The Beat’s Annual Yearend Survey, 2009 Edition: Part III

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That’s it for this year. For once, in my five years of doing this, there was consensus on both last year’s big story and next year’s: economy and digital.

For the last time, thanks to everyone who took a few moments out of the busiest time of the year to participate and share their thoughts with Beat readers, especially those who sent artwork and the very cool headshots we’ve shrunk down. It’s a lot of work putting this together each year but it’s also a lot of fun and we hope the readers enjoy it as well.

MS by%20SonyaSones1 The Beats Annual Yearend Survey, 2009 Edition: Part IIIMark Siegel, publisher
2009 Projects: many new projects starting up here, including a crop of supremely talented comics women—Vera Brosgol, Lark Pien, Jen Wang, Faith Erin Hicks, Maris Hicks, Sungyoon Choi—who have joined First Second, plus phenomenal new work from Sara Varon, Jessica Abel, Danica Novgorodoff and LeUyen Pham . . . Just looking at the feminine side of our list, it’s getting seriously stellar.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2008? Hm, not First Second related…? Maybe SKIM by the Tamaki cousins. And Thompson’s CUL DE SAC. And Sammy Harkham’s CRICKETS. And…

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2009? The first comics author on Oprah, on the Daily Show and a new NPR program about the graphic novel. And some kind of James Lipton type guy to host it.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2009? Nursing a crush on the first lady.

beausmith The Beats Annual Yearend Survey, 2009 Edition: Part III
Beau Smith, writer
2009 Projects: Wynonna Earp: The Yeti Wars (IDW Publishing)
Lost And Found. (IDW Publishing)
Green Lantern Corps Annual (DC Comics)
Parts Unknown: Final Extinction. (Unleashed Press)

What was the biggest story in comics in 2008? The success of comic books turned to film such as The Dark Knight, The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man. These films were proof that when done correctly, comic book/comic book based characters can be massive, long-term profit films. On the flip side it also goes to show that the direct market still doesn’t know how to translate these film viewers into a new, steady source of revenue for direct market retail and distributorship.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2009? Will the comic book direct market and Hollywood be able to maintain and build upon the profitable success of The Dark Knight and Iron Man for not only 2009, but the foreseeable future? With time passing and the generation of video game raised consumers becoming a new majority in adult pop culture buying, will the older generation of comic books be able to keep up with the approaching rise of 30 year old and younger consumers that hold video games in their sentiment and current purchasing importance?

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2009?
To keep working in comics, getting paid, not getting caught and tossed out.

When the world turns into a Mad Max movie, my role will be: “Dog”. Mad Max’s dog in the movie. (Above.)

IMG 0100 The Beats Annual Yearend Survey, 2009 Edition: Part IIIRantz A. Hoseley, cartoonist, editor
2009 Projects: Comic Book Tattoo successfully behind me, I’m working on wrapping up the much-delayed art for Derek McCulloch’s & my OGN for Image, Displaced Persons.  There’s a few comic projects in the hopper, including a story called ‘Widows’ with Salgood Sam appearing the in Awesome 2 anthology from Top Shelf, as well as series and miniseries I can’t discuss yet.  God willing, Steve Niles and I will finally getting our shit together and put together the OGN we’ve been puttering around with for a while now.  The big thing for 2009 though… the thing that CHANGES EVERYTHING is LongBox, which is kind of blowing me the hell away as it comes together.  If all goes as planned, it’ll be announced/unveiled at NYCC this year, and it should answer the question “How do you follow up a project as ambitious as Comic Book Tattoo?”

What was the biggest story in comics in 2008?Biggest story?  Pick ONE?… Yeesh. 

Ok, it was surprising that the launch and story of Final Crisis seemed to be so disorganized, so ill-planned, given the creators involved.  Especially when compared to the machine-like precision that Marvel pulled off with Secret Invasion. On a different note, it warms the cockles of my black, cynical heart to see so many “indy” creators not only working on comics for Marvel and DC, but most importantly, not changing their style of storytelling or the visual signatures that makes their work distinctively THEIRS.  Five years ago, that’d be unheard of.  It was also the year that publishers, across the board, recognized and admitted that there needs to be a viable digital option for comics.  Again, five years ago, getting an consensus on that would be unheard of.

The creator that had the most impact?  Matt Fraction.  Whether head-fucking the readers with Casanova, rebooting disco-era B-list characters in a way that satisfied fans ‘perceived memories’ of how good they really were, or making properties like Iron Man and the X-Men compelling and relevant again, he’s the creator who many of us admire and were excited to see become a powerhouse this year.

My favorite book of the year, in a year where there were a surprising number of good ones? Patsy Walker: Hellcat.  Brilliant and hysterical writing, combined with lively, fun, kinetic art. Comics… especially mainstream comics, need more books like this.

Also, we have a certified comic book loving Star Trek geek headed to the White House in a few weeks.  Honestly, that’s a day I thought would never come.  Let us just hope that (since he’s an admitted Spider-Man fan) he’s taken the credo “With great power comes great responsibility” to heart.



