Home Culture History The Beat’s Annual News Survey, 2008 Edition–Part 1

The Beat’s Annual News Survey, 2008 Edition–Part 1

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It’s here! The Beat’s annual survey of comics professionals, journalists and respected hangers on covering the biggest events of 2007 and where they think things are going in 2008. As always, thanks to all who took the time from their busy schedules to participate. The response was overwhelming, and we’re breaking the survey answer s into two parts once again. Get a hot foamy beverage — or perhaps a cold frosty one — sit back and enjoy. PS: If you look closely there are some news hints and teases within.

Lea Hernandez: Rumble Girls: Runaway Lightning Ohmry, Ironclad Petal (stiiiiill), a book about the fire that destroyed my house (it’ll be the funniest book about a house fire ever!), monetizing my comics since they have a huh-yuge readership and a low earning level, and a short-story serial strip with my long-time muse Nan 1^1. And something Big. And getting my daughter tested into high school. Guess which one is the most stressful. No, go on. Guess.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2007? It’s not a dream, not an imaginary story, and not a fad: Women and girl comics fans and pros talking about comics critically, socially, and artistically. Making comics. Still.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2008? Tori Amos’ Comic Book Tattoo, set to debut at SDCCI 2008. Tori Amos’ songs as interpreted by many kickass comics creators. Cast of many tens, edited by Rantz Hosley. I’m in it.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2008? Making more money. Wait, that’s not guilty, that’s just pleasure. A tray of baklava? Dangit, I just don’t have any pleasures I feel guilty about. I’m still embarassed by those naked pix of Daniel Radcliffe. Wait! I have it: cosplay. Don’t send help.

Ben Templesmith: More FELL from Image comics ( Yes, honest! #9 is complete and will be out early next year just for starters! ) WORMWOOD: CALAMARI RISING and if I can manage it, WORMWOOD: BINGO NIGHT IN VALHALLA from IDW Publishing, as well as DEADSPACE from Image and quite possibly something a bit different from me called THE CENTURY, some book covers, album covers perhaps from the looks of things…plus a bunch of stuff I already forget. I blame the drinking.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2007? I thought it was going to be my part time job as a Princess Leia Slave Girl model at SDCC, but apparently not. I’d have to go with it being the year comics solidify their success at being half decent successful movies that actually embrace the art and artists and start taking advantage of some of that on screen…which seems obvious for some projects considering comics are a visual medium as much as a literary one. Hopefully a continuing trend on the projects where it would make sense to do so. Apart from that, I have no idea, as I’ve been blissfully ignorant of most goings on thanks to travel and work schedule which meant I had no life whatsoever.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2008? The pessimist in me expects it to be how well the biz fairs in the coming recession. US economy looks to be in for some rough times ahead. The other story might be just how lax US immigration has become, I mean, apparently they’re letting me in early next year for an extended period. The fools, the fools! They know not what they do!

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2008? Being able to crash at my own house at next years SDCC. Being in the next room from some of the people I work with, rather than 16 hours in the future on another continent ( hmm, that might not be such a good thing come to think about it! ) and generally knuckling down and getting a lot of projects under my belt. 2008 is the year of 400+ pages for me.

Rikki Simons, ShutterBox Book Five with Tavisha, which we’re now three months behind on. Which means we’re on schedule.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2007? Probably something to do with Neil Gaiman, or Alan Moore, or that Sin City guy, or some movie adaptation, or manga becoming more popular with kids, or a tawdry comic cover, or a legitimate magazine talking up comics’ legitimacy, or some poor shop owner being arrested.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2008? I don’t know. What’s been the biggest story for the past ten years? See above.

Maybe Tokyopop promotional events will stop feeling like a cross between an orca show at Sea World and a Hieronymus Bosch painting. Now that would be a big story. To me at least.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2008? Finishing ShutterBox Book Six and then walking off the Golden Gate Bridge. Ha-ha! Oh, me. I’ll settle for Guild Wars 2 or Eve-Online implementing playable human avatars.

Kaare Andrews, king of Salmon Nigiri: Covers: Dead Of Night, Iron Fist, The Twelve.

