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I have no idea why it is that humans are so compelled to assess and reflect upon the changing into a new year, but I'm as guilty of this urge as anybody else. If there is something you can't resist it's vacations. Staying at hotel Punta Cana is a great way to start off your new year. You can sit and read comics until the sun goes down or just fall asleep to the crashing of the waves. I warn you now that the opinions that follow -- both mine and those of a select roundtable of comics commentators -- will take some time to read. If you are subject to eyestrain, you might want to print this out for offline reading, or at least pace yourself, maybe take a walk around the block around the halfway point.
For me, the year in comics was divided into three major areas: Continued enjoyment of great comics old and new, including titles like Revolver, Street Angel, The Walking Dead, We3 and Eightball; the growing phenomenon of comics piracy, which at this point is so shockingly widespread that it must be affecting the sales of some titles; and most depressingly, the cynical flood of poorly-crafted corporate comics storylines designed to generate short-term sales and press attention to the long-term detriment of the shared universes they infiltrated.
Accompanying these lousy comics, which featured massive, joyless amounts of rape and murder of beloved characters, were variant covers and second, third and fourth printings designed to feed a market full of speculators who will never, ever see either a return on their investment of money or time, or derive any true entertainment value from the awful comics they bought in droves. So take a break from the world of corporate comics and spend some time at hotels in Dominican Republic they will only help rest your tired mind. As Nietzsche so brilliantly noted, "Those you cannot teach to fly, teach to fall faster." The corporate comics industry seemed fully invested in that philosophy in 2004.
Thankfully, though, the industry's visionary publishers like Fantagraphics, Drawn and Quarterly, Top Shelf, Absence of Ink, Slave Labor, Alternative Comics, (the sadly late and lamented) Highwater Books (which provided one of the year's highlights with Reggie 12 on Free Comic Book Day) and many, many self-publishing cartoonists and other companies continued to infuse the artform with good work by both new and established creators, providing a large number of comics and graphic novels throughout the year that will only increase in true value, by virtue of being so entertaining and well-crafted that they will reward years of re-reading and sharing with others.
Best First Issue: RevolveR #1
There's nothing I love more than a cartoonist figuring out his art right there on the page, and Salgood Sam did just that with the impressive debut issue of RevolveR. I am hoping to see much more of this series in 2005. RevolveR #1 Review by Alan David Doane
Best Anthology: McSweeney's #13
Chris Ware's editorial skills were put to wonderful use in creating a thick, surprise-filled hardcover that serves as both a genuine treat for longtime comics readers and a wondrous introduction to the artform for newcomers. Gathering together the very top cartoonists living today, including Crumb, Clowes, Ware himself and many others, McSweeney's #13 set the bar for comics anthologies. McSweeney's #13 Review by Jeet Heer
Best Hardcover: B. Krigstein Comics
I waited most of my life for this dream project, a huge hardcover packed with some of the best, most vital comics ever created, by the most gifted American comics artist ever. B. Krigstein Comics Review by Alan David Doane
Best Autobiography: American Elf: The Collected Sketchbook Diaries of James Kochalka
What else is it even possible for me to say about James Kochalka's comics? No other cartoonist has ever given so much of his life over to autobiographical cartooning in this intimate, entertaining and enlightening a way. If you haven't experienced his comics, you've missed one of the biggest pleasures comics has to offer. American Elf Review by Alan David Doane
Most Surprising Graphic Novel: Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life
I was completely unprepared for Bryan Lee O'Malley's thrilling, hilarious and unpredictable graphic novel. More is coming in the year ahead, and that's very good news for people who love good comics. Scott Pilgrim Review by Alan David Doane
Alternative Comic of the Year: Eightball #23
All right, my review of this issue was a little over the top, arctic shitknife and all. Forgive me for being a little excited, great comics just have that effect on me. Eightball #23 Review by Alan David Doane; Eightball #23 Review by Sean Collins; Eightball #23 Review by Christopher Allen
Most Exciting New Title: Street Angel
Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca's comic is large, and contains multitudes. So far we've seen pirates, ninjas, squids, Jesus Christ his own self, and one spunky, irresistible teenage heroine who is out to save us all. Street Angel is a complete, near-perfect comic, from design to execution to the way it lingers afterward, tantalizing you with its potential and making you want more. Hopefully 2005 will contain lots more. Street Angel Review by Alan David Doane
Best Trade Paperback: The Filth
As well-regarded as Grant Morrison seems to be, I still think The Filth (with fantastic art by Chris Weston) is a vastly underrated work. Perhaps because it seems more complex than it really is, but everyone interested in what comics can accomplish really ought to give this work a chance to infiltrate itself into their consciousness. I've never read anything quite like it, but I sure would like to. The Filth Review by Alan David Doane
Best Mini-Series: We3
And here's Morrison again, this time with perhaps his most gifted creative partner, Frank Quitely. They say this is supposed to be a "Western Manga," but all I can tell you is that it's mind-blowingly great comics that defy expectation and reward attention. We3 Review by Alan David Doane
Best Superhero Comic (Tie): DC The New Frontier/The Ultimates
Two very different approaches to decades-old corporate comics icons, both left me breathless with appreciation of their craft and ingenuity. Both highly recommended.
Outstanding Graphic Novel: Locas
Perhaps the decades of superior Love and Rockets comics, magazines and trade paperbacks made the series impossible for new readers to wrap their brains around. With first Palomar and now Locas, readers have been given excellent entry into the worlds of wonder and delight crafted by Los Bros. Hernandez. Locas Review by Alan David Doane
Best Strip Collection: The Complete Peanuts
It almost seems like fate brought together Fantagraphics, North America's most valuable comics publisher with perhaps the most important comic strip license of all time. Add to the mix the sublime, respectful design work of the cartoonist Seth, and The Complete Peanuts comes very close to being The Perfect Comic Project.
Best Ongoing Title: Sleeper
It seems like it will only be ongoing through the first half of 2005, but, so be it. Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips have given us one of the most unique and exciting adventure comics ever, and if I wish it would go on forever, at least DC/Wildstorm seems intent on making sure they're all collected, and Brubaker and Phillips are planning future projects together. They've won my complete trust with Sleeper. Sleeper Review by Alan David Doane
Best Adventure Comic: Smax
Nothing like what I was expecting, this quasi-Top 10 sequel fit in satire, pathos and high edventure in the space of five issues, collected this year in a terrific hardcover. Lately I've been seeing the Alan Moore ABC hardcovers drastically marked down, so take advantage and grab 'em up while you can. Adventure comics were as good as they ever were -- and perhaps ever will be -- when Alan Moore was writing them over the past decade.
