We’re wrapping up the 2020 creator survey today with yet another eclectic group of takes on what happened in 2019 and where we might so in 2020. In the previous segments several people made reference to the possibility of a creator’s organization/union arising in 2020. My personal belief is that it will take a while (it has been tried many times before) but there have never been circumstances so favorable to the creation of a freelancer’s organization at last. Hopefully it won’t be a self-sabotaging law like AB5, which although not mentioned much here will be an ENOURMOUS story in 2020. It’s already affected Beat freelancers, and everywhere really.
Once again thanks to everyone who participated – and a special shout out to the improvement of headshots. I won’t embarrass any one by linking to one of the early creator surveys (this feature has been running for over a decade!) but let’s just say the Instagram/camera phone era has improved everyone’s headshots.
We’ll be back on Monday with the announcement of the Comics Industry Person of the Year!
Roll on, rolling Twenties!
Kwanza Osajyefo. Writer
2020 Projects: WHITE (the sequel to BLACK), second arc of IGNITED, and secrets
Biggest story of 2019: Orlando Jones being fired from AMERICAN GODS
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2020? Tough call, but it be amazing if it was something that actually changed the comics industry.
Guilty Pleasure for 2020: James Bond: Die Another Day
Person or Comic of the Decade: I don’t know but SyFy has some opinions on that… and c’mon – Stan Lee is person of this decade.
Matthew Daley, Writer
2020 Projects: I have a big project that won’t begin release until 2021 and onward…but it hasn’t been announced yet!
Biggest story of 2019: Without sounding too nostalgic, superheroes had a great year in 2019. Most of us get hooked on comics as kids because of these otherworldly heroes and move on to more “sophisticated” fare as adults, but I was pulled back into the superhero orbit this year with House of X & Powers of X, Immortal Hulk, Naomi, and Green Lantern. I haven’t been so invested in superheroes since I was in middle school and it’s been a delightful return.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2020? I’m terrible at predictions and won’t embarrass myself here, but my hope is that publishers push themselves to find new voices that push the boundaries of what comics are and can be.
Person or Comic of the Decade: Saga is the comic of the decade, but I think the most important element of the 2010’s is YOUNG READERS. Young readers are, in their own way, saving comics and graphic novels. Every publisher now needs its own division to reach the middle reader and young adult markets and it has been an area of growth for publishers (while so many other areas have faltered). Some people might scoff at the influence young readers have had on the industry, but these kids are hooked and will read comics/graphic novels for life.
Ed Catto, Educator, Marketer and Illustrator
2020 Projects: I’m getting ready for my second year teaching at Ithaca College. Most of my efforts focus on business and entrepreneurship and one of the most fun classes I teach (with Professors Katharine Kittredge and Darlynne Overbaugh) is focused on Geek Culture and specifically on comic conventions. Students learn a lot of comics history, speak with leading industry professionals and then actually manage ITHACON, the nation’s second-longest running comic convention.
I have a few comics books slated for 2020. Our long-awaited Captain Action reprint volume will be published by IDW. And I’m in helping YOE Books (an “imprint” of IDW) with several compilations. They’ve been so much fun to work on and I can’t wait to see them all on sale.
My weekly column, With Further Ado is part of Pop Culture Squad , and my occasional columns on ComicMix give me not only forums to opine on Geek Culture, but also the opportunity to reach out and dive deeper with top industry talent.
I had two art shows in 2019, and I’m not sure how I’ll top that, art-wise in 2020. I am having a ball illustrating for publishers like AHOY! Comics and Airship27 and look forward to more of it!
Biggest story of 2019: The fracturing of fandom : The Rise of Toxic Fans
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2020? The incredible, non-stoppable mainstreaming of Geek Culture.
Guilty Pleasure for 2020: Korero Press’ Sex and Horror: The Art of Fernando Carcupino looks fantastic. But the unabashed sexuality of so many of his illustrations makes me blush!
