Every year, we send out a survey to a wide variety of creators and ask them questions about the year in comics. We had an incredible response this year, and got creators from all corners of the comics world to weigh in one what they loved about comics in 2021. Every day this week, we will be sharing a different question from our questionnaire.
Hopefully these inspire you to check out some new books, and to give some other books a second look.
Thank you to all the folks who took the time during this busy holiday season to reply.
Question #4: what was a piece of non-comics media you discovered in 2021?
Phillip Sevy (“Kepler,” “X-Men Unlimited”): It is, no doubt, at the top of nearly everyone’s list this year, but I watched Severance after much fanfare online, and I was rendered speechless. The final ten minutes of the last episode are probably the best television I’ve ever seen. I was sweating, jumping up and down, biting my sweater, and yelling. Absolutely incredible. I went back and rewatched the whole first season almost immediately after I finished it.
Harry Bogosian (“A Better Place,” “Demon’s Mirror”): I have to recommend Severance as a standout tv show that is a must watch, as well as Interview with the Vampire. In books I continue to adore the series The Wandering Inn, and in animation I re-watched season 1 and 2 of Mob Psycho 100.
Brian Joines (“Krampus: A Yuletide Adventue,” “Backtrack”): As a movie buff, I don’t think any conversation about 2022 can be had without mentioning RRR. Not only my favorite film of the year but one of my favorite films overall, and easily the best time I had at the movies (though Violent Night gave it a run for the money). Marvel and DC film execs should fall on their knees and pray they can ever make a movie half as great as this Indian historical fiction/action/bromance/musical/romantic comedy epic.
Tyler Crook (“The Lonesome Hunters,” “Harrow County”): I got into Einstürzende Neubauten in a pretty big way this year. Somehow I had never learned that Blixa Bargeld (the lead singer for Einstürzende Neubauten) was also in Nick Cave’s band, The Bad Seeds. Figuring that out led me to find a lot of other groups that Blixa Bargeld had either been in or formed over the years. So I ended up listening to a lot of great music this year!
Abigail J. Harding (“Ask for Mercy”): I did get a copy of Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds on vinyl from HMV this year (though I do not have a vinyl player ah) I bought it purely to appreciate the artwork in its original format.
Not long ago my local small indie Cinema/Arts Centre was showing a screening of Moonage Daydream which I went to see with a friend. I left the building feeling a strange sense of familiarity perhaps even enlightenment. Listening to Bowie describing his creative process, and insightful way of thinking. The particular footage where he is drinking a carton of mil , of which he comments of a fly being in it. In the moment he compared himself to that fly, regarding the question about being in the States for the first time around so much new and different things. Silly as it may sound but it somewhat took my breath away.
I have for the last year or so made more of an effort to dig a bit deeper into the more obscure parts of cinema, especially in Europe. Which I feel gets very overshadowed here in the UK due to the US market. I’ve reached out to some friends in France and Italy for some recommendations which I have made a list and am making my way through.
I also watched Phantom of the Paradise for the first time this year. I would say it’s quickly become one of my favourite films.
I also played Bloodborne for the first time this year ahah yes! I’ve loved the game since its release but never had a chance to play it. So I settled for watching walkthroughs and lore videos. I had came to understand a while back that Fromsoftware’s games are mechanically a challenge. Which is an understatement because I died so many times before I got to the cleric beast, I need to practice more.
Zack Kaplan (“Metal Society,” “Break Out”): The TV show Severance was amazing and eerie.
Kyle Starks (“Rick and Morty,” “I Hate This Place”): In preparation for some new projects I started reading crime fiction this year. Really enjoying what I’ve read of Elmore Leonard and Joe Lansdale. I’m just a little baby in this area but I’m happy to be swimming in it right now.
I watch a ton more movies and tv than read comics. The most Kyle Starks friendly TV this year were Peacemaker and Reacher. I’m not going to say they’re the best but that type of fun action is one hundred percent my happy place. Our Flag Means Death is absolutely brilliant.
Liana Kangas (“Trve Kvlt,” “Star Wars Adventures”): I got REALLY into Star Trek (coming from a casual fan to bigger fan) eating up a lot of the newer shows and Deep Space 9.
