By Todd Allen
In the keynote presentation, Eric Stephenson stuck on message about how Image was created by a group of people coming together and many people were brought in because of their existing relationships with other Image creators. I had a brief conversation with Stephenson at the CBLDF party and he was still on message, talking about how his relationship with Howard Chaykin when back several years (Chaykin is bringing Black Kiss 2 to Image in 2012).
There were some brief comments about DC being part of Warner’s and Marvel being publicly traded at the time of Image’s founding, but I think we all know the subtext. Warner brought DC closer to the womb and Marvel was purchased by Disney (while there doesn’t seem to be any consensus opinion as to the exact nature of Disney’s influence over Marvel, few would argue Marvel acts a lot more corporate now than when Image was founded). Stephenson is squarely positioning Image as a for creators, by creators operation. Now, really, this has been their M.O. since day one, but the contrast might be a little starker today.
It’s also interesting to look at the list of people starting projects by Image, who have been doing work at DC or Marvel:
- Grant Morrison is the big surprise, stepping away from DC for the first time in a while to do “Happy!” with Darick Robertson (who’s been doing The Boys with Garth Ennis over at Dynamite).
- Brian K. Vaughan is making his return to comics with Saga at Image.
- It’s been announced before, but Mark Millar and Frank Quietly are doing Jupiter’s Children at Image, Millar’s first non-Icon creator-owned title in a while.
- Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips popped over to Image for the very well-received Fatale series, another title you might have thought would end up at Icon.
- Brian Wood is getting around quite a bit after parting ways with Vertigo and Image is one of his stops with the announced Mara with Ming Doyle (who you’d have heard of if you lived in San Francisco, but if you don’t, it should be a pleasant surprise).
- Tony Harris resurfaces with Steve Nile, who’d been doing some DC work, for Chin Music
- America’s Got Powers teams Jonathan Ross, who’s sort of the UK equivalent of Johnny Carson or David Letterman with Brian Hitch (who doesn’t need an introduction).
- Nick Spencer, who’s been at both DC and Marvel of late, is back for Bedlam, with Riley Rossomo (who may be the current quintessential Image artist)
- Howard Chaykin is doing the aforementioned Black Kiss 2
That’s a lot of Big 2 creators. A couple indie darlings going back to the roots. A dash of current stars. An old school legend in Chaykin. That’s a lot closer to the spirit of the Image guys leaving Marvel to do their own thing than it’s been in a while. And Stephenson assures me he’s not done with announcements for 2012.
The gauntlet wasn’t quite thrown down, but Image seems very serious about stepping up their game a little and pulling in a few of the bigger names, instead of just contenting themselves with developing talent like Spencer and Hickman.
As far as the convention itself, so far it’s a regional show. Big lines for the Image founders. John Layman was a happy flavor of surprised at a fairly steady line. The rest of the show, what kind of a line there was to talk to someone depended on which five minutes you were standing there. Pretty typical of a Friday for a regional show, but with the only real *publisher* booths being IDW and Arachia, the people were spread out around the various artists.
Artist’s Alley, and there is one, has some very narrow lanes and could turn into a nasty traffic jam pretty easily on Saturday. We’ll have to see about that. Likewise, I’m curious to see if the Man of Action booth is under siege by hyper pre-teens over the weekend. Be warned. They have toys.
A few more pictures from Friday:
Jonathan Hickman flashes the sign of the Four Horsemen against the backdrop of one of his books.
Skull Kickers promotes world peace by bringing a Canadian and New Yorker together creatively. (Can you spot which is which?)
Andrew’s balloon speaks for him.
Joe Keatinge in all his glory.
Is Man of Action Steven T. Seagle a Star Trek fan? His henchman is wearing a red shirt.
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.