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Image Comics - A Modern Comic Book Success Story.
Today Image Comics are the worlds third largest comic book publisher behind much longer established rivals DC and Marvel. Image hits have included Spawn, Saga, Peter Panzerfaust and Invincible, not to mention that the most watched cable TV show in history The Walking Dead is based on one of their comic books. It would probably be fair to say Image now lead the world in writing non super hero type comic books and if it is printed by Image a high quality of artwork and story is to be expected.
Originally eight comic creators were named as the founders of Image Comics, all of whom had been previously working for Marvel. In the early 1990s comic book creators worked freelance under the industry wide practice of work for hire, what this fundamentally meant was that new characters created by these artists and writers could be merchandised heavily but the creators would still only receive standard page rates for their work and a minimal amount of royalties.
Eventually a group of these creators decided they had had enough, led by Todd McFarlane ( Spider-Man artist ) and Rob Liefeld ( New Mutants and X Force ) they approached Marvels management with a view to improving their lot, Marvel failed to meet their demands and so it was decided they would be better off on their own and Image Comics was formed.
Apart from McFarlane and Liefeld the other artists to join Image were , Marc Silvestri ( Wolverine ), Erik Larsen ( The Amazing Spider-man ), Whilce Portacio ( The Uncanny X-Men ), Jim Lee ( X-Men ), Jim Valentino ( Guardians Of The Galaxy ) and writer of the Uncanny X-Men Chris Claremont.
A Different Type Of Comic Book Publisher
Image was set up as a completely different type of comic book company to Marvel and DC. Each creator working for Image would own the rights to their characters, Image itself could own no creators work only Image trademarks and the Image logo. Although Whilce Portacio and Chris Claremont were to drop out from the Image group, six separate studios were set up to publish comics under the Image banner.
The first comic books to be printed from the Image group were as follows:
Youngblood; From Rob Liefeld's - Extreme Studios.
Savage Dragon: From Erik Larsen's - Highbrow Entertainment
Spawn: From Todd McFarlane's - Todd McFarlane Productions.
WildC.A.T.S: From Jim Lees - Wildstorm Productions.
Initially the other two production companies set up were Marc Silvestri's Top Cow Productions and Shadowline from Jim Valentino.
With Image comics being produced and distributed by Malibu comics these early issues achieved sales that had only ever before been achieved before by the big two Marvel and DC, speculators jumped on the Image bandwagon expecting to make money from the secondary sales market.
Image were soon to attract other well known creators to the studio, including Alex Ross, Jae Lee, Kurt Busiek and Dale Keown as well already established series Bone from Jeff Smith.
By the mid 1990s Image were enjoying great success especially with Spawn and Savage Dragon.
Cracks began to appear in the Image creators relationships, many of the creators believed that Rob Liefeld was using Image to promote his own company, after a discussion between the other creators where they planned to oust Liefeld from the company, Liefeld quit Image in September 1996.
In the early part of the 21st Century Image struggled to keep their position of number 3 in the market with competition from IDW and Dark Horse comics. In 2008 Image were joined by Robert Kirkman, Kirkman was the writer of long running Image success story the black and white comic The Walking Dead as well as successful superhero comic Invincible. Kirkman became the first new partner at Image since its conception. As well as the Walking Dead Image have had numerous long running series included under their belt including Astro City ( now produced by Vertigo ), Spawn, Chew and Witchblade and recent hits have included Saga, Peter Panzerfaust and Thief Of Thieves.
It would be probably fair to say that Image comic books are probably speculated on more than any other company, sometimes successfully other times not. In 2013 some fantastic prices were reached for the first issue of Peter Panzerfaust once internet rumors got around that an animated TV series was to be made from the title. Speculators also went in big on other Image comics such as Thief Of Thieves, Saga and Revival and also Nowhere Men but that title was soon back to around cover price.
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