By John Restuccia
It is another sad day for the failing comic book industry. Image Comics, a once pioneer in the industry, has voted to unionize – going woke. What was a comic book publisher known for breaking the rules may itself be broken by them.
For those unaware, during the 90’s, Image was created by 6 of the biggest names in comics at the time. Young guys who made an impact on the entertainment industry landscape at the time – selling the most popular comic book after book. Those names include Jim Lee, Rob Liefield, and Todd Mcfarlane. If the names aren’t familiar their jobs and movies of today are – Chief Creative Officer of DC comics, co-creator of Deadpool, and co-creator of Venom as well as Spawn.
Each of the creators grew tired of losing rights and royalties to the characters they put on pages. Thus they quit, leaving both Marvel and DC comics. An act unheard of at the time. All to form an independent comic publisher called Image Comics.
Image Comics is the third largest comic book publisher in the world. Even those who might not know comic books will recognize even more of the comic publishers biggest works. Entertainment including The Walking Dead, Spawn, Saga, and dozens more.
Image was founded on 2 simple principles. First, that Image Comics would not own any creator’s work – the creator would. Second was no Image partner would interfere – creatively or financially – with any other partner’s work. Image itself would own no intellectual property except the company trademarks – its name and its logo. These founding principles propelled Image Comics as a titan in the comic book industry.
Current day, things changed. Image Comics creators have gone union. 9 employees voted to unionize with the vote passing 7-2. Now the Comic Book Workers United are represented by the Communications Workers of America, one of the largest union groups in the United States.
This vote, even the comic book industry is in drastic decline, is unique. Of the top ten comic books of August 2021, only 2 sold over 100,000 issues. A reality unthinkable at Image ‘s origin. Slim profit margins, selling historically few issues month after month, keep hurting the industry. Despite such low sales and industry downturn, the Image union has made the demand more employees be hired at Image,
“Better overall product through the immediate addition of staff, particularly in Production and Marketing departments”. – Bounding into Comics 11/1/21
Demanding more staff in a failing thin profit margin industry may hurt Image Comics book publishing drastically. However, more offensive than this is the demand by the union for editorialization
Image was published on the idea of breaking conventions, publishing what the creator wanted. It was about taking risks on stories and characters that the big two (Marvel and DC) would not. However, Comic Book Workers United is ignoring what made Image Comics, The union wants control over what the company can publish.
“…renewed commitment to company values through the addition of a collective voting option to immediately cancel publication of any title whose creator(s) have been found to have engaged in abuse, sexual assault, racism and xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, ableism, etc. until such time as said creators have engaged in meaningful reparations toward affected person(s).”
The amount of politically correct buzzwords in that statement is head spinning on the 3rd reading of it. Unraveling the buzzwords, this means that the union can decide to cancel any titles they deem offensive. This is a completely backwards approach to what Image stood for – of creators not interfering with each other’s works. For creators to do whatever they wanted without anyone saying ‘you can’t do that.’ This simply shouts at being “get woke, go broke.” Yet another example of politically correct oversight from woke employees will only hurt Image Comics, short- and long-term.
What was once seen as the bad boys of comics, who broke all the rules, not caring about what others thought and instead focusing on telling the stories creators wanted, has seemingly become the woke corporate shills seen elsewhere. Sanitizing and injecting social justice into creators works takes away freedom. It reduces a once maveric and controversial comic book publisher, into another monolithic corporation bending to social justice warrior demands.
Sadly, being yet another on this unproductive fruitless creatively barren path of going woke, the comics industry, movies, television shows, even major league sports, may go broke. In the most literal sense.