Writing and Drawing: It’s a marvelous secret

What was the biggest story in comics in 2007?
One More Day.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2008?
The battle of the torrents. I think it’s hilarious. What is going to happen? What do you do about the madness of rampant theft of intellectual property? How is that going to play out? And how does Switzerland fit into this? Because you know it’s not going to simply stay the way it is. More people are going to be doing it and there will have to be some sort of answer. How is this going to be resolved? I’m very interested to see how society reacts to this issue. This will take a while to work itself out (a decade perhaps?) and I will be riveted the entire time. I predict… War.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2008?
I’m looking forward to taking part in the most violent tale of revenge and redemption ever told in the House that Jack and Stan built. ‘Nuff Said.

Chris Weston: The Twelve for Marvel Comics and a big movie I’m not allowed to talk about!

What was the biggest story in comics in 2007? The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’s Black Dossier being illegal in England.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2008?
Frank Miller will be kidnapped by the Al Quaeda Network for his work on “Holy Terror, Batman”.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2008?
Frank Miller being kidnapped by the Al Quaeda Network for his work on “Holy Terror, Batman”!

:)

Mark Millar: What are you working on: Fantastic Four, 1985, Kick-Ass and a big project (to be announced in January) with Civil Wat superstar Mister Steve McNiven.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2007? I genuinely can’t think of anything, but it’s early in the morning and I’m never at my best at this time. All I can do, I suppose, is tell you what excited me most. Walking Dead. And Invincible. And yes, I KNOW everybody else discovered these two or three years back, but I’m just jumping on that Kirkman bus now and buying lots of copies for the civilians in my life (who dearly love it too). But this is maybe the year my balls dropped in the sense that I was reading more indie books than superhero titles from the Big Two. I hope I’m not going to turn into one of those pricks who sneer about spandex.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2008? The biggest story in 2008 will be coming around August or September. I can’t tell you what it is yet, but it’s cool.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2008? We should never feel guilty about pleasure. If we get pleasure from a comic-book we should be happy about it and tell everyone to pick it up. Someone who suffers from guilty pleasure isn’t being honest with themselves and is only worrying what other people think of their mainstream tastes. That said, if your guilty pleasure is murder or something then you have every right to keep it quiet. That’s an entirely different scenario!

Jimmy Palmiotti: Finishing up a few titles as we speak with Justin Gray: Countdown, Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters, Terra, The Dock Walloper and continuing with Jonah Hex monthly, Painkiller Jane and two new series that will be announced any day now. .

What was the biggest story in comics in 2007? The interaction between hollywood and comics continues to move on . There really isn’t anything comic wise that stands out for me.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2008? How many exclusive contracts get broken and how fans will start following creators more than companies .

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2008? Spending more time in Florida than New York, getting behind the camera more and the New Frontier animated film.

David Seidman
• Marketing for NBM (www.nbmpub.com) and Papercutz
(www.papercutz.com)
• Developing a graphic-novel project that I’m not free to discuss
at the moment
• Hosting a monthly dinner for comics professionals in the Los
Angeles area
• Teaching comics writing via MediaBistro

What was the biggest story in comics in 2007? The biggest story was an ongoing trend rather than a single event: it’s more and more accepted and less worthy of headlines that bookstores, libraries, book publishers, and movie studios value comics and graphic novels. Less and less do we have to define “graphic novel” for people who don’t read them. There’s still a ways to go (we need more readers), but we’re going in the right direction.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2008? Beats me. I can’t predict the future. But I hope that the biggest story is a non-story, like a year without a single prosecution of a comics shop for selling adult materials to adults.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2008? My guilty pleasures usually involve food and/or women, and I probably shouldn’t explain further in a public forum. Other than that, I look forward to making enough money that I can get away with telling certain annoying people to go bite themselves.

David Gallaher: Currently, I’m writing HIGH MOON for Zuda. I’ve got two other projects in various stages of development – one for a major publisher, another for a smaller company.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2007? Mike Wieringo’s passing was the biggest and certainly the most heartbreaking story of the year. The news of his death hit everyone pretty hard – whether they were a fan, creator, retailer, or publisher.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2008? Whether he is found innocent of guilty, the verdict in the Michael George trial will have some severe ramifications.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2008? The Iron Man, Hulk, and Dark Knight films. Next summer is full of win for comic fans!

