Announcing the Comics Industry Persons of the Year for 2022 – Comics Beat

Congratulations to Kate Beaton and Maia Kobabe
It’s time for the annual selection of the Comics Industry Person of the Year for 2022. (See below for methodology.) It was a fascinating year for comics, as platforms and outlets boomed – from webtoons to manga to bookstores and comics shops. Comics were in your email, on your phone, on your shelf and everywhere else. 
So it was a wide swath to choose from for the Person of the Year. We’ve had occasional ties, and this year is another one. Both recipients received wide based support, and both of them encapsulate this moment of comics – a moment of greater acceptance than ever, now coupled with greater controversy. 
Despite the two clear winners, many others had wide support and made a huge impact on the year.
And the winners are:

This is Beaton’s SECOND win for person of the year (she previously won in 2011) and it finds her career in a very different spot. Winning in 2011 as an upstart web cartoonist, Beaton’s signature 2022 achievement is Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands, an unforgettable memoir of her time facing harassment and hardship working in Alberta’s dehumanizing mining operation. The book is widely admired – Obama chose it for his year-end reading list – and it was clearly the graphic novel  of the year. Contacted for comment she told The Beat:
“I’ve had a wonderful, fortunate year. I worked on this book for a long time, through many ups and downs in my life, and with a lot of starts and stops, and the births of two children. Sometimes – and I am sure Drawn and Quarterly can attest to this – it felt like it would never be finished. So to have Ducks finally come out to a response such as this, in high esteem by readers and peers, it is all I could have ever asked for. You always worry that stepping out of your wheelhouse will be a misstep, or that the thing you’ve worked on for ages will land with a dull thud. So at first I was just relieved not to have messed the whole thing up, but now, I’m feeling grateful to have better earned my space in comics I guess, if that makes sense. I’d like to stick around. This seems like one of the most difficult things to do in comics. Thank you for making me feel like I can.”
And voters concurred:
Kate Beaton – her graphic memoir DUCKS is amazing and hard-hitting – a departure from her usual comics. I wouldn’t be surprised if she wins some major awards for this book.
• Kate Beaton – when you create the book of the year, you get to be person of the year. DUCKS is a signature achievement and an amazing creative reinvention in terms of voice and style.
• Kate pivoted from being a beloved comics humorist to digging deep into her own personal history and more importantly international issues like the human toll of capitalism.
Kate Beaton! Ducks has been the most talked about book of the year for good reason — it’s complex, empathetic, and incisive as it explores some of the most urgent issues of our time. An instant bestseller, a New York Times Notable book, it’s already topping a million best of the year lists.
Kate Beaton. Her memoir DUCKS: Two Years in the Oil Sands took the autobio comics genre to new heights with its skill, intelligence and generosity. The book is about Kate’s journey in life, but also so much more. As Kate’s editor when she told me six years ago, that she wanted to do a story about her time at the camps, and how she wanted it to be a statement on class, gender, environment, addiction, workplace safety, and more. I never doubted she could do it, but the best part of being a publisher is seeing a cartoonist push themselves and achieve what they set out to do.
Kobabe endured threats, legal action and notoriety as one of the most censored authors in the US for eir memoir, Gender Queer. A gentle, open-minded autobiography of self-discovery (the kind of thing comics do so well), Kobabe’s book is now The Most Banned Book in America, according to the LA Times, targeted by organized scare groups that claim it is pornography. (Spoiler: it isn’t.) Fortunately, the comics industry has stood by Kobabe, and CBLDF head lawyer Jeff Trexler helped win a landmark decision for the book in a Virginia court. The comics industry has been fearing a “new Wertham” for a while, and it’s here, but this time the industry is fighting back. And Kobabe has used eir platform to advocate for queer rights, authors and stories. 
Reached for comment, Kobabe wrote:
“This year has been such a rollercoaster of highs and lows. The storm of book bans swept Gender Queer into national headlines in a way that I never could have anticipated. I’ve been trying to use the new platform this situation has given me to speak out against censorship, especially the censorship of queer and BIPOC stories, and speak in defense of the librarians who are frequently on the front lines of book challenges. I am very grateful for all of the support I’ve received from the comics community, from friends reaching out to check on me to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund representing Gender Queer in court. This year has only increased my desire to write and draw stories centering queer, trans, and nonbinary characters.”
Voters agreed:
Maia Kobabe – No one had a greater impact on the past year’s surge in book challenges than Maia Kobabe, the author of Gender Queer. Communities around the country are rallying to debate, to condemn, to criminalize, and to save this one book.
Maia Kobabe, whose smart, thoughtful, and honest memoir GENDER QUEER was the most banned book in America this year. Read it. It’s good stuff.
Maia Kobabe, whose work has weathered the brunt of high-profile, ongoing censorship and intimidation campaigns from reality-averse fascists.
Maia Kobabe – for handling a terrifying situation with grace and patience.
Of course many other comics figures had support. Here’s who else made an impact on 2022’s year in comics.
writersFrom Substack to crowdfunding to the indies, writers continued to drive sales and acclaim with innovative work. 

 

Just because they’ve already nearly done it all didn’t mean these superstars weren’t still having an impact

The people who keep the trains on the tracks were recognized for their accomplishments.

And two folks who hung up their publishing hats in 2022…but will be much missed. WE definitely haven’t heard the last from them, however. 
There are always some folks who are hard to classify:

And that’s a wrap, folks. Many thanks again to all who voted, and shared their thoughts. Who will be the break out star of ’23? Let us know in  the comments. 
2021: Judy Hansen
2020: Gene Luen Yang
2019: Dav Pilkey and Tom Spurgeon
2018: Stan Lee and Olivia Jaimes
2017: Emil Ferris
2016: Gene Luen Yang and the March Trilogy Team
2015: Noelle Stevenson

2014: Raina Telgemeier
2013: Kim Thompson
2012: Eric Stephenson
2011: Kate Beaton/Jim Lee & Dan DiDio
2010: Robert Kirkman

Methodology: Person of the Year is voted on by participants in the annual Creator Survey. Not all PotY voters take part in the survey. Candidates chosen by the greatest number of people are selected as the winners.
 
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