This morning I speculated San Francisco-based illustrator Justin Greenwood could be one of the unannounced guests at 2014’s Image Expo. This assumption was predicated on the teases released yesterday regarding his new project with Wastelanders writer Antony Johnston. All we knew was that it was a comic book, it takes place beyond the geocorona of Earth, and it would be titled The Fuse. This evening we still don’t know if Greenwood will be at Image Expo, but we do have much more information regarding The Fuse. Image released a description of the title, an interview with Johnston, and a release date of February (one month after Image Expo, so I up my ante and add an Image Expo exclusive of The Fuse issue one to the pot). Johnston described the series to Image:
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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.
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