Best One-Shot (All-Ages): Reggie 12 and Friends
The demise of Highwater Books as a comics publisher puts the future of Brian Ralph's brilliant all-ages robot comic in question. I hope we do eventually see more of Reggie 12, because it was inventive, funny and yes, fun for the whole family.
Best One-Shot (Adult): Gravedigger: The Scavengers #1
In the tradition of great crime comics like Sleeper and His Name is...Savage, Gravedigger came out of nowhere and was one of the best comics I read all year. Gravedigger Review by Alan David Doane
Best Mini-Comic: Insomnia
With an extremely limited print run, these might all be gone already. Gary Spencer Millidge uses the mini-comics form to reveal all about the series he planned just prior to his excellent Strangehaven. Compact and fascinating. Insomnia Review by Alan David Doane
Best Retrospective: The Collected Sequential
A lot of the comics in this beautifully-designed hardcover probably don't merit the upscale treatment on their own, but the whole package, collecting the entirety of Paul Hornschemeier's Sequential series, is a worthy insight into the artistic growth of one of our best, most thoughtful cartoonists. The Collected Sequential Review by Alan David Doane
Best Comics Site: The Comics Reporter
Tom Spurgeon must have missed Dirk Deppey's Journalista! as much as the rest of us, because he infuses The Comics Reporter with the same sort of vitality and curiousity about the comics industry and artform, and improves the whole Comics Blogosphere in the process. I'm still feeling a little obsolete as a result of Tom's unbelievably holistic approach, but it's fun watching him so effortlessly put the rest of us to shame.
Best Webcomic: American Elf
Perhaps it's the simplicity of design, perhaps it's the promise of daily delight and surprise, but no online comic strip keeps me clicking onto it seven days a week like American Elf.
When looking back at the past 12 months and trying to guess what the next year will be like in the comics industry, I wanted to consult experienced, intelligent people at the very heart of comics, from the realms of publishing, cartooning, retailing and journalism; here, they share their insights. I'm grateful for everyone who took the time to take part.
Our roundtable participants are:
2004 seemed to signal a return to a lot of the gimmicks that are blamed for harming the industry in the past, such as variant covers and new #1 issues of decades-old titles. What do you think these events say about the current state of the industry?
Eric Reynolds: There are still too many greedy idiots in comics.
Bryan Lee O'Malley: There are so many obvious metaphors about sinking ships and dinosaurs about to go extinct. I mean, yeah. Come on. The current state of the industry is "sad," whereas a couple years ago it was on the total upswing! Readership is so low that the whole pendulum thing isn't going to swing up again; it's all just going to bottom out. I have no faith in the current state of the industry.
Tom Spurgeon: It just says that the companies are willing to hotshot titles for short-term gains and marketshare games rather than do the hard, greatly needed work of a slow audience build. I'm surprised it took them this long; I told them there would come a point when they couldn't resist it any longer.
Christopher Butcher: They seem to say that in the face of radical change, a real paradigm shift in how books are packaged and who they're sold to, that many publishers simply aren't up to the task. They would rather embrace ideas that were previously considered detrimental in an attempt to sell more product to their existing market, rather than trying to compete outside of it.
Shawn Hoke: I think it shows that the industry may be flailing around a bit at this point. They want to capture the market share, but are having trouble finding viable ways to do so. So rather tahn evolving or changing, they go for the quick fix or the fast money. Milk the zombies/hardcore fans rather than explore other genres or other markets.
Jim Rugg: It says that Marvel and DC are desperately trying to hold on as the industry and medium pass them by. They do not understand what is driving the changes in the industry. As manga and ďalternativeĒ publishers assert themselves through bookstore distribution, it is clear that a new audience is emerging Ė one that is more interested in traditionally ďmainstreamĒ content rather than 12 year-old fantasies, collectorsí items, and grotesquely distorted/perverted anatomy. The return of trends designed to capitalize on speculator mentality is the sad expression of two over-sized dinosaurs that have lost touch with the market. Slapping variant covers on their shit books is the equivalent of putting air-fresheners in port-o-johns. Marvel and DC (especially Marvel) remind me of those older-middle-aged men who try so hard to be ďhipĒ but just come off as old and pathetic. It could be entertaining if they had a shred of self-awareness and a sense-of-humor, but they donít and itís like watching a very boring train wreck. The saddest part is that the retailers who canít deal with reality and maybe arenít the most savvy business men will be the ones that pay the price for Marvelís inability to successfully publish quality comics instead of repeating 10 year old tricks that nearly sunk the market the last time.
Brett Warnock: It says to me that the mainstream is incapable of new ideas, and therefore resort to these lame gimmicks form the past, that have invariably lead to disastrous results. For better or for worse, it still seems that the direct market, in spite of the FACT of enormous growth and sales of TPBs and OGNs, is slave to the monthly pamphlet comic book.
Rob Vollmar: That it takes about ten years for people to forget the difference between a good idea and a bad one, even if said difference was clearly illuminated the first time. Cue running joke about the 2004 Election...
Jason Marcy: It says the Industry is desperate, to me, anyway. The big three or four have been losing ground for years readership wise, so it's a way to try to put the "collectibility" of comics back in the game. If it creates a Speculator market again, then we're down for another collapse. The majority of their lines are tired, and this a poor way to try to breathe life into them.
Dirk Deppey: I think it means that the major publishers have given up on seeing new customers in comics shops, and have decided to cater to the nostalgia of the existing market. In the short term, I think it's clearly a decision that has (and will) earn them money. You can hear the crunch-crunch-crunch of the industry's seed corn being eaten, of course, but given the vast majority of the Direct Market's refusal to attempt to push or even stock material that doesn't remind them of the comics they read when they were twelve, I'm not sure you can blame the publishers for this state of affairs.
Christopher Allen: It says that happy days are here again. Goodbye, gray sky; hello, blue. Actually, it says that at least DC with Identity Crisis and Green Lantern: Rebirth and Marvel with the Avengers Disassembled, know what kindasorta works in the short term. I could go on and on about how they should instead be learning from other media (besides just bad action movies) how to design and promote their wares in more interesting, theoretically more mainstream-attention-grabbing ways, but let's face it, that's a waste of time. A brilliant J.H. Williams III or Sean Phillips cover is never going to be seen outside a comic shop, anyway except in eventual collections. But if multiple Identity Crisis covers help keep money coming in to let DC finance more Ed Brubaker comics, what do I care?
