It’s been a week and here’s the wrap-up of this year’s creator survey. If it shows one thing it’s that the stories we’ll be hearing about in 2022 are going to have momentous impact for the industry. One of them has happened already (Image staffers unionizing) and there is always more to come.
Peggy Burns, Publisher Drawn & Quarterly
2022 Projects: Kate Beaton’s DUCKS, Barbara Brandon’s Where I’m Coming From, Emma Grove’s Third Person and many more.
Biggest story of 2021? PRH buying S&S; PRH distributing to the comic market; Gina Gagliano leaving PRH after founding Random House Graphics.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? PRH trying to buy another publisher; distributor; the world, etc. The neverending consolidation of American multinational publishers and as a result its staff.
Brian Fies, Graphic novelist
2022 Projects: Abrams is publishing my comic “The Last Mechanical Monster,” which earned two Eisner nominations for best webcomic. I’m working on something new and mysterious that I’m very excited about which might be worth teasing in a year or so.
Biggest story of 2021?
The outpouring of love and appreciation for George Perez.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? I HOPE it will be comics and cartoons as a cultural force for progress, reason and good, since it feels like civilization is near a tipping point and graphic opinion/journalism has historically been important in moments like that. I’d like it to be again. I also expect to be disappointed.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, plus I suppose I’ll watch the new Batman movie and probably like it more than I’ll care to confess.
What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? I think creative people in serious times sometimes think that their work should be serious and “important.” OK, but I think the opposite is also true. Some of the silliest, most fanciful art has been created in dark times. The Wizard of Oz (film) came out at the start of World War 2. That work has value, too, and often more long-term significance than darker topical stuff. You do You without apology, and let the audience and time sort it out.
Alex Lu, Editor
2022 Projects: My graphic novel, GOODBYE TO ALL OF YOU, alongside Thorn Kurtzhals and Maarta Laiho! And working on a full editorial slate at First Second!
Biggest story of 2021? The ongoing legal battle over S&S’s acquisition by PRH.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? How COVID continues to alter the convention landscape and the ripple effects that has on creators’ livelihoods
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? Indulging my rediscovered love of video games, particularly immersive sims like Weird West!
What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? Learning to accept down days as they come without guilting myself over them has been vital. There’s success to be found in even accomplishing small tasks like taking walks during the day. And being able to trust my colleagues and ask for help when I need it has been a lifesaver as well.
Ben Towle, Cartoonist
2022 Projects: I’m not real sure who I think is going to publish a “funny animal” comic for grown-ups about cooking and playing rock music in the 1990’s, but for better or for worse, I’m steadily plugging away at just such a thing. It’s called In the Weeds and I’ve got about 100 pages of rough pencils, with about twenty more to go. This may be one I have to self-publish and sell out of a baby carriage Crumb-style!
Biggest story of 2021? The attempt to unionize at Image
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? The continued goings-on with comics distribution vis-a-vis Diamond. Who else will jump ship?!
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? Season two of The Baby-Sitters Club on Netflix. I’ve given up trying to convince people of how good season one is, so I’m just gonna shut up and binge-watch it myself!
Jimmy Aquino, Comic News Insider Host/Producer
2022 Projects: Continuing doing the weekly podcast covering comics, TV, film and pop culture! And weighing options on attending conventions.
Biggest story of 2021? I’m going to somewhat echo last year’s answer. There continues to be more diversity in comics but there can always be more. As a proud Asian American myself, I was very happy to see more AAPI/Asian creators make their mark.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? The return or not of big conventions.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? MORE KPOP. :)
What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? Considering I was back to work starting July 2020, I didn’t have the lockdown that a lot of people had. I’ve always had terrible insomnia and this all exacerbated it. More rest definitely would have helped. It’s okay to slow down and cancel things. It’s okay to say “no” to a project or outing.
Henry Barajas, Writer, Sales Manager
2022 Projects: I’m working on a desert noir. True crime. My first DC work is expected to hit in July.
Biggest story of 2021? The formation of the first union for comic book workers. The brave folks at Comic Book Workers United put their livelihoods on the line so we can have healthier industry for the future of the medium.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? Comics will have to printed on gold because COVID took paper from us.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? We’re going to see a lot of nostalgia this year. I’m excited to see comics from 30 and 25 years ago pop up on racks. Obviously, The Batman in March. I will most definitely risk my life to see that at least two times.
