it arrives, taking me utterly by surprise.

What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? I was working from home before the pandemic, so the big change for me has been having my wife working from home and not going out to movies or dinner much. But the way the weeks rolled past, not really changing from day to day, made me realize that whatever your schedule, you’ve got to make time to rest and recharge, or you’ll grind to a halt. Taking time to relax when you can beats the hell out of collapsing and then recuperating because you have to, whether your deadlines allow it or not.


Jimmy Palmiotti & Amanda Conner, writer, artist and publisher

2022 Projects: Amanda and I will continue to write Red Sonja for a few more issues, will be introducing two new titles FOUND and BOOTY POW POW for Zestworld, we have a Harley Quinn short story for a DC special, and will be kickstarting six books this year including an Amanda Conner art book, a graphic novel called FANTASIMA and more PAINKILLER JANE books. Outside of comics, we will be developing QUEEN CRAB, THE PRO, G.I.ZOMBIE and a few other projects for TV and Film. I am also working on a monster of a role playing game. Busy times ahead.

Biggest story of 2021? Crowdfunding comics and creators stepping away from the big two.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? I think the biggest story of 2022 will be the continued progression of creators leaving the big two behind and finding their way using different types of publishing models along the way. We will finally see creators being involved with their I.P. on many different levels, and formats like Zestworld and Substack making leaps and bounds in the digital world for mainstream American comics and creators.

What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? Amanda and I are looking forward to doing more travel, supporting more creator owned work and seeing friends and fans at future cons.

What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? I have learned that loyalty from a publisher is a thing of the past and moving forward always keep this in mind. I have also learned that working for the big two always has to be approached in a way that it’s fine to write for them, but to really make sure not to create any new characters for them and stick with the toys given to us as creators, until better sharing deals come into place one day and financial transparency becomes part of their foundation. I really do hope this happens one day.


Mike Maihack, Cartoonist

2022 Projects: Unannounced

Biggest story of 2021? George Perez announcement he has terminal cancer and the genuine outpouring affection and respect of his work and person.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? Disney aquires DC Comics, Dark Horse and IDW.

What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022?  Drawing more fan art

What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? As a work-at-home cartoonist, the lockdown didn’t affect me much. However, I think it emphasized how important and necessary connecting with other people is. It was fascinating to see technology and social media become a life-line these past two years. Although I do hope folks still got outside for a bit of a run here and there.


Jamie S. Rich, Editor in chief of Studio Tapas, writer

2022 Projects: It’s not just one thing I am excited about but a collection of things. Chris Robinson also recently joined Tapas as an editor. His official title is Exclusive Partner Manager, but his function is as an editorial curator looking at the Tapas content that our users have created and uploaded, as well as up-and-coming creators that might be publishing around the web, and setting them up on Tapas as part of our libaray, expanding what it means to be a Tapas Original.

For instance, he has a fantastic series coming in January called KALEIDOSCOPE by an exciting cartoonist who goes by Lady Nefertiti. The comic is about a woman trying to untangle her past lives who bumps into the reincarnation of her soulmate — which complicates more than it solves.

There is also BRUSH STROKE, a new comic by Emma Kubert, co-creator of INKBLOT, that draws on the experience of being an artist struggling to make it in the world.

ENJOY THE SHOW! by Jenna A. is going to be a lot of fun, as well. It’s a light-hearted workplace comic set in a Las Vegas movie theater. Kind of like EMPIRE RECORDS but for movies.

And that’s just the first month of the year! (If you want to back up to some of the first tiles, check out ANIMAL HEADS, LUCID DREAMS, and HARD LACQUER.)

Biggest story of 2021? The expansion of digital. Traditional comics folks like myself moving away from print to other platforms. And certainly Kakao’s new relationship with Tapas allowed for my stepping across the aisle to join Tapas as editor in chief.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? The reverse. More of the digital comics coming to print. We just saw LORE OLYMPUS top the best-seller charts, and next up is the print edition of MAGICAL BOY by The Kao THE BEGINNING AFTER THE END by TurtleMe and Fuyuki23.

What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? I want to see how the new AQUAMEN comics series works out. And WAR OF THE AMAZONS, the events across the Wonder Woman books. Basically, looking forward to seeing how some of the things in the works when I left DC come to fruition. I can enjoy as a fan, no stress. After that, Paulina Ganucheau’s LEMON BIRD and SQUIRE by Sara Alfageeh and Nadia Shammas are the first 2022 books I’ve pre-ordered.

What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? To paraphrase Jarvis Cocker, “Baby, don’t let them waste your time.” Move on from things that aren’t good for you or aren’t working. There is always something else out there.


Johnnie Christmas Cartoonist

2022 Projects: Swim Team (HarperAlley May 17, 2022)

Biggest story of 2021? The further diversification of the business of comics: substack, book market publishers, crowdfunding etc.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? An independent break out success on one of these new non-Big Two models. Perhaps leading to something akin to the 80s Black and White boom after the release of TMNT.

