The Beat’s Annual Creator Survey Part 4: New projects from Amy Chu, Janet Lee, Roman Muradov, Otto Soglow, Ben Towle and more

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Continuing with our wide-ranging survey of creators from every end of the business on what happened and what’s coming. A lot of people who responded e this year talked about the development of a new distribution system or channel for comics as being a big story for 2019. It seem there is a lot of dissatisfaction with how comics are sold these days, no duh. What do you think?  Is there a savior on the horizon? You can check out the other parts of the survey here.


Kwanza Osajyefo, writer

2019 Projects: H1 Comics from Humanoids and WHITE, the sequel to BLACK

What was the biggest story in comics in 2018? The growth of the graphic novels among titles that don’t perform as well in the direct market.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2019? Comic distribution becoming more multi-channel along with the direct market

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2019? Figuring out what is going on in Paper Girls

Who inspired you in 2018? Everyone, I think so many of our peers have been operating on ten this year. I think the flood of comics content into the mainstream has really gotten us fired up, not to get our work into other mediums but to imagine on a larger scale.


Shenton4Sales_wearing_Wonder_Bear_tee_by_Justin_Hall_400x400.JPGTony ShentonSales rep and consultant

What was the biggest story in comics in 2018? The death of Stan Lee

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2019? The ongoing legal battle Cody Pikrodt has started vs. small presses and creators

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2019? Not a guilty pleasure at all: RUN from Abrams.


Gary TyrrellBlogger

What was the biggest story in comics in 2018? Spike Trotman. She’s tearing up the industry with Iron Circus, and she’ll be launching a YA imprint — she’s making it so a lot of future superstars have a place to start their careers.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2019? Raina Telgemeier’s next book will have an initial print run of one million. That’s mindbending.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2019? Perp walks of high federal officials and Trump family members. So many perp walks.

Who inspired you in 2018? Pat Race — he and his team have put together something extraordinarily special in the Alaska Robotics Comics Camp, and it’s creating new relationships and creative networks among comics creators at all stages of their careers. The future will remember it as equivalent to the Algonquin Round Table.


Mariah McCourt, Creator

2019 Projects: STITCHED #3 and a new series for AHOY! comics

What was the biggest story in comics in 2018? That comics are for everyone, stories matter, and so does representation.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2019? Hopefully more focus on amazing creators, the diversity of content, and the continuing impact and relevancy of the medium.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2019? No guilty pleasures here, I’m looking forward to seeing all the new books in the works!


Joe Field, Retailer

2019 Projects: A new space to expand Flying Colors for events and sales

What was the biggest story in comics in 2018? There was no one biggest story in comics. It was a thousand shards of glass rather than just one big picture window.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2019? Cruise to the Edge, a prog rock themed cruise in February. No cell phones, no worries, just some great people having a peace party at sea.

Who inspired you in 2018? My wife Libby continues to be my inspiration. We celebrate our 40th anniversary in late February (so good then, even better now). The non-profit work she does in helping women with crisis pregnancies while also managing Flying Colors’ back office and reveling in her role as a grandmother is so inspiring to me.


Amy Chu, writer

2019 Projects: Summit (Lion Forge), Sea Sirens with Janet Lee (Viking Press), Pros & Cons (Dark Horse)

What was the biggest story in comics in 2018? Kid’s graphic novels are $$$ – Dave Pilkey 3 million print run for his fifth Dog Man book; Raina Telgemeier 1 million for Guts

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2019? Kid’s graphic novels


Glenn Hauman, publisher at ComicMix, designated victim of “They Keep Killing Glenn

2019 Projects: What 2019 projects am I working on that I can talk about? More omnibus editions for GrimJack, Soulsearchers & Company, and Deadbeats, and new… oh, dammit, I can’t talk about that yet. Arrgh.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2018? The passing of Stan Lee. We all knew it was going to happen someday, and yet… we all thought we might get a pass on this one, you know?

And speaking of Marvel greats leaving: Bendis at DC.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2019? The All-New, All-Different Stan Lee 2.0!

And the bankruptcy of projects intended to get money from C*****gate people.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2019? The resolution of certain legal proceedings.


Thomas Ragon, Publisher

2019 Projects:

Roman Muradov - The Adventures of Munich in Marcel Duchamp .jpg

Roman Muradov’s next book “The Adventures of Munich in Marcel Duchamp”.

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Thierry Smolderen & Alexandre Clérisse’s (whose “Atom Empire” & “Diabolik Summer” are translated or about to be by IDW) next graphic Novel : “Une année sans Cthulhu” (A year without Cthulhu).

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After Glenn Gould, Sandrine Revel’s book about Canadian painter Tom Thomson
Two major sets of exhibitions, in chronological order : Blutch has several exhibitions throughout 2019 in Strasbourg, and we’re working on a monograph to be released early March. Joann Sfar will be exhibited at the Basel Cartoon Museum and Lucerne festival “Fumetto”.

Ron Wimberly’s “Prince of Cats” French edition.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2018? Ron Wimberly’s LAAB #0 ; The French authors collective movement to obtain better social and economic conditions from both publishers and government.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2019? Borja Gonzalez having a worldwide success with his THE BLACK HOLES.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2019? Discovering new excellent restaurants thanks to my job. Discovering new great bookstores thanks to my job.

Who inspired you in 2018? Blutch and Joann Sfar are always inspiring me, in many ways.

Nat Gertler, writer/publisher

2019 Projects: While my 2019 writing projects are for other people to announce, my first publishing project of the new year reflects on the 90th anniversary of the Great Depression by reprinting a book of cartoons by the great Otto Soglow, done during the depression.