What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? Cycling has really been something I’ve been using to keep my mental health straight. My hands locked to handlebars, riding my first century, and making friends outside of the comic book industry has kept things in perspective. I’m grateful that I’m able bodied and can get around to the various cons this year, and see friends I haven’t seen in two years. Going to cons and visiting comic shops have shown me that it takes a strong community to keep this medium viable. But I’ve also found that staying home and doing livestreams while keeping people safe isn’t so bad. Both things can exist.
J.T. Yost, cartoonist & publisher
2022 Projects: Birdcage Bottom Books is publishing lots of new comics in 2022 including a collection of comics by Josh Bayer, a memoir about being a SK8 dad by Brett Hamil, a look into the dark nature of humanity by Infinite Mind Warp, a collection of diary comics by Brother Malcolm, two new issues of Lance Ward’s autobiographical “Flop Sweat” series, an almost inexplicable comic by Yiqun Zhou, and a few risograph printed comics including Sara Lautman’s collection of dog drawings and my non-fiction account of an exiled member of the Westboro Baptist Church cult.
Biggest story of 2021? The reshuffling of comics distribution with Marvel switching to Penguin and Lunar as the sole online distributor of D.C. Comics, plus the pandemic wreaking havoc with supply chains and store closures.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? Please let it be Covid loosening its grip and a return to some semblance of normalcy.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? My kids’ excitement about a new season of Cobra Kai is pretty infectious. I doubt I would watch it if it weren’t for them, but it’s one of the few shows the whole family watches together.
What have you learned in Year Two of the Pandemic? Cartoonists joke about how the pandemic doesn’t alter our lives too drastically since we work in isolation anyways, but not being able to see my piers and customers at shows was difficult. My kids were attending school remotely for the better part of a year, and that was both draining and rewarding. I tried to focus on growing the Birdcage Bottom Books distro & publication wing to help my artists make ends meet. My biggest step in self-care was transferring shipping duties to my one and only employee, Daniel, allowing me to focus more on marketing & promotion.
Alex Segura, writer/SVP – Sales and Marketing at Oni Press
2022 Projects: SECRET IDENTITY, a crime novel set in the 1970s NYC comic book industry, featuring comic book sequences drawn by Sandy Jarrell; THE DUSK, an all-ages twist on the street-level crime-fighter co-written with Liz Little and featuring art by David Hahn (Kickstarter); THE AWAKENED, a superhero murder mystery co-written with Michael Moreci and drawn by Dean Kotz via new digital publisher ZestWorld; THE MYSTERIOUS MICRO-FACE, a one-shot produced with NPR’s Planet Money podcast, reinvigorating a long-dormant public domain hero, redesigned by Jerry Ordway and featuring interior art by Jamal Igle; and a handful of unannounced projects!
Biggest story of 2021? I think, generally speaking, it was seeing creators find new ways to get to readers – whether it’s a format change, like Brubaker and Phillips pivoting to original graphic novels, platforms like Tapas, WebToon, Panel Syndicate, Patreon, or Substack, or increasing competition when it comes to distributors/channels – there are more options for talent to create stories and find an audience, and more ways to slice the pie – you can do digital first and still hit the print aspect later. The buffet of options can only be good.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2022? I think you saw a lot of notable creators move toward managing their own destiny, whether in partnership with established pubs or frameworks, and I think we’ll start to see how those things pan out. My hope is they do amazingly well, so more creators can have a path toward hanging their own shingles and managing their content. I’m excited to see how these stories resonate across distribution channels – digital, print, comic shops, bookstores, etc.
What guilty pleasure are you looking forward to in 2022? I’ve leaned in hard on binging old comic book runs as comfort food, so I’m looking forward to using my dwindling free time to catch up on classic (and not-so-classic) runs I may have missed!
What did you learn in Pandemic Year Two? The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to just take it day by day. Those early months of the pandemic were fraught and so unpredictable. It’s sad to say that it’s become “more normal” now, but we at least have vaccines, some protections, and an understanding of the virus. In terms of self-care, I’ve learned to know when to step away – whether it’s from social media or “the discourse” or just being less online. You have to take care of yourself if you’re going to be a good part of the industry, and I think that ties into the idea that we should approach everything with more kindness. We literally have NO idea what others are dealing with – so being mindful of that helps overall.
That concludes our survey for 2022. However, if we may leave you with somethign taht seems ot be a universal guilty pleasure….enjoy!