200807220231The New York Times once again scoops the big Comic-Con news: Robert Kirkman has been named an Image partner, the first new partner since the fabled original seven partners formed in the Days of Yore.

Mr. Kirkman was asked to join Image in part to reward him for his commitment to putting out his creations through the company for several years, said Eric Stephenson, who was promoted to publisher of Image last month. “Beyond that, Robert has a pretty strong vision of what he wants to do and what comes he wants to make,” Mr. Stephenson said. That vision includes Invincible, which he created along with the artist Cory Walker, which was first published in 2003. It follows the title character, a k a Mark Grayson, the son of Omni-Man, a superhuman with alien origins, as he copes with his legacy, college and more. The comic received an A minus from Entertainment Weekly, which called it “a charming antidote to the histrionics present in so many fights-and-tights books,” adding that it had “the strongest female character seen in many a moon: Mark’s stoic mom.”

In this week’s “Lying in the Gutters,” Rich Johnston alluded to this announcement and several other rumors that are swirling just about everywhere:

I’ve been told Robert Kirkman, writer of “Invincible” and “Walking Dead,” will be named as a new partner at Image.

I also hear reference to a number of big comics names signing projects with Image. Look for people who have recently chosen not to renew their exclusive contracts with Marvel and DC.

And there is gossip about an emerging new model of payments for certain creators and projects, with less of an emphasis on back-end payments and the introduction of page rates.

The rumor we’ve heard most is the one about a new business model for Image – but one that would allow the publisher to get royalties, of sorts. As it stands now, after they take their “fee” for publishing a book, it doesn’t matter if it sells 100 copies or 10,000, so there’s no incentive at Image Central to push a book past the initial solicitation. From the creators we’ve talked to, if giving their publisher more incentive for sales would result in higher sales, it could be a good thing.

Image Comics publishes a line of eclectic comics breathtaking in their variety. They are also breathtaking in their lack of discipline, but for offering a friendly home for creators who want to call their own shots, Image is still the only game in town. With Eric Stephenson’s recent ascension to the publisher spot, and now Kirkman coming on board, this could be Image’s biggest move in, like, forever.


  1. Hell yeah!!! This is the *best* comics news in a long time! Image has been kicking serious ass for a minute and giving Kirkman a larger role in the company can only help things!

    With books like Jack Staff, Madman, and Kirkman’s output, Image has been the best in the game for a while. This can only lead to better things!

  2. “They are also breathtaking in their lack of discipline, ”

    What the hell does that mean, when was the last time you read an Image comic? Like 1994? There was no need for that comment. Most of those creators have dayjobs so ya there not going to get the book out as fast as other publishers.

  3. Matt,

    If it’s not DC or Marvel, then it’s open to mocking, bashing, lazy reporting, conjecture, or anything else. And if you disagree, then you hate all comic books. That’s the on-line nerd credo.

    People from the NYC comic world will *always* bash and hate on Image and everything else not part of their corporate comics world.

  4. I have never heard anything about an East-coast/West-coast rivalry in comics. I just hope that it doesn’t escalate into violence!

  5. “I have never heard anything about an East-coast/West-coast rivalry in comics. I just hope that it doesn’t escalate into violence!”

    Ya me either but hopefully it doesnt escalate into the 90s east coast/west coast rapper fueds.

  6. Matt,

    As an Image creator I take “They are also breathtaking in their lack of discipline,” as a positive. There’s no one cracking the whip at Image, or telling you what to do and when to do it. It’s the kind of freedom you need to discover what’s important for yourself. That’s true creative freedom, and you need a lack of discipline to discover your own direction creatively.


  7. Awesome news! Very interested in hearing this other news as well that’s rumoured. I’ve always loved Image and can’t wait to get a book there soon.

  8. Rich, it also means you generally don’t care about hitting solicit dates.

    Not that that makes Image any different theh Marvel or DC, but Image started that ball rolling and unfortunately showed salles wouldn’t drop because of lateness.

    So that’s a “disease” that Image gets credit for.

  9. ” And there is gossip about an emerging new model of payments for certain creators and projects, with less of an emphasis on back-end payments and the introduction of page rates.

    The rumor we’ve heard most is the one about a new business model for Image – but one that would allow the publisher to get royalties, of sorts.”

    I hope this new model doesn’t become the standard at Image. I would rather pick up a book people are pushing because they believe in the content and not because the creators gave them more money to push it. I always thought Image stood for independence. With the number of books published every month, things are going to get lost in the shuffle. I would hate to be the creator of a book that gets lost in the shuffle because I didn’t have as much money as the other guys to pay for marketing.

