The Beat Annual Creator Survey Part 3: The year of diversity

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Here’s the third part of our annual creator survey with a varied look from people in all aspects of the business from creators to publishers to journalists. As always, buried among the answers you will find a bunch of news items for the sharp eyed and also some preview art. In case you haven’t noticed, our panel certainly did: 2015 was the year diversity broke around the comics industry, although much, much, much more needs to be done. Read on to see what our our respondents thought about the year past and what they have coming for 2016.

Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.


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David Macho, writer, packager (not pictured, that’s his daughter Erin)
2016 Projects: too many to tell. :)
What was the biggest story in comics in 2015? Dark Knight III
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2016? Embargoed, I can’t answer, but it involves one of my guys! :)
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2016? Theatrical versions of the star wars movies? A man can dream.


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Hope Larson, cartoonist, writer

2016 Projects: Sure! The main thing is Compass South (June 2016 from FSG), written by me and drawn by Rebecca Mock. I have at least one other big project this year but it hasn’t been announced yet.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2015? Diversity! How can comics reflect the diverse world we live in. How can marginalized voices be heard.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2016? I hope there’s a bigger conversation about fair wages in comics.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2016? Writing an epic fanfic about cartoonists unionizing and getting cheap health insurance.


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Stuart Moore, writer

2016 Projects: THE ZODIAC LEGACY vols. 2-3 – with Stan Lee & Andie Tong – from Disney Press TEACH with Greg Scott and OUT WITH A BANG with Tony Talbert & John Heebink – both from Stela THE ZODIAC LEGACY graphic novels – with Paris Cullens – from Papercutz
What was the biggest story in comics in 2015? The success of the new Star Wars comics. Marvel did everything right there.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2016? I’ll go out on a limb: This may be the year tablets get large enough to become good comics-reading devices. The iPad Pro is a beginning, but there will be cheaper devices soon.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2016? LUKE CAGE and STAR TREK BEYOND. Sabotage!


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J.T. Yost, cartoonist/publisher Birdcage Bottom Books
2016 Projects: The biggest project is an anthology of (true) comics about hitting rock-bottom before getting sober tentatively titled “BOTTOMS UP!”. We’ll also have a new issue of Jamie Vayda’s “LOUD COMIX” and hopefully a new issue of Vayda & Alan King’s “Left Empty”. There will undoubtedly be other publications debuting at MoCCA and SPX as well. We will continue to grow our indie-comic distro, now featuring over 500 titles by over 100 artists & publishers with a focus on hand-made, small-run minis.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2015? Raina Telgemeier holding down SIX spots consecutively on The New York Times bestseller list.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2016? Ed Piskor’s “Hip-hop Family Tree” being adapted into a film.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2016? Watching the Peanuts movie whenever it comes out on Netflix, although I’m not entirely sure whether this will be considered a “pleasure”.


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Brandon Easton, writer
2016 Projects: Transformers: Deviations #1 (IDW) Upcoming series from Lion Forge Comics, Unannounced TV series
What was the biggest story in comics in 2015? The awareness of the lack of diversity at the Big Two and ways we can attempt to remedy the problem.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2016? The actual hiring of non-White men in a variety of positions throughout the industry including as writers of major properties at Marvel and DC.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2016? More STAR WARS!


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Sean Ford, cartoonist
2016 Projects: Finishing the Shadow Hills comics series I’ve been working on and putting it together for a collection. Also a new project that I’m excitedly working on, but can’t say too much about yet since it may or may not actually happen.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2015? A recognition of more diverse voices in comics – one high point being when women swept the Ignatz awards at SPX.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2016? Hopefully recognition of even more new and diverse voices. And a continual falling market share for the big two, who probably have another stale relaunch or two in the works, as creator-owned work at Image and the like continues to grow its share.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2016? Buying old Uncanny X-Men issues to re-read and draw from, secretly filling sketch books trying to draw like Paul Smith or Barry Windsor Smith.


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Joe Harris, writer
2016 Projects: Snowfall (Image Comics) The X-Files (IDW) …plus another, super-secret creator-owned title announcing in the new year.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2015? The sheer number of talented creators doing more creator-owned work at Image Comics and the fact that they’re making money doing so. You used to do creator-owned and end up ‘graduating’ to working for Marvel and/or DC, etc… but I don’t think that’s the game for many of the top talents in this business anymore. And for others below the A list, in a world of stagnant page rates, how do the childhood dreams really apply anymore?
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2016? More harassment being called out and names named, I’d expect. Based on what I hear rumbling around.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2016? Oh, fuck, I can’t quit the GOP presidential primary. Every time these assholes bend over backwards to out-offend, out-bigot and out-outlandish one another, I make more popcorn. I feel no guilt whatsoever looking forward to the general election in November.


