Image Comics to celebrate 25th anniversary
Seven comics superstars changed the industry in a major way on Feb. 1, 1992.
Artists Erik Larsen, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Todd McFarlane, Whilce Portacio, Marc Silvestri and Jim Valentino left the top publishers at the height of their popularity to form Image Comics. This new company became a hotbed where creators could own their creations and profit from their future success.
Image is celebrating its 25 years of publishing success with "Image Day" at comic shops on Feb. 1. Robert Kirkman, of "The Walking Dead," became an Image partner in 2008, the only partner not to be a founder. He joins with current partners McFarlane, Valentino, Larsen and Silvestri to celebrate the company's success.
Several Image Comics are unveiling "25th anniversary variants" in the coming weeks, with covers paying homage to early Image Comics titles.
Image Comics has announced promotions and giveaways for the event at comic shops, with updates set to come through www.imagecomics.com.
Image launched with Liefeld's "Youngblood" #1 in 1992; it was quickly followed by McFarlane's "Spawn," Larsen's "Savage Dragon, "Lee's "WildC.A.T.s," Valentino's "Shadowhawk" and Silvestri's "Cyberforce."
The top seller was Spawn, which launched with sales of 1.7 million copies. Al Simmons was a murdered CIA agent who made a deal with the devil to return to Earth to be with his wife. Simmons was returned, but it was five years later, and his wife had remarried. Simmons wielded supernatural powers as a result of his resurrection; the comic book series was about the battle between good and evil waged over Simmons. "Spawn" and "Savage Dragon" continue as ongoing titles from Image to this day.
Silvestri said experts didn't give the upstarts much of a chance.
"Nobody thought Image would be around six months after it started," Silvestri said in a 2006 interview with The Oklahoman.
But the timing was nearly perfect for the Image Seven.
"In the early '90s, there were a lot of people coming into comics," said Joe Field, owner of Flying Colors Comics and Other Cool Stuff in Concord, California.
"New stores were opening, baseball card shops and other hobby shops migrated to comics because there was a ton of energy in the comics market," Field said. "A good chunk of that energy was created by some of the industry's most popular artists who formed the nucleus of Image Comics."
Dean Compton, blogger at theunspokendecade.com and podcaster of "Her Dork World, His Dork World" agrees.
"Their work was powerful, and it was what we wanted at the time," Compton said. "You can mock the big guns, punches, etc. all you like, but the work captured the zeitgeist, as was evidenced by massive sales. ... Youngblood packed a punch and gave the audience what it wanted. The same can be said for Spawn, Cyberforce, Shadowhawk and the like."
The company through the years has had best-sellers including "Chew," "Saga," "Wanted," "Darkness," "Witchblade" and "The Walking Dead."
The company has been part of many trends in the comics industry its 25 years, and in recent years has solidified its place as a home for many top creators looking for a place to own their own properties.
"The biggest highlight of Image as a company isn't what it was then, in all honesty, but that it has grown to be a place where creators of all stripes can get their work out there and own it, so that when it does generate profits, they can get those profits," Compton said.