It’s no secret that the What’cha Reading crew loves Image Comics. Lazarus, Saga, Ten Grand, Morning Glories, Bitch Planet…I could go on, but suffice it to say that Image Comics have a special place on our shelves and our pull lists. So I was very excited to see “Image Comics: Where Creators Own Stories” on the list of panels at Special Edition: NYC. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the panel, but with Alex de Campi (No Mercy), Becky Cloonan (Southern Cross), Brandon Graham (8House), Valentine De Landro (Bitch Planet), and Alan McGovern (Nightworld), I was sure I was going to be in for a good time. I was right.
The Image panel I attended was one of the first ones of the con, at 11am on Saturday morning, which meant that the sound-bleed problems I talked about in My So-Called Geek Life hadn’t been worked around yet, so at times it was difficult to hear the panelists, the moderator, or the audience members who were asking questions. This was a shame, because everyone was really enthusiastic about the subject matter: that Image is open to all sorts of content and stories that the Big Two might not take. Alex de Campi in particular talked about how welcoming the Image editors are of her ideas and how she enjoys the creative experimentation they allow her. Brandon Graham agreed about the freedom Image offers, and talked about the creative risk-taking he’s able to do at Image that might not happen with another publisher. Valentine De Landro also talked about Image allowing female characters to look like real women as opposed to the idealized figures some publishers insist on, which is very important to him (and to every woman comic reader, I suspect).
The panelists talked a bit about how they came up with the Image titles they’re working on now, which is always fun for fans of the work. Bitch Planet was born out of a love of Pam Grier and 70s “women in prison” films. No Mercy is a character driven book using storytelling techniques familiar to fans of Death Note and Attack on Titan—the rules of the game shift throughout the story. Southern Cross fuses sci-fi, horror, and mystery to tell an Agatha Christie-esque mystery on a space tanker. What became clear to me not long after the panel started is that I need to add a whole new group of Image comics to my pull list, because every single comic they described sounded awesome. I knew that I liked Image Comics before this panel, but wasn’t able to put my finger on just why until I was sitting there listening to discussions about collaboration and the creative process. I like Image because no matter what title I’ve picked up from them, I’ve found a unique story that someone obviously put a great deal of thought and care into. They’re not the stories you would find from the Big Two, but they are stories that are creator driven, and I love that about them. Bravo, Image, for an excellent panel that took fans inside some great work.