What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022?Travel, vacation (sorry, I know that’s not pop culture related, but it’s aaaall I want!)


David Pepose, Writer

2022 Projects: The O.Z. (and a few other projects I’m not allowed to reveal publicly yet!)

Biggest story of 2021? Substack’s rapid-fire announcements snapping up A-list talent (especially James Tynion IV leaving Batman), as well as ComiXology’s sprawling book deal with Scott Snyder.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? Likely the future of Diamond, IDW, or Dark Horse. Or the Image Union.

What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League, probably. (I’ll never feel guilty for another MCU installment.)

What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? Honestly, I’ve learned that self-care builds up your resilience for work. Diet, physical fitness, sleep, therapy — these are all incredibly helpful tools that pay off in both your personal and professional spheres. Don’t forget to take care of yourself — it’s the #1 most important professional investment you can make.


Steve Foxe, Writer/editor

2022 Projects: They won’t actually be out in 2022, but it was just announced that I’m writing the inaugural entries in the new Strange Mystery Comics series from First Second, created by editor Kiara Valdez. We have a killer artistic lineup, too, starting with Naomi Franquiz and Fran Bueno. As for books actually arriving in the next calendar year, I’ve got two superhero projects, my first ongoing series, and a creator-owned horror book on the way, as well as the deluxe hardcover collection of RAZORBLADES: THE HORROR MAGAZINE. If you enjoyed my first Spider-Ham book with Shadia Amin, you might have a good time later in 2022…and I’ll also have my first middle-grade prose novel on shelves, based on a license I never in a million years would have expected to write. I’m also far from done with the world of Adventure Kingdom, which runs on the Epic! app. If I’m forgetting anything, apologies to my lovely editors. Now to line up the second half of my year…

Biggest story of 2021? It’s got to be Substack, right? No matter your feelings on it–and I personally have major qualms with the bigots on the platform–it was a huge cash infusion from the kind of companies that usually don’t think twice about comics as anything but IP farms. There are so few opportunities in the industry to get money without turning over control of your intellectual property. I’m not saying it’s absolutely the only future of the medium, but it’s an extremely interesting moment in time.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? Year two of Substack–is it sustainable, are people enjoying the experience, and–the big one for me–what does it look like when stories started in newsletters start coming to print through more traditional channels?

What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022?  As much as I love staying up to date on new releases, I’m looking forward to finishing my full chronological read of the X-Men. Sometimes you want cutting-edge high art. Sometimes you want an over-the-top mutant comic from 1993. I contain multitudes.

What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? I was very lucky to have a lot of big breaks occur during the pandemic, and I’m still learning how to retain time for rest and recovery. It’s tempting to go go go, especially when things are so unstable in the world, but it’s not sustainable to fill up every waking hour with work. Creators need to actually, you know, live and exist and consume art to then put out halfway decent art. I’ve always known this, but the past year has taught me that it’s easy to forget these truisms when so much else around you is in disarray.


Andrew Arnold, Editorial Director, Harper Alley

2022 Projects: Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas, Over My Dead Body by Sweeney, Lightfall 2 by Tim Probert

Biggest story of 2021? Webtoon acquiring Wattpad

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? WEBTOON bringing their comics to print

What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? Binge-watching Succession

What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? I’ve learned that it’s super-important to mix up my routine!

 


BJ Mendelson, Author & Comic Writer

2022 Projects: “She-Hulk: From Savage to Sensational” is an unauthorized, and unofficial, six issue mini-series featuring Marvel’s Jade Giantess set between the original Savage She-Hulk series and The Sensational She-Hulk.

Biggest story of 2021? Creators speaking out about not getting compensated well enough from these massive franchise films that use their characters.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? I think the unionization wave is going to hit comics. It’s already started with Image, but I am (hopeful) that it jumps to Marvel and DC. And you know something? If I were the suits at those companies, I’d start ponying up because otherwise the brain drain that started last year to Substack will continue with other competitors entering the field.

What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? Rogues from DC Black Label looks amazing. I love a good Rogues story because they can be just as interesting (if not more so depending on who’s writing him) as The Flash.

What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? I discovered marijuana and its really made a difference in hitting the “off” switch for when the work day ends and I need to transition back to real life.


Ryan Dunlavey, Comic book maker

2022 Projects: It’s been a lean year for me, and what little work I am doing is stuff I’m not allowed to talk about yet.

Biggest story of 2021? Kickstarter’s announcement that they’re moving onto the blockchain, to the delight of absolutely no one.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? Everyone abandoning Kickstarter.

What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? Sleep!

What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? I learned it never pays to multi-task – I try to accomplish just one thing at a time, start to finish. I don’t put on tv, movies or podcasts when I work, and I schedule set times to check in on email, slack and social rather than have them running 24/7. Unfollowed a lot of people on social. Ditched Facebook. Set a strict sleep schedule. Watched more movies and read more books to avoid idly surfing the internet (my worst habit).

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