Welcome to SBC’s The Panel, a chance for you to put your burning questions – comics-related or otherwise – to a group of comics professionals.

The Panel lives or dies by your contributions; please email them to [email protected] and we’ll add them to the list…

This week’s question is as follows:-

“In 1984, there were few trade collections, and comics being available online and on CD/DVD were a dream. In 2004, we have an explosion of trades in comics shops and book shops, we have comic book movies, we have internet comics… How do you think comics will look in 2024?”

William Tucci:

I can tell you what I hope comic books look in 2024 — exactly the same (save for some books we all know shouldn’t last another issue. Well, I’d like to see the comic book size increase. However, I feel that there’s a kinship between comics and Japanese woodblock prints. Both were originally seen as worthless, linear entertainment that would eventually be thrown away. Now the prices of the more collectible editions of both created by past masters seek a well deserving respect and fetch a pretty nice price tag. My hope is that comics will continue for hundreds of years (like woodblock prints) and their value as art and the artists who create them are lauded by all.

2004 Celebrates Billy and Shi’s 10th Anniversary with a new bi-monthly mini series from Dark Horse “Ju-Nen” beginning this May.

Vince Moore:

That’s really hard to say. Warren Ellis said in one of his recent Bad Signal emails that some people are complaining that the future we’re all living in isn’t the one promised by science fiction. While that’s open to debate, I don’t see me saying we’ll have holographic comics by 2024. It may be possible, but I won’t commit to that prediction. But I think having comics on your PDA is possible, downloaded from the internet, broadcast via Bluetooth or similar technologies, or some such. The thing is comics are comics, the media by which they are transmitted to the reader will change, but the basic interplay of words and pictures will not.

As long as comics continue to exist, I’ll be happy.

Vince Moore is the writer of Platinum Publishing’s upcoming book, Kid Victory & The Funky Hammer

Stephen Holland:

Your best bet would be to put this particular question to the sort of high-calibre mind that Warren Ellis possesses, because not only is he constantly thinking about current and future technologies, but he has his finger on the pulse when it comes to this medium and its industry. Read any of his Bad Signal, From The Desk Of Warren Ellis or Come In Alone books to see what I mean.

Failing that, here’s the opinion of the resident comic shop till monkey with delusions of intellectual adequacy:

Comics will look remarkably similar, in almost every respect. They’ll first appear as monthly pamphlets, then the best will reappear in the form of collected volumes.

Now, as anyone studying science at school will be instructed, evidence is required to support a hypothesis. Or, in my case: “Holland, hold your hands in the air, move away from the Bunsen burner, and seriously consider English instead.”

Regardless, here’s my evidence:

1) Web comics are already freely available, and some of them very popular indeed. But the money is only made when they become graphic novels, and every creator wants to make money. Take Megatokyo: its readers who’ve already absorbed the on-site strips still flock to Page 45 to buy the books. They’ve already read it, but they still want a printed copy. Why? Because everyone loves to hold in their hands beautiful objects of art and craft. Even David Beckham. I know Posh Spice is more an object of craft than art, but it’s taken a great deal of crafting, and there’s a definite art to that.

2) TV episodes are still aired on TV before they become DVDs you can keep. Similarly, the periodical will prevail, if only because Marvel and DC say so, and what they say inescapably goes. Also, although The Real Mainstream (the average guy on the street) will wait for a trade paperback reprint, can you wait for the next instalment of Supreme Power? No, me neither. Nor Stray Bullets, Strangehaven, Strangers In Paradise or Strange, Isn’t It, That A Stupid Retailer Is On The Same Panel As These Creative Gurus?

3) The Tweeny Goth thing is rampant right now; they worship Jhonen Vasquez and Roman Dirge with a fervour equalled only by their addiction to hair dye. You may not have seen Johnny Homicidal Maniac or Squee or Lenore, or anything like it if your local retailer doesn’t stock it. But where they do, almost all of them will tell you that the comics outsell X-Men 4 to 1 (and they continue to sell for years). The material can be bought as trades, but the fans still demand the individual issues rather than (or as well as) the books.

To summarise: I don’t see things changing.

Since I’m a retailer, you might suppose I’d want this to be the case, and may therefore be deluding myself.

You could well be right.

Especially given that I did abandon the Bunsen burner for a degree in English Literature… where they begged me to revert to science instead.

Stephen Holland runs Page 45, a comic shop in Nottingham, England, with Mark Simpson and Tom Rosin. He also has a monthly column in Comics International. To this day, no one knows why.

Scott Allie:

Maybe we’ll see the dream of the chain comics retailer come true, with some smart and successful retailer like Jim Hanley opening shops across country and making them look like Waldenbooks or Tower Records. On the other hand, the direct market could suffer the death that people have been predicting since Capital City went away, since before that. The landscape could really change, because no way in hell could marginal books from big publishers-or any books from marginal companies-survive the ups and downs of a returnable book market. In that case it would probably require really brilliant internet applications-much better than what we’ve seen so far-to keep the small press going, either through online sales or onscreen subscriptions.

