Keeping it indie
February 27, 2012 10:24 AM   Subscribe

This week Image Comics celebrated 20 years of producing independent comics with the Image Comics Expo, taking a look back at the past whilst announcing a raft of new titles for the future, including some Grant Morrison projects and the long awaited return of Kieron Gillen and James McKelvie's Phonogram. One strange Image comic that embraces both the past and the future is Prophet - which picks up at issue #21 of an forgotten Liefeld story and turns it into "future space Conan".
posted by Artw (38 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Yeah, I'd pay for a comic book about Conan O'Brien in Outer Space... oh, wait...
posted by evilmidnightbomberwhatbombsatmidnight at 10:29 AM on February 27, 2012

I'm really excited about Phonogram, especially given they said it would be financially impossible to do more.
posted by Artw at 10:32 AM on February 27, 2012

Wow. Does this mean that signed copy of Youngblood #1 I have my be worth more than $1.50 now?
posted by Chuffy at 10:37 AM on February 27, 2012

I wouldn't exactly call Image Comics independent.
posted by GavinR at 10:42 AM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

I briefly got into comics around the exact time Image started publishing, so I have bunch of pristine #1 issues - Spawn, Maxx, Gen13, Youngblood, etc. They're bagged and stored in an airtight box... uh, somewhere.
posted by phong3d at 10:44 AM on February 27, 2012

I wouldn't exactly call Image Comics independent.

How so?
posted by Artw at 10:46 AM on February 27, 2012

Prophet is AWESOME. Seriously. It got me to go to my local comics store and ask them to start holding it for me. I haven't done that in FOREVER.
posted by egypturnash at 10:58 AM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Image has come a long way from its early years, and has a bunch of creators who are putting out some of the most interesting comics out there today but it's still plagued by issues not shipping on time. I'M STILL WAITING ON NONPLAYER #2 (it's only been, like, 9-10 months or so since issue 1, and the only promise of a next issue in that time has been "soon").

Memo to Image creators & editorial: Pick a schedule and stick to it. I would gladly settle for fewer issues per year but shipped on a regular schedule than the promise of more issues that wind up being shipped irregularly, if at all.
posted by KingEdRa at 11:22 AM on February 27, 2012


Dude broke his collarbone.
posted by Artw at 11:25 AM on February 27, 2012

I'M STILL WAITING ON NONPLAYER #2 (it's only been, like, 9-10 months or so since issue 1

Oh, boo-hoo-hoo. I'm still waiting for the 1963 Annual. It's only been, like, 18 years.

Prophet - which picks up at issue #21 of an forgotten Liefeld story

Well, the writing is bound to be an improvement. And also the art.
posted by Zed at 11:31 AM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

As far as i can tell, not having read the original, not so much an improvement as an utterly insane left turn.

( Also probably an improvement, though I have a lot more love for Liefeld after this that love doesn't really extend to anything he's created)
posted by Artw at 11:53 AM on February 27, 2012

More Phonogram?

posted by Kitteh at 12:33 PM on February 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

(And THAT is the reaction I was looking for.)
posted by Artw at 12:34 PM on February 27, 2012

I wouldn't exactly call Image Comics independent.

All their titles are creator-owned, which I was not aware of until I went to the expo this weekend. It was a pretty fun show - totally comics-centric (in spite of the obvious Walking Dead tie-in) and friendly to comic creators. Artists' Alley was hoppin', let me tell you.
posted by smartyboots at 12:34 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Rob Liefled?

Rob Liefeld!
posted by delmoi at 12:35 PM on February 27, 2012

Prophet - which picks up at issue #21 of an forgotten Liefeld story

When Alan Moore did this to Liefeld's Supreme, it was utterly fantastic.
posted by straight at 12:58 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Moore did it to Glory too, but it didn't take, unfortunately. I would have loved to see his take on WW.
posted by bonehead at 1:13 PM on February 27, 2012

The upshot, I guess, is that Promethea happened instead.
posted by bonehead at 1:14 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

There's a new Glory as well - it has some interesting art but fails to bring the utter mentalness of Prophet.
posted by Artw at 1:24 PM on February 27, 2012

I more or less forgot Kieron Gillen did comics, not just computer game reviews. I'm not sure this news makes my day, but it makes my 23 minutes at least.
posted by Foosnark at 1:28 PM on February 27, 2012

All their titles are creator-owned

The Image ethos is character-creator uber alles. Once you've created the character, your vaunted creator's rights include the right to farm out the writing and art on a work-for-hire basis (and a big percentage of their best stuff has been this work-for-hire.)

