Five Reasons To: Make Yours Image

How Marvel and DC make us feel sometimes

The majority of comic book buyers, Russell included, spend a large amount of time and money with the Big 2 (Marvel and DC). But why? These two companies mistreat their fans in so many different ways it’s hard to justify spending so much money on their titles each month when there’s a perfectly great and fun company whose providing a much better deal all around just on the other side of the shelf. Maybe it’s time to take a closer look at that. Here are the Five Reasons To Make Yours Image.

5. Creative teams aren’t stifled by lots of editorial oversight. Do you think anybody is standing over Brian K. Vaughn’s shoulder as he pens dialog for Saga? How about Greg Rucka as he cranks out a script for Lazarus? Think anybody is telling Steve Epting he’s got redraw a bunch of Velvet pages because it doesn’t fit with the “direction” the publisher wants to take the character? Of course not! This is creator-owned territory and it means just that; nobody gets to tell them how to tell their stories. There’s no vast, 75-year-plus history to consider or a bunch of self-righteous know-it-all fans who think they know the characters better than those writing and drawing them. This is creativity at its finest and the writers and artists on these books will be damned if anybody gets to dictate their stories to them. It’s the kind of thing editorial oversight would only help to destroy and Image’s brass knows it. They respect the creative process, almost to a fault. It’s not to say they don’t have editors to look over scripts and ask pertinent questions in order to keep continuity straight from issue to issue, but they don’t tell their creators how to create. This is where the best new stories are coming from. It’s all about giving the audience something new that isn’t just more of the same, because…

Quickest way to get punched in the face at Image
Quickest way to get punched in the face at Image

4. Superheroes get to be a tiresome bunch after a while. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Evil force is coming to destroy the Earth and only (add favorite superhero here) can stop it! Watch as any and all sense of character is sacrificed for the almighty splash page that’s going to look so badass as a poster! Bored yet? Don’t get me wrong, superheroes can still be fun, but after a while, maybe you need a different flavor. Why not grab something like Pretty Deadly, or Trees, or Southern Bastards? All of them as different from superheroes as they are from each other. Image Comics has become the home for all things outside the generally-accepted superhero box. You want horror? They’ve got it. You want sci-fi/fantasy? Check. You want mystery/espionage set in the 1970’s? Done. And every bit of it without one superhero. That’s the kind of storytelling the comics medium is slowly becoming and Image is at the forefront. It breaks barriers, sets new trends and cultivates some of the great new and old minds in the industry. But they’ve also got that classic feel in place and it’ll make you say…

3. Image knows how to craft good superhero books, too. Robert Kirkman has been at Image Comics for some time now and has created and co-created some of its top-selling titles. But the one that stands above them all, in no uncertain terms, is Invincible. This is the kind of title that’s absolutely meant to be read from the beginning and has taken the bold risk of gradually going from being virtually all-ages in format to a Mature Readers title. For the first year or so of the book, there was little-to-no blood and gore and certainly no foul language to be found. As the target audience of the title aged, the book aged with them. Lead character Mark Grayson went from high school to college and thus the issues he dealt with on a daily basis changed. He has been one of the most well-developed characters in comics of any era and that’s largely thanks to Kirkman’s expert pacing and storytelling. Not to mention all the nods to 90’s culture sprinkled throughout the book, such as Reginald VelJohnson High School and Principal Winslow. But there are plenty of other superhero titles to get into, as well. Classics like Savage Dragon and Spawn continue to this day and newer titles like C.O.W.L. are helping to redefine the genre for a new generation of readers. And most of these titles won’t break the bank because…

Doing it right since 2003

2. Price points typically match or are lower than the competition. Image doesn’t have many titles that cost more than $3.50 an issue and even its biggest selling book, The Walking Dead, is only $2.99 an issue. Compared to DC Comics, who’s books have been steadily rising in price and Marvel Comics whose books have been majority $3.99 for several years, that’s very wallet-friendly. Many comic book buyers don’t have a lot of cash to work with and many newer, younger readers are on limited budgets from the start. Keeping costs down is one way to keep that audience happy and doubly so when the books are such high quality. Marvel and DC have had plenty of success despite raising their price points and some might even say Image is leaving dollars on the table because they won’t take the plunge, too. But, there’s something to be said for keeping the costs low with the quality high. Walking Dead, for example, has gone from that interesting new horror title to a Top 10-selling book every month without ever moving its price. That kind of dedication to its readership shows that Image understands its audience better than just about any comic publisher out there. It knows what its readers want and how to give it to them at a fair price. Which is so great mostly because…

1. Image doesn’t make you buy books you don’t want. Let’s face it, we live in a crossover world. Marvel and DC are both guilty of launching one major crossover event after another and they’re never content with just publishing a miniseries. Oh no, they want to tie in every single title they can to drum up sales on books that are flagging or to make sure you keep buying their top-selling titles. It’s a clever way to get eyes on books they’re trying to push, but for the reader on a budget, it’s painful. Those crossovers are never all contained in a single title, they get spread out and thus force readers to buy way more than they typically would. Of course, that can backfire, too. Some readers get fed up and drop titles all together because they hate being forced into such a position. That’s where Image comes in. Sure, it tried a company-wide crossover a while back, but Image United never really took off and the idea has been seemingly abandoned. It’s for the best. The titles of Image Comics are best when left to their own devices. They continue to be better at crafting those contained stories than any other publisher and it’s a place that truly nurtures the creative process while letting writers and artists explore their most creative sides. If you only like one Image book, it’s perfectly fine to buy just that book. And on the off-chance a crossover does happen, it’s typically done in a way that you’re not forced to buy multiple books or commit months of time and money to it. In fact, most of the time, it’s done in a way that pokes fun at the idea of the crossover. Chew/Revival #1, for example, was a silly combination of two vastly different books whose writers just happened to be friends and wanted to do something off the wall. It worked and was hilarious without interrupting the stories in either book. You could skip it all together if you want. That’s how all publishers should treat their readerships. DC and Marvel would do well to finally start taking notes.