Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

February 5, 2017

Go, Read: David Harper’s Long Article On Image Comics

I missed the e-mail from David Harper that the his long article on Image is done. It'll be a while before I read it. A young man's insecurity about seeing my own statements has become a middle-aged man's inability to even read the rest of the articles that they're in. I'll work it out.

imageI sent Harper to Eric Reynolds, and if there's anything in there that's valuable it's probably from Eric. He covered them closely as the News Editor at TCJ, and ensconced at Fantagraphics gives two fucks about any personal backlash as to a characterization he might give.

I don't have any sort of anger towards Image, but I do think most of their genius was to simply find the best financial model to serve artists in the moment. They found a really good one when they started (assuming control on production over series with star-level sales), have come upon one that is particularly appealing right now (big company service and attention, but no claim to media rights), and had some interesting ones pop up at times in between those more significant two. Different people have benefited at different times. Todd seemed best at the lots of money per book model, Jim Lee seemed best at the studio model, I bet we could find some folks who were good at the leverage-your-career model, and Robert Kirkman seems to have benefited most directly from this latest no media rights phase. Liefeld is third best at all the models. Today, I think that's a solid, successful company. Eric Stephenson seems quite good at his job, looking outside-in.

I think what may get to people at times is that there are fewer great books that have come out of these cascading-emphasis set-ups, and one will always hope the opposite would be true. I think others get annoyed at what feels like a mostly needless selective memory from nearly Image person or fan when it comes to motivations and outcomes through the years, and a resulting inability to tell a corporate story that allows a little darkness into the light. I can relate. My Fantagraphics history is sunnier than I thought it was going to be. Art is hard to do and even more than that art is an unlikely outcome for the ways we try to support it.

I assume we'll get one or two histories of Image at some point in the next 15 years that have a book's rigor to them, and I think that'll be okay for everyone. The sky won't fall. I think it's a fine legacy to provide a series of pretty good business models -- and at least two really good business models -- and have that be the core of what happened there, have that be at the center of what Image has added to our cultural history.
posted 3:27 pm PST | Permalink

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