It's a great deal for the character-creators. But, so far as I've read, life's no different for their work-for-hire creators than it would be elsewhere. But I'm perhaps seeking the cloudy lining there... it is a great deal for the character-creators, several of whom have worked steadily on their creations for years.
posted by Zed at 1:37 PM on February 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

I can understand someone being reluctant to think of Image as being an "independent" comics publisher, since the best-known of the Image creators, the original partners (Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, etc. in addition to Liefeld), who basically transferred a lot of the comic archetypes and tropes that they'd specialized in during their careers at Marvel over to the new company, with even more extreme (or should that be XTREEEEEEM) versions of the artistic tics and objectification that started making me seriously embarrassed to be in comics way back when. (It doesn't help that, after turning the reins of some of his creations over to Warren Ellis fairly early in that writer's career (which led, eventually, to The Authority) and giving Alan Moore a studio-within-a-studio for his America's Best Comics books, Jim Lee turned around and sold the WildStorm studio to DC Comics, which royally pissed off Moore, who'd avoided the company since the publication of Watchmen.)

But Image has also published quite a few books that didn't depend on thigh pouches or lordotic heroines. I'm quite fond of the Popgun anthologies, which include quite a few artists that I've never seen anywhere else, and of course Astro City.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:28 PM on February 27, 2012

I'm conflicted about this new direction for Image. Lots of these books look great and they have some really solid creative teams in place - both writers and artists. And considering how initially at Image writers were an afterthought that is good news.

However, as Zed pointed out, Image is creator-friendly in the sense that the person who started a title owns the copyright for those characters, not Image. And that's awesome. They're treating it like the book business, not like at Marvel and DC where the creatives are all work-for-hire.

The new run of Prophet is only two issues in, but it is amazing. It's a bonkers, hard core indie sci-fi action adventure and feels like a more grown-up version of Orc Stain. Does Rob Liefeld have anything to do with it all? Judging by the quality of the art, plot and script I'm guessing not, other than rubber-stamping it. But's his name is still in the fine print as the copyright holder of all characters contained within. Graham and Roy did all the heavy lifting, and even more so that Moore did with Supreme, have taken a 3rd rate, crappy Liefeld comic and made something new and interesting. And they're getting paid by the page.

This has been going on since Image started. Neil Gaiman spent 2 decades fighting with Todd McFarlane over creator's rights for characters they made together. Or Gaiman made 99% of, but it happened in Todd's book so Todd claimed full ownership.

Even worse are the accusations that the new alpha dog at Image, Robert Kirkman, is screwing The Walking Dead co-creator/artist Tony Moore out of any profits from the book's tv deal. The lawsuits in that one are just starting up. Who know how many decades this one will drag out.

Good on Image for putting out a consistent slate of quality books. Too bad every time they seem to get some market share and momentum they proceed to treat the majority of their writers and artists no differently than Marvel and DC.
posted by thecjm at 2:43 PM on February 27, 2012

I'm surprised it took as long as it did for someone to draw a connection between this thread and the one from earlier today about ridiculous sexism and objectification of women in comics. Seriously, Image has been one of the *worst* offenders in this regard.
posted by jsr1138 at 3:10 PM on February 27, 2012

This is all good news, but -- although I will buy the fuck out of it -- I can't help but regard a Grant Morrison Image comic a little like I might, say, a Grant Morrison kickstarter. There are some really great books coming out of Image right now that are created by people who are pretty much (for the moment) no names: Witch Doctor, The Strange Talent of Luther Strode, Orc Stain...oh my GOD, ORC STAIN. And a Grant Morrison book will pay a lot of bills, but I would hate to see Image become dominated by established creators who are headed back out of work-for-hire land. I realize it began life as exactly that, but it's become something vastly more interesting. I hope that doesn't get lost in the shuffle.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:37 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Foosnark: I more or less forgot Kieron Gillen did comics, not just computer game reviews. I'm not sure this news makes my day, but it makes my 23 minutes at least.

