Image publisher Eric Stephenson gave a very pointed speech about his ideal future for comics and it’s embodied in the way Image actually conducts it’s business.
Some of my favorite passages were:
Hope is important in comics, and it’s important to the future of comics.
I know that because every time I see or hear a new idea, every time I approve a new series for publication at Image, I hope that it’s going to make a difference in a marketplace that is overrun by literally hundreds of comics designed to do exactly the same thing comics have been doing for decades.
No matter what anyone else says or how offended anyone else gets, I will not back down from my position that comic books are more than mere marketing materials for movies, toys, and video games.
Does that mean there aren’t good comics based on movies, toys, and video games?
Of course not: The writers and artists who make this industry as wonderful as it is are too talented for me to stand here and suggest they aren’t capable of putting out the absolute best licensed comics possible.
But no matter how good those comics may be, no matter how great they may be, that’s not the future.
The mistake my colleagues continue to make, what they fail to understand, is that “creator-owned” does matter to the men and women writing and drawing comics, because they want a better future.
The difference between “creator-driven” and “creator-owned” is that the one of those terms is doublespeak for an industry standard that should have been up for review long ago, whereas the other describes something that is real and worth fighting for.
From Jerry Siegel & Joe Schuster to Jack Kirby to Alan Moore, from Brandon Graham to Brian K. Vaughan to Kelly Sue DeConnick, comic book creators actually do know the difference between getting a good deal and getting the shit end of the stick.
If you’re a fan of comics you owe it to yourself to read the entire keynote. The full text can be found here, along with an 8 minute video shown at the Expo.