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JayC

Did Todd McFarlane And IMAGE Make The Comic Industry Better or Worse????

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I was watching this interview with Todd McFarlane and overall it's a pretty good interview covering a variety of topics regarding Todd McFarlane. Having interviewed him myself I can tell you he definitely likes to talk.

Now one of the things that stuck out to me is when they get to the part talking about how Spawn hit the #300 issue mark and comparing that to when Amazing Spider-Man hit the same #300 mark, which was around the time when McFarlane started working on Amazing Spider-Man and became such a popular comic book artist. 

They don't talk about this in the interview but the thing that crossed my mind was, if you owned an Amazing Spider-Man #1 or had Spider-Man's first appearance, back when Amazing Spider-Man hit #300, you had a very very valuable comic book. If you own Spawn #1 (which I do as I imagine many who collected comics during that time do) and the first appearance of Spawn today as Spawn hits #300, you may have a comic that has more value than what you paid for it at cover price (which many titles during that time don't) , but you don't have a comic book that comes close to the value of Spider-Man's first appearance did or does.

Now I have all the early IMAGE comics because they were billed as the second coming at the time and if you collected comics then, the hype was such you had to get your hands on them, and while the art in most of them was great, I thought those early titles had terrible stories because their group was basically all artists and no writers. If anyone ever tries to argue that writing is more important than art for comics, all you need is point to the success of IMAGE in those days as your example of why art is far more important than writing.

Now I don't put all the blame on the IMAGE creators for the cause of the industry imploding soon after IMAGE started, as many of the decisions the people at Marvel and DC made played a large role in that with way overproducing titles and variant covers and all that garbage, but I do put some of the blame on these guys as well. I found it somewhat ironic when they start talking about that period of time, Todd acts like he was just an observer of what was going on in the industry and played no role in it, but in fact it seems to me, because he and the others in IMAGE became so rich so quick leading up to that period, it was an indication they took every advantage of that bubble right up until he popped. Yeah he was smart enough to take that money he made and use it to diversify himself so when it did pop he didn't go down with the ship, but that doesn't mean he didn't play a role in over-inflating that bubble.

No I don't say this because I hold any malice towards McFarlane or IMAGE, and if I had been in their places could have possibly done the same things. I was just struck though how he seemed to make any indications of taking any responsibility for that time nor did I ever buy into that these guys where the industries white nights against the evil big 2.

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Hmmm not a lot of comic book readers here I take it? ūü§®

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IDK if they make the industry batter or worse, back then Image just gave the readers a new option and a more darker and mature take on comics, and yes, the stories were not great just edgy it was all about the great artwork, that's it but people liked that a lot, just my two cents as I've never been a big Image or Spawn fan.

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I agree that Todd is a better artist than a storyteller and i also agree that his stories from the 90's have not aged ,well maybe that's why he had guest writers such as Frank Miller, Nel Gaiman and Alan Moore in the early issues. Overall, as It has already been said many times, the nineties were a dark period for comics.

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14 hours ago, Arkana99 said:

the nineties were a dark period for comics.

Yeah i'm just not sure it ever really recovered.

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14 hours ago, Arkana99 said:

I agree that Todd is a better artist than a storyteller ...

Is he though? I remember reading an article years ago about how the (then) current crop of "graphically stylized" super-star artists like the Todd, Larsen, Portacio, etc. were purely products of the 90s, and a couple of years earlier (or later for that matter), if they had rolled up with their "Malibu-Style" wouldn't even have been let in the door at Marvel/DC.

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I didn't really followed all of the comic book things going on in the 90s so I can't really say what factor if any Mcfarlane and Image had any part on that "dark" period of comic books. Personally, I have never really cared for Mcfarlane myself, never got into Spawn although I did enjoy the movie and the animated series but never really found the character appealing. The only thing that I truly respect about Mcfarlane and Image was the creators having power over their creations and after reading about the whole Angela/Gaiman dispute I can't say that was always the case.

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Image hasn't aged well. That sort of style of art and storytelling was too specific to really have any sort of longevity. In hindsight, they probably should have made their brand a bit more diverse, but they were the king back in the day. What are you gonna do? Todd is still a great artist and a lot of people still love his work. 

Maybe you should post comics reviews on here too. 

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On 10/20/2019 at 10:26 AM, JayC said:

 

Now I don't put all the blame on the IMAGE creators for the cause of the industry imploding soon after IMAGE started, as many of the decisions the people at Marvel and DC made played a large role in that with way overproducing titles and variant covers and all that garbage, ...

 

 

That's statement right there is the biggest reason why the comic book industry nearly imploded in the 90s.