Person or Comic of the Decade: Ted Adams -the publisher who did it all, and is doing it all again. An impressive and inspiring multiple success story.
Jarad Greene, Cartoonist, staff at CCS
2020 Projects: My debut graphic novel, SCULLION, comes out in July from Oni Press! I’m also working away on my next project.
Biggest story of 2019: Raina Telgemeier and Dav Pilkey being the #1 and #3 top selling BOOKS in the US back in the Fall.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2020? I hope it’s a mini comic or small press book breaking out in a big way.
Guilty Pleasure for 2020: Tabling at some shows in 2020, strangely enough. I took a two year break, but I’ve missed the social whirlwind of it all, even though it can be exhausting.
Person or Comic of the Decade: Smile/Raina Telgemeier. Raina’s hard work over the last decade has paved an industry-changing pathway for other creators, especially in the kids space, but the ripple effects of this successful book will continue into the next decade.
Joan Hilty, Editor
2020 Projects: From under my Nickelodeon hat I am excited for the TMNT: Jennika miniseries from IDW, TMNT/Power Rangers from Boom and IDW, big Invader Zim action from Oni and Abrams, Loud House action from Papercutz, and more Avatar/Korra stuff from Dark Horse than I can begin to shake a stick at. From teaching at SVA and programming for Brooklyn Book Festival and Miami Book Fair, I feel like I’m in literary graphic novel hog heaven.
Biggest story of 2019: Middle grade graphic fiction. Yeah, that drum’s being banged a lot, but all the predictions from 2018 have been borne out. It’s powerfully driving sales in both direct and book channels just as we all thought it would, far more so than the fickle superhero and YA categories.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2020? Merger mania.
Guilty Pleasure for 2020: Comics on Tiktok. Come on, kids. Surprise me.
Person or Comic of the Decade: I don’t think it is possible to single out a publication or a person within this frame. Seriously — there’s no way. Too much happened. In terms of what influenced the decade, I can only think of webcomics. Whether it was original creations, competing technologies, or streaming content, the web drove the bus.
David Harper, Podcaster + Writer
2020 Projects: More of my subscription site SKTCHD and more interviews on my podcast Off Panel.
Biggest story of 2019: I always forget something important here, but I’m going to see Raina Telgemeier being #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list for all books. That’s the type of legitimacy that comics aren’t supposed to be able to attain, and between Telgemeier and Dav Pilkey, the youth have been served and responded in kind. Now the question is how we build off that, but we have the first step figured out at least.
Also, House of X + Powers of X and the conversation they generated was the best story on Twitter. It was super fun having the X-Men becoming the comic conversation of the week each week.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2020? Whatever the heck DC’s 5G nonsense is, for good or for bad. Co-biggest story will be Random House Graphic’s rollout. Gina Gagliano and her team are rolling a heck of a lineup, and I’m interested to see if the market responds in kind.
Guilty Pleasure for 2020: GODZILLA VS. KONG. Let’s go, monsters!
Person or Comic of the Decade: Raina was obviously the person of the decade in comics and Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four/FF run was my favorite comic of the decade, but I’m going to give John Allison shouts because Bad Machinery was the most ENJOYABLE comic of the decade. Always read John Allison!
J.T. Yost, cartoonist & publisher
2020 Projects: Putting together the slate of Birdcage Bottom Books publications for 2020. So far it includes Mike Freiheit’s “The Woods”, Thomas Lampion’s “The Town Where I Was Born”, Adam Meuse’s “Little Table” and possibly a collection of Gabby Schulz’s sketchbook drawings called “God Damn Jewels”. As for my own comics, I’m looking forward to seeing two fairly long comics (for me) in “American Cult” anthology and “Willie Nelson: A Graphic History” as well as a few other shorter comics in various anthologies.
Biggest story of 2019: The death of Tom Spurgeon, unfortunately.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2020? Steve Brodner will be the courtroom sketch artist at Donald Trump’s various hearings.