Holly G (“Archie Digests,” “School Bites”): I must’ve watched Netflix’s Metal Lords 20xs, Paul Rudish’s Mickey Mouse shorts are the BEST. I discovered I really like K-pop and Icelandic electronic music – check out Daði Freyr!
Ron Robbins (“Archie Digests,” “Weirder Mysteries”): I can’t seem to get enough of Harlan Coben. And there is no TV series other than The White Lotus.
Butch Mapa (“Happy Horrordays,” “Star Wars Adventures”): Reservation Dogs – as good as everyone’s been saying.
Michael Northrop (“Fear the Funhouse,” “Teen Titans Go!: Undead?!”): Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club mystery novels.
Jamie L. Rotante (Archie Comics Senior Director of Editorial): Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (novel, fiction), I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy (nonfiction, memoir), Bad Sisters (Apple TV), Fleischman is in Trouble (Hulu/FX), Glass Onion (Netflix)
Joe Glass (“The Pride,” “Young Men in Love”): As anyone who follows me on twitter can probably guess, Heartstopper (the TV show and then the webcomic/books) completely took over my life. I think it speaks to queer people in different generations in different ways, and for me it filled me with as much melancholy as it did sheer joy, and I seemed to get a perverse masochistic pleasure out of that. It started me off on my current path of writing my first prose books.
As part of research for that, I’ve been reading a lot of Young Adult queer romance books, and two really drew me in and I simply could not put them down: All That’s Left in the World by Erik J Brown and Wranglestone by Darren Charlton. Wonderful books, I cannot recommend them enough.
Jarred Luján (“Cray and Troy,” “The Twin Blades”): The book that really grabbed me this year was The Beast by Óscar Martínez. It’s a book about the migrant trails from South America that includes riding on the top of trains. It’s a really gripping work of nonfiction and, as someone who grew up on the border, broke my heart in a lot of ways.
I also got very into Yellowstone. Shoutout Kevin Costner.
Kyler Clodfelter (“Crash and Troy,” “Dungeons and Dragons Annua 2022”): I got SUPER into Lord of The Rings this year thanks to Rings of Power. I’ve loved the LoTR series for years now, but Rings of Power sparked something else entirely new within me. Fantasy comics have been calling my name for years and that show has been nothing but pure inspiration.
Leeanne Krecic (“Let’s Play”): The Legend of Vox Machina. I’ve been aware of the Critical Role group for a while now but found watching tabletop gaming streams wasn’t the right fit for me. But the animated series has been great, and I’m glad I’ve been able to enjoy the series in this medium.
Floor de Goede (“Dancing on the Volcano,” “Flo”): I watch some great series like Severance, The White Lotus, The Sandman, Our Flag Means Death, Undone, Andor, and Peacemaker.
And some great movies like Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Worst Person in the World, Flee, Turning Red.
Tyler Chin-Tanner (Publisher, A Wave Blue World): A couple novels I really enjoyed were The World We Make by N.K. Jemisin (the sequel to The City We Became), and White Horse by Erika T. Wurth. I also really enjoyed watching The English on Prime Video.
Dan McDaid (“Judge Dredd,” “Dega”): I really enjoyed series one of Raised by Wolves. Really tantalising, abstruse stuff, didn’t offer any easy answers to the viewer. Very tricky to build a story on such remote characters and in such an alien location, but I think it worked very well. Only Murders in the Building is a frothy delight with great comic performances. A nice family show in the old fashioned sense of the word. On the back of watching Only Murders in the Building, I went back and watched Martin Short in Clifford. What a fantastically weird and funny film. Short is so good. SS Rajamouli’s RRR was the best film I saw all year. Three hours long, and not a moment wasted.
Alex Segura (“Blood Oath,” “Marvel Voices”: I loved Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. I think if you like comics, or enjoyed Secret Identity my novel about comics in the 70s, you’d dig Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow.
I loved Andor and Better Call Saul on TV.
As a dad to two small kids and thanks to a global pandemic, I didn’t get to the movies much – so not much to report there!
Hunter Gorinson (President and Publisher, ONI Press): My days of eagerly anticipating a new album or aggressively lining up live shows are pretty much behind me at this point, but I did make a rare exception for the drop of the Viagra Boys’ new record, Cave World. Like Devo on PCP or a hardcore band covering Funkadelic, they might be the first band to attempt to grapple with the post-truth/post-pandemic landscape in sonic fashion.
