Considering how successful the 2012 and 2013 Image Expos were for the 21-year-old company it comes as a no surprise the company’s hosting a third in 2014. The surprise in the announcement is that Image Expo will be making a return to San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts only six months after the previous expo.
Image seems to have learned that by hosting a solo event they can command headlines in a way that’s impossible during a large convention due to the “quantity over quality” convention reporting of many comic news websites. By hosting the Image Expo on January 9 the company is carving out a little island in the middle of what amounts to the convention doldrums. In recent years the headline producing convention season has been book-ended by Emerald City in March and either Comikaze Expo or New York Comic Con in October or November. There are very good reasons for not hosting a convention between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, but it’s important to remember that the Image Expo is first and foremost for retailers and media. Image has essentially adopted and twisted the convention model used by large companies who want to get all of their clients in one place to announce new product developments or highlight best uses.
In 2012, Image Expo was criticized for the lack of female creators on the stage. While not completely excusable (there were a number of titles being promoted that featured women) it is worth noting that Image Expo, unlike traditional conventions, had a much smaller pool of creators to tap when navigating availability and schedules. The company has made efforts to not repeat that error with 33 percent of their 2014 announced creators being women. Taking the stage will be Pretty Deadly‘s co-creator Kelly Sue DeConnick and Beast‘s Marian Churchland. Churchland has kept busy doing beautiful illustrations for titles such as Elephantmen and Madame Xanadu, but hasn’t released a solo book since Beast, so it’s likely she’ll be announcing a new project.
Other creators in attendance will include Super Dinosaur‘s Robert Kirkman, Satellite Sam‘s Matt Fraction, Fear Agent‘s Rick Remender, and Prophet‘s Brandon Graham. Kirkman, Fraction, and Remender were also in attendance at Image Expo 2013 to announce new projects or give updates on existing endeavors.
Kirkman will likely be adding Outcast to the already healthy list of items he can discuss at Image Expo. Hollywood Reporter broke the news yesterday that Kirkman’s yet to be published comic was officially being optioned by Cinemax after a “multiple cable network bidding war.” The news comes on the heels of Valiant Entertainment contesting Kirkman’s use of the name “Outcast” because they have a character with the same name. That character has yet to see the light of day in the new Valiant Universe and only made a one-shot appearance in the old Valiant Universe, but it’s a trademark the company has fought to protect in the past. In 2011, Boom! changed the title of a new book from Outcast to Valen the Outcast at the behest of Valiant. It’ll be interesting to see if Marvel steps in as Kirkman’s Outcast deals with demonic possession and Marvel has a rarely used demon character named Outcast.
Who else will be appearing at Image Expo? My best bet is (unfounded speculation alert!) on San Francisco-based illustrator Justin Greenwood. Greenwood is the current illustrator on Antony Johnston‘s Wasteland and yesterday the duo started teasing a joint project to be published with Image called The Fuse. Not much is known about the title yet other than the tagline “22,000 miles up, there is no backup.” As an aside, Johnston is dropping a new title this week with his Wasteland co-creator Chris Mitten called Umbral.
Seeing as Image Expo is in my backyard I’ll be paying close attention as expo day approaches. Stay tuned.