TPBs, graphic novels and manga seemed to continue to make inroads into retail bookstores in 2004. Do you think retailers are rising to meet the challenge of a new market for comics?
Eric Reynolds: Not as much as they should be. I would guess -- judging from our own sales patterns and market penetration -- that only about 25 percent of the retailers in the direct market pay any attention at all to the larger publishing industry, or even to the entire comics field (including alternative comics and maybe strip collections, et. al.). The rest are happy to live with blinders on as long as possible and indulge their own tastes, usually at the expense of a broader customer base. They ignore it at their own peril.
Christopher Butcher: I think some retailers are, sure. I think we at The Beguiling are rising to meet that challenge. 2004 was a year that saw us add hundreds of stock items, and replace existing fixtures with something like 30 feet of new shelving for book-format comics, be it manga, art comix, or superheroes. I think the biggest thing that needs to happen in 2005 is to stop thinking of anyone who sells a comic book as "retailers." As the months go on, our store, which primarily promotes and sells various formats of comic books, has less and less in common with your typical Direct Market Diamond account. Even the idea of "are retailers rising to meet the challenge" is flawed, when it's something like 10% of Diamond's customers ordering 90% of the non DC-Marvel-Image-Dark Horse comics. There's a widening gap between "Superhero Boutiques" and Comic Book Stores.
Shawn Hoke: Bookstore retailers? Absolutely. I think the increased exposure of solid books like the Hernandez collections, Persepolis, and McSweeney's #13 is translating to increased visibility in bookstores and more shelf space. Manga is continuing to explode in bookstores as well.
Comic shop retailers? Some of them are meeting the challenges of a changing market, I'm sure, but I don't see it locally.
Jim Rugg: I assume they are and/or they will. If they do not rise to meet this challenge, they will go out of business or become even more of a specialized collectorsí haven and new retailers and outlets will emerge. It is inevitable that retailing will keep up with any product that sells, what that retailing ultimately looks like and who fills that role remains to be seen.
Brett Warnock: If by retailers you mean the direct market retailers, well, that's a good question. It seems to me that the top 100 direct market retailers more closely resemble book stores than they do the classic back-issue-laden comic shops of the past few decades. As for the rest of the 3,400 hundred stores, well, unfortunately they generally don't support our own books, so I can't really say.
With the writing on the wall as it is now, it seems that the comic shop of tomorrow will by necessity have to become a whole new breed. One that really caters to a very wide range of customers... less fanboys and more attention to kids, women, and just plain regular folks. This of course doesn't imply an alienation of the fanboys. They are a bedrock of comics. But by the same token, no matter how you dress your store up, the fanboys will come as long as they have their Wolverine. The key will be more, how do you make a retail atmosphere that doesn't offend everybody else?
Rob Vollmar: Some of them are and the ones who do will likely be the dominant players in the market for the next decade. Those who donít are destined to watch their client base age, dwindle, and die.
Jason Marcy: Well, here in Canada at our chain stores Chapters and Indigo I've seen a major change in their marketing of comic trades. They used to have a small corner with your Marvel Essentials and the like. Now they've dedicated a good amount of shelf space to Alternative and manga as well, though the trend is heavily towards manga at the moment. Depending on who's ordering the material for the respective stores, you can get a decent line of books from the likes of Drawn and Quarterly on the shelves as well. The traditional comic retailer seems to be staying the course, which is either disturbing or comforting depending on who you talk to. There's still a lot of trepidation for the average retailer to bulk up his or her TPB section.
Dirk Deppey: If you're referring to bookstore retailers, it depends on the sub-branch of the market you're talking about. Manga seems to be doing just fine in the major chains, while the rack space for superhero comics has shrunk to what is probably the most realistic level of customer interest. There's some limited shelf space for indy comics as well, but such works seem to have a bigger niche in indy bookstores, which helps to make up for the shortfall.
If you're talking about how comics shops are meeting the challenge: They aren't, really. There's been some improvement in orders for manga, but I suspect that this reflects the current customer base's grudging willingness to try the stuff more than anything else. I see no indication that a serious number of retailers are retooling their promotional strategies to bring new customers through the door by advertising the presence of manga in their shops, and that's really what it's going to take.
Christopher Allen: Not really, as far as specialty shops. No disrespect to Butcher or others reading this, as the ones reading this stuff and writing online are in my opinion the rare, plugged-in few. I'm not sure what a lot of these shops will be able to do, because there's less and less reason to go into a shop these days, with graphic novels so easily available online, and often for the same or cheaper prices than a lot of shops offer. If I lived near The Beguiling or Earthworld, I'd be a loyal customer. Unfortunately, the comic shop needs to be able to offer an experience rather than just a bunch of comics and graphic novels and a clerk who can recommend good ones to fit your taste. Starbucks is unbelievably successful not just because it offers a legal drug in yummy liquid form, but because it's got a good atmosphere and has become part of people's days. Most comic shops are tacky, cramped and full of people even less cool than me.
In what way, if any, has the new prominence of comics in bookstores affected your work?
Eric Reynolds: Personally, it's given me a lot more work to do. For the company, it's probably resulted in more squarebound formats and fewer pamphlets, though I don't think it's had much effect on the content of what we publish.
Bryan Lee O'Malley: Bookstores are where I want my books to be. This is good for me. My books sell really well on Amazon and stuff. I don't live in the U.S., so I don't know how we're doing in Borders and whatnot, but as long as I have Amazon and other online retailers, that's making me feel better.
Tom Spurgeon: None. I guess that it's allowed a greater desire for more trade stock, which has given me more potential comics to review, more companies to cover.
Christopher Butcher: I got to say "I told you" for arguments going back years and years and years.
Shawn Hoke: It's helped reinforce the message that I've been preaching since I've started writing about comics. The traditional wall between comics and art/literature is rubble. It's much easier to get people to try books when they see comics being taken seriously by mainstream sources.
Jim Rugg: In June I expect to release a trade paperback of Street Angel. This trade paperback reflects my publisherís move towards bookstore-friendly formats. If it wasnít for the rise of comics in bookstores, there might not be a trade. As far as content goes, it has not affected my work in a direct way.
Brett Warnock: Not much at all, as it pertains to the selecting of what we publish. More so, it's just great that we can cater to a new market, the base of whom seem to be more into the kind of books we publish, than most of the mainstream (manga notwithstanding).
Rob Vollmar: Currently, only the smallest percentage of comic publishers have the experience and distribution to place graphic novels into bookstores that will actually sell. Just because PEACH GIRL is doing well at Borders doesnít mean that every graphic novel (or even 1 out of 100 graphic novels) can repeat that feat. So, the hesitant affection of bookstores is not something that I dwell on when writing. Of course, If I do ever manage to get a book into one of these chains, that makes my percent-chance of selling one is infinitesimally higher there than a comic store so Iím not kicking anyone out the bed just yet.
