Creator / Image Comics

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Image Comics is a comic book company founded in 1992 by seven famous artists from Marvel Comics after a dispute over creator's rights. Their goal was to publish "creator-owned" comic books not controlled by a central editor, and it consisted of six studios (one person decided not to be a full partner due to familial problems at the time) that would be completely autonomous from each other.

The original titles were:
  • Todd McFarlane's Spawn (produced through Todd McFarlane Productions)
  • Erik Larsen's Savage Dragon (produced through Highbrow Entertainment)
  • Jim Lee's Wild CA Ts (produced through WildStorm Productions)
  • Rob Liefeld's Youngblood and Brigade (produced through Extreme Studios, note that Youngblood was the first book published under the Image banner, though the first issue was completed pre-Image)
  • Marc Silvestri's Cyberforce (produced through Top Cow Productions)
  • Jim Valentino's Shadowhawk (produced through Shadowline, Ink)
  • Whilce Portacio's Wetworks (which actually got delayed until 1994, though a preview appeared as a backup in issue two of Wild CA Ts)
  • Sam Kieth's The Maxx (produced through the main Image imprint since Kieth was not a company owner)

Image Comics eventually became famous for publishing '90s Anti-Hero books, very far towards the cynical end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism, and for a bad case of non-webcomic Schedule Slip, sometimes delivering issues as much as nine months late and still constantly happening today. The absence of Executive Meddling they prided themselves on also turned out to have certain drawbacks, and none of the partners had any business experience. Still, while the '90s Anti-Hero fad lasted, the Image titles were a massive success, but now they mostly look like Dark Age disasters with an excess of sex and violence and somewhat... questionable art.

At first success was so intense that series were added, either ex-novo (like Sam Keith's The Maxx, Dale Keown's Pitt, Keith Giffen's Trencher, and Nick Manabat's Cybernary) or being "filiated" from the original ones like Codename: Strykeforce (from Cyberforce), Freak Force, Vanguard, and the Deadly Duo (from Savage Dragon), Gen13, Stormwatch, Deathblow and Team 7 (from Jim Lee's WildC.A.T.s universe), and Glory, Prophet, and Supreme (from Youngblood), but soon after things began to fall apart.

Image Comics eventually lost two founders: Rob Liefeld was fired, and Jim Lee sold his WildStorm Studios to DC Comics after leaving Imagenote . Over the years, Image started Growing the Beard: they got a central editor to help control the schedule, and the quality of the art and maturity of the storylines started looking up somewhat. They also hired some other writers and with this they got some more diversity, with titles like Jeff Smith's Bone, Kurt Busiek's Astro City and Robert Kirkman's Invincible and The Walking Dead. Whereas the original titles had at least paid lip service to being in some kind of Image Shared Universe, these more recent titles have tended to exist as entirely independent works. Kirkman has recently been bumped up to the equivalent of founder status, forming his own studio, Skybound Entertainment. Spawn and Savage Dragon are also still published, and are better-regarded than in their heyday, whilst Image is giving a chance to many writers whose ideas would never be published by the "Big Two". Rob Liefeld even managed to make up with his ex-partners at Image, thanks to Kirkman's intervention, and managed to successfully relaunch a few of his old Extreme Studios properties, though he is still is no longer a partner in the publisher. Their main competitor nowadays is Dark Horse Comics rather than Marvel and DC, as both companies tend to release similar off-the-cuff, independent works, though Image actually does remarkably well in the trade paperback market, regularly beating out the Big Two. The company has managed to distance itself from its grim and gritty routes, and is generally highly regarded by comic readers, particularly those seeking non-superhero, non-licensed work.

In 2013 a documentary about the foundation of Image called "The Image Revolution" was made, though it did not get an official release until 2016.

Comics published by Image Comics:


Tropes applying to Image Comics and its works include:

  • The Artifact: Superhero Long-Runners from the Dark Age like Spawn, Youngblood, Savage Dragon, and Witchblade look rather out of place today in their current lineup consisting of lighter, diverse, and often non-superhero material.
  • The Dark Age of Comic Books: They were often credited for popularizing this era during the '90s. Spawn in particular had (appropriately enough) spawned many imitators.
  • Darker and Edgier: The '90s were especially notable in that they embodied The Dark Age of Comic Books. While they've since branched out, the content is still often R-Rated compared to what the Big Two will allow on their mainstream lines.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: For the company as a whole, their early existence attempted a Shared Universe to be on par with the Big Two and was heavily superhero oriented, as well as heavily featuring the '90s Anti-Hero at the forefront. Today, while superhero works do still exist, the company has very much diversified their lineup and each story has its own continuity that isn't shared with the others.
  • Genre Roulette: Since broadening their horizons and diversifying their lineup from their original superhero roots, you can find comics of virtually all genres including (but certainly not limited to) sci-fi, crime, horror, adventure, romance, fantasy, post-apocalyptic, western, and superhero.
  • Lighter and Softer: Their later material, at least in comparison to the overly dark material they were initially known for.
  • Long-Runners:
    • Of the eight original titles, the only ones that have managed to run continuously to this day are Spawn and Savage Dragon (notably, its original creator Erik Larson is still the writer and artist for it). Others, such as Youngblood have been around for a while but that series has been relaunched multiple times.
    • Another notable example is Witchblade, which ran for twenty straight years from 1995 to 2015.
    • The Walking Dead started in 2003 and has shown no signs of slowing down.
    • Similarly, Invincible started in 2002 and only in 2017 did Robert Kirkman announce his plans to end the series.
  • '90s Anti-Hero: This was their specialty and utilized it for as long as the fad lasted. Spawn himself might be the most famous, but also beloved one, during this time.
  • Protection from Editors: invoked Their main goal was to provide a place where comic book writers had full control over their own work, right up to owning it entirely. That principle is true to this day.
  • Shared Universe: Early material when rooted firmly in the Superhero genre attempted this to compete with the others. However, nowadays the only continuity each story takes place in is their own.
  • Start My Own: The company was started by seven former Marvel Comics writers who wanted to maintain full control over their product after having dealt with Executive Meddling.
  • Superhero: While initially rooted in the genre, complete with a Shared Universe, since branching out many of their works are often not superhero-related. Instead, they encompass many different genres, and the superhero genre is just one of them.


Alternative Title(s): Image

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