Week 9 update: A New York frame of mind? / by Benjamin Woo

If not distinctively American, comics are a quintessentially New York art form, right? We’ve all heard of the hard-scrabble childhoods of great artists like Jack Kirby, which we see reflected in the urban settings of superhero comics—whether literally New York, as in so many Marvel comics, or obscured under aliases like Metropolis or Gotham. And, until recently, the Big Two comic publishers were cross-town rivals situated, like so many book and magazine publishers, in Manhattan.

But times change. New publishers have sprung up around the United States—like Oregon’s Dark Horse and Oni Press or IDW and the original Wildstorm offices in San Diego—and, as the industry’s centre of gravity shifts to Hollywood, even venerable old National–DC has committed to moving its offices to the west coast. More to the point, with the advent of cheap, fast couriers and now digital file transfers, it is possible to do comics work from virtually anywhere in the world. As a result, the “American” comic-book industry has had a global workforce for quite some time now.

Cleaning the open-ended questions that ask survey respondents where they live will take some time, but the FluidSurveys internal analytics dashboard can give us a sneak preview at the global distribution of the people who make English-language comics—or, at least, where they were when they accessed the survey site.

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This map shows all 875 responses to the survey, including incomplete and terminated ones. Of these, roughly 60%  (520, as of this writing) were completed and will be included in the final data set. The darker the country, the more hits.

585 – or 66% – of the total responses are from the US, with Canada (95), the UK (76), and Australia (9) the next largest English-speaking countries. Outside of the Anglosphere, there are 39 responses from Italy, 7 from Spain, 4 from Portugal, and 3 each from Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and the Philippines.

Does this sound right to you?

More clearly needs to be done to represent the experiences of the global comics workforce. If you know some international comics creators, please share the survey with them.