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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Quick Hits | Remembering Tim Sale

Plus: News on Comixology, Mark Russell, Michael Allred, Tillie Walden, TCAF, Jerry Craft and Ric Flair!

Passings | Via Tim Sale’s Twitter account comes word that the 66-year-old artist died of kidney failure.

“He was sick for years and was even in the hospital since May 24. He was a private person and never wanted to worry all of you, but his death was neither preventable or unexpected. Tim was a wonderful man and simply didn’t want to cause any unnecessary stress to his friends and fans,” the statement says.

Many have posted remembrances of the Long Halloween artist since his death last week. At The Comics Journal, Joseph McCabe posts an in-depth obituary. Augie De Blieck looks back at several of Sale’s comics, including Batman: The Long Halloween. And artist Elsa Charretier shares a post on Substack titled “I wouldn’t be drawing comics if not for Tim Sale.”

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Rest in peace, Tim Sale

The artist of Batman: The Long Halloween, Grendel, and many other iconic characters and comics has passed away at the age of 66.

Tim Sale, the Eisner-award winning artist of Batman: The Long Halloween, Superman for All Season, Spider-Man: Blue and Catwoman: When In Rome, has passed away at the age of 66.

The sad news was reported on his Twitter feed earlier today. “It’s with a heavy sadness that I must announce that Tim Sale passed away today. He passed with the love of his life beside him, and loves all of you very much,” the tweet said.

While no cause of death was identified, earlier this week Jim Lee had tweeted that Sale was admitted to the hospital with “severe health issues.”

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Quick Hits | Artist Ken Kelly passes away

Plus: News on Popeye’s new artist, Free Comic Book Day and more.

Passings | Fantasy artist Ken Kelly, whose art appeared on rock albums, book covers, magazines, video games and comics, passed away June 3 at the age of 76. Kelly was heavily in demand as a painter in the 1970s and painted the covers of two albums by the band KISS — Destroyer and Love Gun. Comic fans in the 1970s would know his work on covers for The Spirit, Vampirella and Creepy, and in the 1990s for some of the Star Wars titles when Dark Horse held the license. A cause of death has not bee reported.

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Quick Hits | Rest in peace, Dijjo Lima

A round-up of news on colorist Dijjo Lima, ‘Heartstopper,’ ‘Batman: The Dark Knight Returns’ and more.

Passings | Artist Mike Deodato, Jr. announced on Twitter that colorist Dijjo Lima, whose work included X Deaths of Wolverine, Devil’s Reign: Omega, Amazing Spider-Man and many other titles, passed away. A cause of death was not given. Multiversity Comics has posted an obituary for the 34-year-old Brazilian. You can see more of his work on his website.

Original Art | Frank Miller and Lynn Varley’s original art for the cover of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #1 will go up for auction on June 16, and Bloomberg is reporting it could go for up to $2 million.

Crowdfunding | If Kickstarter’s weird blockchain announcement from late last year left you scratching your head, Erin Ptah writes up a lengthy explanation about what it all means for The Beat.

Webcomics | Writing for Cherwell, Hetta Johnson provides some background on Alice Oseman’s Heartstopper, the webcomic turned hit Netflix adaptation.

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Rest in peace, George Pérez

The renowned artist of ‘New Teen Titans,’ ‘JLA/Avengers’ and more passed away from Stage 3 Pancreatic Cancer.

Legendary artist and Eisner Hall of Fame member George Pérez passed away yesterday at the age of 67 from Stage 3 Pancreatic Cancer.

Pérez revealed his heartbreaking diagnosis last year and took every opportunity over the last few months to connect with fans of his work. The news was shared by his friend, Constance Eza, who manages his Facebook page.

“We are all very much grieving but, at the same time, we are so incredibly grateful for the joy he brought to our lives,” Eza said in the Facebook post. “To know George was to love him; and he loved back. Fiercely and with his whole heart. The world is a lot less vibrant today without him in it. He loved all of you. He loved hearing your posts and seeing the drawings you sent and the tributes you made. He was deeply proud to have brought so much joy to so many.”

The post states that a memorial service for the artist will take place at MEGACON Orlando at 6 p.m. on May 22. It will be open to all.

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Rest in peace, Neal Adams

The prolific artist, editor and comics advocate passed away from sepsis earlier this week.

Legendary comics creator Neal Adams — an artist, editor and advocate for creator rights — passed away Thursday in New York due to complications from sepsis, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Adams was 80 years old.

