iFanboy’s 2012 Publisher of the Year: Image Comics

2012 was a great–and raucous–year for comic books. Hell, the publisher that was named iFanboy’s Publisher of the Year for 2011 fell so hard and so fast, creatively, that they didn’t even rate a mention this year, a year that saw an avalanche of quality comics and books taking creative chances that have the whole industry talking. When the editors of iFanboy sat down to decide on the Publisher of the Year for 2012, it was perhaps the quickest discussion we’ve ever had. There wasn’t even a real debate, but there was an honorable mention.


The iFanboy 2012 Publisher of the Year – Runner-Up:

Marvel Comics_LogoMarvel Comics

After DC Comics stole the show in 2011, all eyes went across the street to see what Marvel Comics would do in response. As 2012 progressed, the comments we’d heard from inside Marvel of “we don’t follow…” were looking to remain true. When the time came around for Marvel’s “response” to DC’s relaunch, it took the form of Marvel NOW!, and while conceptually the idea of a major publishing initiative did follow DC Comics, Marvel took their moment to make it their own. Paying attention to what worked and what didn’t for DC, Marvel announced a line wide relaunch with Marvel NOW! that would maintain continuity of the stories and characters, but shake things up on the creator side of things. In doing so, whether it was planned or not, the relaunch also gave a shot in the arm to the creativity coming out of Marvel, with the quality coming out of the gate showing significant increase. Having the gusto to do a line wide relaunch over the span of several months, while moving creators around could have been a risk, but it’s a risk that paid off. Early indicators show hits with Uncanny Avengers, All-New X-Men, Thor: God of Thunder, and Avengers. Much like DC last year, the question for 2013 will be whether or not they can keep it up. But as of right now, Marvel definitely put in a strong showing in 2012.

The iFanboy 2012 Publisher of the Year:

ICE_logo_plain_featureImage Comics

Energy. Creativity, Variety. Imagination. Skill. Hunger. New. Classic. It’s kind of impossible to pin down what makes Image Comics so vital in just a few words. That’s because the publisher excels in the sheer scope of their publishing diversification. As a reader who wants something other than superheroes (or even some superheroes), Image Comics is the first stop. They’re a Greek diner with dozens of massive pages of food that doesn’t seem to belong on the same menu. But almost everything on that menu is worth trying. Most of it is very good. Here’s a taste of what a reader could get from Image in 2012: Fatale, Happy!, It Girl, Glory, Prophet, The Activity, Peter Panzerfaust, 27, Invincible, The Manhattan Projects, Great Pacific, Skullkickers, The Darkness, Revival, Thief of Thieves, and the list goes on. Honestly, they’d probably have won just for Walking Dead and Saga. Image Comics is the place to get an idea of what comics can really do that isn’t based on characters who are fifty years old. There’s nothing wrong with that obviously, but if that’s all comics were (as it is to many), it would be a much more boring industry.

But that’s not all. If you’re a creator with your own IP who wants to reach audience, Image Comics is increasingly the only place to go. The creator owns the property 100%. All extraneous proceeds go to the creator. As a result, Image Comics is where big creators are taking their properties. The deals at Vertigo and Icon aren’t as attractive, and creators are taking the chance on themselves, and going to Image. If you’re getting started, it’s also the place to be. If you can produce a comic that Image thinks good enough, you get your shot. You’re in comics.

For all these reasons, when it came time to pick the premier publisher in 2012, there was no other choice than Image Comics, but mostly because they do it differently, and do it well.


  1. Agreed!

  2. Image ftw…DC-runner up

  3. I know that you’re “taste of” list was by no means exhaustive… but how’d you leave off ‘Chew’? Easily one of their best, and gets a lot of Pulls on iFanboy too.

  4. Marvel’s high prices, eager shipping frequency, and confusing “it’s non-reboot” fiasco should earn DC the runner up spot. Definitely agree that Image is doing more interesting things overall though.

    • Except Marvel put out better quality books on a whole then DC in 2012. And a lot of us had no interest in a reboot, so that’s not a negative.

    • There is just way too much greedy Marvel does wrong for me to be a fan.

    • I agree… Marvel’s greedy shipping policy, and forcing a huge Ultron Crossover less than 10 issues into their Marvel Now campaign have pretty much ruined the company for me.

    • Again, Marvel put out better books then DC in 2012. I’m not a huge fan of double shipping either, but Marvel’s business practices to not justify not recognizing the quality books they are putting out.