What will be the biggest story in comics in 2009? Comics all going to $3.99 will cause some critical changes in the business of how comics are sold, who buys them, and how many are purchased. Moreso than any other period, comics is poised to go through a massive shake up in terms of the business of distributing and selling comics similar to the formation of the Direct market.  The trend of moving towards collections vs. single issue purchases will reach the tipping point because of the price increase and this will lead to 2009 being a ‘growth and change’ year, while things get sorted out and new business plans and directions get implemented.  Those who look at change as opportunity will survive and thrive, those who look at change as a bad thing… As the saying goes “Fasten your seatbelts”

On the good side, in my opinion, comics have never been more enjoyable as a reader.  The number of creators with unique authorial voices in both indie and mainstream circles make comics now a joy to read, and is exciting in anticipating what will be next from a purely creative point of view.

…and I’m betting that McKelvie and Gillen follow up Phonogram with a reboot of Dazzler.  Music is Mutants.
In terms of the creator who’ll become the ‘hot’ item, my money is on Jonathan Hickman.  Whether working with Bendis on Secret Warriors, or the plans he has for the yet-unannounced Marvel title he’ll be doing, I’m confident that his books this year will show that the compelling left field approach he took with The Nightly News and Pax Romana is just the beginning.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2009? I’m looking forward with both fear and nervous excitement to the Watchmen and Wolverine movies… entirely aware that they just might suck greater than any movie prior has sucked.

I’m also (nervously) looking forward to NYCC this year, which will be the first time I have EVER been to NYC, and fear I will either freeze to death, or be completely overwhelmed by the number of people.  If you find me, frozen to the sidewalk in a Jack Nicholson-Shining-esque manner outside the convention, with a cig in hand, and a blank expression on my face, you’ll know why.

When the world turns into a Mad Max movie, my role will be:
 I’m hoping I’m not the twat who tries to catch boomerangs with razor edges.  That’s my goal for the year

 The Beats Annual Yearend Survey, 2009 Edition: Part IIIJohn Shableski, Diamond Book Distributors

2009 Projects: Growing new business for the Diamond Book markets (even with the wild economy), Eisner Awards for 2009 (I got invited to be a judge!), Texas Library Association’s first official Graphic Novel Pavilion, and more graphic novel publishers and programming for Miami Book Fair International

What was the biggest story in comics in 2008?: Block Buster Movies and The Watchmen

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2009? The Watchmen and the Economy

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2009? Red Vines licorice.  Oh and watching Pop Up Video on VH1 Classic

When the world turns into a Mad Max movie, my role will be:  Guardian of Secret Surf Spot.  Hideous and Ill-Mannered creatures will not be allowed in the water, on the beach or within three kilometers of this sacred domain.  Those who respect the water and all the creatures within will be allowed to participate.

Cover FRONT Flat Web400px The Beats Annual Yearend Survey, 2009 Edition: Part III
Danielle Corsetto, cartoonist
2009 Projects: The third and fourth volumes of GWS will come out next year, and I’m thinking about doing a completely new webcomic in addition to my regular Girls With Slingshots strip. Something my mom can read without rolling her eyes!

What was the biggest story in comics in 2008? I was so busy with GWS that I actually stopped paying attention to comic news unless someone pointed it out to me. Didn’t the Minx line kick the bucket in ’08? That was a bummer; I really liked some of their books.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2009?When is that Scott Pilgrim movie coming out? Is that 2009? That’d do it for me. I know a few big secrets about mainstream writer and artist shifts, but if I told you I’d have to shoot you. ;)

benmccool The Beats Annual Yearend Survey, 2009 Edition: Part IIIBen McCool, writer
2009 Projects: I’ve got two projects festering away at present: first up is VINES, a spooky, kooky, action-packed mini-series. It’s all a little hush-hush at the moment, but I’ll be able to elaborate more sometime soon. Let’s just say it’s shaping up to be one helluva lot of fun…

Another mini-series I can’t wait to unleash on an unsuspecting public is CHOKER, a batshit crazy detective fable introducing characters so filthy you’ll feel the need to bathe after meeting ‘em. As well as the worst case of Alien Hand Syndrome seen since Dr. Strangelove, it also boasts the intriguing aftermath of When Goths Go Bad. Innocent young minds: prepare to be tarnished…

What was the biggest story in comics in 2008? Hmm. There’s certainly a few to choose from. I’ll go with the whole “creator-owned vs. work-for hire” thing, despite any actual debate being dead in the water from Day One. The friction generated I found interesting; much of the deliberation raised by one side of the dispute decidedly less so.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2009? Comic book price rises. It’ll be the most obvious thing to happen since Alan Moore decided not to shave his beard off, yet will still succeed in setting message boards, and probably reader’s credit cards, alight.

When the world turns into a Mad Max movie, my role will be: What, a post-apocalyptic wasteland, complete with gore-obsessed cannibals, funky toxic diseases and kick-ass post-modern weaponry? I’d be a cannibal hunter. I hate the taste of pork.

ACE cover 550 The Beats Annual Yearend Survey, 2009 Edition: Part III
Mike Dawson, cartoonist

2009 Projects: “Ace-Face: The Mod with the Metal Arms”, a collection of short stories, featuring everybody’s favorite well-dressed crime-fighter, to be published in April by AdHouse books

What was the biggest story in comics in 2008? Creatively, 2008 was a good year. So much worthwhile material was published; there was almost always something new every Wednesday that was at least good, and quite often, excellent. It was almost like when I was thirteen again, and would go to Fantasy Zone to buy new Marvel comics every week, except now I’m going to Jim Hanley’s to buy new Drawn & Quarterly cloth-bound hard-covers. I heard a story about how in France, the comics industry is like the film industry, where a book has to do well the week it’s published in order for it to have any presence, and not get swept away by the wave of material coming after it. I think we got closer to this sort of a situation in American comics this year. I can think of a bunch of great books that were published this year to little or no attention, which would have been one of the books of the year, had they come out a few years back. My most recent example of this is Jason Lute’s Berlin: City of Smoke. I am pretty sure I read quite a few “Best of the Year” lists written by people who openly admitted that they hadn’t read a good chunk of what was published in 2008.

