Wrapping it all with a double sized issue. Just having eyeballed the responses here, I do have a rough suggestion of the biggest stories of ’22 and ’23:
Biggest story of 2022: return to conventions. A lot of people mentioned this. Although some folks can not return to public events due to health concerns, and others are dedicated stay at homes, it’s definitelhy true that comics is a community and cons are not just a marketplace but a very important form of social interaction for a lot of people in an often solitary industry.
Biggest story of 2023: AI AI AI YIIIIIIIII. A lot of people mentioend AI art as something looming and I think we’ll see anxiety over its expansion…and maybe its actualy expansion, take center stage for quite a while. Several very thoughrful comments about AI in this installment.
And that wraps up the creator survey for 2023: A note on methodology: I send surveys to my mailing list, which I update a bit every year, but I can’t possibly keep up with all the new talent in comics. In recent years, I’ve spread the survey via publisher mailing lists, retailing forums, provate FB groups and other methods. I’d like to expand it even more – if you’d like to be included in the ’24 edition, just drop me a line at comicsbeat @gmail.com.
Thanks to all who participated and once again…all the best in 2023!
Previous parts: Part One, Part Two, Part Three
Yuko Ota, cartoonist
2023 Projects: As far as comics, I’m working on the next chapter of BARBAROUS with Ananth Hirsh! If you’re interested in a slow-burn romance about a wizard college dropout and a monster man, all of BARBAROUS is free to read at johnnywander.com as well as nearly every other comic we’ve ever collaborated on!
Biggest story of 2022: To me the biggest industry story was the DOJ blocking the attempted S&S/Penguin merger. As we’re seeing in a lot of media and social spaces, enormous corporations consuming each other only puts the livelihoods of workers and creative professionals in jeopardy.
Biggest story of 2023: I want to end the year with something positive to look forward to, even if it’s outlandish. What about a major publishing house making a theoretical imprint dedicated to making comics geared towards adults. Considering how booming non-kids manga sales have been in the past several years, the audience is obviously present and hungry. I don’t think it’s too fantastical to think a book pub might see the money on the table and want to offer some serious, or sexy, or gory, or complicated comics to mature readers and give creators some good advances to make them.
Guilty Pleasure for ’23: Absolutely the upcoming Elden Ring DLC. I had an amazing time both playing Elden Ring and talking to other creators about playing Elden Ring. I’m excited to have second chance to do that together!
Mastodon, Hive, Twitter or something else? So far no microblogging site has piqued my interest. I’m currently most active on Tumblr (back with my old ex), though I really hope Pillowfort.social takes off in a big way in the New Year.
Pete Kilmer, Retailer
Biggest story of 2022: Marvel distribution moving to PRH
Biggest story of 2023: Supply chain issues continue to be a challenge w/2021 items now getting shipped at the end of 2022. 2023 looks like it will be dealing with the same issue.
Guilty Pleasure for ’23: I need Paramount + to have more Star Trek!
Mastodon, Hive, Twitter or something else? Tough to say right now. Hive is promising if the owners can scale up and handle the influx of people wanting to use it.
Shado Wiley, Retailer
2023 Projects: Narrowing the Scope of Comic Purchases. There’s too many new comics every month from both the HUGE publishers, and the Tiny publisher. It’s impossible to keep ‘everything’ on the shelf, and that means paying closer attention to solicits and knowing my own customers and taking fewer risks on projects that ‘sound cool’ but haven’t received any customer excitement.
Biggest story of 2022: Man, so many to choose from: Image going Union, Dark Horse announcing they are leaving Diamond, Diamond still being a viable option in the Comics World, SO. MANY. DELAYS.
Biggest story of 2023: Comic Publisher focus on Quality Content and less on Variant Covers
Guilty Pleasure for ’23: If I’m lucky, Shirtless Bearfighter 3!
Mastodon, Hive, Twitter or something else? Something Else. I don’t think any of the social media above are good choices.
Lou Pulliam, Comic Relief at Comic Relief
2023 Projects: Community outreach with groups of “disadvantaged” kids. BB & BS type organizations
Biggest story of 2022: Spawn all day every week. Might get a movie…..
Biggest story of 2023: Disney bought all of it. ALL of It…
Guilty Pleasure for ’23: Alone time
Alex Hoffman, Store manager, Beguiling
Biggest story of 2022: Distribution shakeups
Biggest story of 2023: More publishers leave Diamond and/or more retailers drop publishers due to low sales on periodicals
Drew Zucker, Artist
2023 Projects: The return of CANTO
Biggest story of 2022: Whatnot and whatnot publishing launch
Biggest story of 2023: Publishers who survive in the post pandemic industry
Mastodon, Hive, Twitter or something else? All of them, the industry is fracturing into having to play on many fields instead of just one, social media of all kinds will be necessary.