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Todd Allen, industry consultant
2016 Projects: That would be telling.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2015? A tie between “Star Wars bails out Marvel a second time” and “suspending all the ongoing titles for a couple months is a bad idea.”
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2016? Things to watch out for:
*WB’s reactions after Superman V. Batman comes out. Hit or flop, they’ve got a lot of chips on that one and there will be ripples either way. *The Amazon/Comixology integration marches on, though the implications may be a year or two off.
*Publishers scrambling to find a stunt to sell books after they overexpose and burst the bubble on variant covers.
*Massive creator and possibly editorial reshuffling at DC and Marvel as they try and recover from the genius idea of suspending regular publications for an Event. (Isn’t it funny how they both did approximately the same stunt?)
*The environment could be right for an indie sales surge. Entirely possible Image moves up to the #2 publisher slot if that happens.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2016? DC hiring Mark Waid to fix everything.


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Jim Ottaviani, writer

2016 Projects: “The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Decoded” comes out in March from Abrams. With painted art by Leland Purvis, our graphic novel tells the story of Turing’s life, from his groundbreaking work in modern computing through his WWII codebreaking and on to his invention of what we now call the Turing Test. Before his time in so many ways, he was an unconventional genius who was arrested, tried, convicted, and punished for his openly gay lifestyle. He ended his life while still in his prime, but Alan Turing’s innovative work still fuels the computing and communication systems that define our modern world.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2015? As with last year, I’d say this year was all about women creators connecting with an even wider audience. What with books as tonally different as Lumberjanes and Bitch Planet, Nimona and Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel and Step Aside Pops, and plenty more I’m forgetting right now, 2015 was a great year for expanding the readership for comics and graphic novels.


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Julia Wertz, cartoonist
2016 Projects: Continuing my monthly history series for the New Yorker and my new monthly NYC cityscape scenes for Harper’s Magazine. And in 2016, the Believer will start running a monthly comic done by me and my brother.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2015? Fun Home the musical. It doesn’t get much bigger than that.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2016? Not sure, but it’ll probably be something Kate Beaton related, she’s killin’ it.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2016? Another season of American Horror Story.


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Patrick Crotty, publisher, Peow Studio
2016 Projects: We just got our kickstarter funded, so we are working on 5 books at the moment. Junky, by Guillaume Singelin Salmon, Run! by Mackenzie Schubert Wrecked Hearts, by Mathilde Kitteh & Luca Oliveri Ripples, by Wai Wai Pang Internal Affairs 3, by Patrick Crotty (me!)
What was the biggest story in comics in 2015? I don’t really know. Maybe for me it’s Otomo winning the grand prix at Angouleme
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2016? Maybe somebody will release a 400 + page book.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2016? I guess just more Jojo Bizarres Adventure reprints that Viz is putting out. It’s so fun!


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Kate Beaton, cartoonist
2016 Projects: hopefully a longform project for the first time
What was the biggest story in comics in 2015? Noelle Stevenson taking over the world and everything that means.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2016? Free time? Don’t put out too many books in a year, kids.


Mimi Pond, cartoonist
2016 Projects: Working on finishing the sequel to “Over Easy,” my 2014 fictionalized memoir graphic novel about my waitressing career in Oakland, Ca, in the late 1970s. It will be titled, “The Customer is Always Wrong,” and will be published by Drawn & Quarterly in j2017.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2015? I think the biggest story in comics in 2015 was Bill Griffith’s memoir about his mother, “Invisible Ink.”
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2016? I’m not sure. I don’t follow comics all that closely.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2016? Reading anything by Vanessa Davis!


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Keith Jones, cartoonist
2016 Projects: Secretimes, Morons
What was the biggest story in comics in 2015? Carlos Gonzalez finally having a book published.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2016? I’m hoping to see something new by Lala Albert.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2016? More Steve Ditko/Robin Snyder please.


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Amy Chu, writer
2016 Projects: DC Poison Ivy miniseries IDW X-Files Deviations Marvel Deadpool: Mercs for Money and Infinite Ant-Man Alpha Girl Comics Girls Night Out #4 Food & Comics Anthology
What was the biggest story in comics in 2015? mainstream media’s interest in old fashioned comics – noticing a slew of articles by the likes of New York Times, Forbes and Wall Street Journal of all places..!
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2016? as publishers realize the growth engine for the medium is young women, expect more titles targeting young girls and teens.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2016? Eating lobster rolls and playing Fallout 4.


