While the first two days were about specific things, today is all about what made people excited about comics. It’s easy to get focused on the micro, so looking at the macro can provide illuminating insight into what really makes comics such a magical and wonderful place. So, for today’s creator-centric end of the year piece, my guests were asked:
What made you the most excited about comics this year? It could be something new or something old, a comic, hiring, moment, trend or anything really.
It’s that simple! As per usual, my kindly contributors delivered, giving perspective on the diverse mix of things that continue to excite them about this medium we love. Give it a read below, and we’ll be back tomorrow with the last segment from our creator-centric year-end recap.
John Allison (Giant Days, Steeple)
Good work always makes me excited for comics, but this felt like a hard year for the industry in the US. So many of these land grab IP-generating companies appearing with totally generic work, endless Joker comics, it felt like a tidal wave of nothing no matter how much craft and effort goes into things – and that craft has never been more evident. But then I went to Paris and picked up a load of incredible albums that had nothing to with deathly continuity and muscles. It reminded me that the US “big two” hegemony is just one aspect of the wider form after a year with my nose pressed up against the Direct Market.
Dave Baker (Night Hunters, Fuck Off Squad)
Honestly, it’s conventions. I know there’s a bubble. I know that it will contract very soon, but I really love touring and selling books at conventions. I love seeing all my friends and adoptive family. I love the fact that you can interact with people and make new fans and possibly lifelong friends. There’s nothing like the community of convention goers. It’s a pure joy, for me. I just have to ignore all the CGC and Hot Flipz dudes. I’m more focused on the positive, communal side of shows, less on the lines of dudes waiting to snag a glance of the woman who played that one character in that one franchise…
Terry Dodson (the upcoming X-Men/Fantastic Four, Adventureman)
The return of the X-Men via Jonathan Hickman – kinda nice to see that.
Maria Frantz (The Chancellor and The Citadel)
I feel like we’ve seen the industry take a couple big steps forward this year – most notably for me would be the reinstated New York Times graphic novel bestseller list. When it was taken down a couple years ago it was a bummer for everyone involved in the industry, from editors to readers to creators. It felt like a big step backward – and seeing it return felt like getting back on track. I think it was reassuring knowing that this space was being opened back up for us, and that there was enough demand for them to feel like they ought to revisit it.
Alongside that, seeing more book publishers create graphic novel imprints has been really wonderful. Not just because it gives cartoonists more avenues with which to publish our work, but because it shows that publishers are picking up on demand, and working to incorporate comics into their selection. I love that graphic novels are becoming more integrated into traditional book publishing, and not isolated to comic shops. I’ve always felt like comics would do best as a medium if given the same attention as prose books, rather than being assigned to a particular demographic or age group. These days it feels more and more like that’s how they’re being treated.
Tadd Galusha (Cretaceous)
The publication of volume 2 of “Ghost of the Gulag” by David G. Derrick Jr. I just am enamored with that story.
Also all the new publications from the previous year or 2 maintaining a solid foothold in the market. More options for creators means more content for readers and I am both.
Nicole Goux (Shadow of the Batgirl, Fuck Off Squad)
This year there seems to have been an explosion of kids and YA content and imprints coming from the book market side of comics. Seeing a willingness from that side of publishing to invest in comics (kids comics have grown 25% so they’d have to be blind not to) gives me hope for the future of comics. In what sometimes feels like a dying industry, having more options for publishing and also instilling a love for comics in a young reader base is reassuring and inspiring.
Faith Erin Hicks (Pumpkinheads, The Nameless City trilogy)
Comics, especially the kids’ comics part of the industry, continues to grow and that’s always exciting to see. I’m glad to see this art form attracting attention outwards, from booksellers, publishers, librarians and teachers. Comics feels like it’s having A Moment. I hope it lasts!
Liana Kangas (She Said Destroy)
Hanging out with a ton of fans and creators that loved Wicked and Divine and see that come to a close this year during the convention circuit was really powerful. It gave me a lot of energy to keep pursuing my own work and inspired me to find my collaborators I am working with in 2020!
Stephen Mooney (Web of Black Widow, Half Past Danger)
The fact that X-Men are huge, again. Like many people my age, I grew up a total X-Men kid on Claremont and Jim Lee’s work in particular. It was the biggest thing in Western comics at the time, and to see Hickman et al manage to somewhat capture that same lightning in a bottle once again really got my synapses firing. Not much gets me so excited in comics these days, purely as a result of having worked on them myself for so long, but those books have lit a bit of a fire under me once again. I couldn’t wait to draw and write after putting each consecutive issue down. Masterful comic book storytelling. I know, I know; I sound like a complete X-Men fanboy right now. But hey, if the shoe once again fits…
Phillip Sevy (Triage, Tomb Raider)
I wish I could come up with something that isn’t “House of X and Powers of X” (which I’m sure a lot of others will say), but you know what, who cares – House of X and Powers of X. They were genre (and I consider X-Men comics a genre, at this point) redefining. They were perfectly structured as a weekly series (I would have pulled my hair out if that played out over 6-12 months), and kept the quality and consistency the entire run (and they somehow managed to be on time, every week). They made me excited for X-Men comics again and repeatedly blew my mind.
Declan Shalvey (Injection, Bog Bodies)
I’m sure everyone else is saying this, but the hype with the House Of X/Powers of X was very, very real. The strong authorial approach with Hickman, form concept to design (to cover stock!) with a unified approach in the art (Larraz and Silva killing it) has been something I’ve wanted to see for a long time. There’s a refreshing breath of fresh air in that line that was needed and I’m loving it.
Also, I liked the Image books that did something a little different… The White Trees, with how it’s being released as two-part issues, also Little Bird, another great book… I think it’s interesting that they released it in issues and have gone straight to hardcover. I’m sure there’s strong money reasons to not do that, it’s riskier from a creator standpoint, but I always enjoy seeing creators do something outside the box.
Come back tomorrow for more perspective on the year that was from these same creators (and maybe more!). And if you enjoy this content, consider subscribing to SKTCHD for all of this and more.