BJ Mendelson, Author, Podcaster, and Comic Writer
2023 Projects: With the loss of Twitter, I’m going to spend most of 2023 building on the success of our podcast, What Are You Working On? aka WAYWO.TV
Biggest story of 2022: The Warner / Discover merger. It has, and will continue to have, devastating effects for creators in term of residual payments, not to mention many DC-related shows getting the axe. Any time we lose a TV show or movie, we lose people who could be converted to comics readers.
Biggest story of 2023: I bet DC Comics goes up for sale. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think we should underestimate Discover’s goal of burning Warner Bros down in an effort to get more tax write offs and other benefits for their shareholders.
Guilty Pleasure for ’23: Watching Donald Trump and his seditious friends face criminal charges. Ditto Elon Musk. That guy is going to get SUED and it’s going to be hilarious to watch.
Mastodon, Hive, Twitter or something else? Hive isn’t secure, so I’d be deeply concerned about creators setting up a presence on there. Especially those who are at a higher risk of being stalked and harassed.
Ananth Hirsh, Writer
2023 Projects: My ongoing comic BARBAROUS (with Yuko Ota). We’re in the middle of a story arc with a lot of kissing, magic and complicated feelings. (See cover above)
Also coming is GREATER SECRETS with Tess Stone, from Random House Graphic. It’s a coming-of-age roadtrip into the unknown. Here’s an early illustration:
Biggest story of 2022: The blocked merger of Penguin RH and Simon & Schuster. This one is hard to quantify because we’ll never know what would have happened if it went through, but the HBO/Discovery merger is parallel enough to feel some relief.
Biggest story of 2023: Optimistically (and with little basis), the explosion of New Adult as a GN category that follows YA.
Pessimistically, I think we’re going to hear a lot about a squeeze on the industry, with narrowed opportunities, smaller budgets and advances, and risk-averse acquisitions at bigger publishing houses. I’d love to be wrong.
Guilty Pleasure for ’23: Traveling! I’m sick of my computer screen, all the bad stuff lives here.
Mastodon, Hive, Twitter or something else? Wish I knew! The only thing I can say with certainty is that we’re definitely going to find out lmao
Flo de Goede, Comic artist & Children’s book illustrator
2023 Projects: I’m working on a follow-up to my graphic novel ‘Dancing on the volcano’. Based on my youth building up to my coming out. And a new children’s book with Edward van de Vendel about fear, ‘My ghost and I’ (Mijn Spook en ik). And loads of new comic about my life.
Biggest story of 2022: For me personally, the translation of my ten year old graphic novel Dancing on the volcano, now published by Oni press. An unexpected second life.
Biggest story of 2023: Telling smaller personal stories are going to get a lot more attention. And the short animated film based on fellow Dutchie Maaike Hartjes’ graphic novel Burnout Diary.
Guilty Pleasure for ’23: Climate justice and stabilization! Oh, and more The White Lotus and James Gunn’s DCCU please!!!
Mastodon, Hive, Twitter or something else? For me it’s still instagram, but i’m up for a new platform where the focus is on non-video storytelling.
Mike Zagari, Former Head of AMC Networks Publishing
2023 Projects: Had a fantastic time leading AMC Networks Publishing with the releases of the Art of The Walking Dead Universe and Creepshow: From Script to Scream books. Open to new partnerships and opportunities in 2023!
Biggest story of 2022: San Diego Comic Con was back in action! It was a great mix of taking necessary precautions during a pandemic, while also being full of energy and excitement I hadn’t felt in a long time.
Biggest story of 2023: Comic industry distribution, both physical and digital. 2022 had major changes at DC, Marvel, IDW, Dark Horse, ComiXology and more in their distribution models. Seeing what works, what doesn’t and other publisher changes might be in store will completely shape the business side of the industry next year.
Guilty Pleasure for ’23: The Mandalorian Season 3. Perfect mix of Return of the Jedi meets Lone Wolf and Cub. Can’t wait to see where Mando and Baby Yoda head next.
Mastodon, Hive, Twitter or something else? Hive became a wonderful social space for the comics community practically overnight. Hope it continues to grow.
Dan McDaid, Writer-artist
2023 Projects: I’m working on a series at Dark Horse with Matt Kindt that will shake the comics world to its core!
Biggest story of 2022: At the beginning of 2022, NFT art. At the end, AI art.