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David Gallaher, writer
2016 Projects: In March, Papercutz releases THE ONLY LIVING BOY trade paperback series for bookstores, libraries, and comic shops! We’ll continue to serialize High Moon, The Only Living Boy, and Box 13 across various platforms across the web — and you’ll see at least one superhero project, and at least another something something from us by year’s end.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2015? Diversity! Diversity! Diversity! Diversity! I’m thrilled to see so many diverse voices with something awesome to say — with BIG megaphones and platforms like Marvel, DC, and Archie there to amplify their messaging. Well done on that, comics! Well done!
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2016? Scandals! This sounds so cynical, but as we much to a culture more embracing of our differences, we’re going to find ourselves at odds with professionals who are unwilling to change with the times. I think we’ll also see a rise in the growing trend of Big Two editors freelancing to make extra cash on the side. And, I think we’ll see a culling of staff as we embrace a more diverse industry.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2016? CW’s LEGENDS OF TOMORROW just edges out Captain America 3 for me.


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Lea Seidman Hernandez, cartoonist
2016 Projects: Teen Titans Go! art, The Garlicks graphic novel, a new column called “Paper Candy,” and a short video show with my daughter.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2015? Sexual harassment continuing to be brought to light, and seeing the tolerance for it lessening by the year, if not by the month.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2016? Hahaha, I can’t actually say.


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Kyle Pinion, journalist
2016 Projects: Continually working on the site and podcast I share with fellow Beaters Hannah Lodge, Harper Harris and Cal Cleary: GeekRex, along with my editorial duties at The Beat.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2015? Star Wars, nothing but Star Wars. While we often try to ascribe to this idea that there’s an army of curious readers in the general populace that will one day walk into comic shops and help boost the industry, it was the launch of the Star Wars line at Marvel that finally gave that idea some real post-millennial credence. While the rest of the publisher’s line provided solid to middling sales, their adaptations that filled in the margins of the LucasFilm universe were wildly popular hits and did quite well among the critical consensus additionally. Let me put it this way, when a Chewbacca comic is moving 50-60k units beyond just its first issue, that highlights some serious staying power. Jason Aaron’s Star Wars and Kieron Gillen’s Vader Down have consistently been the books to dethrone even the almighty Batman out of the top slot month in and month out. Sure, Secret Wars is out there too, and it’s hard to deny to popular appeal of Marvel’s most successful event in years, but as the 300k+ units of Vader Down flying off store shelves go to show that Marvel has an impressive new cash cow that should only get bigger after the gargantuan success of The Force Awakens this past weekend. Basically, Marvel struck a gold mine that may very well continue to give them the Market Share lead for years to come.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2016? Next year is a do or die time for Warner Bros and DC Entertainment in regard to their superhero ventures. The perceived success or failure of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will likely shape what sort of cinematic offerings you see from that studio. If it’s a huge hit, which right now I’d say the chances are good, Zack Snyder and co will go full steam ahead on that Justice League two-parter. If it’s not, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Snyder quickly run out of the lot, which in turn may jostle WB into doubling down on that Affleck-directed Batman feature in a much quicker fashion than we expected. With Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman already coming, there’s no reboots at this point, only moving forward. I don’t envy Kevin Tsujihara. Well, I kinda do right now, but maybe less so in March.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2016? Grant Morrison’s Heavy Metal. I wouldn’t even call it a guilty pleasure, so much as just one of my most anticipated releases of the year. Along with Brandon Graham, Emma Rios and co’s continued work on Island and the new installment of Kramers Ergot, 2016 was already looking like a banner year for anthologies, but a Morrison driven/reinvented Heavy Metal is the stuff my dreams are made of.


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John Lind, agent
2016 Projects: I’m currently designing & editing Frank Miller’s Sin City: The Hard Goodbye Curator’s Collection, featuring the first Sin City book reproduced from the original art in FM’s archives and printed at full size of 15 x 21.5 inches. On sale date is June 2016 [Kitchen Sink Books/Dark Horse Books]. Denis Kitchen and I are also working on the next two Harvey Kurtzman collections: TRUMP: The Complete Collection and Harvey Kurtzman’s Hey Look, which are volumes 2 & 3 of the Essential Kurtzman series [Kitchen Sink Books/Dark Horse Books].
What was the biggest story in comics in 2015? A big story for me was the 167,000 attendees at New York Comic Con. However you break this down–that is a LOT of people. It has been great to see this show rapidly evolve over the last few years, and the transition to feeling like a real destination show for fans is exciting to see . . . all without feeling like comics are the sideshow to film studios (yet). It appears to be the show NYC deserves, and here’s hoping ReedPOP can keep that momentum building.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2016? In between everyone else’s prognosticating for this section, I’d prefer to include some notable 2016 anniversaries about which I’d expect to read some interesting articles in the next year: It will have been 25 years since the publication of Bone #1, Sin City: The Hard Goodbye, X-Force #1, and the Claremont/Lee X-Men. It will have been 30 years since the publication of Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, and the collected Maus. 2016 will also mark 30 years in business for Dark Horse Comics and 40 years for Fantagraphics.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2016? Baseball—I devote WAY too much space in my brain to it and can’t wait for Opening Day!

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