Jason Marcy: I did notice you can get Jay's Days: Rise and Fall of the Pasta Shop Lothario at the Barnes and Noble website, so that can't be looked at as anything but positive in regards to how my work is seen by a wider audience. It's still in its infancy though, and could be awhile before long-term effects are seen.
Christopher Allen: No effect as far as reviewing. As far as writing, I dunno, maybe a bit more encouragement that I might have my name on the spine of a book or two in a year's time.
What do you think was the best thing to happen in the comics industry this year?
Eric Reynolds: I have no idea. Paul Levitz joining the CBLDF board? Uh, nope, that's not it. CrossGen folding? Maybe. Popeye finally adopting Swee Pea?
Tom Spurgeon: In the industry? I don't know. Maybe the rise of IDW as a economic model that can compete with the mainstream companies in terms of creator involvement. But that's not all that great, really.
Christopher Butcher: The mainstream press. Without a doubt, the amount of positive and genuinely insightful press that comics has gotten in the mass media has made my job infinitely easier, just in terms of breaking down customer resistance to comics, particularly good comics.
Shawn Hoke: A single thing? I think the Peanuts books doing so well. I'm hoping that so much cash gets put into Fantagraphics' pockets that they can just go nuts publishing new and exciting books.
Jim Rugg: Iíd say it was a tie between Drawn and Quarterly surviving their financial difficulty and remaining in business and Fantagraphics receiving a financial windfall through the successful release of the Peanuts reprints and thus insuring their own survival.
Maybe continued media exposure and growing sales through bookstores?
Brett Warnock: Hard to say. On an industry level, I'd say just the overall attention that real comics have been getting in the real mainstream media.
Personally, it would have to be the respect that Craig Thompson's Blankets has deservedly received by sweeping the three major awards this year (Harvey, Eisner, Ignatz), in spite of the fact that our most "respected" industry rag can't seem to bash it enough times.
Rob Vollmar: It didnít disappear.
Jason Marcy: That it managed to survive another year, wheezing along despite the odds.
Dirk Deppey: Most of the trends we saw this year were really continuations of those on display last year. This goes for both the best and the worst of the industry: While webcomics, manga and indy comics continue to stretch their legs in other markets, this was a year of stasis for the traditional comics industry.
Oh, except for Archie giving their Sabrina title a manga look. It's just bandwagon-jumping, of course, but at least it's halfway intelligent bandwagon-jumping...
Christopher Allen: Well, I'll just take the easy way out and say I've been very pleased to see collections like LOCAS and AMERICAN ELF, graphic novels like Jay's Days, fun, energized comics like Street Angel, Shawn Hoke's relentless ambition, Dirk's bigger and better The Comics Journal, the debut and instant commanding online presence of Spurge's The Comics Reporter and Christopher Butcher's hot new pants. '05 will be big for Vollmar's and Callejo's BLUESMAN. Also, Bush's reelection is good for all art. Good things come from repression. Just look how bad comics were when Clinton was in office.
What do you think was the worst thing to happen in comics in 2004?
Eric Reynolds: George Bush's re-election was the worst thing to happen to anyone who cares about civil rights.
Tom Spurgeon: All those announcements of crappy book lines.
Christopher Butcher: I think that the level of discourse just dropped considerably, at every level, is really unfortunate. There seems to be a real "Us vs. Them" mentality developing between the people who have invested their entire lives into the comic medium/industry being exactly the way it is forever, and everybody the else. It's this bizarre rallying cry of the ignorant that leads to individuals buying 30 copies of the same book to send a "message" (apparently, that they are suckers), or accusing anyone with a different opinion of "Hating Our Freedom" or something, and trying to keep them (the "little guy" in this scenario) down, with their comics-that-are-not-the-comics-of-my-youth-and-therefore-not-for-me.
Oh, that, and people who think they know how the entire industry works because they read an article at Newsarama. That's maddening, in the ignorance that it fosters.
Shawn Hoke: I'm still bummed about the demise of Highwater Books. That hurts and I think it hurts the industry when a small publisher that focuses on high quality work in an attractive package can't make it financially.
Jim Rugg: Marvelís aggressive flooding of the market. It severely undermines the industryís effort to grow its audience and its effort to establish credibility beyond that of a childrenís medium. Iím tempted to say the success of Spider-Man 2 and the continued migration of superheroes to Hollywood, but ultimately I think this will hinder Marvel and DCís ability to promote their material as anything but juvenile escapism and that will be great for comics. As Marvel follows the Disney model of merchandising and licensed kidsí properties, I think they will produce less and less in the way of meaningful comics and hopefully they will soon be removed from any serious inclusion in discussions regarding comics as a medium and eventually even the industry. But that is me being hopeful and since the reality is theyíre doing well financially, I still think thatís the worst thing thatís happened.
Itís also bullshit that Highwater folded. Their books have had such an impact on my perception of comics. It sucks.
Brett Warnock: Again, hard to say. I'll keep my personal disappointments close to myself. For the industry? I have to say, and keep in mind that I am still a big fanboy, the emphasis on really horrible crap like Identity Crisis. Man, i tried reading this and had to put it down. Maybe I'm just too old to "get" this stuff.
I wish there was more politically-minded work coming out, but then again, I'm a political junkie. I'd be curious to know definitively, what kind of market exists for this sort of stuff.
Rob Vollmar: Moving FCBD to July 4th weekend.
Christopher Allen: I could say the ease with which you can now download/steal all the new releases and the old stuff you'd have to pay lots of money for in hardcover collections. On the other hand, there's some anecdotal evidence that this can actually stimulate sales among the more honorable thieves.
What titles kept your interest over the past year?
Eric Reynolds: All the titles I like come out only about once a year if I'm lucky. But my favorites remain Eightball, Black Hole, Angry Youth Comics, and Love & Rockets. Eightball #23 was maybe the best comic book ever published. Yes, I'm biased. Louis Riel by Chester Brown was a masterpiece, as was Gary Panter's Jimbo In Purgatory. So was Kim Deitch's Stuff Of Dreams. The only mainstream comic I liked and followed at all this year was that Darwyn Cooke book about the DC characters. If every mainstream comic was that well done, the Comics Journal could quit publishing, mission accomplished.
