Monday, February 12, 2007

My Favorite Comic Book Publishers

Just for fun, here is a list of my favorite comic book publishers:

Dark Horse Comics
Dark Horse is the company that got me back into reading comics. This was back in the early '90s, when they got the license to create new comics based on the Star Wars universe. I was in the throes of a huge Star Wars stage at that time in my life, so I picked up some of their titles, starting with Dark Empire and then moving on from there. And then, one day, I noticed that Dark Horse had a non-Star Wars miniseries on the shelves, Shadow Empires: Faith Conquers. It wasn't Star Wars, but it was sci-fi, and it looked good, so I tried it out. What do you know, I really like it. So I started checking out other Dark Horse titles, and from literally thousands of comics later, they still publish many of my favorite series, including the new Star Wars titles (Knights of the Old Republic being the best, IMHO) and Usagi Yojimbo.

Oni Press
Oni is what is known as an "independent publisher," focusing as they do on small print runs and non-licensed properties. I might not even know of Oni's existence, except for a chance encounter with Chynna Clugston's Blue Monday, which is a wonderful, though ribald, take on the American teenage experience. Ms. Clugston's participation in Hopeless Savages then led me to check out that series, which was also great, and Andi Watson has done some books for Oni, and so on and so forth.

Image Comics
Image is an interesting company, as they are strictly publishers who handle printing, distribution, and some limited advertising. They do not own the intellectual property rights to the works they publish, as those are maintained by the original creators. This is a marked contrast to the big boys (i.e., Marvel and DC), who make sure that they own everything that goes out on their main imprints. The upside to the Image model is that you get a huge variety of titles and story types, as pretty much only Image will take a shot on concepts like the Flight anthologies. The downside to their model is that since stories are owned by their creators, if the creators flake out on them, they can't bring in additional talent to finish out a series. Some promising stories have died out like this, but they never would have seen the light of day in the first place if not for Image.

Antarctic Press
Pretty much the only books from Antarctic that I read are those by Rod Espinosa (The Courageous Princess, Neotopia, etc.), but pretty much everything he puts out is great. I especially like the fact that a number of his titles are intentionally written to appeal to people of all ages, which is increasingly rare in the modern comic book industry. Neotopia is an exceptionally stellar title. That noted, Antarctic is also the home to such industry luminaries as Ben Dunn and Fred Perry, who were putting out manga and anime-influenced comics years before it was acceptable to do so.

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