John Green: There should be more Teen Boat, Jax Epoch, and Space Office next year. I’m also still working on my zombie adventure game, Nearly Departed. In addition I’m doing art for a commercial video game, which hasn’t been announced yet, and a few other secret projects which I’ll hopefully be able to talk about come January or February.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2007? I’m always terrible at answering this one! I never know which story to chose. There’s the runaway success of ‘300’ (though I guess that’s not purely just a comics story), the “Heroes For Hire” cover scandal, DC diving into webcomics with Zuda, DC launching the Minx line of books, Marvel announcing the undoing of Peter Parker & Mary Jane’s marriage, that damn Mary Jane ‘laundry’ statuette, all the scandals involving foreign political cartoons…. One way to narrow it down would be to just choose one that would have a lasting effect on the comics world, and I guess I’d have to go with Zuda (though something keeps nagging me that there was a bigger story out there!). It’s still in its infancy, and I think there’s going to be a lot more talk about it in 2008.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2008? I’m gonna say webcomics, in general. I know there will be a lot of events in comics that will cause a big stir here and there, but I think when you boil down all the “Comic X is being made into a movie”, “Comic Y got picked up by mainstream book publisher” and “Comic Z writer new head of (insert big 3 comics company here)”, all those stories will in someway be linked to webcomics. Like the Kevin Bacon game.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2008? Indiana Jones 4 and all related tie-ins.

Ted Rall: I’m an editorial cartoonist and graphic novelist (“My War with Brian,” “To Afghanistan and Back,” “Silk Road to Ruin”). A decade after “My War with Brian” rocked–um, came out, “The Year of Loving Dangerously” marks my return to the autobio form. It’s a full-color graphic novel about the year I got expelled from university, evicted from my home, arrested, fired from my job, and dumped by the girl I thought I was going to marry. I ended up on the street, broke and clueless. Sounds fun, huh? But hey, there’s sex. Lots of sex! “Loving” will be my first collaboration, with Pablo J. Callejo, who did the “Bluesman” series for NBM. He’s doing the art; I’m writing. I’ve started outlining a possible sequel to “Loving,” and this may be the year I finally nail down my prose novel.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2007? 2007 was notable for what didn’t happen, or what was not widely reported. There were no Mohammed cartoon controversies or blockbuster books. All the real action bubbled beneath the surface.

R. Stevens’ “Diesel Sweeties” became the first webcomic to successfully transition to large daily newspapers via syndication. (Disclosure: I signed “Diesel Sweeties” in my capacity as editor of acquisitions and development at United Feature Syndicate.) It’s important because, after years of claiming they’re ready to modernize their comics pages, comics editors are embracing a strip that looks and reads radically differently than anything they’ve ever run before. But the trade media, with the exception of the Daily Cartoonist, where it was one of the biggest stories of the year, didn’t seem to notice much. I think the strip has a big future.

The other strip I signed was Tak Toyoshima’s “Secret Asian Man,” the first daily comic by an Asian-American about Asian-American characters. The fact that it’s in big mainstream daily papers is important.

The New York Times Sunday Magazine’s “Funny Pages” continued to run art comics, but readers have reacted with a chorus of yawns. Here in NYC, nobody–not even cartoonists–talks about the serialized graphic novels in the “Funny Pages.” That non-story is a big deal too, and perhaps the worst possible news for the nihilistic form-over-content “I am sad and the life of an artist is a lonely one and I cannot get laid” subgenre. Better to be reviled than to be greeted with indifference.

The same goes for the dull-as-dirt “Best American Comics 2007,” a case study in false advertising if there ever was one. With the exception of an excerpt from Alison Bechdel’s “Fun Home,” there was no reason to care about BAC07–and no one did. (Six years after 9/11, not a single political or social commentary cartoonist made the grade? No Tom Tomorrow or Ruben Bolling or Matt Bors or Ward Sutton or Stephanie McMillan or Mikhaela Reid or Stephen Notley? No David Axe? Nothing about, say, war? Or torture?) 2007 may turn out to be the year that comics readers and mainstream book buyers realize that there’s no there in art comics. I don’t blame great draughtsmen with nothing to say–they just work around their weaknesses, as do we all–but it would be nice to open the door to non-SVA/non-RISD artists with interesting stories to tell and important observations to share.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2008?
I have no idea. As an editorial cartoonist and columnist, I’ll be so obsessed with the campaign that I won’t notice if and when there is one.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2008?
A new season of “Battlestar Galactica,” the best show on television, will be awesome. But I won’t feel guilty.

