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“Image United is the best worst idea that ever existed. … We overdid it. Image United should be respected for the experiment that it is, but loathed for the failure that it’s been so far.”
— Rob Liefeld, during a weekend panel at Amazing Las Vegas Comic-Con, discussing Image United, the long-delayed six-issue crossover by the Image Comics founders and Robert Kirkman that hasn’t released an issue since August 2010’s No. 3. At the convention, Liefeld said issue 4 and 5, originally solicited for April and May 2010, will be released in 2014. “We should’ve done the whole thing first, but we got kind of excited,” he said. “And I apologize.”
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Image Comics, the company formed by a group of artists who left the security of work-for-hire comics to create and own their own comics. It’s been 20 years of ups and downs, but one thing that has remained consistent is a focus on creator-owned work.
With 2011 in the history books and their big anniversary kicking off with the first Image Expo, a new ad campaign and high-profile series by big-name creators like Brian K. Vaughan, Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Jonathan Hickman, Nick Spencer and many more, I thought it was a good time to chat with Publisher Eric Stephenson about the state of the company, the year that was, their upcoming plans and anything else he was willing to talk about. My thanks to Eric for taking the time to answer my questions.
JK Parkin: Thanks for agreeing to do this interview, Eric. Incidentally, another feature we’re running as a part of our anniversary bash is one where we asked various comic industry folks about what they’re looking forward to in 2012. I got one back yesterday where the answer was basically “everything from Image Comics.” I find that interesting, because there’s a lot of diversity in Image’s line and although I think you guys probably publish something for every kind of taste, I wouldn’t think that every title would appeal to every comic reader. And yet I also find myself checking out at least the first issue of everything you guys have done lately. So from your perspective, what’s the unifying factor (or factors) right now among your titles, if there is one?
Stephenson: I think the main thing is that we’re moving forward and creating new things. We’re not content to just recycle the same old ideas month in and month out and then market it all as brand new. If this was another publisher, we’d be debuting our latest spin-off of The Walking Dead in March, but instead, we’re launching a new series by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, a new series by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra, a new series by Joe Keatinge and Andre Szymanowicz, and so on. For 20 years, Image has put its faith in creative people, and it’s the power of their imagination that links all our titles together, now more than ever.
“It goes without saying that Image United is a massive embarrassment. Damn shame the enthusiasm for the book not shared by all.”
– Image Comics co-founder Rob Liefeld, on the highly anticipated, but delay-plagued, miniseries that features interior art by six of the company’s seven founders
Here’s a fun video that artist Rob Liefeld posted over the weekend, featuring his kids going through the first issue of the big Image crossover title Image United and telling their dad what they like about it. Spawn gets a lot of props.