Remembering the Debut of Image Comics.

This post originally appeared in 2012. Back in the League of Extraordinary Bloggers days this assignment inspired me to write about the debut of Image Comics. In this week 2019 I’m watching the WildC.A.T.s cartoon as prep for a different article. I got nostalgic about this time in comics and instead of writing those feeling fresh I’m bringing back this piece.

This week’s assignment from The League of Extraordinary Bloggers is a tough one. Take a look:

What media announcement had you throwing fist pumps and doing roundhouse kicks in the air? Did the final result live up to your dreams?

This topic is exceptionally difficult because, like most nerds, I’ve been known to debate, hate and endlessly discuss everything that I at one time loved.  However there must be some golden moment in which I learned of something, became obsessed, and even after its release I still loved it.    Star Wars isn’t the answer, as there has been the prequels and Christmas specials, and the Droids cartoon and on and on and on.  To be a wrestling fan is to hate it.  Rather often too.

I wanted to think of a time I could remember like it was yesterday.  A time that took up a good chunk of my younger life, maybe even shaped who I am today.  Who am I today?  A guy who loves comic books and wants to share that love with the world, all while furthering my own trademarked brand.  Gee, that sounds a lot like… Image Comics.

Way back in 1992 I was in 8th grade, about to graduate Junior High that June.  (Do the math kids!)  The local comic book store was four blocks away from the school but down enough side streets that sadly the majority of students had no idea it existed.  Every Friday after school I would take my left over lunch money and whatever other dollar bills I could scrounge up and race down to the comic book store.  Spider-Man by McFarlane, X-Force by Liefeld, Avengers runs that no one else was reading – from both coasts, and of course Speedball and the New Warriors.  Hell yeah I was a Marvel kid.  All I needed was a guide through this world of comics.  Someone to tell me what to read.  Someone to tell me about Watchmen, and Dark Knight Returns, and Maus, and Kirby, and Man of Steel.  The list goes on and on.  However, what I found was Wizard magazine.  It became my guide, my Bible, my financial decider.  It was also THE source of comic book news and the day came during which I opened up the issue and discovered that the 7 had left Marvel.

The first pictures from Image Comics were an awakening to my 13/14 year old self.  Image at that time was a teenage boy’s dream.  Bad ass characters, flashy art, boobs, violence.  What the hell else could I want?  Spawn was hyped into the greatest comic book ever created and we all believed it.  Youngblood and WildCATs was like being on the ground floor of the All New All Different X-Men.  Savage Dragon was everything I thought the Silver Age was.  Shadowhawk to a young man is the great American novel – an original idea and a grand mystery.  Cyberforce had Ripclaw and Velocity, two new characters that could be “mine” and adorn my bedroom walls.  Wetworks had… well, it had delays.  But yay to the other six!

Then, sure, there were problems.  Todd stopped drawing.  Rob released too many titles (Bloodstrike, Brigade, Troll, Supreme), books shipped late, there were poor titles.  I was far from alone in writing “all Image” on my pull list at the local comic shop.  I think it was when I was forced to buy Boof #1 that I edited that list.

Teen fans like myself started to lash out against Image.  As we grew more mature we wanted stories that were more mature as well.  Suddenly there were a lot of Marvel and DC titles past and present that looked more enticing.  Suddenly Image wasn’t looking so good.  Or better yet, they did look good but there wasn’t anything there.  We fans stopped trying to get into the pretty girl’s (or boy’s) pants and wanted someone sexy AND fun to talk to.  Sure Alan Moore would stop by, the Maxx was good, Wildstar was under rated.  But it wasn’t enough.

We drifted away, occasionally buying a good book from Image and thinking of it as a fluke.  Later something happened.  Maybe we took our heads out of our asses.  Maybe Image said screw names, screw pretty drawings with nothing behind them, lets tell some good stories.  And boy do they ever.

Image Comics are tops on the lists of books that are read in the car immediately after leaving the comic book store.  We all love Walking Dead, Invincible and Chew.  Then there are the titles that show the beauty of the comics medium.  Books like I Kill Giants, The Sword, Wanted, Godland, Fear Agent and so much more.  Even brand new titles like The Manhattan Projects will join the list of brave new titles published by Image Comics.

So the question is, what media announcement had you excited and did it live up to your dreams?  Well I bought five copies of WildCATs #1 the day it came out.  I just bought two new #1s from Image (The Manhattan Projects and Hell Yeah).  Twenty years later and I’m still buying brand new issue ones from the same company.  I’d say that it far surpassed all my dreams.

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