12 for ’21 | 2021 Year in Review

Shane Bailey looks back at the year that was for comics in 2021.

For the next 12 days, we’ll be looking back at the 2021 that was in the world of comics, with interviews, commentary and more. Check back often!

I went into this planning on writing about all the great books that came out this year, and there were a lot, but I can’t actually do that because I honestly can’t remember what came out this year compared to the last and the year before that. Part of this is the timelessness of comics. This year I’ve read a lot of older works combined with the new and they all kind of blend together into this huge mass of enjoyment for me. I’m not saying each wasn’t memorable and had worth of its own, but instead that there were so many great books that helped me go on this year that I can’t name them all. They all deserve to be celebrated. This year comics gave me hope. They really always have.

Comics might be an escape for some, but I look to comics for hope for the world we live in. I look to them for how to grow as a human being. From the moment I started reading comics have been teaching me how to be more inclusive, how to respect others, how to be responsible, how to stand up for not just myself but for others. Spider-Man, Superman, Kabuki, Merick, Hellboy, Starman, Maggie and Hopey, Flash, all characters big and small. They taught me how to reach out with an open hand to those that needed help up and to not let anger, no matter how righteous and well deserved, get the better of me. They taught me to live the right way. They taught me that things aren’t black and white, even when presented that way. Even in the gray, light shines through. Comics taught me all that and more, and they still do today.

For the last few years… years that saw people’s rights get trampled, saw respect in our governments, institutions, and even our heroes crumble, saw evil men outed and not face any consequences, saw horror and death on a scale seldom seen, where numbers keep rising and if you think about the fact that each of those is a life you just collapse in tears and despair…I and the world at large need their teachings more than ever.

So this year I’m not celebrating a few books that made my year better, because comics as a whole made my year better. Comics weren’t an escape but a path forward. A place where justice is served, people of all walks of life are respected, where death isn’t always permanent and if it is, that death means something. Comics showed me the world as it should be, as we need it to be. They inspired me and others to work little by little to try to make the world we read about a reality. To be just a little bit more like our heroes.

To that end, I celebrate all the creators past and present that made this world just a little bit better with their work. To those creators working within corporate institutions sometimes pushing their truth through red tape to bring it to us. To those holding themselves and others accountable and to a higher standard. To those independent creators making a go of it on their own all to have their message heard. To those that we’ve lost that live on through their works, immortal in their creations. I love and appreciate every single one of you that make this world a little better every day. You matter. You give me hope. Thank you for everything you do, this and every year.

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