It’s been 30 years since the founding of Image Comics in 1992. Seven of comics’ most popular creators broke away from the two greats of Marvel and DC to launch an independent publishing initiative like the one the comics industry had never seen. Over the ensuing three decades, Image has helped reshape the comic book industry in countless ways.
Many of the titles created by the Image founders have changed drastically, a few have remained consistent, and some are no longer published. However, the impression their creators made 30 years ago sent ripples through the comic book world that are still felt today. The founders of Image changed comics forever, and many of them continue to make new marks in the industry.
Jim Valentino was the first image founder to be a corporate executive
Board member of The Hero Initiative
When he began his career in comics, Jim Valentino worked primarily on the independent circuit, self-publishing superhero satire. normal man. In 1990, he began working with Marvel and launched a new guardians of the galaxy title which met with critical and commercial success.
In 1992, Valentino left Marvel along with other creators to found Image Comics. Valentino posted Shadowhawk, about a violent anti-hero living with HIV. In 1999, Valentino began a four-year run as publisher of Image Comics. Today, Valentino is a board member of The Hero Initiative, a non-profit organization benefiting comic book creators in need.
When Portacio overcame tragedy
Working with Marvel on X-Men Legends
While Portacio was another Image founder who made a name for himself working with Marvel. The artist broke for the first time while working on X factor before becoming a designer for Weird X-Men. On this title, Portacio, along with John Byrne, created the mutant Bishop.
While Portacio’s planned debut title with Image, Works, was delayed until 1994 after Portacio’s sister was diagnosed with lupus. In 2000 Portacio overcame pancreatic illness but recovered and worked for DC confidential batmanPictures Spawnand Marvel Pontoon as well as a triumphant return Weird X-Men. Most recently, Portacio worked on Marvel’s X-Men Legends.
Erik Larsen built a legacy on consistency
30 years – and counting – of Savage Dragon
The most consistent of Image’s founders was Erik Larsen. Larsen stepped into big shoes for his big break, taking over from Todd McFarlane as the designer of amazing spider man in 1990. While on the title, Larsen drew what would become the definitive rendition of the horrific Venom.
Larsen left Marvel in 1992 to found Image, where he still publishes wild dragon nowadays. Larsen wrote and drew all but one issue of the comic’s 30th anniversary. In 2000, Larsen returned to Marvel in pencil amazing spider man for two issues, and in 2019 he contributed scripts and pencils for Spider-Man: Big Shota unique issue celebrating Marvel’s 80th anniversary.
Marc Silvestri went back and forth with Image
CEO of Top Cow And Image
A cartoonist since the mid-1980s, Marc Silvestri’s first major success was as an artist for Weird X-Men from 1987 to 1990. After his run with the X-Men, Silvestri moved on to artistic duties on Wolverine.
Silvestri launched his image imprint, Top Cow Productions, in 1992 with Cyberforce. Top Cow was a successful brand for Image, as Silvestri oversaw the launch of Witch Blade, a title that had cross-media appeal and a short-lived television adaptation. Silvestri briefly severed ties with Image in 1996 due to a falling out with co-founder Rob Liefeld, but eventually returned to the company. Today, Silvestri is CEO of Top Cow and Image Comics. Silvestri’s first DC Black Label series, Batman/Joker: The Deadly Duowas released on November 1, 2022.
Rob Liefeld burned bridges with his co-founders
Teaching comic book history via Robservations and working on a number of projects
Rob Liefeld was the first of the Image Comics founders to release his first title, young blood. Liefeld’s role in creating Image came after three years with Marvel Comics, where he worked on New Mutants and X force, co-creating Cable with writer Louise Simonson and creating the Merc with a Mouth himself, Deadpool.
young blood was launched under Liefeld’s Extreme Studios imprint. Image’s youngest co-founder, Liefeld’s banner also published Prophet and Supreme, among other titles. However, tensions grew between Liefeld and his co-founders, and reports differ to date whether Liefeld resigned or was fired from Image. Anyway, Liefeld and his peers cleared the air, and the artist returned to Image in 2007. In addition to working on various comics, Liefeld has the popular podcast Commentswhere he dives deep into the history of the comics industry.
Todd McFarlane conquered comics and beyond
Run a toy empire
In the mid-90s, there was no more powerful independent comic book creator than Todd McFarlane, who started his career at DC before moving to Marvel and working on amazing spider man. McFarlane quickly became the most popular performer in comics, and many of the hallmarks of his portrayal of Spider-Man are still used today.
After becoming frustrated with editorial interference on his new Spider Man title – for which he was a writer and cartoonist – McFarlane left Marvel to co-found Image Comics, where he introduced Spawn to the world. In addition to Spawn, McFarlane oversees McFarlane Entertainment and McFarlane Toys, one of the world’s most successful licensed toy manufacturers. At the end of the year, McFarlane will team up with longtime collaborator Greg Capullo and DC will release the third Batman/Spawn crossing.
Jim Lee started his own company and later became a businessman
DC Comics Editor
The image most readers have of the X-Men probably owes a lot to Jim Lee’s drawing skills. In 1989, Lee took over as regular cartoonist for Weird X-Men. Two years later, x-men (Vol 2) #1, with himself as penciller and co-plotter alongside writer Chris Claremont, became the best-selling single-issue comic book of all time. The books sold 8.1 million copies, a record that stands today.
Despite his success with Marvel, the possibility of greater creative freedom helped make Lee one of the co-founders of Image. Lee’s imprint, WildStorm Productions, ended up being Image’s most prolific in its early years, proving WildC.ATs, Stormwatchand Gen13 among others. In 1999, Lee left Image and sold WildStorm to DC Comics. In 2010, Lee became co-editor at DC alongside Dan Didio. Since Didio’s departure, Lee has handled the position solo.
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