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Image Comics: Defiance and Rebirth

Omar Jeter

oajeter45@gmail.com

Up until the 1990s, there have always been two main powerhouses when it comes to comic book companies, Marvel Comics, and DC Comics. Both companies leading and trailing each other running neck-and-neck for over 80 years, and while they remained competitive with each other, nobody dared to challenge their Authority as a third power until the birth of Image Comics.
The story of Image Comics is one of rebellion, take over, and self-destruction. Image Comics was born out of a need for resistance. In the late 80s and early 90s very hot and talented artists, inkers, pencilers, as storytellers in the creative Department were making Marvel and DC Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams. With such stories as The Death of Superman, Secret Wars, Atlantis attacks, and Invasion, and monthly books such as The Incredible Hulk, Batman, X-Men, and Spider-Man hitting record numbers. The company was hailed as a whole, but the unsung heroes who remained behind the scenes were never given the proper credit. In their opinion creators such as Todd McFarlane who was currently working on the very successful relaunched Spider-Man title, Jim Lee who was lightning hot with the rebooting of X-Men number one, Rob Liefeld who created Marvels future hottest commodity Deadpool, and a number of others were growing increasingly frustrated with the promises of substantial royalties but was given poor execution instead. The classic Vibe of we’re not going to take it anymore was quickly starting to take shape. With an alarming rate of artists suddenly demanding out of their contracts or not renewing their soon-to-be expired contracts, secret society type meetings were taking place behind the scenes as a union type congregation indulging in multiple discussions led to the decision that Rebellion and a shock to the system would be the only way for the world to take notice.
And that’s how Image Comics was born with the motto and mentality of a freestyle type environment with little to no rules and restrictions, no holding back, No Holds Barred rule of Engagement was highly encouraged. The inaugural class consisting of Todd McFarlane the creator of Spawn, Jim Lee who gave birth to his independent creation the Wildcats, Marc Silvestri creator of Cyberforce, Valentino creator of Shadowhawk, Sam Keith creator of The Maxx, Dale Keown creator of Pitt, Whilce Protacio’s Wetworks, and Rob Liefeld the creator of Youngblood. These pioneers and their respective products went on to give birth to the first incarnation of what became known as the image shared universe.
And they hit the ground running, every one of their respective titles matching or exceeding the previous launch title sales of Marvel and DC Comics, their Style was producing controversial envelope-pushing material and beg for forgiveness later type of mentality. They were the Lords of their universe and nobody what’s ever going to tell them what to do again. And the wheel of merchandise most certainly ran over the competition in the form of Saturday morning cartoons, after-hours cable television formats, game-changing styles of Designing action figures, and developing wild reputations at comic book conventions as the boys who Rage Against the Machine with very colorful language and comments about their former corporate Masters, and controversial statements caught on camera. Unfortunately, this also became their Achilles heel.
In the world of competitive Commerce, there has to be structure, and it has to be precise, a chain of command is necessary to succeed. Image Comics had none of this, and they were a mighty battleship with the guns and the ammo to take down Marvel and DC within seven years, the only problem is that there was no Commander in Chief to direct the shots precisely. Continuous Game of Thrones style power struggles quickly lead to animosities Within the self-proclaimed cohesive unit each one doing interviews claiming to be the alpha, with no accountability production value was going downhill, books were being published at an obscenely late rate, the gap between some books going as far as six months which is completely unacceptable as a comic book company business practice, material that was not approved slipping through the cracks and causing many many embarrassing moments and rookie-level errors in grammar and art design for the company, and then the biggest dent came in the form of character and storyline infringement, with some self-proclaimed original characters coming dangerously close to carbon copying characters from Marvel and DC.
With so many devastate of setbacks it was not long before the company was engulfed in debt due to lack of sales… it would seem that Image Comics would fade away just as quickly as they arrived.
How ironic that a book about the Dead is what would resurrect a dead company.
In the summer of 2003 The Walking Dead number 1 was released the love child of Tony Moore, and Robert Kirkman did not foresee this becoming one of the most read comic books of the 21st Century, nor did they ever dream of becoming the saviors (no pun intended) of Image Comics the billion-dollar franchise went on to see merchandise Galore, everything from stickers, to adult coloring books, to the obvious action figures and eventually the number one TV show in America for a number of years. The trials, tribulations, and Misadventures of the Kentucky sheriff Rick Grimes and his ever-changing band of survivors what accounts are all types of classic zombie scenarios, but with also encounter threats from the living just as much as they would from the dead.
Soon to follow would be the Space Age love story that is known as Saga, highly rich and storytelling just as much as it was in controversial content, this book would also become another success for the New Image Comics. With many other books soon following, Image Comics would once again be a contender in the comic book circuit, with no signs of slowing down. They learn from their mistakes of the past to ensure it would never interfere with their future again.
Their not so humble beginnings fired the first shots, but recognizing their mistakes humbled them into New Beginnings.

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