Sadly, I have a feeling that the big story of 2009 is going to be how all of a sudden it feels like the whole thing is imploding. Graphic Novels don’t feel “hot” anymore, and all this news about the publishing industry falling to pieces is sure to stand out. My positive take on it all though, is that I think comics have really established themselves this time around, so that even if there’s a big contraction now, there’s still going to be a place for graphic novels in the marketplace that didn’t exist a couple of years ago.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2009? Well, it’s clear that there’s going to be some rocky times ahead for traditional book publishers. All that news about those New York publishing houses putting a moratorium on new acquisitions isn’t good, and neither are all the job losses. I have a good feeling about the more established comics companies, like Fantagraphics, D&Q, and Top Shelf, though.

I would say that online comics would be part of the biggest story of 2009, but webcomics have been happening for years now, and will just keep on growing. I do think that more and more respectable cartoonists are going to take their work online, and that webcomics will continue to gain more respect.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2009? X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE!!!!

ivanbrandon 1 The Beats Annual Yearend Survey, 2009 Edition: Part IIIIvan Brandon, writer

2009 Projects: VIKING, new ongoing series out in april from me, Nic Klein and IMAGE.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2008?  Were there big stories in 2008?  The success of the Iron Man movie disproved the theory that the non A-List superhero comic character movies that came before it were flops based on character prominence, rather than their shittiness as movies.  That’s a major thing of sorts.  And it was notable beyond that for setting the crazy precedent of a comics publisher making its own movie. 

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2009? I think this coming year’s going to bring a lot of new writers to prominence in a way that hasn’t happened in a bunch of years.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2009? I will finally make time to watch the David Hasselhof Nick Fury movie on Netflix. 

When the world turns into a Mad Max movie, my role will be: Casualty.

101 0413 The Beats Annual Yearend Survey, 2009 Edition: Part IIIKuo-Yu Liang, VP Sales & Marketing, Diamond Book Distributors
Projects I’m working on: Re-engineer how we distribute books in the US; expand our international supply chain
 
Biggest in 2008: Watchmen
 
Biggest in 2009: Watchmen; changes in key English manga players; changes in key players in US & UK book retailers
 
Guilty pleasure in 2009 League of Extraordinary Gentlemen III (Top Shelf)

DeadIrons01CovAlexander The Beats Annual Yearend Survey, 2009 Edition: Part IIINick Barucci, publisher Dynamite

2009 Projects: Dead Irons by James Kuhoric, Jason Shawn Alexander and cover artist Jae Lee
Super Zombies by Marc Guggenheim with Vince Gonzoles and Mel Rubi
New Battlestar Galactica: The Cylon War by best selling author Eric Nylund and Joshua Ortega with art by Nigel Raynor.
New Battlestar Galactica: The Final 5 series by show writers David Reed and Kevin Seamus Fahey.
And the next cross-over from Project Superpowers!
There’s more, but I think these are a good start to mention.
 
What was the biggest story in comics in 2008? There seems to be many big stories.  One of the most talked about is the success of great movies based on comics (Dark Knight, Iron Man, Wanted, etc.).  And there were some movies that didn’t succeed, which I believe does remind us that it’s the translation of a property from one medium to another.  And as the Simpsons Weekly Show and various Batman Animated Cartoons have taught us most, what is the best advertisement for comics, being on a Network TV Show. 

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2009? Well, the obvious one is that this summer will be the summer of SCI FI and Comic movies.  The less obvious will depend on how fans start accepting digital comics, and whether or not digital will start replacing the so called waiting for the TPB syndrum that we keep hearing.


What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2009? Continuing the road we’re on.  There’s honestly no greater business than comics.  It’s the greatest business in the world. 

When the world turns into a Mad Max movie, my role will be: Max (who else?)

laurapic The Beats Annual Yearend Survey, 2009 Edition: Part IIILaura Hudson, journalist, editor

2009 Projects: I’ll be continuing my freelance writing with PW, PWCW, MTV.com, et al, and I’ll also be launching Cerebus: A Diablog (cereblog.org) this week with Top Shelf’s Leigh Walton, dedicated to our dual critical analysis of Cerebus 1-300. We could. Go. All. The. Way.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2008? A combination of reader fatigue from the never-ending, choir-preaching mega-events that Marvel and DC Comics have become (and richly deserve backlash for), and the peaking of manga sales that finally brought publishers back down to earth from their dreams of Naruto franchises as far as the eye can see. And of course, the financial crisis that looms over all of it like a grim, cackling spectre with an hourglass in its bony hand.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2009? I’d like to say something besides the impact of the economy on comics, but depending on how bad things get, it might be impossible for that to not be the biggest story affecting any industry. Watchmen is going to break graphic novel sales records, at least one smaller comics publisher is going to fold, and digital comics will start to seem like a more viable method of distribution thanks to the efforts of Marvel and/or the Longbox Project.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2009? All of the things I just New Year’s resolved not to do. I will also be watching the hell out of the Watchmen movie.

