What was the biggest story in comics in 2013?
Now that we’ve managed to prove the Digital Age of comics (cheers to ComiXology, Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin, Joshua Hale Fialkov and Joe Infurnari), I’d hazard to say that Image Comics finally became a serious publisher to recommend and emulate. Chock full of great creator-owned comics (how in hell is SEX CRIMINALS not an HBO show right this very minute?), Image is the place to try out cool, new concepts and for franchise companies to poach talent. There’s an interesting boomerang effect Image is trending wherein new talent creates a cool/new idea, gets poached by the Big Two to write/draw their company toys while said talent gains high profile traction until they can’t muster the editorial mandates and split, heading to the likes of Image, locked and loaded with a loyal fanbase and ready to unfurl unexpurgated ideas. It’s been interesting to witness a lot of our favorite writers and artists balk a certain sense of security to invest in their own product. And, not to knock franchise comics (I don’t want to live in a world that doesn’t produce fresh new iterations of The Fox, The Shield, Fantastic Four, Batman, Spider-man, Avengers, etc.,) but I gotta applaud Marvel for bringing back the “pop” they once preached in the late 1960s within their non-team/non-event titles like Fury: My War Gone By, Daredevil, Hawkeye and upcoming She-Hulk, Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, and Silver Surfer.
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2014?
Not to knock good and transparent publisher participation, but crowd-funded comix is the way of the future. How many books did Jimmy Palmiotti successfully produce last year? A bunch. Bravo! I know I claimed Image Comics is the place to be but if you can handle the nuts and bolts of publishing, marketing, distributing and building an audience WHILE creating comix (Jeff Smith’s RASL, Michel Fiffe’s COPRA), then self-publishing will become a more formidable business model. Especially if you can share the burden with like-minded creators. More guerrilla-style posses like Oily Comics, Retrofit Comics, and my very own HANG DAI Editions will continue to experiment the idea of ganging up resources while balancing personal works with higher profile jobs until the higher profile books ARE being self-published. Dig? At which point, the creators will grow their own staff, hire their own designers and publicists, and take the necessary meetings to control their destiny and own 100% of what they create. Small press shows like MoCCA, Baltimore Comicon, SPX, CAB, Stumptown, Locust Moon Comics Festival, APE, etc., will continue to be critical in supporting self-published endeavors. One day The Eisner Awards will create a Jack Kirby trophy that will celebrate “excellence in full creator ownership” because, out of all the horror stories our industry has become privy to, it’s Jack Kirby that we all hold dear to our heart and wish he’d gotten a better break while some of us pay our rent off his co-creations (me included). Besides giving the Kirby estate what it deserves, what a better way to honor the significance of Jack Kirby than by designing an award that acknowledges his imagination and battle for creator’s rights to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.”
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2014?
Better Call Saul!