Rantz A. Hoseley: Oodles and scads of things. Illustrating Displaced Persons, an OGN I’m doing with Derek McCulloch for Image Comics to be released May 2008, putting together a 400pg+ all-star anthology (which will be announce via the January issue of SPIN magazine) for Image that will be released at the SDCC, writing two series for late 2008; The Prodigal and The Handler (publisher TBA) and an ‘uber-secret’ project that CHANGES EVERYTHING (god willing and the river don’t rise…) Oh, and still making the trains run on time over at the comic creator’s forum www.panelandpixel.com

What was the biggest story in comics in 2007?
Only one? Christ on a pogo stick, 2007 was a ‘noisy’ year… Zuda and Marvel’s ill-named DCU proved that the Majors may not know what to do with digital comics, but they aren’t denying its importance anymore. The ‘invasion’ of some truly kick ass indie writers, bringing their satchels of ‘alt’ sensibilities into the world of Marvel with books like Nextwave, New Universal, The Order, Iron Fist and most recently Jason Aaron doing the guy-with-claws and Ghost Rider. I never thought I’d be buying Marvel superhero books on a regular basis again, but lo and behold… there you go. Not to mention folks like Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan ‘bringing the noise’ to places like Vertigo. Warren shut down the Engine, and I started up Panel and Pixel, and it’s hard to say what was more surprising the one two punch of Black Summer and Doktor Sleepless or finding out Ellis is doing the Xmen. Pope giving us a new THB story at SDCC, Larry Marder leaving the corporate world and returning to give us more of the beloved Beanworld… yeesh, I could go on for hours and pages!

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2008?
Well.. I’d *like* to hope that the anthology I’m doing and the ‘uber-secret’ project make a bit of noise and draw a bit of shock/attention in 2008, but who knows. I think you are going to see a more clear confluence of Rock and Comics… That Watchmen and Dark Knight will bring a lot of noise (which if we are smart as an industry, we’ll actually figure out how to capitalize off of for a change) I think 2008 is going to be a year of shakeups… companies getting bought or going out of business, Other companies jumping forward in terms of their relative stature… I’d be shocked and disappointed if we didn’t see Top Shelf move up the ranks in terms of visibility leveraging off the success of Lost Girls. Most importantly, I want to see the strides that were made in the sheer number of GOOD STORIES being told in the comics medium continue to grow, tapping down the crap-awesome ratio. I think we’ll also see a lot more ‘indie’ creators making serious waves in the Marvel and DC titles.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2008?
I’m actually looking forward to Warren’s XMen book… it’ll be the first time I’ve picked up *any* mutant book in over 20 years. I’m of course also looking forward to Watchmen and Dark Knight as well as DC’s animated DVD’s (New Frontier, etc) and from the videogame side of things, seeing what titles Nintendo comes out with on the WiiWare front in February, not to mention Shaffer’s “Heavy Metal Mythology’ adventure game which looks to be a world of ROCK.

Oh, and the February season of Big Brother… I’m a complete sucker for that show.

Joey Manley: Working with Josh Roberts and E-Line Ventures to consolidate all our websites together into the new, improved ComicSpace.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2007? For me, looking through the tiny porthole in my own cabin, the biggest story in comics this past year has been the increased investment capital flow and general corporate interest in the webcomics niche: Zuda, Marvel’s thing, the IDW purchase, the Clickwheel purchase, and so on.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2008? At least one of the print companies dipping its toes into the webcomics world will fail miserably in its efforts, leading to “the sky is falling” rhetoric about the viability of webcomics from the usual suspects. Meanwhile, the biggest successes in webcomics will continue to be independent operators — individual creators or small teams — who own their own websites, and maintain full control of their own intellectual property. That has been, and always will be, the biggest story in webcomics, every year, from now until whenever.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2008? The guilty pleasure I’m looking forward to the most in 2008 is the Cowboys & Aliens movie. For all kinds of reasons.

