Image Comics may have retracted the statement they originally gave us about Joshua Luna's recent tweets accusing the publisher, and in particular an unnamed partner, of anti-POC double standards, but one Image founder took to Twitter to make a statement of his own. But first, a recap. Luna, one half of the Luna Brothers who have published numerous comics at Image over the years, said that his upcoming collection of web strips, Americanizasian: A Filipino American Comic Creator's Awakening, was originally greenlit "reluctantly" by the partner at Image but later rejected, with the partner comparing the book to a female political cartoonist's book and calling both "angry" and claiming they contained "no story for people to relate to."
Luna says that Image burned all remaining copies of a previous bestselling book of his and ceased digital sales on ComiXology after negotiations broke down. Additionally, Luna contrasted Image's defense of Howard Chaykin in upsetting readers with depictions of transgender women and Pakistani men in Divided States of Hysteria to their handling of Luna's book. Luna is seeking a new publisher who is "POC-friendly & supports the book's message and tone." Luna says it's "hard not to believe Image's behavior is discriminatory in light of this "double standard."
While Luna didn't name the Image partner in question, he did drop some clues. However, Image partner Erik Larsen took to Twitter to imply that Image Publisher Eric Stephenson is the partner Luna was referring to, and also to toss his own opinion into the mix, even though he noted this was the first time he's even heard of the book. Larsen said that Luna "crying racism and taking to Twitter is a classless move and absolutely unfounded."
Larsen went on to say:
Additionally, Luna elaborated on the response he's received from the comic, particular from the partner who Larsen implies is Eric Stephenson, who Luna says emailed him within hours of his initial tweets to call the posts "slander, libel, and outright lying." Luna was asked what resolution he hoped to achieve from the conflict in an interview on ComicsBeat, responding:
Within hours of going public with what happened, I received an email from the partner describing my post as slander, libel and outright lying. So honestly, the first thing I'm hoping for is to not get sued for speaking truthfully about how I was mistreated.
The next thing I want is to not get blacklisted. I think comics and the media industry as a whole has been dragging its feet in acknowledging the history and severity of anti-Asian narratives and imagery, to the point where it'd rather kill the messenger than acknowledge the message.
I also don't want to be discarded so that later on someone else who's "less angry" gets the opportunity to tell my story, especially if that person has white heritage. That'd only add insult to injury.
Overall, what I want is what I've wanted from the start: searching for a home to publish AMERICANIZASIAN so that I can tell my story in my own words.
In addition to seeking a new publisher, Luna is also looking to raise funds to cover the loss of income from the book's publication delay, either through donations or Patreon.
We reached out once again to Image Comics for comment on these new developments, and will update if they provide a statement.