Bryan Lee O'Malley: The one book that really keeps my interest is QUEEN & COUNTRY, but I get comps of it, and I'm not sure how biased I am. I think the only thing I still regularly pick up is PLEASE SAVE MY EARTH (Viz manga), which is bi-monthly. I'm looking forward to the next volumes of TOKYO TRIBES and PLANETES (Tokyopop manga), both of which come out infrequently -- there's only one more PLANETES before it's over, actually. After I stopped working at the comic store, individual issues of stuff completely went off my radar. I'll still pick up trades of 100 BULLETS, probably, and I've been meaning to read HUMAN TARGET trades, sort of. I also read the first issue of ADAM STRANGE when someone waved it in front of my nose, and I enjoyed it, but I haven't sought out the other issues, so I can't say it "kept my interest". I think I'm just super-jaded. And busy, and broke.
Tom Spurgeon: The only title I read on a monthly basis is Shonen Jump, because it's the only title I can get without driving 200 miles. Los Bros had a great year, though.
Christopher Butcher: Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O'Malley, from Oni Press; Street Angel by Jim Rugg and Brian Marucca, from Slave Labor Graphics; The Filth, Seaguy, and WE3 by Grant Morrison, Chris Weston, Cameron Stewart, and Frank Quitely, from DC; Dogs and Water by Anders Nilsen, from Drawn & Quarterly; Eightball #23 by Daniel Clowes; Ex Machina by Brian K. Vaughn and Tony Harris, from DC; The Walking Dead and Invincible by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard, and Ryan Ottley, from Image Comics; Planetes by Makoto Yukimura, from Tokyopop; Paradise Kiss by Ai Yazawa, from Tokyopop; Bone by Jeff Smith, from Cartoon Books; The New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke and Dave Stewart, from DC; and Grant Morrison's New X-Men by Grant Morrison and various, from Marvel.
Shawn Hoke: I've been very surprised and pleased by The Walking Dead from Image. Love & Rockets, DEMO, The New Frontier; these have all been a lot of fun to read over the past year. Lately We3 has proved to be a very interesting book. Of course it's a limited series and crap like Young Avengers is an ongoing series...
Jim Rugg: Kramerís Ergot 5, 100 Years of Comic Strips (hardcover release from Barnes & Nobles, 500 pages, 20 bucks, it collects both volumes of the Comic Strip Century, did I mention only 20 bucks?), Complete Peanuts, Brian Chippendaleís Ninja #4, Scott Millsí Seamonsters and Superheroes, Anders Nilsenís Dogs and Water and Big Questions #6, Jeffrey Brownís Bighead, Eightball 22, Jimbo in Purgatory, Scott Pilgrim, Inside Vineyland, Tom Gauldís Guardians of the Kingdom, Paul Hornschemeierís work, Lumakick, MK Reedís CatfightÖIím probably forgetting like a thousand things.
Brett Warnock: Well certainly all the usual suspects from my peers at D&Q, AiT/PlanetLar, Oni, Alternative, AdHouse, and even a couple books from Fantagraphics (The Bush Junta in particular is compulsory reading). Then on the fanboy front? Let's see...Gotham Central and Sleeper, can't get enough. I've been digging Hawkman (written by Jimmy Palmiotti) especially when drawn by Ryan Sook. Almost anything by Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison, and Garth Ennis. Alan Moore's ABC line kicks my ass across the board. Demo is a fucking brilliant book by Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan. Bendis of course, specifically, Daredevil, Powers, and Alias/Pulse. Loved Rucka's run on Wolverine. Not so much Millar's new ideas. That said, I gushed over The Ultimates. Amazing stuff. (But the only single title I read of the Ultimate Line. Again, I'm too old, and love the old continuity too much...) Loved Morrison's New X-Men so much, especially Igor Kordey's fabulous stylings, which so many people didn't seem to enjoy. The guy is an incredible storyteller.
Rob Vollmar: LUCIFER, PROMETHEA, FINDER, PET SHOP OF HORRORS, AGE OF BRONZE, BUDDHA, WE 3, DAREDEVIL, DC THE NEW FRONTIER, PLANETARY, DEMO, THE DROWNERS, STRAY BULLETS, POWERS, THE COMPLETE PEANUTS, and the HINO HORROR series.
Jason Marcy: The Ultimates, 30 Days of Night, Powers, True Story Swear to God, King Cat Comics, Astonishing X-Men, the now-defunct Naughty Bits and Bone...does Kochalka's Sketchbook Diaries count?
Dirk Deppey: In no particular order: Love & Rockets, Big Questions, Black Hole, Eightball, Street Angel, Planetary, Jack Staff, Planetes... to tell the truth, I've found myself less and less interested in serialized comics, and my purchasing habits have drifted towards book collections and the like.
Christopher Allen: DC: The New Frontier; Sleeper; Human Target; The Walking Dead; The Ultimates; USM; Street Angel; Jack Staff; DEMO; Superman: Secret Identity and Superman: Birthright; Angry Youth; Love and Rockets/Luba/Luba Comics & Stories; Astonishing and New X-Men; Daredevil; We 3; Seaguy; The Filth; and any Steve Niles stuff is fun.
Which creators are you looking forward to following in the year ahead?
Eric Reynolds: I'm co-editing an anthology of younger cartoonists, MOME, beginning next summer, and I'm particularly excited to see what the contributors come up with because I have every hope that this will be the anthology of the decade in the same ways that RAW was in the '80s, ZAP in the '60s, D&Q in the 1990s, etc. The contributors are basically mine and Gary Groth's favorite, newer cartoonists: Anders Nilsen, Jeff Brown, John Pham, Sophie Crumb, Paul Hornschemeier, David Heatley, Gabrielle Bell, Jonathan Bennett, Andrice Arp, Kurt Wolfgang and a few other surprises. This sounds incredibly self-serving, but I really am excited to see what they do.
Bryan Lee O'Malley: Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca, of STREET ANGEL. Kevin Huizenga -- I hope he puts out another issue of OR ELSE soon. Chris Onstad of ACHEWOOD -- I'm surprised he dropped his book deal, and I'm curious to see what he's got up his sleeve. Corey Lewis is doing a new book called SHARKNIFE for Oni, and I can't wait to see how it turns out. Andy Helms is doing a book somewhere for someone, and it should be awesome. I can't wait to see what Becky Cloonan does on her own after DEMO.
Tom Spurgeon: David B., whose Epileptic should be out early in the year. Gilbert Hernandez, who claims to be wrapping up Luba. Will Eisner's Zion book, which should be fascinating.