    • I like how Marvel is the greedy one when DC enacted a company-wide reboot of 52 books simply to entice people to buy as many “new” books as possible. Please explain to me how DC is not greedy.

    • Double-shipping is greedy, pure & simple.

      Especially considering how nearly all ‘true beleivers’ that have expressed an opinion, criticise the subsequent reduction in quality it causes.

      And DC don’t do it.

    • @drumanespic: Oh I agree that double shipping is greedy, totally agree with that. I’m just saying DC has also displayed some pretty greedy behavior in 2012. While the new 52 certainly launched some well done books it was a pure marketing and sales tactic. I think pretty much every DC “true believer” would tell you that the quality of most has really fallen off. I have seen countless comments on this site alone from people saying they have gone from readin 10 or 12 new 52 books to only 2 or 3 over the course of 2012. My point here was it’s not really fair to call Marvel greedy without saying the same about DC.

    • @uspunx – when it comes to issues of current quality of output, I agree with you. I’m buying 40% less DC comics than 2 years ago.

      I have no problem with ‘gimmicks’ like crossovers & ‘deaths of. . .’. The question is always, are they any good? Goodness knows, they certainly sell, regardless of publisher. However, it’s always an opt-in proposition.

      And, I have no problem with a publisher wanting to sell more comics. In my opinion, DC seem to have adopted a dogmatic editorial policy that’s hampering, not enabling the output of good comics.

      But, when it comes to the topic in hand, comparable ‘greed’, well double-shipping takes it to a whole new level. You love(d) Amazing Spider-Man? Well, you’ve gotta double your monthly budget to keep with it.

      That’s a cynical tactic that DC have yet to stoop to, in spite of the other areas where I feel they’re not hitting the mark. So, yes, I say that Marvel are greedier than DC. And, I think tallying the facts bears that out.

    • Yeah those are all good points, I suppose you have convinced me! Marvel is the greedier! I think I am just more prone to forgive them because overall I like their books much much more than DC. I am currently reading 4 Marvel books but only 1 DC. But you are correct, double shipping is a pretty unabashedly greedy tactic.

    • I don’t understand the inherent “greediness” of double shipping. Why must comics stick to a once-a-month schedule? Why can’t they be released twice a month, or even weekly? Just because monthly is the norm does not mean that that’s the way it should be for every single title out there. If you don’t like double shipping, then don’t buy any titles that double ship. You have a plethora of other means to read the comics, including waiting for a comixology sale, picking them up in trades, subscribe to the MDCU or subscribing to the comic via marvel (which nets you a big discount, which may make a double shipped book seem more enticing).

    • @Scarlet-Batman: I thought that way for a while too but I think you answered your own question. Double shipping is greedy BECAUSE no one else does it, it breaks the industry standard simply to make more money. I consider something to be greedy if its sole motivation is to make more money rather than offering something of benefit to the customer.

      As an example lets look at two different and relatively recent Marvel policies. First, increasing the price of certain comics to $3.99. I know a lot of people had a problem with this but it didn’t bother me nearly as much as others because the reason for the price increase of a handfull of Marvel’s top books was done to offset the cost of some of their smaller books. So raising the price on a few allowed Marvel to continue printing more books than it otherwise might have done. So I was okay with that, the business decision also offered something of benefit to me as a customer.

      Now double shipping. If I want to read a book like Avengers I will have to buy it twice a month (almost three times really if you include the closely linked New Avengers title) if I want to keep up with the story. Sure you could make the argument that it’s a book a like so reading it twice as often is a benefit but honestly I’d much rather wait and read it once a month and save the money. This is a personal choice so some people might see this as a benefit, I do not. Next, the double shipping schedule requires twice as much from the creators. This has only been going on for a few months so it’s hard to say this with certainty yet but it only makes sense that this will put a lot more pressure on creators and very likely lead to a decrease in overall quality. I think for most people, myself included, this is the chief concern with double shipping and the primary reason it seems greedy. It is a practice that makes Marvel a lot more money, double what they would normally make on the same book, and not only dones’t have an added benefit for the customer, it very likely could be a detriment to the customer in the form of decreased quality. To continue with my Avengers example just look at Jonathan Hickman. He’s writing Avengers, New Avengers, East of West, Manhattan Projects, and Secret. He’s already writing five books and by double shipping Avengers he’s really writing six. Double shipping also completely eliminates the potential for a long run on a book by a single artist. There is just no way an artist can keep up with that schedule for more than an arc or maybe two.

      So all in all, after some personal reflection and a conversation with Drumanespic, I find it pretty hard to see double shipping as anything but greedy.