Biggest story of 2023: The release of my graphic novel Dega in January. I know that’s corny, but I really believe nothing else will top this. Genuine answer: AI art. That’s not going away, unfortunately.
Guilty Pleasure for ’23: The return of RTD’s Doctor Who to our screen. Dreadful answer, but there it is.
Mastodon, Hive, Twitter or something else? They’ll stay with Twitter, unless Musk blows it to smithereens, then I think probably Hive.
Andrew Pepoy, artist/writer
2023 Projects: From my own imprint, Spicy Tomato Studios, I’ll be doing two Kickstarters, one to collect all the 90’s black & white Simone & Ajax stories and another to write/draw a graphic novel of my own “Monica Moon.” Additionally, I’m drawing issues 4-6 of Meredith Finch’s adaptation of George MacDonald’s “Phantastes” for Cave Pictures Publishing, drawing a story of “The Skater” and hopefully writing/drawing a special for Heroic Publishing, and doing some inking for “The Masters” from Power Comics.
Biggest story of 2022: The continuing growth of kids and YA graphic novels.
Biggest story of 2023: Probably the same thing as 2022
Guilty Pleasure for ’23: A new Sunstone book.
Mastodon, Hive, Twitter or something else? I’m thinking Hive, if they can get their act together.
Lee Heidel, Comic retailer
2023 Projects: An anthology of comics from the first 24 months of our sequential artist-in-residence program.
Biggest story of 2022: Marvel’s deepening connections with Penguin Random House, beyond the specialty market.
Biggest story of 2023: Continued changes in distribution and (unfortunately) a reduction in the number of publishers.
Guilty Pleasure for ’23: Sitting down with (hopefully) all 12 issues of Tom King’s Danger Street and reveling in his celebration and send-up of DC Comics’ forgotten superstars. King continues to impress and as a follow-up to Mister Miracle, Strange Adventures and Human Target, Danger Street is off to a great start.
Mastodon, Hive, Twitter or something else? I think there will be more diversification and smaller cliques that form throughout lots of systems and apps. Ultimately, this is a good thing, as creators, publishers, fans and retailers control more of their environment and set rules and terms that benefit their specific communities. But for the news hounds that want the firehose, it’s going to be hard to keep track.
Brian Joines, Writer
2023 Projects: Too soon to talk about it with much detail, but I have a few projects in development/consideration I’m excited for, as well as potential crossovers into other media.
Biggest story of 2022: I think it was the decline/collapse/breakdown of various second- and third-tier publishers. Stories of creators not being paid, promises of creator rights extending only as far as the printed page, mistaking investment capital for industry know-how, and passing up media deals in the hopes of larger ones to cover losses seemed to bounce all around the creator community.
Biggest story of 2023: I think the fallout of the AI “art” we’re just starting to see this year. As it grows more refined, you know some people are going to just try to make comics without a flesh-and-blood art team as part of the equation, which is just the dickiest of dick moves.
Guilty Pleasure for ’23: The Schadenfreude of Snyderverse fans reacting to Gunn and Safran’s DC plans.
Mastodon, Hive, Twitter or something else? I can see Mastodon being a main hub even as the trashfires of Twitter are put out a bit.
Jarrett Melendez, Writer
2023 Projects: I’m working on three cookbooks, a middle grade fantasy adventure, and a few other projects I’m very excited about!
Biggest story of 2022: Aftershock declaring bankruptcy, along with all of the talk of non-payment (or late payments).
Oni completely falling apart. This one was particularly devastating to me since I had such a great relationship with so many of the staff there. I’m not sure why Polarity is still trying to keep things going—it’s clear that Oni will never be the same again, and I think they’ve lost the trust of a lot of creators.
Biggest story of 2023: Hopefully “Dave Steward leaves comics forever”
Guilty Pleasure for ’23: Traveling more and working less!
Mastodon, Hive, Twitter or something else? It feels like Hive is where it’s at!
Jeff Trexler, Lawyer
2023 Projects: Expanding resources for the comics community and implementing new strategies for dealing with challenges to free expression through the comic arts.
Biggest story of 2022: With regard to protecting access to comics, the biggest story of 2022 was legal action brought against Gender Queer in Virginia Beach. The courtroom ruling was a much-needed victory for free expression through the comic arts, but the obscene-as-to-minors charge also provided a template for subsequent challenges around the country.
Biggest story of 2023: Two recent developments in 2022 have already set the stage for the next year. The Aftershock bankruptcy surfaces the pandemic’s Upside Down, a systemic financial crisis that was for a time obscured by the return of conventions and the celebrated surge in comics reading. In addition, we’re in the midst of an inflection point in copyright. in a few months – or even weeks – the Supreme Court will issue its ruling in Warhol Foundation v. Goldsmith, a fair use case that could have a seismic impact on the use of photo references in comic art. At the same time, AI generators raised equally significant questions about authorship and the unauthorized use of creative works.