Christopher Butcher: Most of the people from [my answer to the previous question]. Bryan Lee O'Malley has a new Scott Pilgrim book or two due out next year, and Morrison's Seven Soldiers looks great. Jim Rugg's Afrodisiac story in the upcoming Project: Superior anthology is already one of my favorites of 2005. I heard a rumour that Ai Yazawa's next book, NANA, might get released starting in 2005, so that'd be excellent. Sammy Harkham's story from Kramer's Ergot 4 is being expanded into a full graphic novel called Poor Sailor which will be awesome, and if Taiyo Matsumoto's Blue Spring (to be released December 29th from Viz) does well, we're probably going to get more of his work (which would be excellent...). North America really, really needs to read his manga Ping Pong.
Shawn Hoke: There is a Mark Newgarden book that Fantagraphics is publishing in the summer, I'm really jazzed about that. A new issue of Schizo will be nice as well as Kevin Huizenga's Or Else from Drawn & Quarterly.
Jim Rugg: Please, please, please someone publish Brian Chippendaleís Maggots. Please. I have been waiting for this book for like ywo years and just when it seemed close, Highwater closes up shop. Likewise, I hope Brian Ralphís Reggie-12 will pop up somewhere, I enjoyed his free-comic-day book and also, itíd be awesome if Crum Bums came out.
Kevin Huizenga, Sammy Harkham, Dan Zettwoch, Ted May, Anders Nilsen, Paul Hornschemeier, Farel Dalrymple, Clowes (if he releases anything new), Ware (I know he has stuff, just let us see it, come on!), Chester Brown (no idea if he has anything new coming up), Gary Panter (sketchbook), Charles Burns (final issue of Black Hole), Lauren Weinstein (Girlstories), Ron Rege, Jr., Richard Hahn, Jasen Lexís Science FairÖagain, Iím sure there are many, many other things that Iím forgetting.
Brett Warnock: Can't wait to see anything new by Joe Sacco. The guy is simply one of the single most "important" cartoonists working today.
Rob Vollmar: Danijel Zezelj, Donna Barr, Marc Bell, Alan Moore, Walt Simonson, Grant Morrison, Carla McNeil, Jeremy Love, Farel Dalrymple, Renee French, Scott Morse, Darick Robertson, P. Craig Russell, Igor Baranko, Hideshi Hino, Eddie Campbell, Chris Ware, Seth, Warren Ellis, Josh Simmons, Steven Grant, and holy host of others I wonít remember until the moment I send this back to you. I donít have any idea if all those folks have work coming out in 2005, but if they publish Ďem, Iíll read them.
Jason Marcy: James Kochalka, Andrew Foster, Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch on The Ultimates, Ariel Schrag...
Christopher Allen: I always pay attention to what Brubaker's doing...Jeffrey Brown; Paul Grist; Pete Milligan; Mike Allred; Mignola; Guy Davis; Morrison's Seven Soldiers opus; Hornschemeier.
Given the increasing popularity of comics piracy through BitTorrents and other online delivery systems, would you like to see the industry investigate low-cost, legal delivery of digital comics to readers?
Shawn Hoke: I've actually downloaded some comics with BitTorrent (Flex Mentallo just to see what Graeme and Matt Maxwell were going on about), but I don't really care to read comics digitally. I'm old fashioned in that I like to hold a comic or book in my hand when I'm reading them. I don't mind online strips and newspapers, but a full format digital comic doesn't appeal to me.
Jim Rugg: I donít have much of an opinion on this. I like having hard copies of books. I guess some people prefer digital. I donít know.
Brett Warnock: I'm too analog to even think about this stuff. My love for printed matter far exceeds any desire to even look at digital comics. Hopefully, though, as a publisher, we'll be able to keep step with the changing realities of our digital age.
Christopher Butcher: I honestly don't care.
Rob Vollmar: Not to dodge your question, but Iíd probably be more interested in the industry looking at formatting and marketing print comics with an eye towards perceived value for the dollars spent. People are experimenting with a variety of digital comics strategies out there and, while I wouldnít exactly call myself looking, I have yet to see anything that challenges the experience of reading the thing in person.
Jason Marcy: If there's a demand, sure. Anything that gets people reading comics and allows the creator to make a dime too is good.
Dirk Deppey: I think I'd actually prefer to see the industry stick its collective head in the sand a while longer, which would allow more time for a nice, open-source format to percolate from the ground up. Of course, any attempt by Marvel or DC to seriously move distribution online would result in loud howls of outrage among the traditional distribution chain, which would make for entertaining Journal coverage -- so I win either way.
Christopher Allen: Yeah, make it as easy as using iTunes. I'd try out many more new series if an issue was only .99, and I bet it could be done if you weren't printing them, or just printing to order if someone liked what he saw and then wanted a paper copy.
Have you had any exposure to or experience with comics piracy yourself during 2004?
Eric Reynolds: No.
Bryan Lee O'Malley: I downloaded a few manga scanlations recently. Someone pointed me to YOTSUBATO! by Azuma Kiyohiko (AZUMANGA DAIOH). It's really great. I hope they release a book of it. I also got MILK CLOSET, which I've been wanting to read ever since I obsessively pored over the indecipherable Japanese books in San Francisco a few years ago. I mean, that's a personal triumph, to finally be able to know what's going on in there. I think scanlations are great, but I'm too lazy to keep up with that stuff. As for American comics; who'd want an issue of Birds of Prey or whatever? You'd have to pay me.
Tom Spurgeon: No.
Christopher Butcher: Yeah, actually. I checked it out because I wanted to see what all the hype was about surrounding Miracleman, but I never got around to reading what I had downloaded. Out of sight, out of mind. The "grey-market" stuff, the scanlations of unlicensed manga is much more interesting to me, because there's a wide variety of excellent titles that just don't get published here, for whatever reason. I think that if something is actually available for purchase at a reasonable price, I'd rather buy it. To be honest, I'd rather everyone else bought it too, no creator is seeing any money off of a bittorrented book, and a lot of them could really use the 2 or 3 dollars.
Shawn Hoke: I pirated some of them, but I only did it to piss off John Byrne.
Jim Rugg: Someone sent me a CD of all the Miracleman issues!
Dirk Deppey: I've been checking up on various BitTorrent sites periodically to thumb through the lists and see what's available, but haven't been downloading any actual comics -- I don't actually have BitTorrent installed on my computer, to tell the truth. The only real downloading I've been doing is of what are known as "scanlations," fan translations of manga titles that haven't been released Stateside yet.
Every week there seemed to be a new comics blog or comics website making its debut during 2004 -- what's your assessment of the various places readers can learn about comics on the internet?
