The 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.