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The year that was, and the year that’s yet to be?

by  in Comic News Comment
The year that was, and the year that’s yet to be?

At The Beat, Heidi MacDonald has wrapped up her extensive annual survey, in which industry figures discuss the biggest comics stories of 2008 and predict what will have a big impact this year.

If you haven’t taken in all three parts, I recommend you carve out some time to do so. Needless to say, it’s interesting reading.

The prevailing sentiment is that last year’s big stories will be this year’s big stories, too: digital comics and the worsening economy. (There are plenty of nods to other topics, such as event comics and event fatigue, Hollywood’s love affair with superhero comics, the continued mainstreaming of graphic novels, the death of DC’s Minx imprint, and others.)

I’m excited, and hopeful, to see continued inroads by webcomics and more publishers exploring and expanding online content. That may end up being the one silver lining — and you may have to squint and tilt your head to see it — that comes out of that other big story, the recession.

This week I’ve already posted about the closings of two comic-book stores. Major book chain Borders is on shaky ground. Publishers Tokyopop and Devil’s Due Publishing have cut staff. Newspapers are shuttering, laying off employees or offering massive buyouts (few things are more sobering than following The Media Is Dying every morning). Comic prices are on the rise.

It’s looking pretty bleak at the moment.

But, as industry notables in Heidi’s survey and elsewhere note, maybe this is an environment in which digital comics will thrive, with more creators exploring webcomics, more readers discovering (or turning to) them, and more publishers making use of the Internet to reach, and build, audiences and deliver content.

Maybe? I don’t know, I’m reaching for that lining.

While you’re reading the year-end survey, I’ll be over here quietly sobbing.

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