It was the year of the woman in comics. No question. As readers, as creators and as characters, Finally. As I tallied the votes for this year’s Person of the Year, as chosen by industry professionals, I suspected a woman would win, and the voting was extremely close—and really could have been one of a half dozen people—but eking out a win was Raina Telgemeier. While the votes were cast before the recent Wall Street Journal piece, it generally summed up all the reasons why she deserves to be the Person of the Year. Telgemeier is the first cartoonist to become a “name” author for kids based on her graphic novels alone—Smile has appeared on the NY Times bestseller chart for 133 weeks, and in 2014 she had three spots, with Smile, Drama and Sisters, which debuted with a 200,000 first printing. And according to the WSJ, Smile now has 1.5 million copies in print, with Sisters close behind with 1.4 million. A while ago I joked that Smile is the new Watchmen, and based on these numbers it’s not far off.
This is the third year of our Comics Industry Person of the Year poll, and the winner was pretty much a landslide. Every year we ask the participants in our survey to name who they thought was the person who made an impact or set the pace, and to comment anonymously (or on the record) and it was a clear choice this time out. With many people saying it was the Year of Image, Image publisher Eric Stephenson was the runaway winner—and the Saga team of Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples were definitely the Team of the Year, with a significant number of votes.
This year in addition to our usual questions for the Year-End Survey – sent to a mix of creators, publishers, journalists and marketing personal—we added a new category: Person of the Year, the person who, we we put it, was “the most important person, someone who had an impact, someone who set the pace, or had a banner year.” We were very curious to see what kind of responses this question would get – while a lot of people are doing some of the best work of their careers, or emerging as critical favorites, it was a very mixed year business-wise and we were wondering who would be seen as the most visionary and decisive person.
Well, we needn’t have worried that this would be a hard question to answer.