Popverse is taking C2E2 by storm! Not only are we in Chicago (eating Chicago dogs and frozen custard), we are also spending the weekend in the beautiful McCormick Place running liveblogs, reporting news, streaming panel, and soaking in the general nerdy ambiance of one of our favorite conventions.
Speaking of liveblogs, we are pretty excited for the big Image panel this year, as it also happens to be Image Comics' 30th anniversary. This panel titled 'Image (Comics) is everything! 30 years of creating stories beyond our wildest imagination' promises some amazing stories about the history and present of Image Comics from some of Image's "Superstar" creators.
We're bringing you live coverage throughout this panel, so keep an eye on this page and follow along-- you may even catch an announcement or two (we hope!). If you want to come back later and read this as a recap-- feel free. Once we stop going live, the liveblog will republish in chronological order.
If you're a Popverse fan or superfan member, you can watch a full video replay of the Image Comics panel as well.
We are sitting and waiting for the panel to start!
Still waiting for the panel to start!
Panel is off to a start!
On the panel is artist/writer Wes Craig, artist/writer Mirka Andolfo, and artist/writer Kyle Strahm.
The first question is what was everyone's first exposure to Image? Craig responds that he was around 13 when he found Perfect Age.
"You look at it a bit more jaded when you get older," but Craig says that as a kid, it felt like the superhero was "made for us."
Strahm shares that he spent all his allowance on Spawn, but also how Image Comics were different. "It was all so new and so fresh, and the paper was different, and the color was digital."
"We were the perfect age to be sucked into it," Strahm shares before going on to talk about how so many projects were able to be made because of Image's approach to publishing, especially allowing creators to own the rights to their own work.
Andolfo shares that she was too young to come across the books when the others did. A recent favorite of hers is Chew.
"There is a comic for every theme, every mood," she shares, saying that's what she likes about Image Comics.
"There was so little stuff that wasn't superheroes.. anything that was just slightly different from superhoes was going to stand out," Craig explains about Image's impact
Craig's first project with Image started with Rick Remender reaching out to him to work on Deadly Class. Since then, most of what he's done has been through Image. He mentions that Image also supported his weirder projects like Blackhand Comics, which was published in strange formats.
Andolfo shares that her first Image project was actually an Italian comic that Image translated into English called Unnatural.
Her work is usually published in Italian first and then translated for English. She says that it was unexpected to her that her work would be translated into English. She says that Image picked up her comic because they said it was "strange."
Strahm mentions that by the time he got to his first big book that he co-created was Spread with Justin Jordan, though he had gotten single bits and pieces like pinups in other Image issues and anthologies before.
"It's the best deal in town, hands down," Strahm says about Image regarding royalties and rights. About other companies, "They just can't compete with Image."
About the best parts of working for Image, Craig says "they just give you the freedom to do what you want to do... there's as much oversight as you want."
"Having my comics published in English with a big publisher house like Image changed my life," Andolfo says, contrasting the Italian comics market and the American comics market.
Strahm, like Craig, appreciates the freedom "to try whatever we want to try, but also to carry the burden on our shoulders."
When an audience member asks if there is something crazy enough that Image has said no, Craig points out that because the creators take on so much of the risk, that's less of an issue. Strahm, points out that it's part of the relationship with a publisher. That if you've worked for them before, you're reliable and wont put together something unpublishable.
Another audience member asks if the panelists would like to be on a long running comic or multiple short projects, quoting a comic like Spawn. Strahm jokes that since Spawn is so successful, he'd love to be a part of something like that, but with short things, there is less risk and that there's more IP and development that can end up being a part of a library of property. He also points out that the market favors first issues more than the 12th.
Andolfo says she always thinks in short comics, not because she thinks long stoires are bad, but because that's what she's used to. Craig likes to find himself somewhere in the middle, and quotes Brubaker and Phillips approach of expanding a comic or shortening a comic based on what the story needs.
As to some of the dos and dont's of pitching. Craig says that you shouldn't ramble (though he jokes that he's currently rambling).
Craig points out that it is also important to share why the story matters to the pitcher.
Strahm points out that five to ten pages of an actual comic is always going to be a better pitch than a script, since it is already part of the story that is meant to hook the reader.
Strahm recommends people who want to pitch Image to go out and buy a copy of Previews to see waht Image is publishing and see where their work would sit in that library. "Have an idea of who you're pitching to and the kind of work you're pitching is maybe half of the battle."
Andolfo says that it's important to create very lovable characters. "Sometimes readers feel really attached to the characters in an incredible way," she says. "And also doing interesting bad ones-- not saints" to keep the readers interest.
Wes Craig remembers opening the first issue of Spawn and seeing the type of coloring compared to Marvel and DCs colors at the time. How it now seems like they had "too many tools" to use, but at the time, how fresh it had seemed.
Strahm had met Todd McFarlane at a convention in Kansas City and had seen a McFarlane cover at the time, while he was in line. After doing his comic Spread, he realized how much he had taken from McFarlane's work. Specifically, he calls out Spawn #8 as a favorite.
Andolfo mentions that for a long time, before working here, she was a reader of European style comics or manga. But after reading Chew, she started reading more American comics, and it was really her introduction into American comics.
Strahm mentions that another thing that stood out to him in Image Comics was the backmatter and letter pages with fanart. And how the letter pages would be replied to by the artists and writers instead of by the editors.
Craig points out that he and Andolfo were on a panel and worked on an image with McFarlane, and how Craig felt like he was high fiving the teenage version of himself.
Craig points out that Image helps with publicity, but that you have to put in your own equal efforts. Craig has uploaded a 0 issue online for free and made gift packages to send to comic shops as well to promote his book Kaya.
Strahm points out that retaillers are the actual customers, as they're making the orders, so that it's important to keep that in mind. "They're there to sell books. They're not there to preach your artistic intentions."
Craig points out asking what retaillers might want for small publicity materials. Some retaillers told him that there were too many posters and that it might be better to do bookmarks and magnets instead.
Andolfo says its important to stay informed about what comics are available, what the bestsellers are, and just to read a lot. To be informed, not just by comics, but by television-- every story.
And we're just about at time. Wes Craig plugs the last issue of Deadly Class, which will come out right before Kaya, which he will be writing and drawing.
Andolfo is finishing up Sweet Paprika and is working on sequels of previous projects.
Strahm is finishing up Twig
Thank you so much for following along with our liveblog!