When the world turns into a Mad Max movie, my role will be: Hoarder of shiny things. Stray dog collector.

jahfurrylogosmall The Beats Annual Yearend Survey, 2009 Edition: Part IIIJeff Newelt, AKA Jahfurry

2009 Projects: SMITH Magazine’s ongoing truelife webcomix anthology NEXT-DOOR NEIGHBOR (http://www.smithmag.net/nextdoorneighbor), edited by Dean Haspiel, just published its 19th installment and is an indycomixpalooza, including the first time teamup of Harvey Pekar/Rick Veitch and Jonathan Ames/Nick Bertozzi, as well as stupendous work from Ed Piskor, Josh Neufeld, Simon Fraser and more.

I’m having a ball editing/curating the backpage strip HEEB Magazine, the latest by BOB FINGERMAN is outrageous.

I am amazed every single day at the quantity/quality of the new free webcomix on ACT-I-VATE.com, and proud to be part of that crew.

I have the honor of working with legends like Paul Pope, Rick Veitch, Bryan Talbot, David Lloyd, Larry Marder, Harvey Pekar and more, helping them cut some signal thru the noise and exposing their oevre’s to a new generation weaned on work influenced by these masters.

Not a comic, but Doug Rushkoff’s book / multiplatform initiative LIFE INCORPORATED is going to blow a lot of brains, and he was way inspired by the love within the comics community of folks doing what they are doing to DO IT>

More killer multimedia events for the CBLDF. Biggup Charles Brownstein you fightin’ the good fight.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2008? The biggest story was simply that comics ARE cool. Culturally literate folks who go see the occasional play, the occasional indie film, the occasional jazz show, are now picking up the occasional graphic novel, and that is going to increase exponentially. This was a tectonic shift, there was before 2008 and after, mark my woidz snoidz.

Another big story was the meeting of comics and fashion with Paul Pope’s DKNY JEANS line, James Jean’s Prada work, and the superhero costume exhibit at the met.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2009? The biggest story in comics in ’09 will be Paul Pope’s BATTLING BOY selling over a million copies; the re-release of Rick Veitch’s BRATPACK (before Authority, before The Boys, before Wanted, etc BRATPACK brought on the twisted heros); and the online debut of an independent comics master. Cannot be named yet but a certain great will be offering new free online comics in ’09.

Also, three of the releases I’m most looking forward to, and that i think will make a huge splash are A.D.: New Orleans After The Deluge the graphic novel documentary by Josh Neufeld that started as a webcomc on SMITH and will be released by Pantheon in August augmented and expanded; an original BEANWORLD graphic novel “Remember Here When You Are There!” by Larry Marder. and Grandville, an anthropomorphic steampunk graphic novel by the always outrageous Bryan Talbot.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2009? Reading WarrenEllis.com every single day, perhaps the only blog I’ve looked at every single day for the past 2 years. The man is a leader.

When the world turns into a Mad Max movie, my role will be: Connecting all the superheroes who know each other thru me to battle an as-yet unamed menace.

self portrait qed small 1 The Beats Annual Yearend Survey, 2009 Edition: Part IIIJim Ottaviani

2009 Projects: Coming next: From Aladdin, “T-Minus: The Race to the Moon” with Zander Cannon and Kevin Cannon, who are knocking it out of the park (or rather, into outer space) with regards to the art. A few short stories are in the works too, and then next up will be Feynman, from First Second, with art by Leland Myrick.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2008? Black Wednesday in the trade publishing world.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2009? The only people worse at predicting the future than me are the U.S. Treasury staff and Lehman Brothers and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and General Motors and…OK, a lot of people are worse than me. But I’m still lousy at it. (Example: I’ve had the same email address since 1986 — I’ve added others since then, of course — and I saw an early version of Netscape before half of the readers of this blog were even born. Heck, they’re probably wondering what this “Netscape” thing is. My response? “The internet with pictures that you don’t have to reconstruct from binaries? Who needs that?”)

That said, I fear it will be the death of the newspaper comics page in the form that I grew up with. I hope I’m wrong.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2009? Same as last year’s: A vacation that isn’t merely an extra day or two tacked on to a business trip. I’ll feel even less guilty about it, though, since that didn’t even happen in 2008.

When the world turns into a Mad Max movie, my role will be: Soylent green.

Lovern Kindzierski, colorist, editor

2009 Projects: I am finishing the colour of the last issue of Dream Hunters which may be one of the most elegant jobs that Craig Russell and I have done.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2008? The spectacular jump in sales of the Watchmen at Amazon when the first movie trailer was released. Usually the movies had not had this big an effect on comic sales of the same title.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2009? The down turn in the economy nudges people back into reading comics and sales head up. He said hopefully.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2009? Watching the new season of Dexter.

glennhauman The Beats Annual Yearend Survey, 2009 Edition: Part IIIGlenn Hauman, VP/utility infielder, ComicMix.

2009 Projects: Keeping on at ComicMix; everything else is under NDAs.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2008? Movies, internet, and how little they actually seemed to connect to comics as most people think of them. Can we all finally agree that having the biggest movies of the year based on comics does not move comics sales one bit?

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2009? Paper getting more and more expensive, and showing up in fewer and fewer stores.

