May’s reading challenge was a “choose your own” deal, so I decided to read as many Image comics as I could.
Some background: I’ve been an Image reader since the company started almost 25 years ago. Yes, I’m aware there was a lot of crap in those early days. For the most part, I read a lot of first issues. If something grabbed me, I read the second issue. Using this method, I made it up to issue 4 or so of Spawn. The books that caught my attention were the weirder ones: Groo, The Maxx, Astro City and some others that are slipping my mind. Despite there being way too many pouches and Cyclops hoods in those early days, there were some real gems.
The only Image book by an Image founder that really grabbed me was Savage Dragon. The most recent issue to come out was 213. That’s 213 (somewhat) monthly comics written and drawn by creator Erik Larsen. It’s an impressive fete, I’d have to check the total issues of Usagi Yojimbo and Groo to see how Savage Dragon compares, but Larsen has been plugging away toward the 300 issues of Cerberus Dave Sim and Gerard put out.
Image has had a renessaince in recent years under publisher Eric Stephenson. Sex Criminals, Bitch Planet, Southern Bastards, Manhattan Projects, Saga and many others.
But I think the seeds of the Image renessaince can be tracked back to 2003. That was when the company launched a (largely) short-lived superhero line that included gems like Firebreather (written by Iowan Phil Hester) and the still running Invincible by Robert Kirkman (Fun fact: I named the letters page of that book, “Penvincipals”). Six months later, Kirkman launched The Walking Dead, giving the company a book to replace the then soon-to-be-departing Powers as a buzz book. Sadly, my letter page name, “Dead Letter Office,” was overlooked for “Letter Hacks.”
Here are the comics I read in May. It worked out to about 61 issues. June’s challenge is “reality,” which has generally accepted any comics that could happen in real life, rather than just comics based on true stories.
Just the Tips (this isn’t quite a comic, but it’s from the team who does Sex Criminals (phrasing, boom), so I counted it.
C.O.W.L.: Principles of Power
Jupiter’s Circle Vol. 1
Trees Vol. 1
Paper Girls Vol. 1
The Autumnlands Vol. 1
Battle Pope 3-4: I bought these years ago, but never read them. Back in 2002, Robert Kirkman was the guy who did Battle Pope who hung around on Erik Larsen’s message board. When it was announced Kirkman who be writing a miniseries based on Larsen’s Super Patriot, I ordered the first two Battle Pope trades, then Super Patriot. Then Invincible, then The Walking Dead. So the fact that I was able to pay off a big credit card bill years ago by ebaying my copy of The Walking Dead #1 can all be traced back to Battle Pope. Of course, I could have made even more money if I had saved the issue for even longer. I bought volumes 3 and 4 on clearance a few years back and finally got around to reading them.
Creator-Owned Comics 1-7: I picked these up in a 50 cent box at Wizard World Des Moines. The big appeal was that a few issues had Darwyn Cooke stories I hadn’t read. Overall, this series had a lot of cool features, working as a comic-sized magazine full of features and interviews, as well as comics. But as a negative, “Creator-Owned Comics” as a name is about as exciting as “Beige Comics.”It only lasted eight issues, so I need to track down the last one.
The Walking Dead 154
Criminal 10th Anniversary Special