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:
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:
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.