When the world turns into a Mad Max movie, my role will be: Long-haired giant screaming incoherently. It’s a real stretch of character for me.

sanderson 1 The Beats Annual Yearend Survey, 2009 Edition: Part IIIPeter Sanderson, writer, historian
2009 projects: Co-author of DK Publishing’s “Marvel Chronicle,” now on sale. Columnist for “Publishers Weekly’s Comics Week.” I will be returning to writing my online column “Comics in Context” for Quick Stop Entertainment in 2009. I also have two major projects in the works, which I will announce when my agent can find publishers for them.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2008? Attempting to take a long-range historical perspective here, I’d say it is the tremendous success of “The Dark Knight,” a movie based on comics material. Reportedly it is the second highest-grossing movie of all time, after “Titanic” (although, I suppose that, adjusting for inflation, “Gone with the Wind” is still the all-time champ). This, I think, is a landmark event in the continuing story of how comics are moving to the center of American popular culture in the 21st century, Considering the size of “Dark Knight’s” audience, how can one argue that comics are not part of the cultural “mainstream”? Moreover, as we can see from various year-end “ten best” lists, “Dark Knight” was also widely recognized by critics for using the superhero genre to address serious themes, and even to serving as a metaphor for America in the Bush years. Runner-up is the “Iron Man” movie, which likewise proved both a commercial blockbuster and a critical success. Another sign of the “mainstreaming” of comics was the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s show on superheroes and fashion which seemed to be driven principally by the characters’ filmic incarnations. In early 2009 we should keep an eye on the critical and commercial reception of “Watchmen” (if and when it comes out) and whether Heath Ledger wins a posthumous Oscar for portraying a comics character (at a ceremony hosted by an actor best known for playing Wolverine!).

Surely by now you also see the downside of this phenomenon: that concepts birthed in comics have far greater cultural impact in other media. Can the comics themselves successfully compete for critical and popular attention with comics-derived movies and television?

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2009? The economy, of course. So far, comics are seemingly little affected by the economic meltdown, and the conventional wisdom is that comics are an inexpensive form of entertainment. But is that true in today’s comics culture? I’ve read and heard a lot about worries over the fate of the Broadway theater during this crisis, since seats now cost $100 or more. In other words, they’re comparable to an “Absolute” edition of a comics collection. I know of anecdotal evidence that people are now balking at paying the suggested $20 admission fee for the Metropolitan Museum; that’s comparable to the cost of a graphic novel. The typical comic book now costs $3 or more, and the Big Two keep publishing “event” comics, attempting to ensnare readers into buying all of the umpteen crossover books. As layoffs spread through the economy, how long will many collectors be able to indulge their passions to buy all the comics they want?

The more I think about the economic downturn’s possible effects on comics, the more questions arise. How many exhibitors will cut back on the number of personnel they send to comics conventions? How many people from out of state will be able to afford the airfare and hotel stays at the major cons? (February’s New York Comic Con may start to provide answers.) How will the declining economy affect the prices of original comics art? Or the comics artists who make much of their living from doing commissions for fans? Will the economic decline speed the fall of the “pamphlet” format for comics,since the paperback format, with its greater number of pages, offers more for the price? Considering that DC and Marvel already provide a steady stream of apocalyptic storylines, killing off or otherwise screwing with the fates if their characters, how can they and will they turn up the ante even further to get jaded readers to buy their books during the economic downturn? How many comics, comic companies, and comics professionals, will go under in a marketplace that can’t support everyone in troubled times? Will graphic novels continue to grow in sales in the current publishing market, or, in the face of hard times, will much of their new audience decide they can live without them?

On the other hand, comic books, in their traditional form, and their dominant genre, superheroes, both originated during the Great Depression. How might the subject matter in comics change if the current economic downturn lasts long enough?

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2009? Reading certain critics’ baffled reactions to the “Watchmen” movie.

When the world turns into a Mad Max movie, my role will be: Writing theater reviews of performances at the Thunderdome.

mary%20alex The Beats Annual Yearend Survey, 2009 Edition: Part IIIAlex Cox, retailer

2009 Projects: Continuing to run ROCKETSHIP, plus various webcomics not worth mentioning.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2008? I would say it was a tie between the release and subsequent reception of two books: WHAT IT IS, and THE GREAT OUTDOOR FIGHT.

WHAT IT IS was a lovely book, with wide crossover appeal among several markets, and a tour that brought out as broad a range of fans as you could hope for. It reminded everyone that Lynda Barry is something of a modern master, and expanded our scope of how “comics” can look, and how they can interact with the reader. Seeing people experience that book for the first time was really amazing, and it was a terrific affirmation of why we do what we do.

THE GREAT OUTDOOR FIGHT was much the same, but with the added bonus of reminding us that it’s not the delivery method (web comic), or format (hardcover reprint) that matters, it’s Content above all else that makes people love comics. This was a funny story, well-told, about engaging characters, and none of the details of publishing ultimately make a difference. People respond to the content, and we saw droves of fans show up at every stop on Onstad’s tour to prove that.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2009? Monthly comics will not die, much to the surprise of all naysayers. Sales of kids’ comics will continue to rise, and the world will keep turning. I think that the lack of any major negative news will be the Big News, despite all gloom-and-doom predictions.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2009? I’m hell of loving FINAL CRISIS.