Eric Reynolds: Four words: Tom Spurgeon's Comics Reporter.
Bryan Lee O'Malley: I didn't start reading any blogs until this year. Most mornings I check Thought Balloons and The Beat, and I read Achewood, Wigu (www.wigu.com) and Scary-Go-Round (www.scarygoround.com), and then I go by Pitchfork for a few minutes, but that has nothing to do with comics. Every few days I'll zoom around the ones I like best (All Ages, Comics.212.net, The Hurting, Peiratikos, a couple others I can't remember). The more interesting ones seem to update less frequently anyway. And sometimes I think it's all procrastination, from their time spent writing it to mine spent reading it. But that's okay. Procrastination makes the Internet work. We love procrastination.
Tom Spurgeon: I like a few of them, don't care for the rest, but god bless them all.
Christopher Butcher: There are lots of good and interesting things happening, awash in a sea of crap. And when it comes down to it, people prefer consistant mediocrity over hard-to-find quality.
Shawn Hoke: I love it, because we can all find something that appeals to us. I regularly follow several blogs and a few online comic sites, but I've tried to cut down. I think that it's great that we have sites designed for the mainstream geek and the artcomics geek as well. Unfortuantely, too many sites are just doing the same reviews and rants. How many reviews of X-Men X-posed does a fan really need? I've seen Newsarama move to be a bit more inclusive which is nice.
Jim Rugg: Itís a small world. I donít think it has a great impact on the majority of readers (at least not directly). My feeling is that a handful of people participate in the Internetís coverage of comics. Those participants may indirectly influence the sales of a new, small press book but I think thereís a ceiling on the impact that the current Internet comics community can have. I think in many ways, it has replaced the community that was once comprised of fanzines and penpal comic fans.
The best thing I see with the Internet and comics is a slightly more convenient way to find and order or purchase items that would have been more time-consuming to get in the past (small press and mini comic distributors and also eBay for back issues). Itís also fast and easy to correspond with other creators or to interact with bloggers and other comic critics for feedback or just about common interests.
But so many websites that do reviews are terribly inadequate. I bet far less than half of the online reviews include samples of the artwork. How is this possible? Itís comics, isnít a picture worth a thousand words? This seems like common sense to me. But the few times Iíve searched for artwork for a book Iíve heard about, often I havenít found any. The majority of whatís out there now is just so inconsistent and so unprofessional. I canít imagine an average reader will find much helpful information. So much of online, comics-related writing is by wannabe cartoonists and is filled with biases, grudges, ass kissing, and unprofessionalism. Itís mostly trash, but I do think it has next-to-no impact, so whatever. Itís reflective in my opinion of the same problems that plague news outlets, too much editorializing, not enough fact checking, and very blurry lines between reporting and advertising.
Brett Warnock: I love it. Unless our government takes the Orwellian step and bans free speech on the internet, what can you say. The web is truly the great equalizer, and this extends to every aspect of our lives, not just comics.
Rob Vollmar: I think that 90% of the people interested in reading about comic content are probably being served as well if not better than they are in print. For me, the value of that material is roughly equivalent to the publishing minutia that it can supply when Iím putting together the order for the store.
I have seen few Internet efforts that approach anything resembling solid comics criticism. By and large, Iíve found the medium a little too speedy for the kind of substantive contemplation that is the backbone of good scholarship and/or criticism. Those are my needs as a reader and, as such, I find it mostly in print.
Jason Marcy: It's an enormous benefit, yet also a cornucopia that overflows to confusion. There's so much out there, it's good, but also daunting even to the experienced fan, let alone if you're jumping in for the first time.
Dirk Deppey: I think it's fantastic -- especially with retailers, creators and manga fans blogging now, there's a wider variety of perspectives than ever before. Frankly, it makes me envious of those with the spare time to blog.
Christopher Allen: Maybe I'm older, or just don't want to piss off potential reviewers of my comics (!), but I don't want to say too much on this. I do think there are a ton of great blogs, whereas aside from The Comics Reporter, comics-related sites aren't offering anything new these days. The freshest, sharpest and funniest voices are found mostly in blogs, but even then, there's a little too much of THIS guy's comments about THAT guy's comments about THIS meaningless hype item rather than a lot of serious discussion about important issues. That's hard to do when you're geared towards instant, daily commentary rather than giving longer thought to a topic before responding.
Are there any ways in which readers still aren't being served by comics-related websites?
Christopher Butcher: Clearly, but I am afraid that in describing them someone might actually attempt to do something about it, and to be honest I'd rather see no service than bad service.
Eric Reynolds: Beats me. I know I wish our website was better, but you can't have everything.
Shawn Hoke: I don't think enough sites filter out bad comics. Too often it seems like sites promote comics that should be tossed into a pile and burned. Instead, reviewers and columnists buddy up to creators that really have nothing new or interesting to offer readers, except T&A and badly colored fantasy.
Jim Rugg: There is almost NO meaningful and coherent criticism available. Comicsí academia and journalism need to create a vernacular that can be applied to reviews, criticism, descriptions, etc. Itís like a tower of Babel with a bunch of imbeciles. Certainly there are exceptions, but they are few and far between. The level of comics criticism is so dreadfully low that it shouldnít even be referred to as criticism, it makes the most mediocre review seem like something insightful even if itís not. Also, publishers, cartoonists, etc. should really have sample pages of everything they do online for easy browsing.
Brett Warnock: Only in that most reviews are either really weak, or they focus almost entirely on Top 100 comics, or both. Sadly, with all the hoopla surrounding the internet, there are very few websites that cover the bulk of independent publishing.
My focus then, as a reader, is on the sites that cover the news.
Rob Vollmar: It feels like every leaf has been duly turned at this point or maybe Iím just bored. A paradigmatic shift in the way the Internet is used and perceived would, of course, open up a whole new range of possibilities but Iím no specialist.
Christopher Allen: I guess I would like to see the handful of serious, interesting comics-related stories covered in depth and at length on a site, and have those stories be easily available (like the Top 10 Stories of 2004). You can get a lot of this info in The Comics Journal, I suppose, but I'd like to see different perspectives on the same material. I also think there's too much emphasis on the week's new releases rather than continually reminding readers of the really good stuff that came out previously.
What do you personally have on tap for 2005 that you'd like readers to know about?
Eric Reynolds: Did I mention MOME?
Bryan Lee O'Malley: I have Scott Pilgrim Volume 2 coming out in late February, and probably Volume 3 in September or so. After that I might work on something else for a bit. And I have some big, hype-filled, Mark Millar-style announcements that I can't announce yet, but when I announce them everyone will be all oozy with glee!
