Image Comics workers announce unionization, Image "committed to working through this process"

Comic Book Workers United logo
(Image credit: Comic Book Workers United)

Update: Image Comics has again responded to workers at the publisher announcing their intention to unionize (see below). 

In a statement issued November 5, the publisher announces: 

"Earlier this week, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) filed a representation petition with the National Labor Relations Board asking to hold a secret-ballot election so that eligible members of the Image Comics office staff can determine if they want the CWA to represent them in their employment with Image. The NLRB is currently reviewing that petition to determine when that election will be held, where it will take place, and who can vote.

"Everyone at Image is committed to working through this process, and we are confident that the resolution to these efforts will have positive long-term benefits."

Original story follows...

Employees of publisher Image Comics have begun the process of unionizing, as explained in a series of tweets from the newly organized Comic Book Workers United, which lays out the employees’ collective goals and demands as a union.

Image Comics issued a statement in response Monday evening. 

In the United States, labor unions are organizations comprised of members of a particular industry or trade who come together to ensure better working conditions for members of that field through collective bargaining. Though many entertainment fields, from writing, to directing, to acting, to journalism, and even music have labor unions associated with their industries, comic books have never had a full-on union, despite calls from creators and behind-the-scenes staffers and editors.

Comic Book Workers United aims to organize and bring together Image Comics staffers working  behind the scenes on production aspects of comic book publishing, 

"We, the workers of Image Comics, have formed a union. For years, comics publishing workers have watched our professional efforts support creators and delight readers," begins CBWU's statement on Twitter. 

"Sadly, we have also watched that same labor be taken for granted at best and exploited at worst. Our workforce, and the comic book and publishing industry as a whole, is overtaxed and undervalued," it continues. "This is detrimental not only to general staff but also to the creators we are paid to serve and the audiences they in turn work to entertain."

The statement goes on to explain that the work done behind the scenes in comic books is integral to their production and publication, stating that current working conditions faced by the employees who have organized are detrimental not just to their own well-being as employees, but to the end product of Image's publications. 

CBWU also states their desire for Image Comics to voluntarily recognize and engage with their union, comparing their own efforts to improve their material working conditions to the circumstances that led Image's founders to vacate Marvel Comics in the early '90s, founding their own publisher to maintain ownership of their own creations and profit directly from their own work.

"In the early stages of organizing, we looked to Image's founders for inspiration. Their dreams of self-determination and more equitable treatment in the industry they loved and helped make successful are also our dreams," reads their statement. 

"We are honored to grow their legacy by taking this step to give all comic book industry professionals, regardless of title, the same rights, guarantees, security, and protections which the founders sought when they broke away from the big two to start their own company."

The entirety of the CBWU's statement, and their demands, can be read on the organization's website.

Monday evening Image Comics issued a statement through a spokesperson in response to CBWU's announcement.

"Image has always believed in the fair and equitable treatment of staff and has always strived to support employees to the best of our company's ability with regard to their employment," reads the statement in its entirety.

The inspiration for the founding of Image Comics may have started with the best-selling release of Todd McFarlane's Spider-Man #1.

George Marston

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)