When the world turns into a Mad Max movie, my role will be: Selling comics to the mutants! And happily so.

keirongillen The Beats Annual Yearend Survey, 2009 Edition: Part IIIKieron Gillen, writer

2009 Projects: Yeah, but I can’t, because they’re unannounced. But I probably could say there’s a couple of ones for Avatar have been announced as being unannounced, if you see what I mean. And – er – other stuff. Basically, enough work that I’ve found myself basically being a full-time comic writer in the first half of 2009. Plus the remaining six issues of Phonogram: The Singles Club, which is getting startling reviews and we haven’t even got to the good bits yet. I’m excited! Triumph or crushing disappointment must surely follow.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2008? I’d tentatively go for the whole thing with Tokyopop. Struck me as historically important for trend watchers.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2009? Perhaps somewhat obviously, whatever comic’s response to the current economic situation will be. It’s the big question mark over almost everything which happens with the industry. If its wounds are shallower than we’re expecting, that’s a huge story. If we end up with the industry’s entrails slopping all over the floor, that’s also as huge. What I’ll be looking for is differential impact. Can all those enormous, beautiful collected hardback editions – the definition of a luxury product – continue to work? What will happen with the $4 comic thing? Will I be able to eat? All big stories, except the last one, as Jamie and I don’t get to eat anyway.

When the world turns into a Mad Max movie, my role will be: Why guess? There’s every chance we’ll find out before next December.

normal POPSpecCover1 The Beats Annual Yearend Survey, 2009 Edition: Part IIINeil Kleid, writer

2009 Projects: THE BIG KAHN, an original graphic novel with Nicolas Cinquegrani for NBM Publishing (July 2009); POP: THE DARLINGS OF AMERICA with Dan Taylor & Chris Moreno for IDW (2009) and ACTION, OHIO, my ongoing webcomic with Paul Salvi that’s updated every Monday at www.shadowlinecomics.com/webcomics

What was the biggest story in comics in 2008? I’m going to start on the side of doom and gloom and point to the massive layoffs in the publishing/newspaper industries due to our failing economy, affecting aspects of the graphic novel and comic strip business that’s been on a slow upswing over the last several years. This may not be the bottom falling out of the barrel, but it’s a terrible blow to the slats holding it together. I’ll end on the side of hope with the election of incoming President Barack Obama — a new era, built on a platform of hope and change, could mean a whole new shift in the kinds of comics we see over the next four years.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2009? The furor over the WATCHMEN film, no doubt. This week’s decision and the rising tension between Fox and Warners is destined to make for some een-teresting reading over the next several months.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2009? Bringing my newborn son to his first comic book convention in February. He’ll be four months old and the perfect age to dazzle prospective editors with his charming, wide-eyed innocence… of course, there’s always the risk of turning him bitter and jaded well before he can even say the words “Page Rate?”

chipmosher The Beats Annual Yearend Survey, 2009 Edition: Part IIIChip Mosher, marketing director

2009 Projects: Marketing some of the best indy comics out in the market!

What was the biggest story in comics in 2008? Biggest story that didn’t get enough ink is the roll out of POS systems in the direct market. Like Soundscan changed the face of the music industry in the 90s by showing that Country and Rap sold way more than anyone thought, Point of Sale systems will have the same effect for the comics industry. I’ve already heard word or mouth reports of POS systems shattering convential wisdom about what is selling in stores, with retailers finding out they sell more indies than they thought and/or more DC than Marvel. Real-time inventory reports and re-orders have the ability to change the face of the direct market.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2009? Digital distribution of comics coming to the fore coming hand-in-hand with increased sales of floppies and trades.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2009? Finally getting around to watching Doctor Who from the ORIGINAL season one to present!

2006 12 goldman1 The Beats Annual Yearend Survey, 2009 Edition: Part IIIDan Goldman, cartoonist

2009 Projects: After working in relative internet silence most of last year, I’ve got a lot popping this month. First is an exclusive webcomic for Tor.com that runs on/around Inauguration Day, a cosmically-splattery speculation on the last days of Obama’s first term and how it coincides with the end of the Mayan calendar in December of 2012. The following week, my nonfiction documentary-comics 08: A GRAPHIC DIARY OF THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL hits bookstores nationwide on January 27th; it’s a visual patois of comics and graphic design that I’ve worked on furiously all through this past year. And then the following Tuesday, February 2nd, my contribution to Dean Haspiel’s excellent Next Door Neighbor series will run, a wistful little story called “Red Plastic” that I’ve been saving for a special occasion.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2008? The biggest story is bigger than comics: the economic crash, which became a publishing crash, which directly affects comics present and future. Comics finally reached the promised land of literary respectability this year, only to find the publishing infrastructure crumbling around us. It’s very scary but ultimately, I think, very good… as it will force lovers of our medium to find new alternative routes to our audiences in order for it (and us) to survive, and in the process, the medium will evolve into something hardier and more future-proof. We really are the four-colored cockroaches of pop culture, loved by all, and I believe we can make it through anything.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2009? The head-smacking realization in the mainstream that digital comics can, in fact, be a more lucrative model than print.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2009? Lots of cheapo day-trips by train or bus to nearby places I’ve never visited. The scary times ahead dictate living more frugally, so it’s my resolution to spend as little as possible while enjoying the same amount of real-life adventures with my lovely lady.

