Yes, it’s that time of the year where The Beat quizzes a wide swath of creators, journalists, retailers and other comics people for their upcoming projects, thoughts on the past and future of the industry, and inspirations. Huge thanks to everyone who took the time to participate, as you’ll find some very interesting takes on where we might be going below, as well as a ton of news about upcoming books. We’ll be running the survey in five parts as always, culminating in the naming of the Comics Industry Person of the Year.
Emma Vieceli, Comicker
2019 Projects: Having switched hats a bit this year, my biggest project for 2019 is a writing one: Life is Strange for Titan comics and Square Enix. I’ll of course be continuing with my co-created independent title,. Beyond that, some fun bit and bobs waiting to play out; aren’t there always? ;)
What was the biggest story in comics in 2018? There have been so many sadly negative stories in 2018, from genuine losses of talented and loved people to anger, upset and fury over the fact that some people still don’t seem able to just enjoy comics and all it can encompass, but I’m going to instead focus on the fact that I personally felt an injection of enthusiasm into the industry this year. Somehow it felt that a resilience and determination was instilled, perhaps to counter some of the negative in the world, generally. I’ve seen a lot of successes and excited friends. Creators are making transitions to new mediums and fans are getting behind them. It’s not a single news story, but it’s a joy seeing the waves of unification and enthusiasm that have risen up in my internet- bubble over the last year.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2019? A generous billionaire shall swoop into the publishing industry and financially bolster us all. Industry-wide weekends and evenings shall be enforced and sick pay shall be introduced. The billionaire shall be loved and we’ll make a statue of them and hold an annual celebration of their greatness.
I’m pretty sure that’s what I heard, anyways.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2019? Spending more time with my creator-owned baby, BREAKS. this year got very busy and I lost a lot of my buffer for uploading. I’m looking forward to some self-indulgent comicking :)
Who inspired you in 2018? Every single person who takes the time to contact me and say they’ve enjoyed what I’ve made. That is the biggest inspiration we can hope for. But I’ll also say Andrew James of Titan Comics – he was my editor for Doctor Who a couple of years back and was willing to take a chance and offer me my first monthly writing gig with Life is Strange. His confidence in me has been hugely inspiring and helped me do something I wasn’t sure I’d ever get a chance to.
Erica Schultz, Writer/Editor
2019 projects: The trade paperback of Twelve Devils Dancing comes out the first NCBD of January with a cover by Bill Sienkiewicz. The Good Fight anthology comes out next year. I’m working on a project with Emily Pearson, another with Liana Kangas, and a third with Stelladia.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2018? The passing of Stan Lee.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2019? Captain Marvel’s film, and how Kelly Sue, Jaime McKelvie, Dave Lopez, and Dexter Soy set that story up to be amazing.
Jimmy Palmiotti, Creator-Writer
2019 Projects: Wonder Woman for DC 100 Walmart exclusive- Sex and Violence Vol. 3- Painkiller Jane mini- series and feature film- Random Acts of Violence feature film- Coney Island graphic novel and Mystery Marvel project.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2018? Sadly the passing of Stan Lee, one of my heroes and a friend, and on a positive note, the release of the DC 100 page exclusive comics for Walmart.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2019? Creators once again separating themselves from the big companies to create their own characters mainly because the biggest companies out there do not involve the creators in the development, past comics, of characters they work on into film and TV and barely include them in a % of the license income they make off their images. This is a business that has no security for the talent as they get older, even though the biggest companies can easily help them and choose not to, and because of this, creators will be going elsewhere. An obvious and big reaction to this is we will see everything but the better selling titles take a huge hit and a ton of cancellations across the board. I also think this is the year where comics as a whole will be taking a hit unless things change really quickly.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2019? More creator owned character development and spending some more time traveling and having fun with my wife.
Who inspired you in 2018? My wife, Amanda Conner, continues to inspire me each and every day to be a better person, work through my problems, and enjoy life… and not make it about work all the time. After so many years of hustling, what is important is becoming clearer because of her. I am thankful for that.
John Green, writer/artist
2019 Projects: The second book in my KITTEN CONSTRUCTION COMPANY series, “A Bridge Too Fur,” comes out in Fall from First Second Books.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2018? Not so much a story, but news that the world heard (and felt) both within and outside of the comics industry was the passing of Stan Lee.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2019? Hopefully something GOOD and not something scandalous or heartbreaking!
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2019? Probably the next Star Wars, I guess.
Joshua Frankel, Publisher, Z2 Comics
2019 Projects: Right now Z2 Comics has 8 books or so in production for next year 5-6 of them are some of our tentpole music books. The one coming out the soonest and that has been announced is the Ghost of Ohio. The book is by Andy Biersack (lead singer of the Black Veil Brides) Scott Tuft and Eryk Donovan. It is going to tie into Andy’s same named second solo album. We’re expecting big things out of the project. Aside from that of announced books we have Run The Dungeon and D&D comedy written by Patrick Kindlon and Drawn by Goran Gliogvic. Lastly we have Tales of The Music Makers a book showcasing people the Music Maker Relief fund have helped and draw by Gary Dumm.