Also, I accidentally discovered that Paul Simon — who spent multiple decades on my musical no-fly list — had a couple reggae/rocksteady-inspired bangers on his first solo record, so the universe continues to be a strange and unknowable place.
Ryan Lang (“Issunboshi”): Everything, Everywhere, All at Once. I had no interest in it, but my wife saw it before me, and convinced me to give it a shot. It was awesome.
Jed McGowan (“My Life Among Humans,” “Uninhabitable”): The TV show Joe Pera Talks with You didn’t come out in 2022 but I did discover it this year. I absolutely loved it. It’s a unique mix of humor, emotion, and experimental storytelling. I believe the show was canceled after three seasons, but I am very excited to see what Joe Pera does next.
Gregg Hurwitz (“NewThink,” “Knighted”): My Sister, The Serial Killer, by Oyinkan Braithwaite. Really, truly, check it out.
And Then We Saw the Daughter of the Minotaur
Mark Russell (“Superman: Space Age,” “Not All Robots”): I’m going to say the surrealist paintings of Leonora Carrington, which I was never really aware of before I saw her work in the Palacio de Bella Artes in Mexico City earlier this year. The fact that I wasn’t aware of her probably exposes me as a philistine. Or a rube. Though I suppose the two are not mutually exclusive. But her art is just so expressive and weird. At once so playful and ominous. Her paintings feel like snapshots from worlds that never existed. She did illustrations for children’s books, too, which sounds like the most natural thing in the world when you say it out loud. Why all the great surrealist masters weren’t also doing children’s books is the real mystery.
Dan Panosian (“Alice Ever After,” “Black Tape”): I dig Tame Impala musically and Cigarettes After Sex. With TV I really loved Severance on Apple TV+. The A24 films have also been knocking it out of the park.
Mike Deodato Jr (“The Fourth Man,” “The Resistance”): Severance, Andor, and Avenue 5.
Christa Faust (“Hit Me,” “Redemption”): It’s not set to be released until January, but Everybody Knows, a novel by Jordan Harper, knocked me out this year and I’m still thinking about it. Not exactly “discoveries” but I loved Crimes of the Future and Emily the Criminal. Also not new, but new to me this year: Mr. Inbetween. Because fuck raw sandwiches.
Michael Moreci (“Barbaric,” “Wasted Space”): Well, I’m a Criterion Channel die hard, and I love old Hollywood cinema. Lots of selections from there. I also went through a DePalma binge and realized what an absolute masterpiece Dressed to Kill is. I’ve always loved it, but I don’t think I ever recognized its full genius.
Chip Zdarsky (“Public Domain,” “Batman”): Probably my favourite discovery was the short stories of Simon Rich, starting with New Teeth. Incredibly funny and smart.
Joe Corallo (“The Never Ending Party,” “She Said Destroy”): This summer I discovered the wonder that is the Bad Ben movie franchise. If you love the works of shlock visionaries like Tommy Wiseau, Amir Shervan, and Neil Breen, definitely add the Bad Ben movies to your watch list.
Neil Kleid (“The Panic,” “Judas Priest: Screaming for Vengeance”): Lots of televisions, yo. Severance, The Bear, Andor, Rings of Power, Hacks, Barry, The Offee and more. I devoured a bunch of Don Winslow novels (The Power of the Dog, The Cartel, The Border, City on Fire) and just read Gang Land by Chuck Hogan. Earlier on, I found myself heading down an Anthony Bourdain rabbit hole and simply burned through all of his travel books after a re-read of Kitchen Confidential and The Nasty Bits, which also introduced me to both a yen for yakatori and a thoroughly enjoyable read of Gabrielle Hamilton’s Blood Bones & Butter. The movies brought me Bullet Train, Everything Everywhere All At Once and Weird, the most excellent Weird Al Yankovic biopic. Here’s to more media consumption in the New Year, friends.
