Quick Hits | 2021 comic sales topped $2 billion

Last year was the best year ever for comic sales, according to a new report. Plus: News on Oni/Lion Forge, Substack, Zestworld, Henry Barajas, Kieron Gillen and more.

Comics sales | Milton Griepp of ICV2.com and John Jackson Miller of Comichron.com have released their annual assessment of the comics and graphic novel market for last year, noting that sales grew 62% in 2021 over the prior year in the U.S. and Canada to approximately $2.075 billion. They were also up 70% when compared to pre-pandemic 2019.

“Publishers made more selling comics content than in any year in the history of the business, even when adjusted for inflation,” Miller said of the 2021 estimates. “The biggest year in the modern era, 1993, saw sales of around $1.6 billion in 2021 dollars — and the pricier product mix puts 2021 ahead of what the colossal circulations of the early 1950s brought in, also adjusted for inflation.”

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Nominees announced for the 2021 Reuben, NCS awards

Winners will be revealed in September.

The National Cartoonist Society has announced the nominees for the 2021 Cartoonist of the Year, commonly known as The Reuben Award, as well as the many divisional awards they give out each year.

Keith Knight, Edward Sorel, Bill Griffith, Hilary B. Price and Mark Tatulli are all up for the Reuben the year, with several of them being nominated in years past. Last year Curtis creator Ray Billingsley won the award.

The divisional awards cover everything from comics and graphic novels to comic strips, editorial cartoons and even greeting cards. They also nominate the cartoonist or artist, vs. the work or the entire creative team. I’ve included the nominations that are relevant to the world of comics below, but you can see the full list on the NCS website.

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75th annual NCS Reuben Awards nominees announced

Winners will be revealed in October.

The National Cartoonist Society has trickled out the nominees for this year’s Reuben Award and the accompanying NCS Divisional Awards over the last few months, as they prepare for the big awards ceremony in October.

The divisional awards include categories that cover comic books, webcomics, political cartoons and more. I’ve included the nominations that are relevant to the world of comics, but you can find the complete nominations lists here and here.

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Comics Lowdown | A Charlie Hebdo survivor speaks

Plus: Lost Charles Schulz comics emerge, new graphic novel from Nnedi Okorafor and Tana Ford, and more!

The New York Times profiles cartoonist Corinne Rey, who was working in the offices of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on January 7, 2015, the day that two masked gunmen massacred the staff; Rey, who uses the pseudonym Coco, was just leaving the offices of Charlie Hebdo when two masked gunmen arrived and forced her to unlock the door. Her new graphic novel, To Draw Again, recently published in France, depicts that moment and its aftermath. Rey is now the resident cartoonist at the newspaper Libération, the first woman to hold that post.

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Comics Lowdown | Tarzan swings to the web

Plus: Graphic novel sales soar, a look at comics NFTs and more!

Bullish on Manga: Graphic novel sales were up by 4 million units in the first quarter of 2021, compared to the first quarter of 2020, according to news released by NPD BookScan and reported by ICv2. Sales of all print books, including graphic novels, increased by 29% to the highest sales numbers recorded in the first quarter since NPD started keeping track in 2004. The top driver for graphic novel sales was manga, which increased by 80% from the first quarter of 2020.

Watch Out for that Tree! The Tarzan syndicated newspaper strip will end its 92-year run in June, reports The Daily Cartoonist, killed off by two factors: The low number of subscribers, and the fact that the strips, which are reruns from the 1950s (daily) and 1980s (Sundays) are, well, not exactly in tune with today’s readers. That’s not the end of the line for the Lord of the Jungle, though: Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., is transitioning Tarzan to a subscription webcomic, with new strips picking up where the old ones left off. (That subscription is a pretty good deal, as it includes a number of other webcomics based on Burroughs’ work.) In addition, Dark Horse will publish collected editions of both the new strip and Roy Thomas’s Tarzan of the Apes: A Classic Adaptation.

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Comics Lowdown | Special Nazi-punching edition

In an unprecedented week in American history, comics were all over the place.

After seeing a rioter in Captain America gear during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Neal Kirby, the son of Jack Kirby, has condemned the use of his father’s character by the far right. “Captain America is the absolute antithesis of Donald Trump,” he wrote, later adding “My father, Jack Kirby, and Joe Simon, the creators of Captain America and WWII veterans, would be absolutely sickened by these images.”