Guilty Pleasure for ’23: The 60th anniversary of Doctor Who and the arrival of Ncuti Gatwa. I first started watching this show fifty years ago (!), and it remains a personal touchstone.
Mastodon, Hive, Twitter or something else? As much as Twitter has fulfilled its promise of becoming the Earth-3 of civil society, by sheer inertia it’s where most of us are likely to remain.
Judy Hansen, agent
2023 Projects: Film/streaming/TV deals for various authors.
Biggest story of 2022: The big return of comics conventions and in-person promotional events
Biggest story of 2023: The cost increases for four color printing, and the corresponding unit price increases, especially for children’s graphic novels. Will this impact sales in a significant way?
What Discovery does with Warner/DC.
Alex Lu, Author, Contributing Editor at First Second
2023 Projects: I’m writing a new graphic novel script, and a bunch of books I edited are coming out next year! Among those are Zach Weinersmith and Boulet’s BEA WOLF, as well as Thien Pham’s FAMILY STYLE: MEMORIES OF AN AMERICAN FROM VIETNAM.
Biggest story of 2022: The massive layoffs at Oni and other similarly sized losses and acquisitions at comics publishing companies beyond the big three.
Biggest story of 2023: How AI art continues to evolve, and the inevitable fallout when one company or another uses it in a published comic.
Guilty Pleasure for ’23: I just finished God of War, so I’m looking forward to diving into the sequel…after I finish Marvel’s Midnight Suns. So many video games, so little time.
Mastodon, Hive, Twitter or something else? We’re all gonna be on little Discord islands soon.
Jimmy Aquino, Producer/Host – COMIC NEWS INSIDER Podcast
2023 Projects: Continue doing the weekly podcast, attending conventions, conducting interviews, hyping comics and more.
Biggest story of 2022: Joe Quesada stepping down at Marvel.
Biggest story of 2023: Not sure if it’s a big story but hopefully the DEMISE of AI art. It will def be in the news for some time though.
Guilty Pleasure for ’23: More K-Pop!
Mastodon, Hive, Twitter or something else? I think we’ll stick on Twitter for awhile. Definitely still Instagram. Hive seemed to be where people headed to and it definitely is more user-friendly.
Bon Alimagno, Sr UX Program Manager in tech / Formerly Marvel & Amazon etc etc
2023 Projects: Much much more freelance consulting, operations management and editing (Book a time at my site for a consult!)
Biggest story of 2022: The Rise of AI in Comics and the War against the Machines. There’s an existential dread that’s fallen over the comics industry. Who owns my work? Do people even think this work is mine? Who needs human artists anymore? Is art art? Juggling these kind of questions that used to be the stuff of philosophy classes and intellectual property seminars. Instead creators now a day-to-day-struggle and wearing down the collective mental health of the industry.
Biggest story of 2023: The Victory(?) of AI. Underpinning the existential dread is nearly everyone I know in comics is either flailing or trying not to flail, looking for a next step against seemingly overwhelming forces. Increasingly the so-called “creator economy” is leaving actual creators behind. More than ever creators feel like they are left to beg: for jobs, for wages they are owed, for likes on social media, for any kind of attention and respect. It doesn’t have to be this way – tech and comics do not need to be competing industries, one exploiting the other. There are means to work together, for comics creators to work with engineers to build more equitable “comics tech” products that secure IP rights, makes it easier for creators to build a community and make revenue, and together reap the same rewards these startups are. Otherwise these AI art products will continue down the path they are on: crawling and scraping the internet for the same poses, the same landscapes, mislabeled files, and not the best examples of anyone’s work. What if artists instead positioned themselves as an actual resource, open for bidding, to train and own their own AI instances. What if creators built art software tools that worked the way they work, not how enterprise companies want them to work? What if there were marketplace tools for creators to securely manage and exploit their own IP as easily if not easier than any big studio, agency or publisher. The likely victory of AI in comics publishing doesn’t necessarily have to be one that wipes out creators, but one that presents opportunities for many of them to be empowered and lead, and make those who would exploit them beg for their time and talent instead.
Guilty Pleasure for ’23: Hopefully flying to Japan again for the G1 pro wrestling tournament – the best in the world
Mastodon, Hive, Twitter or something else? Someone will stand up a Mastodon server and build a mobile client that will essentially replicate the fun and mayhem of Comics Twitter. Otherwise: Hive