Rafael Scavone (“Red Tag,” “Hailstone”): – Books: The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by David Graeber and David Wengrow (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company by William Dalrymple (Bloomsbury Publishing Plc), The Jakarta Method: Washington’s Anticommunist Crusade and the Mass Murder Program that Shaped Our World by Vincent Bevins (PublicAffairs)
Films: Judas and the Black Messiah, The Last Duel, Don’t Look Up, The Power of the Dog
TV: Better Call Saul, Severance, Can’t Get You Out of My Head
Emily Pearson (“Bonding”): I played Elden Ring this year, which was amazing. The Sandman Netflix adaptation was wonderful, also the book Nonna the Ninth.
Stuart Moore (“Highball,” “The Wrong Eart: Purple”): I tackled a couple of writers I’d only sampled before, both of whom write long, intimidating books—intimidating for a slow reader like me, anyway. Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon are ambitious, immersive works, fascinating both for the ways they predicted the future—the books basically invented the Metaverse and cryptocurrency, respectively—and the ways that history has taken other paths. And while I loved Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, I’m finally plowing through the five-volume (of a projected 27!) The Familiar which gains steam as you go. I’ve always loved Danielewski’s use of language, multithreaded narrative, and experimental layout/design.
Bryce Ingman (“My Bad”): The film Pearl from Ti West and Mia Goth was absolutely terrific. If you’ve been waiting for a movie set in 1918 about a disturbed, sexually-obsessed woman with a pet alligator who dreams of being a silent film chorus girl then, like it was for me, this is the movie for you!
Rachele Aragno (“Leonide the Vampyr,” “Melvina”): Cabinet of Curiosities (series), Severance (series), Crimes of the Future (film).
Roberta Ingranata (“Dr. Who,” “Withcblade”): A novelty this year were audiobooks. I’d never listened to them, but this year they were fundamental. While I was breastfeeding it was difficult for me to hold a book in my hand, and I often fell asleep watching TV, audiobooks kept me a lot of company and I can say that they were fundamental!
Eldo Yoshimizu (“Ryuku,” “Hen Kai Pain”): Odd Taxi (Japanee TV Anime series), Drive My Car (Japanese film), Stranger (Korean TV series)
Charles Ardai (“Gun Honey”): Loved the TV series Fleishman Is In Trouble on Hulu even though it’s not a crime story – it is a mystery of sorts, based on an excellent novel, and it captures my home town (New York City) in a way I loved.
Petra Norlund (“Prague Race,” “Tiger, Tiger”): This year has been very George RR Martin for me with Elden Ring and House of the Dragon.
It’s been fun to see how George’s ideas and writing come to life in a Japanese video game, that has a completely different cadence than western media and a very unique way of experiencing the story through reading item descriptions and listening to random NPC’s scattered throughout the massive map. I enjoy how GRRM writes families and especially the family drama. I keep thinking about the final big family feast scene in House of the Dragon. The characters are finally all together in this small, private space, gathered around their king Viserys who is the focus point in the room, the only person who can keep this unruly family in line in his last days.
The best, and the most important scenes in House of the Dragon are, in my opinion, the ones that happen in these little spaces between the war, bloody tourneys and roaring dragons. It reminds me as a writer that if I wish to have the readers to care about my characters, I have to spend time with the characters in those little spaces between the action.
Tim Seeley (“Money Shot,” “Revival”): A LOT. I watched a lot of Westerns to keep myself in the vibe for “West of Sundown.” One that really surprised me was The English, which is an Amazon production with the BBC. It doesn’t nail the ending but there are episodes in there that are at the top of the genre.
Adam Gorham (“The Blue Flame,” “New Mutants”): This year I read The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs and it’s follow-up, The Rise and Reign of the Mammals, by Steve Brusatte. Enjoyed them both a great deal. One of the best films I saw was Everything Everywhere All At Once. I was blindsided by Andor in the best way. A couple of my favourite bands put out great albums; Lucifer On the Sofa by Spoon, and Formentara by Metric. I saw them both perform live with Interpol while at a comic convention, which was pretty wild.
Daniel Kraus (The Autumnal, Trollhunters): Well, this is a can of worms, so I’ll just go off the top of my head, since that’s probably where my favorites reside. Book: Big Girl by Meg Elison, a whole different breed of speculative fiction. Movie: Old Man by Lucky McKee, my ideal of a psychologically demented chamber piece. Music: Live from a Bomb Shelter in Ukraine, a gorgeous and challenging piece of music by a new favorite artist, recorded exactly where it says it was recorded. TV: I can’t think of any TV I went gaga for this year!
