Image Expo 2014: Keynote Address

Maya Zach ’17/ Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Image Expo kicked off with a keynote address given by Image Comics publisher Eric Stephenson. He discussed Image’s success in 2013 and his expectations for the coming year.

2013 boasts the fifth straight year of unprecedented growth for Image. Not only did their sales rise, but many Image comics are being recognized for their quality and success. For the second year in a row, The Walking Dead has been the most sold comic. Image has also dominated in trade paperback; having published six of the top ten most sold TPBs in 2013. But Image is not stopping at physical comics; Image has become a much larger presence in the digital comic industry, as well. Not only are their comics sold on Comixology and iTunes, but The Walking Dead has its own smartphone application solely for the comics.

Following his short address, Stephenson brought out creators, writers, and artists to announce and discuss their new series coming to Image in 2014.

Photo by Maya Zach of Emertainment Monthly.
Photo by Maya Zach of Emertainment Monthly.

Robert Kirkman: Kirkman promised major changes to his series Invincible with issue #111 (Which happens to be artist Ryan Otley’s 100th issue). Invincible will be taking a darker turn and will become increasingly more violent. It comes with three firsts, “a bold new direction,” “a startling new era,” and it is “for a new generation.” It is almost like a new series.

Kirkman’s new series Outcast stars Kyle Barnes, a man who has been possessed by demons his entire life. The story begins as Kyle decides to set his life in order by discovering more about demons and why they chose him. This leads him into a dark world that he can no longer escape from. Outcast will hit the shelves in June 2014 with a super-sized 40-page issue for just $2.99.

In 2002-2003, Kirkman wrote Tech Jacket, a series that he (and many readers) believes was prematurely cancelled. Image has decided to return to the story with Tech Jacket Digital, a three-part miniseries written by Joe Keatinge. All three issues are currently available for purchase exclusively on Image’s website. In one week, they will also become available for purchase on Comixology.

Leila Del Duca: Artist Leila Del Duca makes her Image Comics debut on Shutter, a new series written by Joe Keatinge. After becoming a famed explorer, Kate Kristopher shied away from the spotlight in order to live a normal life. But she is quickly drawn back into the world of ninjas, demons and monsters. Check your local comic book store for Shutter on April 9th.

Brandon Graham: Graham is working with numerous collaborators on a new project, 8House. The series centers on 8 magical houses (the Illuminati Eight) that control everything in the fantastical universe. There will be everything from Cthulhu monsters to astral projections. 8House will be released in 2014.

Joshua Williamson: What if someone you loved was a serial killer? Williamson explores this question with his new series Nailbiter. This horror series focuses on the fictional town that produces the highest number of serial killers. An FBI agent and an NSA agent work together to try to uncover what is going wrong in this town. Nailbiter will be available in May 2014.

Jim Valentino: Image founder and Shadowline Comic publisher announces Ted McKeever’s new series, The Superannuated Man, with no information other than that it is “equally [as] weird” as his previous work. The Superannuated Man will be released in June.

Rick Remender: Though Deadly Class has yet to release it’s first issue (on January 22nd), Remender introduces his new project, Low, which he describes as an “aquatic sci-fi fantasy.” After the sun has engulfed the Earth, only a few underwater cities remain. But once another inhabitable planet is discovered, the survivors start to make their way up from the bottom of the ocean to the new world. Low will make its debut in July 2014.

Matt Fraction: Fraction is proud to announce the Acedia, the fourth volume of his series Casanova will be released in 2014. He has enlisted Michael Chabon to write backup stories for the series.

Though the Grecian Odyssey has been retold countless times, Fraction’s take is incredibly fresh and completely new. Ody-C follows the stories the Odyssey and other Grecian myths, but takes place in space. Oh, and every mythological figure has swapped genders. Expect this in stores in 2014.

Kelly Sue DeConnick: DeConnick’s new series, Bitch Planet, is about women in prison in space. The jailbreak comic will be done in a way reminiscent of prison movies in the 1970s. DeConnick promises it will be a humorous and smart comic that will be tastefully done. This ongoing series will make its debut in 2014.

Nick Spencer: Spencer is writing three new series for Image in 2014, making four series with Morning Glories. Though none of the three have release dates, they are all expected for a 2014 release.

Great Beyond takes place in the afterlife in a society where the amount of money you have rules how you fair. Once someone commits suicide, the inhabitants of the afterlife begin to wonder what their lives are truly like. The comic explores commercialism and the emptiness of life.

Spencer describes his next series, Paradigms, as a combination of Game of Thrones and a spy thriller. It centers on warring clans of magic-users, but is set in present day.

Spencer’s final comic announcement was Cerulean, a series about the last survivors on Earth who arrive on a new planet in the very distant future after uploading their sub consciousness to a computer. They explore this new world and do everything they can to survive.

James Robinson: Robinson announced that he will be turning Saviors, his five-part series into a longer story with new characters and a new story.

Airboy is a 1940s comic about fighter pilots in WWII. Now Robinson is recreating it in a semi-autobiographical format. Robinson is placing himself and artist Greg Hinkle into Airboy’s story to create a more personal, incredibly original comic. Robinson promises both full frontal nudity and cyborg Nazis in this new series.

Nick Dragotta: Dragotta and his wife came up with the idea for an educational children’s comic, Howtoons. Rather than writing the series himself, he gave the idea to Fred Van Lente, Tom Fowler, and Jody Bellaire to create. The first arc teaches children about renewable energy after the fictional world runs out of energy.

Kyle Higgins: C.O.W.L. takes place in the world of Higgins’ short movie The League. The Chicago Organized Workers League is a superhero labor union formed in the aftermath of WWII on the assumption that heroes can be more successful if they work full time. But now that all of the major villains have been killed, what is next in store for these heroes? Find out in May 2014.

Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie: The dynamic duo work together once again on The Wicked and the Divine. Every 90 years, twelve gods are reincarnated on Earth for two years to protect and fix the Earth like superheroes. But in 2014, a thirteenth god is born. Each of the gods follows a common archetype and the story explores themes from popular culture such as fame. The Wicked and the Divine will hit stores in the summer of 2014.

Chris Burnham: Burnham is doing the art for Grant Morrison’s new project Nameless. All he could announce was that the series is a “straight up, balls-to-the-wall horror.”

Bill Willingham: After gods and magic have been contained for three millennia, they break out and the entirety of magic is released upon the world. Within just the first day, over a billion people died. The magic was contained for a reason… Restoration will hit comic book stores in 2014.

Scott Snyder: Snyder is attempting to produce the absolute scariest horror comic in stores with Wytches. What people thought were witches during the Salem witch trials were simply witch worshippers; real witches are infinitely more horrible, to say the least, they are primal and cannibalistic. The dark, twisted story is matched in kind with Jock’s art style.

Ed Brubaker: Brubaker and Sean Phillips signed a 5-year contract with Image to create just about any comic they please, which gives them complete freedom and control. This is an unprecedented deal in the comic book industry; nothing like it has ever been signed before. To start the partnership with Image, they are producing The Fade Out, which is a noir comic set in 1940s Hollywood.

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