I don't feel Todd McFarlane or IMAGE played any major role on the near collapse of the comic book industry.  There are so many other factors that impacted the industry before with get to McFarlane and IMAGE comics.   I've been a comic book collector since the 1980s and I remember the industry before the boom and the bubble bursting.   I started collecting comics when they were still be sold on spinner racks at convenience stores; before boards and plastic bags were sold to protect comic books.

Of course there was the mass production of comic book titles and variant covers as Jay C mentions was the biggest cause of the boom and the subsequent bubble burst. In 1991, Jim Lee's artwork for X-Men #1 sold an estimated 8,186,500 copies, which is the best-selling comic book of all time, according to Guinness World Records.   That numbered is skewed because there were so many variant covers and collectors were buying more than one copy, much like toy collectors buying three figures of the same character (1 to keep and take out of package; 1 to keep MOC; 1 to trade or sell).  And because of those sales, the news and financial media looked into the comic industry and put out articles saying comic books are better investment than the stock market, which further fuel the boom in the purchasing of comic books, especially number 1 issues or the first appearance of a new character, or in one particular case, the death of the first super hero that was ever created.    The boom and bubble burst were created by would be "investors."   Thinking they could send their kids to college or retire on appreciated value of a comic book.  The comic book industry thought their sales numbers could be sustainable and the would be "investors" would turn into regular costumers and thought they tapped into the mainstream market, but that didn't happen.  When those would be "investors" stopped buying comic books, that's when the bubble burst.  

Marvel did lose it market share when the seven IMAGE founders left the company, but that didn't cause Marvel to file for bankruptcy and sell off the movie rights to Spider-Man, X-Men, the Fantastic Four, etc.  Marvel filed for bankruptcy 1996 because they helped inflate sustainable sales and based a lot of their financial forecasts and plans on those faulty numbers.

Todd McFarlane and IMAGE did not influence the boom in comic book industry the way the news and financial media did, as it got non-comic book collectors into buying comic books.  McFarlane and IMAGE were a flash in the pan during the boom.    I did a quick search and the only IMAGE title that's is mentioned as being one of the best selling comic book of all time is SPAWN No.1 at around 1.7 million copies.  I bought like three or four copies of that issue.  

As shown in the link/graph below, Marvel sales started spiraling downward before IMAGE got off the ground; after the lofty sales of X-Men No.1.

https://www.comichron.com/vitalstatistics/marketsharesyearly.html

MarketSharesbyYear.jpg

The founders of IMAGE were primarily 20 year something kids that thought they should get more compensation for their creations.   And when they didn't, they left the company.

I think Todd, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld and the others IMAGE founders revolutionized the artwork in comic books and that's why they were so successful and rockstars of the industry.   As Todd points out in the video above, Marvel was stagnant in their artwork.  Spider-Man was still being drawn pretty much the same way in the 60's.   Todd's editor at Marvel didn't like Spider-Man having the big eyes and the spaghetti webbing.   Because of Todd, we got the very dynamic web-swinging poses by Spider-Man.   As Todd said in the interview, he brought Spider-Man into the 1990s.  Obviously, Jim Lee did the same thing with the X-Men. 

Overall, I think McFarlance and IMAGE actually helped the industry over the years.  As Todd points out in the video above, IMAGE comics doesn't actually own any of the characters, stories or content is publishes. Everything is own by the creators and artists.   IMAGE changed the industry for creators and artists.   The creators of Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, were pretty much broke when Superman: The Movie debuted.   Thankfully, Neal Adams stepped in and got Siegel and Shuster much overdue royalties. Bill Finger was also screwed out of credit and monetary compensation for his part in creating Batman.  IMAGE makes sure that doesn't happen with their content creators.   IMAGE has become an amazing alternative to the capes and tights.

In many ways, Todd McFarlane and IMAGE changed the industry for the better.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Darth_Primus said:

 

That's statement right there is the biggest reason why the comic book industry nearly imploded in the 90s.

I don't feel Todd McFarlane or IMAGE played any major role on the near collapse of the comic book industry.  There are so many other factors that impacted the industry before with get to McFarlane and IMAGE comics.   I've been a comic book collector since the 1980s and I remember the industry before the boom and the bubble bursting.   I started collecting comics when they were still be sold on spinner racks at convenience stores; before boards and plastic bags were sold to protect comic books.

Of course there was the mass production of comic book titles and variant covers as Jay C mentions was the biggest cause of the boom and the subsequent bubble burst. In 1991, Jim Lee's artwork for X-Men #1 sold an estimated 8,186,500 copies, which is the best-selling comic book of all time, according to Guinness World Records.   That numbered is skewed because there were so many variant covers and collectors were buying more than one copy, much like toy collectors buying three figures of the same character (1 to keep and take out of package; 1 to keep MOC; 1 to trade or sell).  And because of those sales, the news and financial media looked into the comic industry and put out articles saying comic books are better investment than the stock market, which further fuel the boom in the purchasing of comic books, especially number 1 issues or the first appearance of a new character, or in one particular case, the death of the first super hero that was ever created.    The boom and bubble burst were created by would be "investors."   Thinking they could send their kids to college or retire on appreciated value of a comic book.  The comic book industry thought their sales numbers could be sustainable and the would be "investors" would turn into regular costumers and thought they tapped into the mainstream market, but that didn't happen.  When those would be "investors" stopped buying comic books, that's when the bubble burst.  

