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Image Expo returned on Thursday, and it wasn’t messing around. Each year, Image Comics seems to pack bigger announcements and bigger surprises into a single-day event. And the diversity of creators and genres gets that much better, too.
This year’s Image Expo — held again at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, following last July’s event at Comic-Con International in San Diego — included the now-standard keynote address by Publisher Eric Stephenson. He reviewed the past year’s successes and echoed plans to make Image the No. 1 publisher, but aside from throwing the gauntlet down at the feet of Marvel and DC, his address avoided some of the controversial statements and manifestos of years past. While I appreciate a good sabre-rattling, it allowed the focus to remain squarely on the creators and their comics.
With that in mind, here are my six favorite announcements from Image Expo 2015:
Jean Giraud (aka Moebius) may have passed away more than two years ago, but his works, and advice, lives on. Thanks to a translation by artist Xurxo g Penalta, English speakers now have the opportunity to read Moebius’ 18 tips for fellow cartoonists, from a 1996 interview with the Mexican magazine La Jornada Semanal.
Penalto’s studio mate Brandon Graham has posted the European master’s “brief manual” for cartoonists on his blog. This last tip is oddly prescient for 2014 despite being offered nearly two decades ago: “Now it is possible to find [a] reader in any part of the planet. We must have this present. To begin with, drawing is a way of personal communication, but this does not imply that the artist must envelop himself in a bubble; it’s communication with the beings near us, with oneself, but also with unknown people. Drawing is a medium to communicate with the great family we have not met, the public, the world.”
In three short years, Image Comics has turned Image Expo into the first big comics event of the year. Interest in the publisher’s announcements has reached the point where I wish there were live-streaming video of the presentation. Maybe next year. For now, we have to settle with live coverage, which was still pretty fun. Image Expo didn’t disappoint: It seemed as if every title announced caught my interest. There are a few that stand out, however, so here are my Top 5 picks of the announcements that went above and beyond.
1. Image signs Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips to a five-year exclusive contract
The acclaimed collaborators have a perpetual green light at Image to do whatever they want for the next five years. That’s a big vote of confidence, and a real commitment to support Brubaker and Phillips. It must be quite a relief for them to not have to worry about crafting the perfect pitch and convincing someone to believe in their story. They just get to create. It’s an exciting arrangement, and one I hope will serve as a pilot program for others equally worthy.