When the world turns into a Mad Max movie, my role will be: The silent, undetonated nuke established in Act One laying dormant in the dust bowl until a three-eyed mutant-child swinging a rusty machine gun barrel sends us all singing high notes back up to Heaven in the ultimate Act Three climax.

lea%20h The Beats Annual Yearend Survey, 2009 Edition: Part IIILea Hernandez, cartoonist

2009 Projects: I’m back to work on RUMBLE GIRLS: Runaway Lightning Ohmry. At San Diego this past year, I was able to show NBM head honcho (and my editor) Terry Nantier my story “Ribbons Undone” in Comic Book Tattoo, my first all-digital color work, and watched him light up at the prospect of a color sequel to RUMBLE GIRLS: SWT. This meant re-tooling my whole work process, but hey, it’s the few-cher, and I can deal.
I’m also working with fellow Comic Book Tattoo contributor Josh Hechinger on a graphic novel called THE MOON IS MINE. MiM is about a Wonka-esque candy factory on the moon that is invaded by monsters and a business rival’s giant robot. The magic of Josh is that this actually works. He is a talented devil, and he is one of those guys that seems to come from nowhere, amazing all.

Somewhere in all this is a nascent book about the fire that re-booted my world two years ago, called LIFE 2.0., done much in the format and style of my webcomic NEAR-LIFE EXPERIENCE

What was the biggest story in comics in 2008? How the internet continues to allow people to transform, inform, express opinions about, raise awareness about, and change comics. (It also allows people to follow years of one’s unfortunate escapades, so better be good, and if you can’t be good, be entertaining! Everyone’s watching!)

You thought I was going to say ******** or **** or ********, or even ******** **** ***** **! didn’t you? Ha!

On a personal note, the passing of my long-time friend Dave Stevens, who was one of the most important people in my life.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2009? The economy, and how motivated webcomickers, pioneering, veterans and newcomers, will continue to route around the damage inflicted by company collapses, mismanagement and other “real” publishing and distribution hurdles.

Uh, the same as in any given “tough” year in the 80’s and 90’s, only with magic boxes and the web instead of magazine printers and conventions.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2009? A Nintendo Wii. We’ve been saving for two years. And a new pair of Docs.

When the world turns into a Mad Max movie, my role will be: Same as now: Auntie Mame.

200901090141 The Beats Annual Yearend Survey, 2009 Edition: Part IIIDouglas Wolk, writer
What was the biggest story in comics in 2008? The ongoing, radical shift in the economy of mainstream American comic books, which is exactly the same as the radical shift in the economy of mainstream American popular music a few years ago, except without an iTunes-of-comics to monetize the new way they’re being consumed. Sales of comics pamphlets dribble away a little bit more every month; the attendance and enthusiasm at well-run comics conventions is off the charts. There are a lot of people reading comic books right now. There just aren’t as many people buying them. Anecdotally, the way a whole lot of people are accessing comics pamphlets is by downloading them, because that’s young people’s preferred way of getting media. But Marvel’s online-comics presence doesn’t offer each week’s new releases (because they don’t want to compete with the direct market), and DC’s online-comics presence effectively doesn’t exist. (Zuda doesn’t count. Neither do “motion comics”–Jesus.) In other words, if a huge cross-section of mainstream comics readers want to read new releases in their preferred format, they don’t even have the _option_ of paying for them.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2009? The shakeout to the comics industry from the American economy getting eaten by Galactus. (You think the subprime mortgage thing was bad? You just wait for the credit crisis.) DC buys Diamond and forces Marvel to return to a 1965-style eight-titles-a-month schedule. Things look grim until a casino tycoon buys the “Mile High” copy of Action Comics #1 for $8.26 billion as a tax dodge (shortly thereafter, it’s destroyed in 2009’s round of global-warming-induced hurricanes), and the ensuing speculative furor returns the direct market to tip-top health. Everybody dances around in a circle, and no little boy or girl ever needs to go to bed without a 1-in-250 incentive hologram cover ever again.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2009? Universal health care legislation, and the rest of FINAL CRISIS: LEGION OF THREE WORLDS.

Comments

  1. Dasbender says:

    “For once, in my five years of doing this, there was consensus on both last year’s big story and next year’s: economy and digital.”

    Is this supposed to be sarcastic and I’m just dense? There were obvious themes across the three threads I read, but I sure didn’t see any consensus.

  2. The Beat says:

    If you’re going by the MODE average, the economic present and the digital future are definitely both the big themes.

    Of course there were lots of other threads and eddies.

  3. That would be my consensus as well -skimming the profiles… I just checked out Laura Hudson’s project, which she mentions -it launched today and looks to be great.

  4. Ahem… Mode is not “average”, it is the most frequent variable of a sample set. Mean (more specifically, the “Arithmetic Mean”) is the average, Median is the middle value (or values, if the sample is an even number).

    I would argue that the other big zeitgeists from last year were “blockbuster movies” and “Minxtinction”.

    Interesting developments:
    * Comicbook stores entering the 1990s with POS systems. (Libraries and bookstores had them ten years ago.) As with libraries and bookstores, comicbook stores will have hard data which will show how popular graphic novels and comics can be. Diamond’s new warehouse will also (supposedly) improve service to comicbook stores with greater efficiencies (fewer boxes shipped, fewer out-of-stock items). For 2009, as stores use computers more efficiently, reorders and down-stream orders for future issues of series will shift, creating more pressure on publishers.