    Unfortunately, marketing sells more books, movies, comics, albums and other such entertainment items than their actual content does. All style, no substance. That’s the world we live in now, shamefully.

  10. I like the new deal since it might draw bigger names to publish through Image books that might not come out otherwise. It’s a wise move for both parties since creators can get some up-front money and assurances of a bigger push than Image gives its regular books but Image also gets a chance to maybe create and take part in the monster success.

    Let’s hope they keep their current deal for people who want it since I think Image has been a great promoter of new talent in the industry over the last few years. I can’t imagine too many books like Phonogram or Casanova coming out from other publishers the way the industry is right now. I used to despise Image books in the 90s and stayed pretty much with Fanta, D&Q and self-published stuff but more and more Image books have creeped into my purchases as they’ve taken more risks and published “edgier” material. Let’s hope this only encourages and enables them to get even edgier.

  11. In 1993, Image started out with huge sales, but published a line of mediocre books that never came out on time. WildCATS, CyberForce, Shadowhawk, Youngblood, Brigade, etc were really not worth reading. Only Spawn and Savage Dragon were consistently of reasonable quality and shipped on time. In the last 15 years, however, they have evolved into a “creator’s haven” that publishes a wide variety of high quality works, including: Touch of Silver, Age of Bronze, Jinx, Torso, Invincible, and Walking Dead. As a fan, I’m very pleased at what they’ve turned into, and how their innovative fiscal policies have opened doors for comic creators. Having Kirkman as a partner is a major plus. It looks like Image has a long term plan to continue to thrive. This is good news for the comics industry.

  12. I really like this move and big congratulations to Robert!
    I first picked up Invincible reading the trades. I still wait for the new trades and have all the Walking Dead softcovers in front of me waiting for the time to dive into them.
    Kirkland’s stories are fun and the art always works well.
    I haven’t read many Image titles but I’m always considering their output within Previews looking to find a new title that’ll interest me.
    Kudos to Image for making a fine business decision!

  13. Matt screamed: “What the hell does that mean, when was the last time you read an Image comic? Like 1994?”

    Matt needs a hug.

  14. “Matt needs a hug. ”
    No kidding, i had bad week i got to stay off posting anything when im like this. Too many argumentative posts.

  15. @ Unpopular – I think you may have misunderstood ‘royalties’ here; the idea isn’t that the creators will pay upfront for Image to do extra publicity on their books, but rather – presumably, for high-selling books – Image will take an increased cut of proceeds in return for increased marketing activity. If the books aren’t selling in the first place, they won’t be generating said cut.

    And you can have the best content in the world, but if nobody’s heard of your book / movie / four-issue miniseries, nobody’s going to buy it. Marketing is an integral part of publishing and doesn’t just mean making groovy posters for comic shop owners — its selling books in to bookstore chains, to schools, libraries, etc., which is beyond the purview of most comics creators. Even Jeff Smith — a man who made a one-title comics publishing company a going concern for ten-plus years — found his sales skyrocketing as soon as he got access to Scholastic’s mighty marketing machine.

  16. Hey y’all I used royalties as short hand for exactly what Jamie said. Image would, in theory, get more participation for books that sold more Again…in theory. It’s only a rumor at this point, but one that seems to floating around a lot. Another common floater is the idea that Image would get a share of media monies up from their current zero amount.

  17. Even so, what’s their motivation to promote the books that don’t have that clause in their contract? Even though the money isn’t up-front the company is getting more money out of pushing certain books. Now it’s a share of media money? Isn’t this the sort of thing that goes against the whole idea of independence which Image was founded on? Don’t other companies fulfill this need for creators already (Ex. Dark Horse)? Isn’t that why certain books moved to other companies after starting at Image and other independent-style publishers? Is this Image’s answer to the loss of those books and an effort to keep it from happening again in the future?

    Damn… sometimes I wish I could interview people in the comics industry.

  18. Congrats to the very deserving Robert Kirkman!

    Now somebody needs to update that file photo. It looks like a police mugshot. Try SMILING next time, Robert!

  19. Is it like a law in comics that you have to grow a beard ?

    Is it only British creators who get an exemption.

  20. I’m guessing that a lot of those comics industry beards, like the untucked Hawaiian shirts, exist to partially conceal obesity.

    I’m not sayin’ that’s the case with Kirkman.

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