Preview pages below.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2018? The triumph of diversity against anti-diversity forces.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2019? Good comics. It’s always good comics, and there are always good comics for the story to be about. All the industry games mean nothing without that.



Christian BeranekWriter

2019 projects: Kelci Crawford and I will be wrapping up Validation and then moving forward with Tiny Unicorn. (See below) Also writing loads of prose stories.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2018? Black Panther. I wish its box office success translated into more sales, however. We have to find a way to turn film audiences onto the source material.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2019? A massive wave of quality comics bringing in new readers.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2019? Any time taken away from writing. I want to work as much as possible but know you need breaks. I plan on reading more books in the Foundation series. Looking forward to that show.

Who inspired you in 2018? Tony DiGerolamo. The guy is a writing machine and really understands the mechanics of storytelling. More companies should consider hiring him.


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Sanika Phawde, Cartoonist

2019 Projects: My biggest project scheduled to be completed in 2019 is my newest graphic novel. The project is still untitled but it presents an autofiction story about the journey of learning to love myself, and learning to accept my body and sexuality, as a freshly adult immigrant in New York city .

The story communicates through mix-media drawings on location, memoir comics, sketchbook pages, illustrated poetry, and even a few instances of fold-out paper architecture.

You're Gonna Be FineMoving PainsSearching For Instances of Emotional Connection Amidst Strangers In The Subway

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2019? I am really looking forward to going back home to Mumbai after a year, and eating a Nescafe flavoured ice cream sandwich in the winter heat with my best friend, while sitting on the wall that keeps the Arabian sea out of the city.

Who inspired you in 2018? Julian Glander, Jaron Braxton, Veronica Lawlor, Nora Krug, Robert Sikoryak, Brian Rea, Alex Norris, Lizzo, Melissa Guerrero (practices activism through food), Janelle Monae


Christopher Butcher, TCAF Artistic Director & VIZ Media Editorial Consultant

2019 Projects: TCAF 2019 is gearing up and it’s going to have one of the strongest and most diverse guest lists in our history. It’s going to be a pretty amazing year to be there, whether you love kids comics, YA comics, Adult comics, North American or International Comics. We’re pretty hyped!

On the VIZ side of things, though there’s a ton still to be announced, several of the series I’ve had a hand in are starting or continuing into 2019. Look out for the YA LGBTQ series “That Blue Sky Feeling” to get its 2nd and 3rd and final volume next year, the amazing/disturbing BEASTARS will start next year (like if Zootopia were a little more food-chain accurate?), and the recently-debuted gorgeous SF title Ran and The Grey World will start to turn some heads.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2018? That’s tough. The industry is so fragmented at this point, that stories that were huge in one area barely made a ripple in others. Straddling graphic novel publishing, manga publishing, and with a toe still in superhero publishing, it’s amazing the times people would pull me aside and ask “So what was that about, exactly? All I saw was the hashtag…”

So… yeah I dunno. I think the biggest ‘story’ probably wasn’t written, but it was about the continued evolution of this industry as it happened. The house-cleaning and secret-revealing that needed to happen, some of the editorial attitudes around projects looking pretty terrible when exposed to the light of day, the continued vertical integration in licensed properties, all of it points to a maturing industry, which is both good and bad. More professionalism, but less room for the sort of fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants stuff that made comics very, very exciting about 10 years ago.

I think most folks involved will take ‘professionalism’ any day of the week though!

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2019? Pogs, baby! POGS!

No but seriously, I have no idea. There’s so much up in the air right now, 2019 is going to be bumpy for sure.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2019? If it’s not hurting anyone, then there’s no point in feeling guilty about pleasure. Enjoy yourselves, it’s tough out there. :)

Who inspired you in 2018? My husband, Andrew Woodrow-Butcher, who was enormously patient and supportive while I took risks and traveled around the world, all while working 60 hours a week making sure Canadian schools and libraries have the best comic collections in the world, re-opening the world’s first kids comic book store (Little Island Comics!), sending Canadians to comic festivals around the world, and of course, programming a big part of TCAF. He’s a constant inspiration to me, I’m lucky to have him.


Ben Towle, Cartoonist

2019 Projects: The main project I’ve been working on in 2018 is a non-fiction graphic novel for the new imprint Dead Reckoning, which specializes in comics about things historical and/or military-related.

The book’s called Four Fisted Tales and it’s a collection of real-life stories about animals used in combat.

Here’s a sample page:


And here’s an in-progress rough:


I’m also continuing to work on–albeit a lot more slowly–my book In the Weeds about cooking and playing rock music in the 1990’s. It’s my first foray into the great comics tradition of “funny animals” characters. Here’s an in-progress rough from that:


It probably seems like I’ve disappeared since Oyster War came out a few years back, but I’ve been hard at work on TWO books, I promise!

What was the biggest story in comics in 2018? That’s gotta be the announcement of not one, but TWO, forthcoming books from Raina Telgemeier. When the most highly-read and most popular cartoonist in North America announces a book, it’s a big flippin’ deal. TWO books in the same year is bonkers news.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2019? OK…Well, it’s only a big story for ME, but I’m really excited about the upcoming D&Q Little Lulu reprint series. These are some of the best comics ever made and it’s going to be great to see them get the D&Q treatment starting in 2019.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2019?
I’m a huge Star Trek nerd and so I’m super-excited about whatever’s brewing with this new Picard show. Supposedly starting in 2019!