Since 1927, the American magazine Time has printed an annual issue in which they designate a “Person of the Year”. In it they select a person, group of individuals, object, or idea that has had a significant impact on the previous year “for better or worse.” We began our own tradition at ComicBook.com last year based on this worthwhile pursuit. In our inaugural selection for the comics person of the year, we selected the creative team of March for that many artistic and societal contributions to the medium. Now we return to select a new person who made a significant impact in 2017.
There were many worthy contenders this year, some of whom we comment upon later in this article as persons of note. However, after multiple discussions, the answer was clear. This person not only made an impact on the comics industry, but consistently set an example for how to positively influence, change, and strengthen the world of comics throughout 2017. That’s why the 2017 comics person of the year had to be: Jay Edidin.
2017 will be remembered as the year of the #MeToo movement, the time when many people -- and especially women -- came forward en masse to tell their stories and change a culture that had permitted sexual harassment and abuse for far too long. This movement affected politics, movies, television, and numerous other workplaces, including comics. That change began within comics largely due to the work of three journalists, Jay Edidin, Jessica Testa, and Tyler Kingkade, when they published an expose about ongoing misbehavior by a DC Comics editor on BuzzFeed.
Edidin was the comics insider of the team, having established his career within comics as a writer, editor, and podcaster. He was familiar with both the unique business model of comics, and possessed the presence and relationships necessary to help with an investigation. Of the journalists involved, it was Edidin who was most closely connected to the world of comics and had the most to lose, besides the many victims who had already lost a great deal.
The final piece resulted in a quick and decisive response from within the comics community. Within days the serial harasser had been terminated by DC Comics. These results are due to the excellent reporting and diligent methodology of Edidin and his peers. The BuzzFeed article is a high watermark for comics journalism and sets a standard for future reporting on serious topics that affect the industry.
It is still too early to know how great the impact of the #MeToo movement will be on comics, but Edidin has begun a necessary and worthwhile process of reflection and change in 2017. This moment is only one of many within Edidin’s career though.
When you consider Edidin’s overall presence within comics this year, it is far greater than a single article, no matter how important it may be. Since beginning the #WeAreComics movement in 2014, a picture campaign designed to show the diversity within comics creators and readers, Edidin has been a popular and vocal personality for positive change. He has used this platform to draw attention to a variety of important issues, specifically queer and transgender rights and perception within comics.
Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men, Edidin’s podcast with co-host Miles Stokes, is one of the most popular in comics today. It is a chronological trek through X-Men continuity explaining and analyzing the complex franchise with an excellent sense of humor. The pair also interviews creators and highlights the best elements of the current X-Men comics. Any given episode of the show is a distillation of what makes Edidin a positive force for change within the world of comics. His embrace of the past, passion for his own interests, and celebration of new creations fuse together to make an hour-long listening experience that makes you want to read more comics.
This approach can be consistently found in Edidin’s many other projects and social media platforms. While a dark cloud may linger over the difficult work of exposing problems like sexual harassment, Edidin remains positive about the comics he loves and encourages others to continue engaging with the medium. It is a difficult, but necessary, balance and one that is driving the industry as a whole towards a better future.
The ability to simultaneously confront what is wrong and celebrate what is good is rare, and Jay Edidin encapsulates it perfectly. His hard work, dedication, and seemingly endless enthusiasm have made comics a better place in 2017. For all of these reasons, Jay Edidin is our comics person of the year.
Persons of Note
In addition to Edidin, there were a variety of other individuals involved in the comics industry who made a positive impact throughout 2017. Below we acknowledge the contributions of three other persons who were strongly considered for Comics Person of the Year 2017:
Young Animal launched in 2016, but it was in 2017 that it was forced to show its staying power. Gerard Way continued to collaborate on multiple series within the line and guide the four current ongoings as an editor. He helped to design new releases including the mini-series Bug!: The Adventures of Forager and upcoming series Eternity Girl. His most important contribution though was to stand by his creators and devise methods to keep Young Animal afloat without losing sight of their mission. An upcoming event and changes to current titles that keep creative teams intact are sustaining Young Animal and its mission to craft more unique and diverse comics within the DC Comics brand. Way’s dedication to his mission and the many talented people involved deserves recognition.
Tillie Walden is one of the breakout stars of comics in 2017 and the recognition around her debut graphic novel Spinning reveals the start of an exciting new career. The past few years have been filled with a flurry of work from Walden though, including four smaller books and a webcomic. Her dedication to form and her own stories has established an already impressive body of work at a very young age. Spinning is one of the best comics of 2017, filled with sincerity, passion, and artwork that is as delicate and beautiful as the ice skating it details. Walden’s trajectory shows that personal stories and hardwork are still a path to success in comics, and provides an inspiration for other aspiring creators today.
Tom King continued to assert his dominance in mainstream comics throughout 2017. He has guided Batman, a consistent bestseller, on a biweekly basis and established his prominence in the future of DC Comics. The publication of Sheriff of Babylon and The Vision in the book market, and launch of Mister Miracle were all by widespread praise as well. King has reinforced the opinion of 2016 and asserted himself as a future leader in the comics marketplace as both commercial and critical success continue to follow him.
Arguably, distilling any year like this is basically impossible, and 2017 was more full than most. Given how the direction of the year went in relation to comics, there's no telling what the middle or end of 2018 has in store. Or even the beginning, really. Whether real change comes to the industry remains to be seen.
With so many tentpole films and the typical cycle of events starting all over, there's a lot to look forward to. And that's just the cape comics; 2017's OGNs and indie comics continually impressed. Here's to 2017, and an even better 2018.