Guilty Pleasure for 2020: I will feel guilty about my absolute glee at watching Donald Trump finally be held accountable for all of his lies and misdeeds, but not that guilty.
Person or Comic of the Decade: Annie Koyama for her relentless positivity and charity.
Joshua Frankel, Publisher
2020 Projects: We have a TON of books coming in 2020 25 or so the big one that’s announced right now is of course our Grateful Dead Graphic Novel. It continues our music book program and is the shining jewel in the Z2 crown right now.
Biggest story of 2019: Seemed like a relatively quiet year big picture wise. That said I think Diamond reshuffling their staff and letting go of some big guys there is a HUGE story no one is really talking about too much. It could be good, could be bad but will certainly be interesting.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2020? Dammed if I know. There’s a lot of trends happening right now but not sure which will come to a head in 2020.
Guilty Pleasure for 2020: I have stopped feeling guilty for most of my pleasures. Good shrink I suppose.
Person or Comic of the Decade: Kevin Feige- This may be a cop out answer but the building of the marvel cinematic universe is perhaps the most important thing for the industry as a whole in ways we are just only starting to feel. To give you some context a 20 year old today will have come of age with comic book movies being the coolest things on the market.
I’m 31 soon to be 32 when I was a kid/teen liking comics didn’t get you beat up or anything it was just sort of a hobby. Now due to the shift in popular culture comics are cool and younger people are far far more receptive to the idea of reading one. The importance of this can’t be overstated.
James Romberger, Cartoonist and critic
2020 Projects: My full book version of Post York is finished, contracted & signed and it will be released in Fall 2020, but because it has not yet been announced by the publisher, I am still bound to secrecy in that regard.
Biggest story of 2019: More and more movie and TV comics adaptations which inexplicably don’t seem to result in comics sales!?
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2020? Perhaps comics could adapt films and TV shows and do them so well that people prefer the comics to the filmed versions!
Guilty Pleasure for 2020: A second diabolical season of The Boys, ew!
Person or Comic of the Decade: The persons of the decade are all of the non-male and/or non-white creators who are finally being nurtured and facilitated to some degree, and the fans of those descriptions who at last can see themselves reflected in the comics being published.
Brian Hibbs, Retailer
2020 Projects: Continuing to grow the Graphic Novel Clubs (The Kid’s club in particular is spiking hard), so that we can continue to keep brick-and-mortar alive in the most expensive city in the USA. San Francisco lost two more stores in 2019 (RIP: Two Cats & The Comic Book Beardies), so its more important to me than ever to keep my two together — plus nothing whatsoever gives me more joy than talking comics and the specifics of craft with smart people
Biggest story of 2019: If you’re a wonk (and I am) probably The Diamond Leak
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2020? The increasing market attention that those friendly to Direct Market retailers (Ex: Boom! or Vault) will receive even as our “market leaders” at DC and Marvel show that they have to innovate, or get the heck out of the way.
Guilty Pleasure for 2020: Just interviewing more creators for the Graphic Novel Clubs: we’ve got something like 125 hours of content one can stroll through at the archives.
Person or Comic of the Decade: I think the “Thing” of the Decade is Scholastic, specifically the GRAPHIX imprint, which has done more to expand comic’s reach this decade…. except my second choice pick: LIBRARIANS
Alison Wilgus, comics writer
2020 Projects: I’ll be debuting The Mars Challenge, published by First Second and illustrated by Wyeth Yates, which gives a guided tour of the science and logistics of human spaceflight, and explains what stands between us and a crewed mission to Mars! (See preview below)
(I’m also working on the very early stages of a new project, which will hopefully be announced early in the year!)
Biggest story of 2019: #Defendthe11 — Whit Taylor, Laura Knetzger, Josh O’Neill, Tom Kaczynski, Hazel Newlevant, Emma Louthan, Ben Passmore, Emi Gennis, Jordan Shiveley, Morgan Pielli and Rob Clough being slammed with a defamation lawsuit.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2020? The fortunes of Random House Graphic’s debut season.