Christopher Cantwell (“The Blue Flame,” “Iron Man”): Books: The Natural by Bernard Malamud, Battlecry of Freedom by James McPherson
Films: Klute, Rolling Thunder
TV Series: Reservation Dogs
Rodrigo Vargas (“Walking to Do,” “Everything Will Be Okay”): There are so many! Craig of the Creek is my new favorite cartoon, Everything Everywhere All at Once is the best movie of the year, Bad Time Record’s split Wavebreaker #2 with Catbite and Mike Park is the danciest record of the year.
Tim Daniel (Executive Vice President of Branding & Design, Vault): Television/Streaming Series: Winning Time, White Lotus, Station Eleven, Yellow Jackets, Andor, Midnight Mass, and The Bear.
Films: Everything, Everywhere, All At Once. Sea Beast. And I’m eagerly awaiting The Fablemans, Empire of Light, Bardo, and Glass Onion. Since 2019, I tend to stream films or buy them on disc, so I’m often a bit later with some of my discoveries.
Books: Fairy Tale by Stephen King. Rekindled my love of his work which was burning hot with The Outsider but cooled a bit since.
David Andry (“End After End,” “Resonant”): This year I fell into the Flanaverse, Mike Flanagan’s series on Netflix. I was absolutely blown away by Midnight Mass, one of the best things I’ve ever seen. The Haunting of Hill House was also terrific and I can’t wait for his take on The Dark Tower.
Sally Cantirino (“Door to Door Night by Night,” “I Walk With Monsters”): I don’t care if it’s a kids show, The Mysterious Benedict Society was one of my favorite TV series that I watched this year. I love the midcentury mod aesthetics and I’m always down for kids solving mysteries. I’m still making my way through the second season of The White Lotus – I loved the first season and have high hopes for the second.
Other favorites in the category of TV and film: Cabinet of Curiosities, Wendell & Wild (best soundtrack!), Doom Patrol.
Music: According to my Spotify Wrapped, I listened to a lot of Twin Temple, Orville Peck, and Murder By Death. MBD’s new album has been consistently spinning while I work on Door to Door, Night by Night. In fact, you know what, here’s a link to my playlist for “Door to Door”.
Chris Shehan (“The Autumnal,” “Nightfall: Double Feature”): I did finally get the chance to watch Jordan Peele’s newest film, Nope. I loved it. He’s one of my biggest non-comic inspirations as a storyteller.
Sebastian Girner (Editor in Chief, TKO Comics): My favorites books this year were The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buelhman, Manhunt by Gretchen Felker Martin, and Lapnova by Ottessa Moshfegh. It’s every shade of grim across a splash of genres (Fantasy, Horror, Historical respectively) but all are books I absolutely tore through.
I only saw one film in theaters this year but it was Barbarian and that was a hoot. I managed to go into it knowing nothing other than the few sentence synopsis I caught in the corner of my eye when I purchased the tickets online.
My favorite album was Loud Arriver by Sonja, a goth-metal outfit helmed by the incredible Melissa Moore. Great melodies, amazing riffs, songs about sex, rebellion, witches and death. My favorite track is “Fuck, then Die.” Everything about this album rules.
Coni Yovaniniz (“Walking to Do”): One of my favorite TV shows of 2022 was Wellington Paranormal – people love their What We Do in the Shadows and their Brooklyn 99, but why is no one talking about Wellington Paranormal? It is THE funniest sitcom I’ve seen in a long time and I will recommend it every time I get the chance.
Everything Everywhere All at Once was clearly the best movie of the year and I’m sure others are mentioning it as well, but I also watched Sorry to Bother You, which is also REALLY GOOD. I watched it having no idea of what I was getting into, so I’m not gonna tell you anything else about it. It’s good stuff! That’s all you need to know!
Viviana Medeiros (“The Ocean Soul”): Barry (HBO), and Tales from the Stinky Dragon (D&D podcast that I didn’t expect to love)
Hayden Sherman (“Blink,” “Above Snakes”): Not a specific record, but I got myself a turntable and some actually half-decent speakers and am finally appreciating music much more deliberately than I ever have before. So that’s been a welcome change! At my house we’ve been playing a lot of Ella Fitzgerald, Flaming Lips, and Jim Croce.