Marvel did lose it market share when the seven IMAGE founders left the company, but that didn't cause Marvel to file for bankruptcy and sell off the movie rights to Spider-Man, X-Men, the Fantastic Four, etc.  Marvel filed for bankruptcy 1996 because they helped inflate sustainable sales and based a lot of their financial forecasts and plans on those faulty numbers.

Todd McFarlane and IMAGE did not influence the boom in comic book industry the way the news and financial media did, as it got non-comic book collectors into buying comic books.  McFarlane and IMAGE were a flash in the pan during the boom.    I did a quick search and the only IMAGE title that's is mentioned as being one of the best selling comic book of all time is SPAWN No.1 at around 1.7 million copies.  I bought like three or four copies of that issue.  

As shown in the link/graph below, Marvel sales started spiraling downward before IMAGE got off the ground; after the lofty sales of X-Men No.1.

https://www.comichron.com/vitalstatistics/marketsharesyearly.html

MarketSharesbyYear.jpg

The founders of IMAGE were primarily 20 year something kids that thought they should get more compensation for their creations.   And when they didn't, they left the company.

I think Todd, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld and the others IMAGE founders revolutionized the artwork in comic books and that's why they were so successful and rockstars of the industry.   As Todd points out in the video above, Marvel was stagnant in their artwork.  Spider-Man was still being drawn pretty much the same way in the 60's.   Todd's editor at Marvel didn't like Spider-Man having the big eyes and the spaghetti webbing.   Because of Todd, we got the very dynamic web-swinging poses by Spider-Man.   As Todd said in the interview, he brought Spider-Man into the 1990s.  Obviously, Jim Lee did the same thing with the X-Men. 

Overall, I think McFarlance and IMAGE actually helped the industry over the years.  As Todd points out in the video above, IMAGE comics doesn't actually own any of the characters, stories or content is publishes. Everything is own by the creators and artists.   IMAGE changed the industry for creators and artists.   The creators of Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, were pretty much broke when Superman: The Movie debuted.   Thankfully, Neal Adams stepped in and got Siegel and Shuster much overdue royalties. Bill Finger was also screwed out of credit and monetary compensation for his part in creating Batman.  IMAGE makes sure that doesn't happen with their content creators.   IMAGE has become an amazing alternative to the capes and tights.

In many ways, Todd McFarlane and IMAGE changed the industry for the better.

 

 

But did they? I know it’s popular to vilify these companies when creators decided to sell their creations to those companies to make some money and when those characters weren’t popular, only to see those companies take those characters and make them hugely popular and make lots of money from them, and having those creators have to watch that and not be able to take part in those profits, but did you ever think if those creators hadn’t sold those characters, perhaps they wouldn’t have become as popular as they are today? 

IDK, yes they were great artists and they helped propel Marvel  to greatness in the 90’s but then they got greedy and wanted a bigger portion of the pie, so they took their ball and tried to go out on their own, but did they ever really create anything better? Again if I had been in their place I might have made the same decision so I am not trying to vilify them for what they did and it certainly seemed to benefit the likes of McFarlane, Liefeld and Lee, but did it really benefit the industry as a whole? I don’t really see it did.

As for the collecting aspect. Your right. Once something is deemed ‚Äúcollectible‚ÄĚ the¬†chances of it ever holding¬†real value at that point becomes slim to none. Those early comics are valuablee because people didn‚Äôt buy them to collect them. They bought them to read them. They were rolled up, crumpled up and tossed to the floor, not saved in bags and backboards to be kept in pristine condition for years to come. Which means there a few of those¬†early comics left in good condition, hence now valuable, while the ones everyone took care of are a dime a dozen, hence have little to no¬†value.¬†

This is why IMO things like Funko POP figures are just a bubble waiting to burst. The value of them has been artificially created by the company in order to boost sales. Short time flippers might be able to make some money but eventually I think people will find they have nothing but a bunch of worthless plastic.

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Would Superman be as popular if Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster didn't sell the rights to the character to DC? Probably not, as DC was able to exploit the character beyond what Siegel and Shuster could have dreamed.   But that's not issue. Does exploiting a comic book character in different mediums (i.e. movies, TV, cartoons video games) and for merchandising (i.e. toys, t-shirts, mugs, costumes, etc.) make the comic book industry better? I don't think so.  The MCU hasn't translated into another boom for Marvel comic book sales. I believe the issue is, were Siegel and Shuster properly compensated?  The answer was no.   As WB/DC rightfully paid Siegal and Shuster for their creation after Neal Adams went to bat for them.