The problem with the Punisher: The Punisher’s elongated skull logo (and specifically, the version used in the 2004 film) has become an icon for white nationalists, Proud Boys and Blue Lives Matter enthusiasts. At Inverse, Eric Francisco offers a brief history of the alt-right’s use of the skull and Disney’s failure to assert its IP rights. At CBR, Cass Clarke summarizes the thoughts of Gerry Conway, who created the character. At SyFY Wire, Mike Avila calls on Marvel to retire the logo and “give the Punisher a makeover.” He also reached out to former Punisher writer Garth Ennis, who had this to say:

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Our favorite comics of 2020

See what comics, graphic novels, comic strips and more the Smash Pages team enjoyed in 2020.

As we continue our look back at 2020, the Smash Pages crew offer their personal picks and perspectives on their favorite comics, comic strips and graphic novels from the year. Hopefully you’ll see something in this post that you haven’t read yet but will take some joy in discovering.

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New York Times pulls Ronald Wimberly comic

Wimberly’s ‘Diary Project’ submission proved too controversial because it depicted a burning police car.

The New York Times has been running a series of comic strips over the last few months from some top-notch comic creators, including Jillian Tamaki, Ben Passmore and more. Titled “The Diary Project,” the “weekly visual assignment series” features a recent “diary” entry by the artist. Many have focused on COVID-19, Black Lives Matter and other recent newsworthy events.

Artist Ronald Wimberly of Prince of Cats and LAAB fame created the final piece for the series, but says that the New York Times has decided not to run it.

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Comics Lowdown | IDW ‘has parted ways’ with Publisher Jud Meyers

Plus: How the pandemic has impacted Scholastic and VIZ Media, the ‘Thundarr the Barbarian’ comic that almost was and more!

IDW Publishing has “parted ways” with Jud Meyers, who they had named as their new publisher on July 22.

“IDW Publishing has parted ways with Jud Meyers and would like to thank everyone for their discretion,” the company said in a short statement. Meyers was named publisher after longtime publisher Chris Ryall departed the company, but was then placed on administrative leave a few days after the announcement.

Publishing: Publisher’s Weekly looks at Scholastic’s fourth-quarter and full year results for fiscal year 2020, which ended May 31 for the company. Not surprisingly, given the COVID-19 pandemic, they were down significantly compared to last year. Revenue was down $187 million, or almost 40%, leading to a 10% drop in their full-year revenue for FY20.

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‘The Far Side’ website adds new strips from Gary Larson

Larson has created three new strips for the site using, for the first time, a digital tablet.

It looks like the cows have finally come home — Gary Larson’s The Far Side website has unveil new work by the man himself.

Three new strips can be found on the site, but older fans of the Far Side may find them a bit … different than his previous work. Larson’s now using a digital tablet to create them, following some issues he had with a “clogged pen” while creating his annual Christmas card.

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Comics Lowdown: Stan Lee’s former caretaker charged with elder abuse

Plus: Jonathan Hickman details his plans for the X-Men, comic sales in April and more.

Stan Lee’s former caretaker and manager, Keya Morgan, has been charged with felony elder abuse. The charges include felony counts of false imprisonment of an elder adult, theft, embezzlement, and forgery or fraud against an elder adult, according to the Los Angeles Superior Court.

A warrant for Morgan’s arrest had been issued. The 43-year-old memorabilia collector was served with a restraining order by Lee’s family last summer, when they accused him of elder abuse. Lee passed away in November.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Darryl Ayo

The cartoonist and comics critic discusses his work, the differences in comic strips vs. comic books, and much more.

Darryl Ayo has been making comics for years and remains known today for not just his comics, including the series Little Garden, but for his criticism. He has been published in The Comics Journal, Comixcube, Comics MNT, The Hooded Utilitarian and elsewhere. Little Garden features mythological creatures and humans in a world that is clearly not ours, but the focus of the series is centered around more mundane events and interactions. It also possesses Darryl’s sense of humor and a great sense of design and composition.

Ayo and I have met at shows for years and we’ve interacted on Twitter, but we’ve never before sat down to talk in a formal interview. So we took the opportunity to chat about his work and process.

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