Back in 1992, seven of Marvel Comics' most popular artists -- Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Erik Larsen, Marc Silvestri, Jim Valentino, and Whilce Portacio -- were unhappy with the way the House of Ideas was treating them, so they quit and formed their own company. Image proved to be massively popular right off the bat, despite prima donna antics, substandard stories, and comically late comics (Portacio's first Image book didn't ship 'til 21 months after it had originally been scheduled). Basically, it was the early '90s, and all comics fans cared about was pretty, pretty art -- and Image always delivered on the art.

Most Image comics were triumphs of style over substance. They nearly always looked very glossy, but read like they were written by crackheads. For every work of genius like "Savage Dragon" or "The Maxx," Image produced reams and reams of crap like "Spawn," "Wild C.A.T.s," "Youngblood," and "Cyberforce." But the rewards for being part of Image outweighed the critical scorn -- the Image founders were featured in Levi's commercials, appeared on MTV, hung out with models, drove expensive sports cars, and made money like no one in comics had ever made money.

The happy times didn't last forever, of course. The comics biz, starved for real talent and bloated with speculators hoping to make their next million by collecting comics, went bust; Portacio vanished fast; Silvestri left the company because of a feud with Liefeld (he later came back); Lee sold out to DC when times got tough; Liefeld was fired when the other founders finally realized he was a talentless hack; and McFarlane has been sued by Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for a number of shady business practices.

But Image is still publishing, and in recent years, they've improved a lot. They're still an artist-oriented publisher, but they've begun to change their focus toward better quality. They've released good stuff like "Lazarus Churchyard," "Powers," "The Red Star," "Invincible," "The Walking Dead," "Radiant Black," and many others. Used to be, buying an Image comic book marked you as someone who liked pretty pictures and ridiculously busty heroines; nowadays, you can buy an Image comic book almost without shame...

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.