He's writing at least one of the core X-Men titles last I checked.
posted by Decimask at 4:49 PM on February 27, 2012

I loved the second Phonogram book, The Singles Club, though I wans't wild about the first. I also recently read and really liked Suburban Glamour, Jamie McKelvie's solo project.
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:23 PM on February 27, 2012

I was hoping, hoping for more Phonogram after the teaser poster they did and then WHAM we got the announcement.

This new series picks up on something in the second series and takes it away, and I am actually excited about a comic for the first time in a while.

Right now my entire comic pull list is Atomic Robo, Casanova and PS238. And now more Phonogram.

Cannot WAIT until November. Gonna be haunting Golden Age that day.
posted by mephron at 5:46 PM on February 27, 2012

Oh, lovely. New Phonogram. A thing I never expected to see, and not years and years after I've forgotten about it, either.
posted by byanyothername at 5:54 PM on February 27, 2012

I was growing up during the comic boom. Even as a kid though I thought Image comics were just way over the top ridiculous. I got that they were supposed to be more artist friendly but they just seemed to be taking Marvel style stuff and 'turning it up to 11' in the schlockiest way possible.
posted by delmoi at 7:06 PM on February 27, 2012

Same delmoi. And I remember when they were ramping up they launched with like a dozen titles, all shitty variations on Batman/Superman/The X-Men, and I though "What is this cheap knock-off crap?"

Now they do some good stuff, sure. I've ditched The Walking Dead (I have the first 14 trades for sale if anybody is interested) because nothing was happening and the writing was becoming really cloying and stale, but I'm looking forward to getting Luther Strode in a collected edition. Witch Doctor and Orc Stain both sound pretty good too.
posted by tumid dahlia at 7:13 PM on February 27, 2012

CA on the Renewal of Image Comics

...While Image Comics was a creator-owned powerhouse in the early 1990s, the initial founders' studios eventually became overshadowed by Image Central, which is the portion of the company that publishes the purely creator-owned material outside of studio imprints like Jim Valentino's Shadowline or Marc Silvestri's Top Cow. It has long been a stepping stone for new creators making their way into the big leagues or a preferred outlet for a few established creators, with many popular DC and Marvel writers taking their creator-owned works to Vertigo, WildStorm, Icon or other imprints of the Big Two.

But even before the announcement of Happy!, that scenario had begun to change. And thanks to an incredibly strong 2012 roster that includes both new faces like Morrison and a host of other talents, Image is now unquestionably not just a place for up-and-coming talent, but a prime publisher for veteran comics talent with existing, loyal fanbases.

posted by Artw at 9:51 AM on February 28, 2012

Meanwhile DC have reinvented Earth 2 and given the Batman there some new even worse Jim Lee designed costume. Great work, guys! You are a powerhouse of innovation!
posted by Artw at 9:55 AM on February 28, 2012

An Image of the Future
posted by Artw at 4:42 PM on March 5, 2012

Ahhh Image. Launched when I was just a lad of 14, and sorta kinda into comics. I have #1s of Spawn, Youngblood, Savage Dragon, Wildcats and Shadowhawk. And then my uncle gave me a big CRT monitor box full of science fiction novels, and I wasn't able to put them down long enough to get back into comics. Trades work better for me than monthly (or, as someone else mentioned above, randomly released on an unkown timeline) schedules. And I'm not 14 anymore, so the skin tight sexy outfits and anatomically improbable physiques don't have as much allure for me as they once did.
posted by antifuse at 12:31 PM on March 20, 2012

And are, to be honest, fuck all to do with 99% of their current output.
posted by Artw at 1:40 PM on March 20, 2012

Oh, I didn't mean to imply that they did - but that's why I don't revisit my *old* comics that are sitting in the basement.
posted by antifuse at 6:20 AM on March 21, 2012

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