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Tuesday, May 19, 2015 

Oakland Post's sloppy intro to indies

The Oakland Post wrote about how independently owned comics began in the past few decades, but only proved a college paper's not doing this very accurately:
In 1992, a small group of artists and writers left Marvel Entertainment, in order to create a brand new comic book company of their own, one without all the restrictions that come from the big two comic publishers. Because both DC Comics and Marvel owned the rights to their characters; creators weren’t allowed to mess with the characters too much, resulting in these writers and artists making half-baked stories that they weren’t proud of. So, these men and women left the big companies to form their own company, Image Comics. This seemed to be a starting point for the Indie comic scene.
I think the initial reason Image was formed was actually because several artists were being denied rights to the drafts of their work. Most freelancers for mainstream at the time knew there's certain limits they'd have to contend with when writing up the stories. And it wasn't even the beginning of independent companies either, something they mostly screwed up in the following:
Image Comics, which created characters like “Spawn,” and later (in 2003), titles such as “The Walking Dead,” became a huge success, launching in a new era of creator-owned comics, filled with the passion projects of many writers and artists looking for a change from the restrictions placed on them.

Many other companies followed in suit, producing big name companies like Dark Horse (who publishes “Hellboy,” and “Sin City”), Vertigo (who publishes “V for Vendetta,” “Preacher,” and “Sandman”), Valiant Entertainment (who publishes “X-O Manowar,” and “Bloodshot”), and “Oni Press” (who publishes “Scott Pilgrim”). These independent publishers’ titles became largely popular, even sometimes overshadowing some of both DC and Marvel’s big-titles in monthly comic sales.
Dark Horse was already founded in 1986, and Vertigo is an imprint owned by DC, which they first used for several of their own properties like Swamp Thing (and Sandman, which happens to be DC property too), and it was only later at the turn of the century they began to use it seriously for creator-owned productions. And there were at least a few other small companies that preceded Image like First Comics, Eclipse, Comico and Kitchen Sink Press. Some accuracy on their part alright. I don't know the story premise of every independently owned comic out there, but I do know how most of the publishers producing them began.

And while some of Image's early output may have made big sales receipts, the truth is, their products seldom surpass the Big Two's. The Walking Dead is one of the few exceptions today. As I kind of expected, some of Image's most pretentious, overblown early products like Rob Liefeld's jokes aren't mentioned, nor how they undermined Image's early reputation along with variant covers.

And a lot of Image's output, like everything else on the pamphlet market, doesn't sell over 100,000 copies, often selling very low on the charts no matter how well received they are. The paper's not helping by failing to be honest and objective about those details.

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Can't you think of another artist besides Rob Liefeld?

Very few other artists besides Liefeld have ever matched his brand of awfulness. But, I suppose I could cite Rags Morales, if only because his art, as I've concluded in recent years, is very uninspired no matter how competent it may look on the surface.

The article seems to give the impression that independent publishers began in 1992, with Image. Apparently, they don't know about First Comics, Kitchen Sink, Pacific, Dark Horse, Eclipse, and Aardvark-Vanaheim, all of which started in the early 1980's.

"Very few other artists besides Liefeld have ever matched his brand of awfulness. But, I suppose I could cite Rags Morales, if only because his art, as I've concluded in recent years, is very uninspired no matter how competent it may look on the surface."

...is it because of your anti-90s bias or that you don't think much of experimental artwork?

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