Mike Manley: What are you working on: Entering my second semster at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (painting major) which I chronicle on my blog, Storyboarding on Secret Saturdays, Editing Draw! Magazine and a new comic series with Greg Thompson we hope to get out in 2008. Sometimes I sleep.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2007? There was no big story for me in 2007. Instead I’d go months between visits to the comics shop so I am more out of sync and frankly now I tend to only buy trades if possible. If pressed I guess the story could be the turning of DC and Marvel to finally dinosaur-like, to embrace the web as one big way to hopefully reach the audience that will never ever darken the baby-men shops.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2008? The continued success of comic properties as movies and how that won’t sell more comics. I think in print we are beyond the days of truely big stories, just the snake eating it’s tail in the direct market. The death of this guy, the return of this other guy, rinse and repeat. But there is hope that there is a handful of determined artist and writers out there that can break out and suprise us; here I am mainly thinking of the artists doing graphic novels through the big publishers like randon house etc.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2008? Hm. Hard to say, since I just follow artists in comics. So anything by Mignola, Espanoza, Bernet, Parlov, anything good that grabs my eye on my trip to the shop. The most guilty pleasure might be getting married sometime in 2008.

Todd Allen: Winter Break schedule depending, redesign/relaunch of Indignant Online(This may
amuse New Yorkers) and finishing up a novel I’ve been working on.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2007? Corporate Comix start taking digital more seriously.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2008? Pick one:
*Ongoing digital comics experiments, and there seem to be a ton in the hopper.
*It is anticipated DC is going to have some staffing changes near the
top, and that’s always big news.
*Marvel’s adventures producing their own films.
*While I don’t see it happening, you keep hearing the WGA people with comics connections lamenting the lack of a comics union, a topic that pops up every 5-10 years and is historically due for an airing (and if history runs true, a hasty retreat and denial). If a serious attempt is made, that’s your biggest news.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2008?
I’m enjoying the consternation of the print publishers trying to apply print wisdom to their online projects and their baffled/indignant reactions to the much more bootstrap-oriented online community. I’m also looking forward to a friend’s second child being old enough to convince him that Daddy is really Thor, since he got so much embarassment out of my convincing the first child of that simple fact.

Simon Spurrier: The usual smorgasbord of Random Stuff. Curiosities for 2008 include some bits and pieces for Marvel, some odds and ends for 2000AD, and lashings of slippery mucus-spattered “Gutsville”. Oh, and my second novel.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2007? In terms of specific events which have brought comics into the public eye, I’m afraid I’m going to have to go with the obvious answer and say: The Death of Captain America. Sorry. In far broader terms I’d suggest that the biggest “thing” going on this year has been the gradual trend for the big publishers to put-out Non-Superhero material. Whether it’s DC’s “Minx” line or Marvel’s big crazy cosmic stuff (the Annihilation event) – or whatever – it’s a long-overdue signal from the heavy hitters that there’s far more to comics than Guys In Spandex Hitting Each Other.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2008? Taking an entirely optimistic tack with this one, I’m *hoping* it’ll be (British weekly comic) “2000AD”‘s decision to start publishing as a digital product as well as in its usual print form. The idea is to open-up US/worldwide markets, which were previously very tricky for the weekly to reach. Until now stateside readers have had to contend with a publication lag and high subscription costs, so 2000AD has remained a crazed giant mutant fish in a pretty small UK-sized pond. If all goes well and the digital version is publicised cleverly, the title’s arrival in the US could be a well-timed dose of narrative crack for a readership with serious DTs.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2008? Breakfast in a New York diner after the opening night of the NY Comic Con. I mean, ohyeah, the full works. Pancakes, bacon, hash browns, eggs like solidified pus. Maybe even lox and grits, and I don’t even know what those are. Waffles. Fucking ice cream. It’ll be like an enormous cross-Atlantic coronary, all on one plate. It’ll be revolting. It’ll be unhealthy and oily and expensive, and – sacrilege – I’ll be obliged to pour maple syrup all over my bacon. It’ll be a gastronomic disaster and I know, months in advance, that I’ll spend at least two weeks regretting it… …But my god it’ll be delicious.

Ted Adams, President, IDW Publishing: Growing IDW — we’ve got an aggressive publishing schedule in 2008 and we’re working hard to publish a wide range of material. We’re launching a couple of new divisions in 2008 and I’m spending most of my time getting them off the ground. We’ll be announcing the first one in a couple of weeks.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2007?
I think it’s a tie between:
(1) the huge response to Marvel’s Dark Tower series and
(2) Marvel and DC figuring out their digital distribution strategies. In 2007, the industry’s leaders began to set the direction for digital distribution of comic content. In Marvel’s case, they’re providing access to existing material through DCU and in DC’s case, they’re providing a platform for new material through ZUDA. I don’t think either model has been completely successful but they’re probably going to be baby steps to what we’ll all be doing in several years. I don’t think anyone has successfully tapped into the social network opportunities that exist for comic books.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2008?
I think we’ll see new ways to digitally distribute comic books via a direct-to-desktop download system. I like WOWIO’s model, which allows users to download titles for free and uses advertising revenue to pay publishers. I also like the idea behind Marvel’s DCU but I think their reader is difficult to use. Once a great reader is introduced, it’ll change everything.