    • Marvel is the greedier because of high prices (forced to buy the digital) and double shipments. The idea behind the greediness of the double ship is that it now costs me double to read a story I might like. Add to that the fact that most double shipped books have alternating artists and you realize that quality is no longer as important as quantity. I personally budget my comic book purchases, and when a $4 book decides to double-ship at random 6+ months of the year it throws me off. I personally like to read my comics once a month, the week they come out, and then I reread at the end of an arc. I like time to digest my comics, and I don’t want to pay the price of cell phone service every month just to read X-Men. DC did a shabby reboot, but they have kept to their 2.99 and have been consistent on quality (albeit low as of late).

  5. Image typically leading the way with originality & great creative integrity, I expect another flawlessly great year from them!

  6. DC has roughly 52 comics on the stands…. I get 2. I honestly forgot about some of those Image titles were from Image. They are an absolute hit machine.

  7. Image crushed it so hard this year. They could have taken a break six months ago and still been publisher of the year.

    Marvel did great too. I personally think that Now! is more the aftermath of AvX than a reboot, but even if you think it was an answer to the New 52, it’s hard to argue that Marvel wins out quality wise.

  8. Image has been putting out great stuff, and the variety of work is just amazing. Some creators are doing some really innovative things with storytelling and its always exciting to pick up a new Image book.

    If i had to make one small nitpick with some of the work, is that i’d love to see creators especially on the 2nd tier of Image books push the limits even further especially on the artistic side. You have the opportunity to do whatever you want with no editorial interference…don’t feel that you have to make work that looks like it could get approved at the big 2. Go crazy, take some bold creative risks.

    When we the fans talk about wanting new ideas in comics, we’re not just talking about writing.

  9. Can’t really argue with Image being the leader.

    As for runner-up it’s a toss-up for me between Fantagraphics, Top Shelf and Dark Horse

    Dark Horse has put out some great new series this year like Mind MGMT, the new Brian Wood Conan and 47 Ronin, they’re also killing it with everything in the Mignolaverse. I’m also loving the digitally discounted (after a month+bundling) Dark Horse Presents, at that price it’s an absolute killer value. All that plus new mini’s by Peter Bagge and Gilbert Hernandez? Great year for Dark Horse.

    Top Shelf have been releasing new (and back-catalog) digital books for insanely low prices every week, I’ve bought at least one Top Shelf book every week this year and haven’t been let down once. I’ve read a ton of new (to me) James Kochalka, Jeffrey Brown and dozens of creators. They are easily one of the most consistently fantastic publishers around.

    Fantagraphics has had one hell of a year releasing great new OGNs like Barack Hussein Obama, The Hypo, Athos in America and Black Lung, they release some of the highest quality collections of old material like Walt Kelly’s Pogo, Krazy & Ignatz, Prince Valiant and the Complete Crumb and they’re the home of Love and Rockets. No one cares as much about the history of comics as them and very few publishers can touch their level of quality when it comes to new material. Also they’ve finally started releasing some stuff digitally (although it’s usually too expensive for my tastes)

    It’s been a great fucking year for me as a comic fan 🙂

  10. Couldn’t agree more about Image. Every new series they put out last year was different, bold, and entertaining. And they still had sure bets in Walking Dead, Invincible, and Chew. AND let’s not forget they have the Top Cow imprint, which had its own Rebirth recently with mainstay books like Darkness and Witchblade.

    Runner-ups for me is a tie between Dark Horse and IDW. Dark Horse because they have Mike Mignola and Brian Wood. IDW because they made My Little Pony a best-seller.(if that doesn’t qualify, I don’t know what does)…

  11. Couldn’t agree more with this pick. I have pretty much never bought Image comics until this year, and now I buy more Image than any other company. They are cranking out the best comics n the stands. Saga, mind the Gap, Manhattan Projects, that alone would have them win for me!

  12. I actually think Archaia had a stronger year this year despite the numerous delays. Like Josh said last year, they’re one of the few companies actually trying to expand the comics market. They diversify: they publish both all-ages content (the true mainstream) as well as satisfy the art comix/comic lit crowd; they translate fantastic foreign comics in conjunction with developing original properties. And even though their reputation seems to be the publisher that puts out GNs in nice packages, they don’t treat the content on the pages secondary to nice paper stock. They’d be my pick with either Fantagraphics or Image as the runner-up.

  13. It was wise to post this “Publisher of the Year” article before your “By The Numbers” article since it reveals that Marvel actually, in your joint opinions, puts out the top book, weekly. Before you get in a huff, consider several things…and then I’ll consider some.

