I used to be a straight Marvel guy. I was a huge fan of team books and in the late nineties, Marvel was all about “Young-this” and “X-that.” It fed directly into my interests and my comic book fire was stoked. Now, at least a decade later, my interest is being piqued by other things. To find other things, I have had to seek out different comic book genres and properties by seeking out different comic book companies. Today, I will discuss why “Comical Musings Thinks That Image Wins Comics.”
Image comics was founded in 1992 (the height of comic books’ popularity) by high profile illustrators who were frustrated with losing copyrights on characters that they created to the companies that they worked for. They worked together through independently created studios to found a company who’s historic success laid the groundwork for the most successful creators of today. Todd McFarlane (known for his work on Spider-Man), Jim Lee (X-Men), Rob Liefeld (X-Force), Marc Silvestri (Wolverine), Erik Larsen (The Amazing Spider-Man), Jim Valentino (Guardians of the Galaxy), Whilce Portacio (Uncanny X-Men); and longtime Uncanny X-Men writer Chris Claremont pulled away from the comic books that they had made famous to do their own thing and work for themselves. It was a stroke of genius as they began to see real financial returns from their labors as their properties gained popularity and success in comic books which translated into success in other mediums.
Image wins comics because they set up a place for independent creators to thrive in the marketplace. Being a comic creator ain’t glamorous, see Jim Zub’s blog post from 2012. There are truly successful properties that are first launched into the cultural zeitgeist using the platform that Image provides. They have made a name for themselves by being creator friendly and profitable.
The Walking Dead is probably the most prolific Image book to date and features a gritty story line with real horror and palpable tension. This zombie book (it’s much more than that…) launched a zombie craze, a successful TV Show, a popular video game, and numerous other licensing opportunities. It achieves prominence by featuring strong storytelling and a body count. People who pick up a Walking Dead book are often surprised that they are reading AND enjoying a comic book. The world-building and story transcend medium. I have many friends that would not be caught dead reading a comic book, that read The Walking Dead. Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard‘s little independent book is a smash commercial success and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples have a pretty popular Image title themselves. The unique space opera that is Saga is delighting readers and burning up the sales charts as a perennial favorite for everything. Saga has won awards (12?) from the most prestigious organizations in comic books in 2013-2014. Not giving up it’s sense of creativity to censorship, Saga has been viewed as a progressive, no holds barred experience that rarely pulls punches. It has even featured homosexual acts that got it banned on Comixology for one day, breastfeeding (shock!), and giant alien testicles. Described critically as a “Star Wars meets Game Of Thrones” type of comic, Saga seems to be in the right place at the right time to capture an audience AND…they haven’t even made a movie yet… and I mean “yet.”
Beautiful comics like Nowhere Men, Todd The Ugliest Kid On Earth, and Prophet are at home in the Image stables. Popular creator-owned works like Sex Criminals, Chew, Invincible, and The Manhattan Projects continue to challenge and delight their readers… all at Image. Image comics isn’t taking on the “Big Two” (Marvel and DC), it is laying siege to market share and slowly replacing them. In this writer’s opinion, it is already infinitely more relevant than DC. Image comics isn’t setting a benchmark, they are taking over the industry. Comical Musings Thinks That Image Wins Comics.
~ Scott Deaux ~