But the thing I’m most interested in seeing is just how the content itself evolves. Are we gonna grow out of superheroes, offer a healthy dose of other genres? I’ve long suspected that comics are going to polarize even more between the successfully branded mainstream properties like Batman, Star Wars, Spiderman, which will continue to reach large audiences because of their merchandising machineries, and small press books like Blankets, Dork, and, well, Devil’s Footprints, which are produced for little or no up-front money and have appropriately lowered initial sales expectations. I’d put major comics creators like Frank Miller and Alan Moore in the first category, because those authors exist as brand names in themselves. Other forms of publishing work like this. Not that many novelists make so much money off a single book-least of all in advance-that they don’t have to do any other work. Tom Clancy will always be able to live off writing money, but a lot of authors need to hold down regular jobs. I was talking to a friend who was considering taking his new book to a non-comics publisher like Harcourt, but he knows it could mean a lower advance than what he’s getting from his comics publisher. I really believe the direct market has created a very strange and insulated and protective industry, and that as much as we love the idea of getting into bookstores, we have to understand that it might change the industry so much as to change the artform itself.

Scott Allie edits and writes for Dark Horse – a trade of The Devil’s Footprints is just out, and is not only a superb collection but is an excellent story too.

Donna Barr:

Form or format?

If it’s the format, it’s just new ways of using moveable type.

If it doesn’t expand from the same form more than it has — we’re screwed.

Donna Barr has books and original art at www.stinz.com, webcomics at www.moderntales.com, www.girlamatic.com, and has POD at www.booksurge.com Nothing she won’t try, at least once.

Rob Williams:

There’ll be a new series of X-Force, a new series of Alpha Flight, and DC and Marvel will release Crisis and Secret War mini-series within a few months of each other… oh, and there’ll probably be a revamp of the X-titles on the horizon, with variant covers too.

Rob Williams is the writer of Cla$$war for Com.X (issue #4 out in a couple of weeks), Family for the Judge Dredd Megazine, a bunch of stuff for 2000AD, including the upcoming Low Life (first episode out now), and Star Wars Tales for Dark Horse.

Alonzo Washington:

In 2024 I think comic books will still be the same. However, there will be more comic book spin offs. I also think they will become more interactive. Like the Spider-Man ride at Universal. There is a Batman ride in the works like it at Six Flags. The possibilities are overwhelming when you think about it.

However, the sad thing that I think will stay the same is that most mainstream characters will be White with barely any heroes of color to be found. Although, I saw a preview of the new Black Firestorm from DC Comics in Wizard. I doubt it will last long.

I think comic books will be much more high tech in the future. Although, the content will be basically the same. That’s my prophecy!

Alonzo Washington is the creator of Omega Man and a noted black rights campaigner

Jesse Leon McCann:

You’ll still have to visit a comic store, because they’ll be the only people authorized to fit you with a sequential arts brain implant (bootlegs will cause infections and have poor image quality.)

While at the comic store, you’ll be able to sample the week’s comics by plugging into the mainframe. You’ll select your choices and put a thumb print on the red screen that will charge your account and let you out of the shop. The auto-greet unit will bid you farewell and you’ll anxiously take the rubber moving sidewalk home to view your new stash.

Once home, the future comic reader will plug in, turn on and tune in. You’ll be given the opportunity to merely view the comic, or actually play one of the parts in it, in all its glorious 3D goodness. Nintendo will be making Experienco Products at this time, wherein you can plug in an adapter to simulate the feel of actually being a superhero, or what have you. Needless to say, porno comics make a big comeback in the year 2024.

But still no flying cars, dammit!

Jesse Leon McCann is currently editing the fourth Simpsons TV Episode Guide for Bongo Comics/Harper Perennial, writing several stories for DC Comics’ Kids Line, and Scooby-Doo books for Fisher Price and Scholastic, Inc.

Kwanza Osajyefo:

In 2024 I am very sure that paper will be passé. Hand-made books gave way to the printing press, which gave way to digital printing, which will give way to whatever is more practical. Technology companies have seemed almost desperate to carve out a niche for eBooks with little luck, but like the Internet burst the projections might just be slightly off. I think more and more comic enthusiasts are predicting the demise of 32s in light of a more practical format, whether it is trades, CD/DVDs or online.

The future will be dictated by both wild innovation and the larger publishers willingness to accept change… I guess sort of like when Marvel adopted digital coloring after Image’s success or when Marvel adopted a stronger trade program after DCs success or when Marvel adopted pocket trades after Tokyopop’s success or. Well you get the point right?

Kwanza Osajyefo is the founder of funkyComics, home to Jim’s Ninja and a number of other forthcoming comic book properties.