Person or Comic of the Decade: Comic of the decade? Raina Telgemeier’s “Smile,” easily. It was published in 2010, and its success has reshaped the comics industry.
Person of the decade? Calista Brill, Editorial Director of First Second books. I’d argue that her work at that imprint has done more to shape the current landscape of graphic novel publishing than any other single person. (….other than Raina, who would be my other vote!)
Amy Chu, Writer
2020 Projects: Sky Island, the sequel to Sea Sirens with Janet K. Lee also wrapping up Red Sonja & Vampirella Meet Betty & Veronica, and adapting two Marvel Universe titles Aero and Sword Master for American audiences https://previewsworld.com/Catalog/JAN201005, Summit for Lion Forge
Biggest story of 2019: I’ve been so busy writing I have no idea
Guilty Pleasure for 2020: staying home, actually getting to read through all my comics.
Person or Comic of the Decade: I want to say Louise Simonson because she’s an awesome person and a beacon of positivity in that cesspool known as social media.
Ben Passmore, Cartoonist/cat parent
2020 Projects: Sports is Hell
Biggest story of 2019: Koyama Press closing its doors.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2020? Prince of Cats Movie inspires samurai showdowns…
Guilty Pleasure for 2020: Wide popularity of eating rich people…or maybe rollerblades
Person or Comic of the Decade: I feel like indie comics has been moving a from lots of “edginess” for its own sake and really started to believe in things.
Ben Towle, Cartoonist
2020 Projects: In 2020 I’ll be wrapping up work on Four-Fisted Tales: Animals in Combat for Dead Reckoning. The book’s a collection of real-life short stories of animals in war–messenger dogs, carrier pigeons, etc. The book is fully roughed now and I’m starting to ink and tone. I’m fairly happy with how things are turning out. Here’s a preview page I just finished:
Once That’s wrapped up, I’ll be getting back to work on In the Weeds, a GN about cooking and playing rock music in the 1990’s (with animal characters!). I was about halfway through it when I had to switch gears to keep on schedule for Four-Fisted Tales.
2020 will also see the re-release of my CCS/Hyperion book Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean (the whole series is being re-released, in fact). We’ve tweaked a few things, including the spot color, and it’s going to look great. Here’s a page:Biggest story of 2019: Sadly, I’d say the passing of Tom Spurgeon.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2020? The continuing publishing dominance of the juggernaut that is kids/YA comics. I think we’re definitely beginning to enter a “bubble” phase here, but I don’t see it bursting any time soon. I’m curious to know who the next Raina T.-level superstar will be… what will be the next Dog Man?
Guilty Pleasure for 2020: I dunno if it’s exactly “guilty,” but I’m rabidly looking forward to the new movie adaptation of Dune, one of my all time favorite books. Dune doesn’t exactly have a stellar record of adaptations in any media, but maybe this one will do the trick?… You never know!
Jim Ottaviani, Writer
2020 Projects: ASTRONAUTS with Maris Wicks is about the first women who made their way into space, and Maris and I are thrilled to share the stories of the Mercury 13, Valentina Tereshkova, Carolyn Huntoon, Sally Ride, and our narrator, Mary Cleave. And yes, Nichelle Nichols/Lt. Uhura from Star Trek is in the book!
NATURALIST with Chris Butzer is an adaptation of E.O. Wilson’s memoir, and focuses on his work as a biologist, world traveler, and conservationist. Chris has drawn Many Many Insects in this one.
Biggest story of 2019: The Walking Dead monthly series ending, and the clever way it was done.
Guilty Pleasure for 2020: Doing more research than writing, though I may be wrong about that being (a) the actual balance, and (b) something to feel guilty about.
Person or Comic of the Decade: Who else but Raina? (No last name required, and that’s the point!)
Filip Sablik, BOOM! Studios President, Publishing & Marketing
2020 Projects: Through my role at BOOM! Studios, I have the pleasure and honor of facilitating the publishing of some incredible works in 2020.