It’ll be interesting to see the response to Amazon’s Kindle (their new e-book reader). I think if anyone can get people interested in an e-book reader, it’s Amazon. The challenge for comic publishers is that they aren’t offering a color screen which limits the comic content that will work.

IDW will be making our move for digital distribution of our content in 2008 and I’m anxious to see how it works out. We will always be primarily a print publisher but I think we have an opportunity to reach a new audience for a lot of our titles. The books we do based on TV shows like CSI and 24 have never been seen by the majority of the huge audiences that watch those programs. Digital distribution, done in conjunction with the networks, will potentially allow us to reach millions of new people.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2008?
I’m looking forward to the return of LOST. I loved last year’s season finale and can’t wait to see where they take it next.

Todd Klein: Lettering lots of comics for DC, Marvel and others. Doing logo designs. Blogging. Planning a second printing of “Alphabets of Desire” and probably others to sell on my website, kleinletters.com

What was the biggest story in comics in 2007?
I worked on it, so I’m biased, but I have to say for me it was the release (finally!) of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Black Dossier.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2008?
I’m no good at predictions. San Diego Comicon International keeps growing, though, so that should be a pretty big story magnet.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2008?
Playing poker in Atlantic City whenever I get the chance, which isn’t often!

Shaenon K. Garrity: I’m starting a new daily webstrip called Skin Horse, cowritten with Jeffrey Channing Wells. My weekly strips Smithson, drawn by Brian Moore, and Li’l Mell, currently drawn by Neil Babra, continue apace. Because none of this actually makes any money, I’m still hard at work as a freelance editor at Viz Media.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2007?
There were a lot of individual big events in 2006, but 2007 felt like more of the same: more mainstream interest in and support for graphic novels, more reprints of classic comics (and not-so-classic but still amazing comics, like the Fletcher Hanks stuff), more success for the biggest webcomics (“Achewood” was Time’s #1 graphic novel of the year!), more more more manga. The launch of the Minx line was a pretty big deal, but it’s still too early to say was its long-term impact will be. My friend Jason Thompson finally finished his mammoth reference book Manga: The Complete Guide,which will hopefully help people navigate the ever-more-treacherous sea of translated manga.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2008?
Not to pimp a project I’m with which I’m tangentially involved, but I’m hoping that the merger of ModernTales.com (which I edit) and ComicSpace.com will have a major impact on webcomics in the coming year. Joey Manley, the founder of Modern Tales, has a lot of big plans for the various Modern Tales and ComicSpace sites, most of them geared toward the goal of making it easier for people to succeed as professional webcartoonists. I’ve been listening in on the talks, and I’m cautiously optimistic.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2008?
S’mores. Lots and lots of s’mores.

Jeff Parker: X-Men First Class, The final Marvel 1602 series, and other unconfirmed books.
Also: the graphic novel adventure Underground with Steve Lieber, and a new secret creator-owned project from Wildstorm that’s just too incredibly secret to elaborate upon.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2007?
The death of Mike Wieringo, sadly.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2008?
I’m consistently wrong about this every year, so I’m not even going to run the numbers and forecast anything dealing digital comics, I’m just going to guess wildly. Something is going to go horribly, horribly awry at Comicon International this Summer.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2008?
Exchanging withering looks with other comics creators on the convention circuit. Except for Comicon, where something will go horribly wrong. Also I’ll probably go watch Batman and Iron Man. Wait, I won’t feel guilty about that… egosurfing. I’ll do that and feel bad about it. Does that count as pleasure?