Vito Delsante:

Well, I for one hope they’re made of paper, have a nice cover, and can be rolled up like a newspaper and shoved in my back pocket. I’m not against progress, but I hope that in 20 years (when I’m 51, sheesh!) that my kids and grandkids will be exposed to the very same materials that made their dad and/or grandpa famous.

Vito Delsante is currently pitching his creator owned mini-series, “The Mercury Chronicles”, with artist Jim Muniz. He can be seen in June’s “Batman Adventures Vol 2: Shadows and Masks” from DC Comics and in a forthcoming issue of X-Men Unlimited.

Brandon Thomas:

20 years from now, the most obvious change in the industry is the willful abandonment of the monthly 22 page format. With a price point that’ll only keep increasing, and the continued growth of the graphic novel market, its days are clearly numbered, and two decades is more than enough time for full conversion. The latest installments of our favorite heroes will drop every four to six months, and will be anticipated with the same relentless fever often associated with blockbuster movie releases and TV season premieres. Instead of, “Man, did you see that new Denzel flick,” it’ll be “Man, did you read that new Batman shit?”

The “mainstream” press has come to respect our contributions, having had the concept that we all aren’t freaks and weirdos beaten into their thick, reality TV damaged skulls. The local bookstores are teeming with graphic novels from companies big and small, engulfing more and more shelf space in an increasingly successful takeover bid. The buying public realizes that instead of paying 27 bucks for a hardcover fiction novel that’ll likely bore them to tears, they can pay 15 pages to read something like Queen & Country or 100 Bullets, getting not only an incredibly story, but pretty pictures too.

Oh, and comics and manga are now collectively classified as Graphic Literature…

Brandon Thomas is one of the writers of Spider-Man Unlimited #3, scripter of Youngblood, creator of Cross and long-time Ambidextrous columnist.


I think we will see more comics content available online (even if it is just previews for print copies). I just don’t see the print publications going anywhere until we reach a point where electronic reading can have a crystal clear image, readability, portability and a good price point. Maybe 2024 will be that time, but I doubt it. I also see DVD-ROM archives of older material (similar to the ESSENTIALs line for Marvel). It will finally be recognized as a good and cheap way to offer the extensive history of the DC and Marvel Universes in an easy-to-store and archive format.

As for the paper product itself, I think a lot of things are going to happen in the next ten to twenty years of this industry. As we push more and more away from the monthly format it can go one of several ways. As it is now, it is becoming just too costly for fans to enjoy reading comics (with the average price of a standard 22-28 pages of story nearing $3.00). So the format will either go away entirely or it could morph into a cheaper format for the stories. Maybe reduced production quality or black and white stories at a reasonable price that will later be collected into high-quality full color collections.

This would create incentives for both formats as the monthly version would provide the FIRST run of the story while the collection would provide the BEST versions. Or maybe we will finally embrace the anthology format, so that publishers can offer 100 or so pages of related material on a monthly basis. I hate to say it, but I just can’t see the monthly format as it is progressing now continuing to survive much longer. Prices keep going up and content keeps going down. An example is the removal of the letters page. While it may not seem a big deal, this is just one less thing the fans get to read/enjoy in their comic. Instead (in DC’s case) they get a big company ad that is the same for every book each month, instead of individually tailored letters pages. Less content for more dollars.

And possibly a final nail in the monthly coffin is price point of monthlies versus the trade collections. BATMAN: DEATH AND THE MAIDENS will be almost $27.00 in monthly format, but the trade will probably be $19.95. JLA/AVENGERS is almost $24.00 monthly and again the trade will likely be $19.95 or even $17.95. More and more the trade collections are coming in cheaper than the monthly counterparts, so essentially fans are paying more for the ads and to get it sooner. That and the tactics that still say the success of the higher-priced monthly format still is the key factor in determining the health and longevity of most ongoing series and whether they’ll get that lower priced trade at all.

Something dramatic will happen, but as you can see, there are just too many variables to say what specifically that may be.

j.hues is the Public Relations & Marketing Manager for FUTURE ENTERTAINMENT. Creator of the daily webstrip “Rolling With The Punches Volume 2”, he has at various times in the past been a columnist, news editor, and manager of Missouri’s largest comics shop. His current shop is available online at his link.

Bob Layton:

It is no secret that there’s a boom of comic-based properties being developed in Hollywood. Scores of comic properties are currently under development. This boom is easily attributed to the fact that many, who were once the rabid comic fans from decades past, are now the successful movie executives running Tinseltown. I know–I’ve met with a whole bunch of them. They all knew who I was and were familiar with the body of work I’ve done over my career.

It’s also no secret that the revenues from comic licenses to Hollywood can be astoundingly lucrative.

What will comics look like in 2024?


Bob Layton was writer/artist of the first comics mini-series, re-imagined Iron Man, and co-architect and editor-in-chief of the Valiant Universe. Now he’s masterminding the mass market launch of Future Entertainment, as well as their developmental movie projects.

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