In our eponymous BOOM! Studios imprint, we have Simon Spurrier & Chris Wildgoose’s ALIENATED in February which has already been praised by Brian K. Vaughan & Kieron Gillen, then in March our first project with Ice Cream Man’s W. Maxwell Prince; KING OF NOWHERE _ with art by Tyler Jenkins, and in April the return of the 2019’s erotic thriller smash hit – Brian Azzarello & Maria Llovet’s FAITHLESS.
Our young adult BOOM! Box imprint will be releasing WICKED THINGS, the second series from the Eisner Award-winning GIANT DAYS team of John Allison & Max Sarin, along with Sweeney Boo’s debut graphic novel, EAT & LOVE YOURSELF.
Our middle grade imprint KaBOOM! has a trio of terrific kids graphic novels in ALL MY FRIENDS ARE GHOSTS by S.M. Vidaurri & Hannah Krieger, WONDER PONY by Marie Spénale, and SPACE BEAR by Ethan Young.
That being said, one of the things I’m most excited for in 2020 is the amazing slate Executive Editor Sierra Hahn has assembled for Archaia. The year will kick off with BIG BLACK: STAND AT ATTICA by Frank “Big Black” Smith, Jared Reinmuth, & Ameziane followed by several other graphic memoirs including WE SERVED THE PEOPLE by Emei Burell and HAPPINESS WILL FOLLOW by Mike Hawthorne. In the summer, Archaia will be the home of the official graphic novel extension of Sabaa Tahir’s EMBER IN THE ASHES novel series – A THIEF AMONG THE TREES by Tahir, Nicole Andelfinger, & Sonia Liao and Ben Queen’s debut graphic novel BEAR with art by Joe Todd-Stanton.
And those are just the projects I can talk about right now. 2020 is going to be BOOM!’s biggest and best one yet!
Biggest story of 2019: In mainstream comics it has to be the ascension of Kevin Feige to Chief Creative Officer at Marvel and overseeing all of the creative initiatives at that company across all mediums. That coupled with DC under the leadership of Pam Lifford paints a new and interesting portrait of the Big Two. On the one hand, the consolidation and vertical integration offers up some exciting opportunities to reach new audiences. On the other hand, it’s a world of difference from the days when Paul Levitz and Dan Buckley & Joe Quesada were in the driver’s seat at those two companies and it’s bound to continue to impact their respective publishing plans.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2020? The book trade channel overtaking the comic book specialty (direct) market as the largest marketplace for the comic book medium. That channel already sells more graphic novels, but next year it will likely sell more graphic novels than the comic book specialty market will sell of comics AND graphic novels combined. And the biggest segment of those sales will be in middle grade and young adult graphic novel, which not only signals a shift in what publishers should be publishing but also a tremendous opportunity to create new adult readers for the future.
Guilty Pleasure for 2020: The release of BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC. The original BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE was a seminal moment in my formative years as a geek so this will be like eating a giant bowl of proverbial mac-n-cheese for my inner 12-year old.
Person or Comic of the Decade: Eric Stephenson.
Stephenson’s reinvigoration of Image Comics at the beginning of the decade and the incredible run Image has enjoyed as the preeminent publisher for creator-owned comic book material defined the 2010s.
Image hit its historic low point in terms of market share in 2009, dipping below 5%, the year after Stephenson was made publisher. By 2010, the seeds he’d planted had started to drive a recovery which really took off from 2012-2015. It’s easy to take for granted the idea that the top talent from Marvel and DC would come to Image to publish their own work or that Marvel and DC would look to Image for up-and-coming talent to groom into the next generation of star creators, but it wasn’t the case in the first decade of this century.
Robert Kirkman deserves some portion of this credit as well – both for proof of concept that was THE WALKING DEAD, but also for planting a flag with Image and helping Stephenson recruit high profile talent in the early days.