Douglas Wolk: I’m writing about comics for PW Comics Week, Salon, the Savage Critic(s) and a bunch of print publications, and I’m brewing up plans for a few more books–one comics-related, two not at all.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2007?
The mainstreaming of comics culture–all of a sudden we seem to be the cool kids. Bookstores love us, news media love us, Hollywood loves us. People really, really want to know about comics right now. All we have to do is not drive them away.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2008?
Online availability of comics, and the fact that the big publishers’ late entry into the field is pummeling them–exactly the same way it happened in the music industry. The direct market encourages so much caution in ordering that even if you live somewhere with a reasonably well-stocked comic book store and get there on Wednesday evening, they may not have half the comics you want… but with minimal effort, you can download a scan of basically anything. Which means that even if you’d _prefer_ to pay for a physical copy of that week’s Secret Invasion/Countdown/etc. tie-in, you may not have the option. That kind of environment makes downloads a lot more appealing. Marvel’s response is simply insufficient, and DC is adopting a wait-and-see attitude. But there’s no time left to wait and see. I admire Paul Levitz’s resolve to have a system in place for paying creators royalties for online sales, but I’d also note that nobody says DC has to put up its entire catalogue at the outset.

The crackdown on torrent trackers is worse than useless, which is another lesson the comics business should’ve picked up from the music business. It simply doesn’t work–at all–and it’s a waste of financial resources and goodwill for publishers. What’s worked for the music industry? iTunes and eMusic–sources of income with zero manufacturing cost, set up to provide what the market demands: everything from multiple copyright owners, available in a single place at a reasonable price point, preferably in DRM-free form. The mainstream comics business is built around the idea of physical collectibility, and I don’t think that’s going to go away altogether, but it’s clear from the popularity of downloads right now that there’s a very large audience that just wants to read stuff on a computer screen, and wants to read it the moment it comes out.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2008?
They’re not exactly guilty pleasures, but I’m very excited to see the Gary Panter “Dal Tokyo” collection, Morrison and Jones’ “Final Crisis,” and Dave Sim’s new bimonthly series.

Jim Ottaviani: I just finished writing two books for First Second, one about Richard Feynman, the other about Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas, AKA the Trimates AKA Leakey’s Angels. I’m now at work on a YA OGN for Aladdin about the space race.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2007?
I had a hard time remembering anything big, at least when compared to the death threats of last year, anyway. So for me it’s a three way tie between the Nate Fisher/Eightball story, Diamond requiring bar codes, and Naruto selling roughly ten zillion copies in bookstores. All seem relatively small to me for various reasons, though nothing was small about it for Mr. Fisher.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2008?
[pass]

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2008?
A vacation that isn’t merely an extra day or two tacked on to business trip.

Tony Millionare: Billy Hazelnuts 2, Drinky Crow Show for Adult Swim.

Biggest story 2007?
The Drinky Crow Show gets on TV

Will be the biggest story?
Harlan Ellison will pluck out his hairs one by one.

Guilty pleasure:
I pan to have sex with a do-nut in my garage. The secret: olive oil to mix the savory with the sweet.

Ben Towle: Having just wrapped up my historical fiction GN, MIDNIGHT SUN, which should have just hit shelves by the time your readers are seeing this, I’m now just ruminating a bit on what to tackle next. I’m leaning heavily toward something tentatively called OYSTER WAR, a semi-historical story set on the Chesapeake Bay in the 1800s. I’ve also got a few other things in the hopper that I may opt for, though: among the contenders, a second book of folk tales, or even some straight genre stuff–I’d love to put together a solid science fiction book.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2007?
I don’t know whether it’s really a “story” so much as a trend, but in 2007 the overall move in comics away from episodic storytelling seems to have finally cemented itself as the prevailing narrative mode of the art form. Actual comic book releases this year have gone from few to almost none from the art house/indy publishers, and the mainstream/genre publishers seem now to be designing much of their material right out of the gate with the eventual TPB collection as the intended “finished” form of the work. Curiously, this is occurring during a real golden age of serialized storytelling in the television medium.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2008?
With the low-hanging fruit of the “graphic novel memoir” genre pretty much run their course, I’m betting that 2008 will see the beginnings of a significant tightening of the belt, as some of the bigger GN divisions of major publishers begin to question whether numbers-wise there really is the sort of emerging adult bookstore readership for graphic novels that supports the kind of high-dollar contracts that have been flying around of late.

The comics story in 2008 I’d LIKE to see, but wont: A significant chunk of comics publishers–both mainstream and indie–agree to stop monkeying around with all their individual, proprietary comics download efforts and instead form a single, itunes-like store that sells non-DRM comics in the format people actually read dowloaded comics in: CBZ/CBR.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2008?
I may be one o’ them artsy-fartsy indie comics types, but that IRON MAN movie looks like it’s gonna be pretty awesome. I’m totally there on opening night!

