For this year’s inaugural version of the Smash Pages End of Year Survey I had people answer the question: “What do you consider to be the top five important events of 2015?” I encouraged people to not necessarily answer the question in that manner if it didn’t strike their fancy. I cannot thank everyone enough for the participation during a busy time of year.
My pick for comic industry person of the year. Stevenson is in the right time and place and with the right talent to spur a new era of comic readers. We love superheroes, but Stevenson has jumped into the arena of a cross audience with Nimona and Lumberjanes. We need more creators like her, and Kelly Sue, for the next generation of readers.
This might be something not noticed on a lot of people’s radar, but in this information era we should take note that comics journalism has grown and changed a lot in 2015. Sites, blogs, videos, periscopes, live streams and more have brought people together with news & information ranging from blockbuster films to the latest Internet rage, changes in publishing and even in the news sites themselves.
I include this because to be honest this has been a great year for comic conventions on all levels. Sure we’ve had a few hiccups with the growing pains. Sexual conduct, professional ethics, and such. BUT, the good news is that none of those incidents brought about a knock-on effect on attendance or the attendees. Tackling such problems and moving on is the sign of a healthy industry. We should all celebrate not just another good year, but a solid year.
The rise of comic awareness:
This spins off my inclusion of comic conventions for 2015, but *awareness* takes it a step further. I’m an old fart and I remember the days of the comic industry as something done in backrooms, secret clubs and comic stores. At that time I advocated that fans and readers bring our hobby into the light and share it with friends and family. It used to be a hidden secret among many of us, but now, thanks to the popularity of several blockbuster superhero films, we’ve seen a surge of awareness and acceptance in pop culture. TV, film, books, magazines, conventions, advertising, college classes, online sales and other ancillary spin-off merchandise. It’s a great time for comics right now. A lot of kids today don’t realize how good they’ve got it.
Giant Days by
Lumberjanes by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, and Noelle Stevenson
Doomboy by Tony Sandoval (an import that was originally published in 2014, but I didn’t discover it in the states until this past year)
I also really liked “This One Summer” by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki (but I think that may also have come out in 2014, sometimes I’m behind in my reading!)
“Fun Home” on Broadway. Based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel
PAPER GIRLS by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang. The perfect melding of these two amazing talents—a seamless tale of adolescent trouble, time travel, and just plain fluid storytelling. The comic of the year (creator-owned division).
THE VISION by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta. An eerie tale of a family of robots living in suburbia, with a deeply existential undercurrent. Reminiscent of an early Alan Moore super hero book, which is high praise around here. Best company-owned book of the year.
GET IN TROUBLE by Kelly Link. A collection of stunning, character-oriented short stories, each and every one of which carries an emotional punch. Several of them have comics connections; “Secret Identity” takes place at a hotel hosting conventions for dentists and super heroes; while “Two Houses” concerns a pair of spaceships called House of Secrets and House of Mystery.
MAD MEN THE FINAL SEASON, created by Matthew Weiner. The last episodes were absolutely on fire; this series stands as a writer’s model for multilayered dialogue, unexpected twists, and the delicate balance between symbolic meaning and character logic. Comics connection (and MINOR SPOILER): Lou Avery’s fuck-you to the advertising business when his monkey-themed strip “Scout’s Honor” becomes a Japanese animated series.
YOU’RE THE WORST, created by Stephen Falk. The best sitcom that no one’s watching, focusing on the frequently dysfunctional relationship between a British writer and an unstable L.A. publicist. Bonus points for Falk’s hilariously honest interviews, and for not being afraid to take things to a pretty dark place in Season Two. Hilariously weak comics connection: Chris Geere plays Jimmy like John Constantine if, instead of being driven to fight demons, JC decided to just write a book and buy a house he couldn’t afford.
DOCTOR WHO – season finale and Christmas special
SHOW ME A HERO (which is not what it sounds like)
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
Carmine Di Giandomenico
Rucka – Checchetto
1.) How incredibly entertaining the Marvel Netflix series have been. Although Daredevil is intensely drab in parts, it is 90% how I imagined a live-action Daredevil would play out. And Jessica Jones has given us a great mix of dark humor, crime intrigue, and action
2.) Steve Skroce’s return to comics storytelling with We Stand On Guard. Man, I’d buy almost anything that dude draws. Kinda sad that Burlyman never released the collection of his storyboards for the Matrix sequels. Woulda loved to have owned that.
3.) Kate Beaton’s Step Aside, Pops made me laugh out loud more than a few times. I’d be really interested to see what she’d do with a superhero sandbox (and more than just a Strange Tales short), but that’s just me projecting what I want to see.
4.) NYCC reaching over 160K attendees was both incredible and frighteningly claustrophobic. I had to take several stress shits over that weekend.
5.) On a personal note, having finally released a book through Dark Horse, I’ve discovered that people feel more forthcoming with blunt critiques of your work, as opposed to the practiced constraint when reviewing small press creators.
Okay, I have to admit that once again this year, I didn’t really read many comics, and even fewer that I really enjoyed. That’s not to say that their weren’t a whole hell of a lot of great comics out this year…there definitely were. But it turns out that when you spend so much time writing comics, you can’t really read ‘eHey, I gott
MAD Max Fury ROAD– A great sci-fi action movie that was also just a damn great film. It’s impressive just how wide the appeal of this movie became, considering the relative “cult status” of the previous films. And, it’s got friggin’ AWARDS BUZZ. Sure, it’s not a comic book, but I think anytime a “genre” product gets this kind of acclaim, it’s good for the comic industry.
BLACK MASK STUDIOS– The rise of this small publisher was heartening to me for a couple of reasons. One, it’s run by two old buddies of mine, Matt Pizzolo and Steve Niles. Two, they make quality content with a very distinct voice and vision. And three, a healthy alternative comics publisher does wonders for the industry. Though “We Can Never Go Home” seemed to get most of the hype, I actually totally preferred the excellent and provocative “Young Terrorists” and the weird retro futurism of “Space Riders.”
THE DIVERSITY CONVERSATION– Sure, much of what actually got published was lip service, and a fare percentage of those shouting loudly on the internets didn’t seem to put their money where their mouth was…BUT, many who were unaware of the problem were made aware, and some outreach was made to expand the creative voices and audience for comics. Comics (especially superhero comics from the Big 2) should do a better job of reflecting the world outside our doors, and hopefully the conversations of 2015 are the beginnings of a better industry in 2016.
DCYou– Yeah, everyone will tell you the launch of DC’s “new audience friendly” line wasn’t met with big sales, but fuck everyone. There were some great comic books in that launch (Prez, Omega Men, Black Canary, etc) and in five years we’ll look back and remember it fondly for being ahead of its time.
DIGITAL DIDN’T KILL THE PRINT STAR– Some people buy their comics in print. Some buy them digitally. And apparently a whole hell of a lot of people do both. Sure, digital comic sales leveled off somewhat in 2015, but they’re still goddamn good, and they haven’t come at the expense of print comic sales. The comics industry is primed to accept new and varied means of distribution, and that can only be a good thing in a world that’s rushing right up that Curve of Accelerating