What’s perhaps most impressive about Stephenson’s achievement is that he did it without reinventing what Image was, instead he doubled down on the promise of Image’s reason for existing and elegantly marketed the appeal of pure creator vision to creators, retailers, and fans. It was simply put – masterful.
Image’s success in the direct market was mirrored in the book market and they helped draw a new generation of readers into the medium over the last decade. In many ways Image’s rise in the 2010s also mirrors a larger trend in comic books and graphic novels, the emergence of readers who followed authors rather than companies or characters and the emergence of new marketplaces outside of Marvel/DC-centric comic shops (including more diverse, welcoming comic shops).
Shane Davis, Artist & Writer
2020 Projects: Metal Men
Biggest story of 2019: Probably DC’s reach to new audience groups through Walmart sales and their new young reader line. As a child, I first got into reading comics when I chanced upon a pack of Spider-Man comics in a Walmart, which in turn led me to seek out my local comic shop. That started my monthly comic-buying habit. To me, I feel this is a big step forward in the direct market sales since it was how I first found out about comics. The Hickman X-Men relaunch is a contender for being the biggest news of 2019.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2020? I can’t let that cat out of the bag yet.
Guilty Pleasure for 2020: Reading ‘My Hero Academia’ manga.
Person or Comic of the Decade: Frank Miller. His return to iconic DC Comic characters has been pretty epic.
Camilla Zhang, Writer and Outreach Lead
2020 Projects: A creator owned graphic novel and novel.
Biggest story of 2019:
Guilty Pleasure for 2020: Riverdale
Person or Comic of the Decade: Heidi MacDonald (comics journalism would be nowhere without you!), Gina Gagliano, Sana Amanat, Spike Trotman (for saving webcomics, bringing in New voices, and being a trail blazer in indie comics!), Taneka Stotts (for being a real champion of marginalized creators!)
Comics of the decade: Mi(s)hadra, Curvy, The Best We Could Do, Spinning, The Prince and the Dressmaker, Lighter Than My Shadow
Eric Reynolds, Publisher
2020 Projects: Simon Hanselmann’s SEEDS AND STEMS, Garth Stein and Matthew Southworth’s THE CLOVEN, Julia Gfrörer’s VISION, Henry McCausland’s EIGHT-LANE RUNAWAYS, Jim Woodring’s “AND NOW, SIR…”
Biggest story of 2019: Amazon’s strengthening leverage over all graphic novel publishing.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2020? Amazon, everywhere.
Person or Comic of the Decade:
Jim Pascoe, writer
2020 Projects: Cottons: The White Carrot (book 2 in the Cottons series by me and Heidi Arnold) comes out Feb 18 from First Second. It’s about a young female who is struggling to lead an artistic life in a society that doesn’t value art, and it’s told as a fairy tale with rabbits and foxes. The White Carrot expands on issues important to artists, like work for hire and censorship.
Biggest story of 2019: Mad Magazine ending publication.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2020? The continuing rise of middle reader graphic novel sales in the book trade.
Guilty Pleasure for 2020: Meeting fans and seeing old friends on the Cottons book tour!
Person or Comic of the Decade: Raina Telgemeier
Henry J Barajas, Writer
2020 projects: My first book: How NOT to Make Comics
Biggest story of 2019: The end of The Walking Dead. It just hit with no one expecting it.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2020? Libraries will carry monthly comics.
Guilty Pleasure for 2020: I’m looking forward to seeing all the break out Latinx creators that have been working tirelessly.
Person or Comic of the Decade: Saga. It’s the best comic of the decade. There’s no question
Nice to see Eric Stephenson also get called out as a person of the decade. Regardless of whether you read much from Image, their publishing through the 2010s had pretty much driven comics discussion and adult comic outreach through the decade, and they’ve pioneered a specific market for indy books that companies like BOOM and Vault are expanding into.
I’m most encouraged that the publishers are realizing Scholastic fairs, bookstores, and libraries are the new “spinner racks” for getting comics in front of kids. And surprise, kids still love comics if you tell stories they want to read and look at.
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