Some of our biggest books this year will be announcing shortly after this article runs ( and one before most likely)
What was the biggest story in comics in 2018? I think the acquisition of of comic book companies by broader media companies is probably the biggest story. In a span of a year Millarworld got bought by Netflix, Valiant getting bought by DMG wholesale and now Darkhorse having a majority stake bought by a Chinese VC firm. As a broader story in the last couple of years there has been a flood of investment being poured into comics. That said despite all of this money being pushed in sales have shrunk at least in the direct market. It seems counterintuitive but investment in comics is actually not great for the market as a whole, though it does benefit the people working in the industry.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2019? I hate to say it but I think the sugar rush of investment money is going to start to wear off. Your going to see a lot of comic companies either downsizing or folding up shop. The Lion Forge layoffs are probably just the tip of the iceberg. Also it should be noted it looks like the economy is about to slow down and possibly contract next year. This will most likely accelerate these trends
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2019? Probably some horrible new food that’s invented
Who inspired you in 2018? This is going to sound super pretentious but I read a book called On Grand Strategy by John Lewis Gaddis. His basic thesis is that to properly employ a grand strategy a certain cognitive dissonance is needed where one has to plan out details carefully but roll with the punches when those details change. He uses a few historical examples from Xerxes to FDR. Overall that idea has been very helpful in running Z2 in the last year.
Mark Newgarden. Cartoonist
2019 Projects: How To Re-Read Nancy
What was the biggest story in comics in 2018? Stan Lee dies
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2019? Big boy pants
Brian Fies, Cartoonist
2019 Projects: “A Fire Story” graphic novel, to be published by Abrams in March 2019, expands the 18-page Emmy Award-winning webcomic I posted after my home was destroyed in the California wildfires of October 2017. The 160-page full-color hardcover tells more of my family’s story as well as the stories of others affected by the fire, while also touching on issues of class and climate change.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2018? Stan Lee’s death, and the reflection on where comics came from and where they’re going that it prompted.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2019? Whatever movies Marvel cranks out. They’re not all great, but they’ve all been entertaining.
Who inspired you in 2018? Carol Tyler always inspires me because she makes high-quality comics with outstanding heart and craftsmanship.
Peter Kuper, cartoonist
2019 Projects: Adapting Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness
What was the biggest story in comics in 2018? Too few books on climate change
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2019? More books on climate change
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2019? Going back to Oaxaca, Mexico
Julia Wertz, cartoonist
2019 Projects: I’m working on an autobiographical book about my last years in NYC, as well as keeping up with daily diary comics at Patreon
What was the biggest story in comics in 2018? Unfortunately, Cody Pickrodt’s lawsuit.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2019? The resolution of that lawsuit, which I hope he loses.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2019? It’s not really a guilty pleasure, more just a pleasure, but I always look forward to Gabrielle Bell’s diary comics
Who inspired you in 2018? Liana Finck, who’s book Passing for Human, was released this year and was really unique and interesting, and she also continues to churn out cartoons for the New Yorker and on her instagram that somehow distill the human condition into one hilarious panel.
Sarah Glidden, cartoonist
2019 Projects: I’ve been on maternity leave for the last 7 months but he’s about to go to day care two days a week so I’m excited to get back to work.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2018? Cody Pickrodt suing his alleged rape victim as well as ten other cartoonists, critics and publishers who came out in support of her is one of the most despicable uses of the legal system I’ve ever seen in the comics community.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2019? When the 11 beat this lawsuit.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2019? Paying a day care to take care of my son for a few days a week so I can work on comics, which financially makes zero sense.
Who inspired you in 2018? I could pretend its not my baby but who am I kidding? He makes me see the world differently.
Jeffrey Brown, cartoonist
2019 Projects: My new picture book, “My Teacher Is A Robot”, comes out in June
What was the biggest story in comics in 2018? Stan Lee passing away. Also, side note, how old and out of touch is Bill Maher to use Lee’s death as an opportunity to declare that the comics medium has no value?!
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2019? Barnes & Noble will experiment with a new kind of store that expands the graphic novel section, eliminates all other categories, and focuses on comics and pop culture related merchandise. The stores will work with Diamond Distributors and they’ll also sell a large selection of both new and out of print pamphlet comics.
Joe Casey, Renaissance Man
2019 Projects: March: JESUSFREAK with Benjamin Marra (Image Comics). April: SEX Vol. 6 with Piotr Kowalski (Image Comics).
What was the biggest story in comics in 2018? I don’t know how “big” a story it was, since death is an inevitable part of life, but we lost a lot of legends this year. Steve Ditko. Harlan Ellison. Jon Schnepp. Russ Heath. Gary Friedrich. Marie Severin. Norm Breyfogle. Carlos Ezquerra. Stan Lee. And that’s just a partial list.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2019? Hopefully something that no one could’ve possibly predicted…
Jeff Trexler, Attorney
2019 Projects: TBA
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2019?
The 50th Annual San Diego Comic-Con – guilty pleasure because every year i say I should stay in New York to work, but …
Who inspired you in 2018? Ashley Eckstein, who not only wrote the stellar inspirational memoir It’s Your Universe but justifiably made the annual Her Universe fashion show one of — and arguably the most — buzzed about events at Comic-Con. She’s also one of the best speakers I’ve ever seen; her book tour and the talk she gave to lawyers & designers from around the world at this year’s Fashion Law Bootcamp were an exemplary blend of inspirational uplift and practical strategic advice. And there are others in the fashion community who were especially inspiring for me this year: Douriean Fletcher, Allison Cimino, Tony Kim, Jaimie Cordero … getting to catch up with and learn from people like this at comic-cons is a big reason why I go.