Adrian Tomine: Editing and designing Good-Bye, the upcoming book by Yoshihiro Tatsumi.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2007?
Any page from Sundays with Walt and Skeezix.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2008?
Any story from Kramers Ergot #7.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2008?
Grand Sichuan.

  1. Sometimes I feel bad about things that happen in the comics industry, and then every year I get to read this survey and its exercise in myopia and self-absorption and suddenly I don’t feel as bad. Thanks, Heidi!

  2. Dirk Deppey sent me over.

    The most significant event of 2007 was Ted Rall’s column about those boring comics in the NYT. Mind you, I haven’t read all of them. Life is too short, though it seems a lot longer when you’re trying to get thru one of those things.

    The comics I saw were shit boring. Of course, most NYT exercises in art and letters are boring. What else can you say? A lot, apparently, though doing so seems like a waste.

    All right, I guess that’s it.

  3. Gosh, it’s nice that *someone* remembered Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home. I mean, it was kinda sorta huge, being the Time Book of the Year and stuff. Gosh! A woman — and a lesbian to boot — making graphic novel big time! I guess that wasn’t news at *all*.

  4. “Sometimes I feel bad about things that happen in the comics industry, and then every year I get to read this survey and its exercise in myopia and self-absorption and suddenly I don’t feel as bad.”

    Not that I necessarily disagree, but just to play devil’s advocate, allow me to be just humorless enough to ask if you find these respondents myopic and self-bsorbed, then what would you find to be more “proper” answers on what were/will be comics’ biggest stories in 2007 and 2008?

  5. My criticism isn’t that answering “my last awesome project/my next awesome project” to such questions is improper, just actively self-involved.

    I’ll have a 25 Stories for 2007 post up on my site soon, if they ever give my site back to me.

    And I’m just making a funny. I don’t feel anyone deserves misfortune.

  6. I did specifically ask people NOT TO PLUG THEIR OWN PROJECTS in their predictions/look back but you can’t really edit busy freelancers who are only doing you a favor to begin with. Results in the mirror may be further away than they appear.

  7. “Please, don’t just plug your work in the survey answers.”

    Well, shit. You did say that. What I get for skimming and answering in the wee hours.

    Here’s an answer based on following directions:

    Biggest story? Fuck if I know. I always get to the end of a year and say something like, “Holy shit, those Danish cartoons!”

    Stillthink the Tori Amos book will be huge.

  8. I really liked Lea’s answer to the biggest news of 2007–I think it comes from her particular window on the industry, but it’s a comfort to me! I recently “met” the Tomgeeks (they’re googleable), and I love the way that women-in-comics as a trend is growing/becoming normal. ;)

    I would also have said the OMD finale/fiasco, Captain America’s death making national news, and maybe the launch of Buffy Season 8 (as a real blurring between TV writing and comics writing), of which two were mentioned above. I might have said something about OEL Manga, but I guess that’s probably old news now anyway.

  9. What was the biggest story in comics in 2007?
    My crabbiness.

    What will be the biggest story in comics in 2008?
    My future crabbiness and the new Captain America.

  10. Ted Rall: “Better to be reviled than to be greeted with indifference.”

    I revile you, Ted, you nasty old humbug!

  11. Lisa: John Green did.

    Expanding on that thought: it was certainly a year for mocking the shit out of cover art. The many Heroes for Hire remixes, the discussion and parodies of the MJ statue (oh, what a goldmine), Manstream, lolcomics.

  12. In a year where Naruto OWNED the book sales charts multiple comics related movies continued to do well at the box office (and more and more indy titles have done well in Hollywood with more on the way to the screen), many indy/art comic/web comics creators scored huge deals with serious publishing houses who became bigger players in the increasingly important bookstore market, the American Big 2 dipped their toes into webcomics and/or digital distribution (not sure if they fact they seemed to have bungled it makes a bigger story or not), manga became THE comics mainstream whether the people going ape shit about One More Bad Comic noticed or not, and so many other stories I can’t even fit in here (the success of Buffy and the Gunslinger or even Cap 25 and Civil War for instance)- do any of the various offenses committed by Marvel or DC qualify as the top story in comics? Sorry, it’s like saying the fact that Atari’s stock price is doing poorly was the biggest video game story in 2007.

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