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Image Comics turns 30 next year: A look ahead at what's coming (and what could be coming)

Image United #2 variant cover
(Image credit: Greg Capullo (Image Comics))

Image Comics will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2022. That's right, it's been nearly 30 years since the bastion of creator-owned comics was launched by seven prominent Marvel Comics creators who had a vision to work for themselves, and own their own comic book creations. So just what is planned?

While the full breadth of the plans are being held back to a later date, Newsarama has confirmed two projects - and the hint of some long out-of-print comics possibly coming back.

(Image credit: Image Comics)

Although the actual 30th anniversary of Image Comics won't be until April 2022 (the month Youngblood #1 debuted), co-founder/vice president Jim Valentino is working on a book, The Official Image Comics Timeline, to be published in February 2022.

Valentino has also talked about reviving his Shadowhawk series in 2022, but the specifics haven't been given.

This also brings up the availability - or lack thereof - of the first wave of Image Comics from the founders. While the first issues of Spawn, Savage Dragon, and even Wildc.a.t.s. and Wetworks (thanks to DC) have been made relatively available in print collections and/or digital editions, other Image Comics' launch titles such as Youngblood #1, Shadowhawk #1, and Cyber Force #1 are only available in back issue bins.

(Image credit: Marc Silvestri/Joe Chiodi (Image Comics))

That's before mentioning other early Image Comics from the '90s.

We brought this up to Stephenson, who broke into comics as an assistant to Valentino back in the early '90s, about the potential for those early Image Comics becoming available again - and without going into specifics, says that some is underway.

"Some of that stuff is in the works, but if a creator is no longer associated with Image, we don't manage their back catalog," Stephenson tells Newsarama. "We don't own that stuff, the creators do, and if you look at something like…. Keith Giffen's Trencher, well, yeah, it would be cool to have a trade paperback of that stuff and it would be cool if it was available digitally, but that's Keith's call, not ours."

Boom! Studios collected the first four issues of Trencher back in 2005, but that volume is out of print and not available digitally.

As Newsarama has learned, the ability for some older comic books to be reprinted - digitally or even for a print re-release -  is stymied by the simple fact that in some cases, the original art, the files, and/or the film for those original printings are no longer available. In those cases, scanning and restoring the comic from the actual comic books is the only realistic method - a time-consuming and expensive process.

But that being said, Stephenson tells Newsarama that keeping classic comics available for future generations (and those of us who want to buy it in another format) is on his mind.

"Yeah, I think that's important," he says. "As we head toward our 30th anniversary next year, it's something that has come up, and hopefully, we'll get to a point where all of that material is available in some format."

And remember, a celebration of 30 years of Image Comics wouldn't just be the domain of the characters from 30 years ago - but also the potential return of the greatest from those thirty years. We already know The Walking Dead is returning with new comics in Tillie Walden's Clementine series, and the return of Bryan K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples' Saga is still on the horizon - after originally debuting back on Image's 20th anniversary.

If that's not enough, Image Comics & Skybound Entertainment are also looking into a possible comic convention on a cruise ship in 2022.

Chris Arrant

Newsarama Senior Editor Chris Arrant has covered comic book news for Newsarama since 2003, and has also written for USA Today, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Publisher's Weekly, Marvel Entertainment, TOKYOPOP, AdHouse Books, Cartoon Brew, Bleeding Cool, Comic Shop News, and CBR. He is the author of the book Modern: Masters Cliff Chiang, co-authored Art of Spider-Man Classic, and contributed to Dark Horse/Bedside Press' anthology Pros and (Comic) Cons. He has acted as a judge for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the Harvey Awards, and the Stan Lee Awards. Chris is a member of the American Library Association's Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table.