Tom Spurgeon: I'm editing a few books for Fantagraphics, doing a superhero column for the Comics Journal and continuing to cover the industry for on-line fans at Comics Reporter. I'm not much of a hypester, but I hope all of them are good and that people will find them useful.
Christopher Butcher: Well thanks for asking Alan! I am the Co-Chair of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, being held May 27th, 28th, and 29th 2005 in sunny Toronto, Canada. With over 200 comics guests planned to attend, no 'dealers room', and an incorporated street festival, we're trying to do a different sort of comics event. Look for updates to our website, to come in the next week or two with our first wave of guest announcements and more. Hope to see you in Toronto this May.
Shawn Hoke: I'll continue my weekly column at CWN as long as there are comics and creators that I still get excited about. I'm probably going to do a few mini-comics this year to trade with people at shows. Nothing big planned, just little stories to please myself mostly.
Jim Rugg: Street Angel #5 -- orders due in early January, book release early March. Iím excited for this one. Itís a crazy, all-out action issue and unlike issue 4, I expect fans of Street Angel to enjoy this issue.
Street Angel trade paperback -- release date is June. Weíre going to do a new, short story - sort of an issue zero, which takes place before the first issue of Street Angel. Weíre going to have a pinup gallery by a number of cartoonists whose work I admire, a sketchbook section, more squids! I might try to do a little promo tour to support the book when itís released but I donít know for sure about that yet. Weíll see.
Project: Superior -- We contribute a full-color story to this anthology. Adhouse has put together one of the most awesome anthologies Iíve ever seen. Iím so happy just to be part of this. I think it will have very broad appeal to almost any comic book fan Ė mainstream and alternative both. Itís going to be something special, look for it in February.
Orchid 2 -- Iím not sure what the release date for this one is, but I contributed a chapter to it. I expect the book to be pretty nice (based on the other contributors and the content, itís a really great idea for an anthology). Visit Sparkplug comics for more info.
Brett Warnock: We've got so many cool new books. Go to our site, click on the catalog category, then on 2005 releases for a broad view.
One book that I think will take the comics world by storm is Spiral-Bound, by Aaron Renier. This books is so fun, and Aaron is such an incredible talent, I really look forward to holding this book in my hands.
Rob Vollmar: BLUESMAN, a twelve bar graphic narrative in the key of life and death, with CASTAWAYS artist Pablo G. Callejo. Follow guitarist Lem Taylor on his harrowing trek across Arkansas of the late 1920s with much worse than hellhounds on his trail. Three Books, 60 pages of story each, wrapping up in late 2005. Info at Absence of Ink.
Jason Marcy: I'll have Jay's Big Book Of Hate and Jay's Days Volume 4 both out in 2005, God willing, and maybe even some other stuff too!
Christopher Allen: Doane Go Away, the Unauthorized Guide to Comic Book Galaxy. Giggle-snort. Seriously, get ready (or at least think about getting ready -- there's months to go) for SUPERUNKNOWN and IRREGULAR JOE.
Dirk Deppey: We're settling into our new format quite nicely. The Comics Journal #265 should be on the stands by the first of the year, spotlighting New Yorker cartoonist and children's illustrator William Steig, and will also include my interview with Eric Shanower, an appreciation of British cartoonist Chris Reynolds by Seth, and a collection of Harry Anderson's pre-Code crime comics. #266 will feature an interview with Brian Michael Bendis, our big "2004 in review" section, and a generous helping of artist Garrett Price's widely acclaimed but seldom seen Sunday newspaper strip, "White Boy." It's a lot of work to assemble, but putting the Journal together is the most fun I've had on the job in fifteen years, and I hope to be at it a while.
I mentioned in my introduction some of the elements that for me made up "The Year in Comics." One thing I didn't mention was probably the biggest event for me, the return mid-year of Comic Book Galaxy after many months away. After Comic Book Galaxy was retired last year, I went solo with the ADD Blog for many months, but ultimately I found more opportunity for expression and creative fulfillment right here at the site I started with some talented friends back in September of 2000.
I want to thank everyone who made it possible for Comic Book Galaxy to come back so strong this year, especially my co-conspirator Chris Allen, who has shared with me what has been a very difficult year for both of us, each on our different coasts with a different set of difficulties, but each of us I think bouyed by the revitalization of this website and the chance to share our thoughts about comics with our readers.
Thanks also to JC Glindmyer and everyone at Earthworld Comics, the greatest comics shop in upstate New York. Thanks to William Christensen at Avatar Press, Matt Brady of Newsarama.com, Alexander Danner at Graphic Novel Review, Joey Manley, d. emerson eddy, Joe Rybandt, Christopher Jones, Jim Crocker at Modern Myths, Neilalien, Larry Young, Alex Ness, Mark Millar, Jevon Kasitch, Tom Spurgeon, Gary Groth, Kim Thompson, Eric Reynolds and Dirk Deppey at The Comics Journal.
Thanks to all the folks who contribute their creativity to Comic Book Galaxy, including Marshall O'Keeffe, Chris Hunter, Marc Sobel, Logan Polk, Jeremy Clifft, Michael Paciocco, Pat Markfort, Jef Harmatz, Jeet Heer, Mick Martin, and everyone whose work helped build this site from its very beginning.
Thanks to the folks who stepped forward and voted with their dollars to support the site this year, including Marc Sobel, Simon Buchholtz, Jeff Newelt, Chad Parenteau, Joshua Kibbey, Logan Polk and Tom Bolger.
Thanks to Brian Florence for years of friendship, advice and ingenuity.
Thanks to the creators who excite and inspire me, including James Kochalka, Paul Hornschemeier, Phoebe Gloeckner, Gary Spencer Millidge, Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Steven Grant, Jim Rugg, Eddie Campbell, Bryan Hitch, Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, Renee French, Alan Moore, Bryan Lee O'Malley, Rob Vollmar, Jason Marcy, and Barry Windsor-Smith.
Thanks to the bloggers and columnists who provided so much entertainment and information this year, including Shawn Hoke, Marc Mason, Milo George, Sean Collins, Mike Sterling, Kevin Melrose, Bill Sherman, and David Allen Jones.
Thanks to my wife and children, who have probably lost more hours of my time than they'd like every year for the past five years to this ongoing endeavour, which other than them is one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me.
Thanks to all of you for continuing to read, support and put up with me. It's been a hard year, but it's been filled with good comics and great friends near and far, and I am forever in debt to all of you. I hope the year to come is filled with peace, prosperity, understanding and kindness for each and every one of you.