Today we are going to switch companies and talk about my second favorite comic book publishing company: Image Comics.
For those who may be unfamiliar with the company, Image was formed in 1992 when a group of very successful and very popular artists decided to leave Marvel and strike out on their own because they were upset at the fact that while their work was selling very well and making their employer millions, they were receiving next to nothing other than a page rate and modest royalties. This group of men decided to form their own comic book publishing company, a company where they could work on ideas they wanted to work on and would receive all the credit and income from their work.
As a comic book creator myself I can appreciate what these guys were trying to do. Creators work their butts off to create something fun and interesting, it would make sense that they get a lion’s share of the credit and money. That being said, while Image Comics was initially successful crappy writing, poor business decisions, and a whole host of nasty and expensive lawsuits saw a rapid fall from grace. Early 90’s Image comics are still notorious among comic book fans for being just…awful.
But Image has been experiencing something of a Renaissance over the past couple of years. It turns out that when you give creators the ability to create on their own terms with their own ideas and profit from their hard work you can get some really great talent to create some really great stuff. Image has been responsible for almost single handedly maintaining the zombie survival genre with their runaway hit comic book series The Walking Dead
They’re comics have vastly improved in quality with critically acclaimed work like Southern Bastards.
and they have done something that I had previously thought impossible: make gross out humor continuously funny with my third favorite series of all time.
3. Chew (Image Comics)
Author: John Layman
Artist: Rob Guillory
Number of issues: As of time of writing, 50
To put it simply, Chew is one of the most interesting and original stories I have ever read. The comic takes place in a near future where a mysterious strain of avian flu kills millions of people around the world. In response the United States government bans the consumption of chicken, eggs, or any other poultry product prompting a vast and sophisticated criminal element to fulfill a demand for black market chicken products (the fact that this event and its after effects bears a striking resemblance to the American government’s Prohibition of alcohol during the 1920’s is something that I’m SURE was completely unintentional).
As a result the American Food and Drug Administration becomes one of the most powerful, and well funded, government agencies and is responsible for hunting down these poultry bandits. The comic follows the adventures of FDA agent Tony Chu (get it?) who has an extraordinary ability that makes him a star agent. Tony is something called a Cibopath: a person capable of getting a psychic reading of the life and experiences of anything he eats.
This means he can eat a carrot and learn where it was grown, what pesticide was used, and how it was packaged. It also means he could eat a hamburger and see something else entirely which, needless to say, means he tends to favor more vegetarian fare (although strangely enough he doesn’t get a psychic reading off of beets, so he eats a lot of those). Now, being an officer of the law, Tony has to deal with a lot of dead bodies, dead human bodies, so if he wants to do his job to the best of his ability then…
well you get the idea. I don’t want to give too much of the story away since the comic is still ongoing and hasn’t been finished (what are you still doing here? Go online or to your nearest comic book store and start reading this thing now!) but it also turns out there is more to to bird flu than meets the eye. The comic is filled with murder, dismemberment, cannibalism, vomit, revolution, vampires, and a massive government conspiracy involving aliens and other people with strange food based powers (I kid you not there is a man who can craft weapons out of chocolate) that threatens our world as we know it. What I am trying to say is, this comic is hilarious and I cannot recommend it enough.