And focusing on Marvel and DC at the expense of the dozens of other publishers in comics, and then declaring comics a failure at San Diego Comic-Con, is incredibly myopic. It’s a mistake to think that Marvel and DC are all that mattered, that their new events or announcements dictate the future of capital-c Comics. Marvel and DC are comics, just like the other publishers, and they make some great ones when they let the creators do their own thing. But at this point? You can’t treat them like the entirety of the comics industry, or even two companies that can dictate the future of comics. They run the movies, and that’s cool, but running comics? It’s just not true any more. Image in particular outsells Marvel in the book market as far as trade paperbacks go, and that holds true in the comics market lately, too. That’s no coincidence. People enjoy Marvel and DC, but they want more than Marvel and DC.
If the announcements from the Big Two felt lackluster, but the fans still had a great time, how did comics fail? That sounds like a Marvel & DC problem. Vertical debuted Moyoco Anno’s brand new book In Clothes Called Fat at the show, a comic geared toward adult women. They sold out of Fumi Yoshinaga’s What Did You Eat Yesterday?, a romance/cooking comic. At Image, we sold out of Greg Tocchini & Rick Remender’s Low, an aquatic sci-fi tale, and Nick Dragotta & team’s Howtoons, a comic geared toward getting kids interested in the science through practical play. Boom! burned through Lumberjanes, a comic about girls at camp. These aren’t your normal comics, and people were eating them up.
The Adventures of Superhero Girl is one of my favorite comics, and one of the ones I’m proudest to have worked on. It’s by people I love and love working with. It’s the kind of book that shifts the balance of the industry and medium toward what I want comics to be.
I’ve spent a lot of time with Superhero Girl—probably more than any one person who isn’t Faith Erin Hicks or Cris Peter. I read it in black and white when it was first going up online, and then I read it again. And again. I went through every strip to pick the representative handful I could use to argue its case to my boss, and his boss, and the DH costing committee; and all of that was technically before I was its editor.
There are books I edit and then put down; ones I’m not interested in revisiting, or, more often, ones I’ve spent so much process time with that reading them feels redundant. Superhero Girl has never been one of those books. It’s a pick-me-up and a security blanket, the oh-so-readable soft matte hardcover, Adam Grano’s exuberant design (man, there is nothing about this book I don’t love), Kurt Busiek’s glowing introduction. I go back to it when I’m having a bad day, when I want to remember why I care about comics and what they can mean—to me, and as a medium.
I almost burst into tears. I spent the rest of the evening texting Faith and telling everyone I ran into that Superhero Girl had won.
I didn’t make this book. But I am so proud of having played even an incremental role in getting it out there, and I am so happy to see it get the recognition it deserves. The Eisner Awards aren’t perfect, by a long shot; how much they really mean is debatable. But sometimes? Sometimes, they get it right.
Congratulations, Faith, and thank you—more than I can properly express—for the chance to be part of one of the best comics I’ve ever read, and some of the most fun I’ve ever had on the job.
“Artists are not helper monkeys; they’re not in it to visualize ‘your’ story, because it stopped being ‘your’ story the moment you engaged in a collaborative medium. From here on in, it’s also the artist’s story, and if you’re working with an illustrator who’s any good at all, you as a writer have to tamp down any control-freak tendencies you suffer under and relax into the process.”—Mark Waid (via comicquotations)