Image Comics has never had an imprint before. It has had studios, and lines within studios, such as Wildstorm, Top Cow, Shadowline, Cliffhanger, Skybound and more. But this seems very different indeed.
As Eric Stephenson is heading into his 12th year as Image Comics Publisher, and his second year as a Member of the Board of Directors at Image Comics, he is already looking ahead to plans for the company's 30th anniversary in 2022.
Informed sources tell Bleeding Cool that he is quietly working with an A-List group of creators to launch the first of a number of official Image Comics imprints. Lines of new content that will be curated by these creators themselves with Stephenson's direct involvement.
Current brands Skybound, Top Cow, and Shadowline are often referred to as "imprints", but they all are owned and operated by studios independently from the Image Central office. With these new imprints, we'd see Stephenson working alongside these top writers/artists to explore a variety of new formats and expand Image Comics' influence into new markets.
DC Comics has similar with Young Animal, Wonder Comics and now Hill House. Dark Horse has Berger Books and IDW has – or rather had – Black Crown.
Eric Stephenson's time at the helm as publisher has kept Image locked securely in that number three comic book publisher position behind DC and Marvel, after previously being more used to be fourth and fifth place, for coming up on ten years in a row now. Could it be that this move is part of a plan to get them closer to leapfrogging DC Comics into second place?
Could this be Image's version of DC's Black Label? One that they're not actually embarrassed to be publishing?