    1. While an argument about the total of Image books being better than the total of Marvel books may have some validity, I must point out that of the 12 POWs that were Image books, 4 pics (1/3) were the same book (Saga).

    2. There are five primarily Marvel artists (this past year) on your best of artist list. That’s more than Image…I believe…that can be double checked.

    3. On the best single issue list, you have 2 Image books and 6 Marvel.

    Now to be fair, some of the iFanboy lists did include more Image writers, than Marvel (best 2012 writers list). Also, when thinking about the POW choices, it is possible that the runner up books could have been Image books on weeks when another Image, or other non-marvel, books won. Sometimes all of the good stuff comes out in one week. Also, sometimes you 3 are just not on your game. I’d like to see the POW data for what fans considered the top picks. Which publisher’s books did fans most often pick? That may very well be Image.

    In summary, I understand your conclusion on a gut level, but by the numbers…it does not compute! Errorrrr.

    • “It was wise to post this “Publisher of the Year” article before your “By The Numbers” article since it reveals that Marvel actually, in your joint opinions, puts out the top book, weekly.”

      This would be true if our view of the industry as a whole was reflected by the Pick of the Week. It’s not. The Pick of the Week is a reflection of a particular weeks worth of books as seen by a particular editor at iFanboy on a particular week. Can you surmise trends from a year’s worth of data? Sure. But it’s also not comprehensive. It doesn’t take into account trade paperbacks, for one thing. I read 95% of my Image books in trades which means they won’t get as many Picks from me which eliminates one third of their chances to get a Pick of the Week.

      As for the year end lists, those are all personal to the writers writing them. If you saw the editorial staff compiling those lists then they would look differently. But even if they weren’t different, it wouldn’t matter, because it’s not all about numbers.

      Last year we named DC Comics the publisher of the year not because it had the most Picks of the Week or because it had the most appearances on the Best of lists, but for many reasons, not all of them quantifiable in numbers and lists. Just like Image Comics this year.

    • So what your saying is…Image is due to have a horrible year, this year. After you picked DC…it plummeted from iFanboy’s and many readers favor. Your “Publisher Pick of the Year” is like the Madden cover course!

    • curse

    • You can’t go just buy the numbers, that’s crazy. The Oscars doesn’t give the best picture award to the film with the highest ticket sales. Quality is not quantifiable based purely on numbers and sales. Kristen Stewart has two of the top 15 grossing films of 2012, does that mean she is the best actress of the year? Of course not.

    • I didn’t mention sales.

    • It was just an example that numbers, any numbers, wether the ifanboys amount of books picked or sales, aren’t a measure of quality. Just an example to make the point. Got it?

    • I would say their “numbers” are a little more inline with something like a Rotten Tomatoes measuring scale. Since their numbers are based on weekly gut and opinion nominations for Picks of the Week and these end of the year lists, it feels like the numbers represent their opinions over time.

      In the case of Rotten Tomatoes, movies with high reviews are more often nominated for prestigious awards than movies with lower reviews. In the case of your Kristen Stewart example, her films while grossing a lot of money have not done so well recently in the Tomato Meter (the average rating of critics who liked or disliked a film). Now of course, I high review doesn’t guarantee an Oscar, but you’re more likely to get one when you are on a movie with consistent good reviews.

      I would argue some numbers are good measurements of quality. You just need to know what numbers to look at.

  14. Head to chime in with more of the same, but I totally agree. Image knocked it out of the park this year. I am buying more Image books than ever, #2 in terms of which publisher’s books I buy.

  15. For me, DC had a pretty good year but then again I don’t buy every single thing the company releases. All the Batman books (and family tie-ins), Sweet Tooth, Aquaman, Dial H, Talon, and OMAC (R.I.P) were constantly great. I admit that Marvel has improved in 2012 but it really only happen towards the tail end of the year for me. I have a feeling that this year, with so much more titles to buy, Marvel is going to have a come back year.

    But yeah, Image is the downright winner just for the shear amount of new series to come out. Manhattan Projects, Chew, and Saga alone are good reasons to be the best.

  16. Opinions opinions, mine is that DC was the best. I always feel like DC is in the back burner listening to the podcast. Not a whole lot of love for Justice League, Batman is the best it has ever been, especially this Joker story. None of the issues from 12+ have been POTW. It’s okay, though. I’m able to hear about great Marvel and Image books on the podcast.

  17. Dynamite for 2013?