Things are changing for the comic book industry, and they're changing fast. Artists and publishers are creating comics for new audiences who consume the material in entirely different ways than veterans of newsstand spinner racks ever dreamed of. The big news of 2013 circled around acclaimed titles such as "March Book One" and "Saga," the news items of 2014 were more about the changes and growth in the field.
Exhibits and events at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum
When the Billy Ireland re-opened in its impressive new Sullivant Hall headquarters in 2013, its sponsors and staff promised it was only beginning. They weren’t kidding! In 2014 the Billy Ireland offered free exhibits featuring original artwork by cartoon legends like Bill Watterson and Will Eisner, master classes and speaking engagements with comic luminaries Steve Bissette, Frank Santoro and Tony Millionaire, and hosted the International Comic Arts Forum (ICAF), which brought in academics in the field from all over the world.
Kirby Family and Marvel Comics reach settlement
With the success of movies like “The Avengers” and “Guardians of the Galaxy,” a new spotlight on the ownership of the intellectual properties involved. After years of legal maneuvering by both Marvel Comics and the Jack Kirby estate, Kirby has finally been acknowledged in a legal sense as a co-creator equal to Stan Lee of early Marvel characters like the X-Men, Fantastic Four and the Avengers. In addition to the credit for creation of the characters, Kirby’s heirs were given an undisclosed but presumably significant financial settlement for use of the characters created by the King of Comics.
Continued rise of popularity for smaller press
In a year where Wolverine sold more comics by dying than living and DC earned a satirical website dedicated to whether or not it’s done something stupid lately, independent publishers and creator-owned work has continued to gain prominence in the general public’s eye. Image Comics “Saga” and “Sex Criminals” reeled in critical acclaim, “Love and Rockets” creators Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez received their first Eisner Awards after decades of superior work, and books like Box Brown’s “Andre The Giant: Life and Legend” debuted on the New York Times Best Seller list.
Amazon buys Comixology
Comics are a media in flux between formats in much the way music was a decade ago. Digital consumption is becoming the norm, and while print hangs on for those still in love with the tactile experience of reading a book, Amazon recognized the shift and gobbled up the leading digital comics provider in April, to the consternation of individuals concerned about the further consolidation of both comics distribution and the publishing industry as a whole.
Across the country, comic convention culture continues to grow in both number of events and attendance at these events. It was announced this year that Columbus will host Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC), a new ongoing comic convention sponsored in part by both the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum and Jeff Smith’s Cartoon Books. With the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo (SPACE) and Ohio Comic Con already on the schedule, CXC will be the third ongoing and significant comic event in Columbus.