    * The generational wave. 2009 marks the tenth anniversary of the Pokemon card game in the United States. As the “manga generation” matures, their influence will continue to ripple throughout the industry.

    * Young readers and young adults. While young adult graphic novels remains a brackish Sargasso Sea of a category (either they read down at a lower reading level or read up to adult comics), comics marketed to pre-teen readers continues to grow. Kids’ comics sell well on newsstands and via subscriptions. Book fairs offer a selection of graphic novels. Adults, some of which are comicbook fans, some of which are pestered by children, buy graphic novels for children, no longer viewing it as a commercial tie-in or sub-literate item.

    * Seducers of the Innocent. Primary and secondary schools offer comics related clubs, some producing actual comicbooks. (http://www.comicbookproject.org/) Libraries long ago, using computerized catalogs, discovered how popular graphic novels were, and how they could be used to bring non-readers into the library. Teachers and librarians become respected advocates of graphic novels, and in turn encourage the young generation. Most educators become educators because another educator inspired them. Almost everyone can recall a teacher who made a difference.

    * Evolution. As comicbooks migrate from store shelves to digital content, comicbook stores must make one of two decisions: become a hobby store, selling toys, games, and collectibles to a specific demographic; or become a specialty bookstore, selling graphic novels and related books to a wider demographic. Almost every graphic novel publisher has book trade distribution (although many are via Diamond Book Distribution) and is available on a returnable basis, allowing for greater flexibility.

    * The Renaissance. Old masters and masterpieces are being discovered (Skitzy, Sam’s Strip). New talent is inspired by the old. Historians discover tangential links to comics from famous people. New mediums encourage experimentation, innovation, and passion. Conversations occur more easily, making connections previously not thought possible.

    * The forgotten. So much is produced, some is marginalized or ignored. A Nobel laureate has a graphic novel in her backlist. A beloved children’s book illustrator’s cartoon book is reprinted, with hardly any notice. Comics is now a mass medium, but the subcultures still exist, which feed off of, and feed into, the greater culture. What was forgotten gets rediscovered, and sometimes forgotten again.

    Predictions:
    * Digital comics will have Won The War the moment DC and/or Marvel decide to move low-list titles exclusively to the Internet, possibly as free content supported by advertising. (Give it away for free, build an audience, then sell the digital content in a variety of physical media.) Older comicbook fans will remember when Marvel began selling Direct-Market-only titles in the 1980s, thereby effectively ending newsstand sales. Trade collections will continue to be published in mass market editions, but with the growing Print On Demand catalogs available, a wide range of options and content will also be made available. (Want a collection of DC gorilla covers? How about Marvel stories set in West Virginia? Perhaps you hunger for that Batgirl “Fruit Pies for Magpies” Hostess ad? All possible with digitization, on almost any surface. Think “Cafe Press”.)

    * Comic book publishers will face increasing competition with general book publishers. Abrams now has a dedicated graphic novel imprint. HarperCollins, distributor of Tokyopop, offers the successful Simpsons graphic novels, Scott McCloud, Larry Gonick, and media tie-ins via Fox Atomic. Random House has Del-Rey manga, Pantheon, Knopf, and Villiard lines. University presses, fed by academics who specialize in cultural studies, are slowly publishing historical, biographical, and critical texts about comics. Comics can be an effect medium for presenting visual and textual information, and we will see more non-fiction graphic novels produced.

    (Oh, and I want to be Flight Captain G.L. Walker, living in Tasmania, free of those pesky kids, living the good life with a stewardess. Gotta love those kids… so gullible for a good story.)

  5. The answers to the Mad Max question gave me a laughing fit. Well done!

  6. Blackeye says:

    Are you kidding me? Oh my gosh…..*yawn*

  7. The biggest story in comics in 2008 has to be Hollywood. Marvel created their own production company. Both DC and Marvel have the biggest movies of the year and 2009 and will build on that. Dark Horse had their share too. More publishers will try to get some of that pie. With Apple’s new click wheel keyboard it will be interesting to how you can easily navigate an online comic. Things will change for the better online. If only publishers would take blogs such as these and others more seriously and listen to the people. Less waste would help them come up with better ideas.

  8. Alan Coil says:

    Perhaps not the biggest story of 2009, but of the future of printed comics will be how the comics will look when printed on hemp paper.

    Okay, stop laughing.

    With the continued high price of wood-based paper, it will soon become apparent to everybody that a return to using hemp-based paper is needed. You can get the same amount of paper from an acre of hemp as you can from an acre of wood, and you can get it every year, not just every decade.

    I would not expect this to happen in the US first, but perhaps in Europe, South America, or Canada. Or maybe even in China.

Trackbacks

  1. […] The Beat checks in with the comics glitterati for its annual year end survey, this time in three parts: Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 […]

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  3. […] Part III of PW Beat’s Year End Survey, plus Comixtravaganza at Seattle libraries 8 01 2009 Part III of PW Beat’s Annual Year End Survey went up. Regarding webcomics, the responses aren’t as indepth as they were for Part II. However, Ms. McDonald begins this list with this interesting note: “For once, in my five years of doing this, there was consensus on both last year’s big story and next year’s: economy and digital.” […]

  4. […] If you haven’t taken in all three parts, I recommend you carve out some time to do so. Needless to say, it’s interesting reading. […]

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