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What's Your Image?

Written by Greg Anderson-Elysee on Saturday, September 13 2008 and posted in Columns
A simple little rant about my love for Image Comics.

Featuring Brikhed21 and Jay Faerber, co-creator and writer of Dynamo 5 and Noble Causes.

 “What’s your Image?” That’s a catchphrase fellow fan boy by the name of Michael J Smith, a.k.a. Brikhed21, has been sporting around lately through the Image Comics, Newsarama, Comic Book Resources and many other comic based message boards. If you visit the Newsarama boards, you’d notice a few posters with signatures asking that catchphrase while showcasing images of their favorite Image comic books. The catch phrase has caught on that even Bomb Queen’s Jimmy Robinson has a signature with the catchphrase while showcasing villains. Also something that still puts a smile to Brikhed21’s face is the fact that Dynamo 5’s Jay Faerber has even signed Brik’s comic books with the phrase showing just how popular it’s been with some folks. Brik’s truly an Image fan boy, pimping the books he love all over the place. Heh, you can ask Alex Grecian, co-creator of critically acclaimed Proof.

    But seriously, Brikhed21, I must ask: Why are you always so pumped about Image books? “What is there not to get excited about when it comes to Image Comics?” Brikhed21 continues, “If you are a fan of great writing or incredible art then you just have to get pumped up about the books from Image. Image has a little something for whatever taste you might have in comics. Superhero to horror and science fiction to super villain. Image offers it all. Great regular series like Proof, The Walking Dead, Invincible, Dynamo 5, Spawn, Savage Dragon, and Firebreather (I can keep going). Incredible mini-series like Pax Romana, Gemini, War Heroes, Transhuman, Bomb Queen, and Red Mass for Mars. There is never a shortage of great books to choose from with Image. I have to say the most exciting thing for me is that the creators of the books care about their work and take it to heart. They put their lives into these books and it pours out on every page. These aren't just struggling guys trying to make a name for themselves either. I challenge you to find a better stable or writers than Robert Kirkman, Jonathan Hickman, Alex Grecian, Jay Faerber, and Phil Hester (that doesn't even include Mark Millar or Warren Ellis doing Image projects). Strong writing is not how Image made their name but they have it. Don't let the strong writing fool you though they have amazing art as well. Andy Kuhn, Riley Rossmo, Charlie Adlard, Ryan Ottley, Jimmie Robinson and Mahmud Asrar are all top notch artist that tell the stories of many of the Image books even when there isn't a single word on the page.”

    Now continuing on, anyone who knows me knows how annoyed I got with the recent trend in Marvel and DC comic books a few months back. Constant events and tie-ins crossing across a bunch of other titles. While I was enjoying the heck out of one book, here came a crossover event I didn’t give a crap about interrupting my enjoyment. And of course, there’s the whole “If you want to know the full story of the event, pick up this book, and this one, and let’s not forget these 47 other books!” Despite my annoyance of it, the decision of these events and tie-ins work as sales always usually rise up when a book is connected to an event. But I must say that has gotten me to drop nearly all of my DC and Marvel books (although I can’t part with DC’s All Star Superman or Marvel’s X-Factor). So in escape away from the craziness that is the Big Two, I took refuge in Image Comics. But before I made that full plunge, I walked around through the New York Comic Con of 2008 where I met a bunch of creators I admired and a bunch I’ve never heard of at that point. While there, I picked up a bunch of Image books while talking to the creators. Among those creators I met and books I picked up were Harold Sipe and Hector Casanova’s Screamland, Bryan J.L. Glass and Michael Avon Oeming’s Mice Templar, Todd Dezago and Craig Rousseau’s The Perhapanauts, Rick Rememder’s Space Crawl: XXXombies, Jay Faerber and Yildiray Cinar’s Noble Causes, Mark Sable’s Grounded and Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon. And let me tell you, when I got home and read each and every one of those books there were no words for how excited I was. I truly haven’t enjoyed reading comics as much as I did when I finished all the books I bought. There wasn’t not one book among the Image pile that I didn’t enjoy. And one thing that made my enjoyment such bliss for me was that each book was the creator’s vision and not the editor! So therefore the creators could do whatever they wanted in their book and there wasn’t any crossovers to interrupt their creative processing. Now that’s not to say there aren’t any character guest stars. Savage Dragon has appeared in Spawn and vice versa, Invincible has appeared in Noble Causes, etc, but it’s not necessary to understand something in another book, etc. Each series is practically self-contained and when something usually happened, they actually happened! When someone died in a Spawn comic, it’s pretty damn near sure they’ll stay dead and not get ret-conned back to life. It nearly brought a tear to my eye.