This also happened to Jack Kirby, and thus he left Marvel and went to DC.

Yes, McFarlane, Liefeld, Lee and others wanted a bigger piece of the pie.  I can't honestly say that equates to being greedy.  I don't know what they were actually being paid by Marvel.  That, if Marvel was still paying artists by the page, like Jack Kirby, rather than the value they add to the company, than I'd tend to think McFarlane and company were actually being under paid.   McFarlane, Liefeld and Lee and the others didn't like what they were getting paid nor having any ownership rights in the characters they created (i.e. Venom, Deadpool, etc.) and quit.   I don't believe them quitting Marvel made the industry worse in anyway.

McFarlane, Liefeld, Lee and the others were just pandering to the current market trends, where art and the artist sold books.   Is it their fault for the consumers' appetite?  The purchasing motivations of comic book collectors?   As Todd notes, it made these 20 something year olds very rich very quickly.  But did these 20 something year olds hurt the comic book industry with their superficial comic books?  Did they make the comic book industry worse by starting IMAGE?  I say no.   Marvel brought back Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld for "Heroes Reborn" but that was a failure.  So, even though two of the IMAGE founders returned to Marvel, it still suffered from low comic book sales.  While IMAGE comics still continued onwards, allowing for new and undiscovered talent like a Robert Kirkman create something that's not in the wheel house of Marvel's or DC's tights and capes characters.   It allows a creator like Brian K. Vaughan to absolutely own 100% of his creations like Saga. 

Over the years, IMAGE pivoted from being an artist driven comic book publisher, to more of a writers driven publisher.   

From Wiki:

Starting in 2009, Image began to greatly expand both the types of comics it publishes and the types of creators drawn to the publisher, beginning a period of critical acclaim. Among its award-winning series, are Chew, Morning Glories, Fatale, The Manhattan Projects, and Saga. 

Image's sales grew significantly during this period to a market share of around 10% in 2015, and an influx of Marvel- and DC-associated creators began publishing creator-owned work with them. As a result, Image was voted Diamond Comic Distributors' Publisher of the Year Over 4% three years in a row between 2013 and 2015. By this time, a clear majority of titles Image published in a given month were non-studio productions. 

Image Comics titles boast multiple award nominations and wins across all categories in the Eisner Awards, Hugo Awards, Russ Manning Awards, The Edgar Awards, Bram Stoker Awards, Young Adult Library Association’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens, and more. Image Comics’ title list includes domestic and international bestsellers with regular appearances on The New York Times bestseller list, The Washington Post’s bestseller list, USA Today’s bestseller list, the Amazon.com bestseller list, and more.

In July 2018, Marjorie Liu won the Eisner Award for Best Writer for her work on Monstress, making her the first woman in history to win in the category.

In April 2019, Image Comics titles received a total 30 Eisner Award nominations‚ÄĒmore than any other nominated publisher‚ÄĒand made history as the first publisher to sweep the Best New Series category,¬†with all six titles nominated published by Image.

McFarlane and IMAGE has made the comic book industry better, by allowing creators and artists to owner their creations and hard work.   It also allow more freedom to create that what Marvel or DC would be able to offer as both Marvel and DC are owned by huge corporations like Disney and Time Warner, which like to side on family friendly content.   So IMAGE creates more alternative stories and ideas to be published and an alternative to the big two.    IMAGE may have arguably started off as an upstart/revolutionist type of company, but it has become a haven for creators.   I can clearly see how IMAGE made the comic book industry better.

 

 

 

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Image comics definitely made it better for comic books in the same way McFarlane Toys changed the entire toy industry. I think most of what I wanted to say has already been stated above so hopefully I can add to the conversation and not just repeat everything already stated. Those guys that left Marvel and started Image may not have made the best stories or comic books but they were different and caused the other big 2 to up their game. The art just stands apart from everything else even if you don’t like it you still notice it and talk about it. The comic book bubble may have burst but  it was going to burst eventually anyway with or without Image comics. And even if comic books were to go away completely a guy like Todd McFarlane is going to figure out a way to get his art and stories out into the world. Although I have to admit I do question that when it comes to the Spawn movie that seems to be stuck in development hell. Either way I don’t think the guys at image did anything to hurt the comic industry. Todd wanted to do a lot of things and those things cost money so in order to get more money he had to sell as many books as he could and once he became successful he started up his own toy company, made a movie, a cartoon series, music videos, album covers it just goes on and on. I think the biggest change and greatest thing image comics achieved is creating a place for someone to come and have total creative control of their own properties. 

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