Friday, June 13, 2014

Spotlight: Image Comics

Spotlight on:
Image Comics

By: Will Dubbeld

This past week I've been trying to catch up on bagging/boarding 3 or 4 months worth of funnybooks. Were I not a slacker I'd do this weekly instead of quarterly.
I am, however, extremely adept at procrastination and therefore reap the rewards of bagging piles of comics from my pullbox and various Internet purchases.
Because who doesn't want an 11-issue run of Where Monsters Dwell from the '60s? (thanks, eBay...)

Point being, I buy an obscene amount of comics and have noticed an odd trend lately.
Many of these comics are Image books.
I'll impulsively throw books on my pull list based on how well Previews sells them, and the past few years I've been sold on Image.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a Marvel Zombie for life, I don't think I could ever be anything else. It's encoded in my DNA, or subliminal messages contained in Stan's Soapbox brainwashed me, or some other ludicrous theory. The House of Ideas can churn out the weakest of stories bent on retreading old ground, and I'll buy into the mega-event every time.
Because screw you, flatscan, I still love the X-Men.

Despite Fox's hard work to dissuade me . . .

In any case, going through these piles of unbagged books revealed an alarming amount of Image titles.
Leading me to ask a profound question:

When did Image start to not suck?

Everybody knows the story, how a bunch of top names from Marvel's Artist Stable wanted some more of the pie, took their collective ball and went off to form their own company. Granted the formation of Image was a coup in the comic world and opened the door for creator owned properties and opportunities, but Image suffered a pretty major Achilles Heel:

These boys were much better artists than they were writers.

Now, super-heroines with giant bewbs and super-dude-adolescent-wish-fulfillment characters appealed to my 12-year old self, but even at that young age I quickly grew disenchanted with Brigades and Youngbloods and Shadowhawks and the like. Not to say that the other companies were churning out Shakespeare, but my god did Image have some horribly unengaging characters.

I mean, seriously, name a character from Wetworks.

So, after buying the first issue or two of most Image books, 12-year old me culled the herd. The Maxx was a great, surreal book. Spawn was okay, for about 10 issues and I always had a soft spot for Gen13, WildC.A.T.S and Stormwatch, of all things.
All said and done, though, nothing was appealing enough to keep buying for any length of time.

So when did Image start putting out good books?

I'd stopped reading comics altogether for a time due to finances and crap like Knightfall and Spider-clones, and when I'd cautiously started buying again, around the start of Grant Morrison's New X-Men run, I ran across back issues of an Image book called Aria.
The book was full of magic and mystique and wonder and where the hell were the shoulder pads and belt pouches?
Did I read that correctly?
It did say 'Image' on the cover, right?
The characters were illustrated in an anatomically correct manner, to boot, and artist Jay Anacleto had a wonderful ethereal quality to his work.
No heaving, cartoonish bosoms. No spine-cracking postures or muscles slapped on top of muscles in clear defiance of anything in Grey's Anatomy.

The medical text . . .

And there were certainly no characters comically named 'Shaft'.

So perhaps Image deserved a second chance.
In the following years, as I went from newsstand browser to tentative pull list customer to full blown "holy crap did you see how much that guy had in his pullbox?", I've been giving Image more and more slack, and they've been giving me more and more reasons to keep buying.
Spawn not being one of them.

In part 2 of this editorial I'll take a quick look at several Image titles and their creative teams.
Savage Dragon not being one of them.

Stay tuned, boys and girls . . .

No comments:

Post a Comment