    As my enjoyment of those books grew, so did my pull list. I started branching off to other Image books and falling more in love with each new book I picked up. But there in laid a new problem. I was starting to spend more on Image books than I was before with the Big Two. With the Big Two, I was picking up and dropping a lot of series left and right due to creator changes and tie-ins, etc, but with the Image books it pained me to have to skin down my pull list for money. But things needed to be done. I mean, I’m a broke college film/actor kid still living off mom and dad. Sure, I get a job here and there but as a comic addict you know where the money goes. But as my love for the books grew, I began to interact more with Image fan boys in message boards I usually frequent, and it surely helped that two posters I began to interact with, Brikhed21 and Jackwtweeg, were also just becoming big Image fans. Like me, these guys were growing rather impatient with the “mainstream” books and took refuge in Image and it was a crazy coincidence just how at the same time we came together and started to interact. We started recommending each other certain books and our cyber-friendship started from there as we began posting all over the Image boards and derailing many threads, creators like Alex Grecian and David Hine can vouch for that. And as you can guess, Brik, Jack, and I are only a very select few of the Image fan boy crowd.

    I asked creator Jay Faerber (Noble Causes, Dynamo 5, and Gemini) what he believes appeals to the comic fans of Image in which he replies, “I think the biggest appeal is that at Image, you're getting comics that truly written by creators who love them and pour their heart and souls into them. You're not reading comics created by people who needed the gig to pay the rent that month, or who took the gig hoping it'll lead to a better gig. Plus, you're more likely to get books with long runs by a consistent creative team. Those long runs that I enjoyed as a kid (Wolfman & Perez on Titans, Claremont on X-Men, etc.) seem to be a thing of the past these days, as creative teams bounce around and books are restarted and relaunched constantly. At Image, you've got books like Savage Dragon and Invincible and Walking Dead and Noble Causes, which have all been going on for years with stable creative teams. Sure, there have been some shake-ups in the art department on Noble Causes, but the creative vision has been consistent.” But what about you as a writer? “For me, the biggest appeal to doing creator-owned comics is simply the creative freedom it involves. I can literally do anything I want in my books, and I don't have to worry about someone telling me a certain character is unavailable that month, or that I have to tie in to a crossover series, or that I have to rewrite a scene because the editor doesn't like it. Since the writers don't own the characters at Marvel and DC, they're not as free to make those decisions. Now, if you luck out and end up working with an editor you really get along with, you can have a nice, healthy run on a book that is every bit as creatively fulfilling as doing creator-owned work. But for me, those instances are rare. So I choose to do my work at Image, where I get to call the shots.”

    “I want my comic book characters to grow, evolve and live out a story,” Brikhed21 continues. “I don't want to have to worry about the direction of the character changing with a writer change or change in editor. I like for things to happen and consequences to be there when they do. Marvel and DC have franchise characters that in the end will always be there. I know Batman is not going to die and if he does he will come back to life. For most of the Image characters and books they are not restricted by the legacy of the character's past but are able to create a story going forward.”

    And as a fan, I am heavily glad for that. Dynamo 5 is a fantastic team of teen superheroes who find out that they’re actually illegitimate children of Captain Dynamo. Each issue has been superb and gets better as the story continues. If this book were at Marvel, there would have already been a creative team switch and most likely there would have been some retread of something. Heck, I’d go crazy if a book like Proof, by Alex Gracian and Riley Rossmo, were changed! How often do you get a book about Big Foot and his trusty partners as agents for the government, with appearances from Dover Demons and Dinosaurs and well dressed aristocrats who hunt down monsters just to eat them? What’s also so great about Proof is that each issue is something to shake up the status quo and there’s not much of a status quo in the book. There’s always a new development and boy oh boy is the art just a hectic blast. Proof has been getting a HUGE amount of acclaim and fan base has been growing each day. And Dynamo 5 and Proof are just two books of the many fantastic stuff at Image. So what are you waiting for if you’re not reading Image stuff right now? If you’re in need for a good read, Image is it. Now, don't get me wrong. There has still been some books in the Big Two that still intrigues me. I'm a sucker for Two-Face, so if he's announced as a character in a book, I'll buy it. If a writer or artist I admire is writing something, I'll be sure to check out. Plus, the Big Two still have amazing characters who I grew up with and still love. But right now, I'll be a fanboy of Image mostly most time. This is exactly where I belong and I'd love others to feel my comic bliss.

    “If you like comics there is an Image comic for you...PERIOD. I challenge people to give them a shot and determine ‘What's Your Image?’”

    Heh heh, thanks, Brikhed. With that note, below is a link to the Image site. Through this link you’ll find first entire issues for multiple Image titles. Don’t be afraid. Jump in and enjoy the kool aid and what could be the best future for comics.


Posted originally: 2008-09-13 03:43:15

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About the Author - Greg Anderson-Elysee

Gregory Anderson-Elysee is a Brooklyn born and based filmmaker (director and editor), playwright, comic book writer, model, and part time actor. He was one of the first writers and interviewers of The Outhouse. He is the writer and creator of the upcoming book Is'nana the Were-Spider. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

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