Over the course of his career, Adams brought his revolutionary art style, renderings, faces and figures to the pages of Batman, X-Men, Green Lantern/Green Arrow, Superman vs. Muhammad Ali, Avengers and countless others. His work with Denny O’Neil on Batman and later Green Lantern/Green Arrow in the 1970s helped push comics storytelling into a new era, where the emphasis on superhumans was as much on the “human” aspect as the “super.”

“There are few comic book artists whose work has echoed across the decades more than Neal Adams and it was a great shock to discover that this legend has passed away,” J.M. DeMatteis said on his blog. ” His work with the brilliant Denny O’Neil on Batman redefined the character and the same team exploded the superhero genre (and my sixteen-year-old mind) with the ‘all new, all now’ Green Lantern/Green Arrow series.”

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Rest in peace, Brian Augustyn

The comics writer and editor passed away this weekend after suffering a severe stroke.

Comic writer and former DC editor Brian Augustyn passed away this weekend after a sudden and severe stroke, according to his longtime friend and collaborator Mark Waid.

“Comics has lost a very kind, very talented man who has been my big brother and one of my very best friends for nearly 35 years,” Waid said in a post on Facebook. Augustyn was 67 years old and is survived by his wife Nadine and two daughters, Carrie and Allie.

Augustyn’s career in comics started in the 1980s, editing independent comics like Trollords, Syphons and Speed Racer for Tru Studios and Now Comics. In 1988, he joined DC Comics and became co-editor of Action Comics Weekly, which at the time was an anthology title featuring stories about Superman, Wild Dog, Green Lantern John Stewart and more.

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12 for ’21 | In Memory 2021

As we move into the new year, we pay tribute to some of the creators who passed away in 2021.

In another year of pain and loss, the passing of so many talented comics creators again hit hard. Here’s a look at some of the comics people who passed away in 2021.

Artist Steve Lightle passed away in January at the age of 61. Lightle’s career in comics began in the 1980s on DC Comics titles like Doom Patrol and Legion of Super-Heroes, which he worked on alongside writers Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen.

He also worked for Marvel on titles like Classic X-Men and Marvel Comics Presents, where his iconic covers graced both titles.

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Rest in peace, Ryan ‘Bode’ Bodenheim

The artist of ‘Black Panther,’ ‘Secret,’ ‘A Red Mass for Mars,’ ‘Bloodshot’ and more passed away Dec. 20 at the age of 44.

Artist Ryan Bodenheim, who sometimes went by the nickname Bode, passed away Dec. 20 at the age of 44. A cause of death has not been released.

Over the course of his career, Bondeheim worked on projects at Marvel and Valiant, on titles like Black Panther, Bloodshot and Ninjak. But fans might best know him from his work with Jonathan Hickman; together they co-created several Image series, including The Dying and the Dead, Secret and A Red Mass for Mars.

“Ryan made the work better,” Hickman wrote in his newsletter. “It’s why I loved working with him. I think that’s the highest compliment you can pay a creative partner, and over the past decade it was such a joy to watch him also grow as an artist.”

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Comics Lowdown | RIP Takao Saito

Plus: DC does NFTs, the Uffizi opens its doors to comics, and small publishers discuss distribution.

Cover of Golgo 13, vol. 8, showing a man holding a gun and smoking a cigarette.

Takao Saito, the creator of Golgo 13, died on September 24 at the age of 84. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer. Saito made his manga debut in 1955 and launched Golgo 13, which follows the exploits of a taciturn hitman, in 1968. Volume 202 of the series has just come out in Japan, making Golgo 13 not only the longest continuously running manga series but also the one with the most volumes. Saito has said he would like the manga to continue after his death, and his publisher, Shogakukan, says the series will continue.

Comics at an Exhibition: The Uffizi Gallery, in Florence, Italy, is adding comics to its collection. The museum, which started out in the 1600s as the Medici family’s portrait collection, has commissioned 52 self-portraits by prominent Italian comics artists. The self-portraits will be on display in a special exhibit in Lucca from October 8 to November, 1, then moved to the Uffizio to join its permanent collection.

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Comics Lowdown | Alex Segura leaves Archie for Oni-Lion Forge

Plus: the comics industry loses two inspirational creators.

Alex Segura has left Archie Comics to become senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group. Segura has been with Archie for a total of about 10 years now, most recently as co-president, and worked for DC Comics before that. He’s also a mystery author and comics writer, on projects like The Dusk, The Black Ghost and Archie Meets the B-52s.

“While it’s been an amazing honor and privilege to call Riverdale my professional and creative home for over a decade, when Oni-Lion Forge approached me with this opportunity, I couldn’t say no,” Segura said in a statement to Publisher’s Weekly. “Getting the chance to help amplify the ever-expanding, talented, and diverse voices at Oni is a great fit.”

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