Marvel and DC Have an Image Problem

For as much as we talk about Walt Disney's (NYSE: DIS  ) Marvel Comics and Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX  ) DC Comics here, Fool contributor Tim Beyers says there's reason to believe Image Comics chief Eric Stephenson when he says the company is aiming for the Big Two.

Last month, at the company's Image Expo conference, Stephenson said dollar sales were up 40% in 2012 and 38% throughout the first six months of 2013. The numbers, he said, were reflective of Image's "making significant gains" on both Disney and Warner, Comic Book Resources reports. Digital sales are a likely catalyst.

Does that mean you should sell Disney and Warner before Image, Dark Horse, BOOM! Studios, Valiant, and other indies eat into Marvel and DC's established franchises? Not at all, Tim says, but a talent exodus is certainly possible.

Just as AMC Networks (NASDAQ: AMCX  ) profited when Matthew Weiner and Vince Gilligan brought the network Mad Men and Breaking Bad, Image today has several of the comics industry's big names making strong books such as The Walking Dead, Saga, and Thief of Thieves, among others, many of which have cross-media potential.

Should Disney or Warner make a bid for Image? Would you? Or, alternatively, would you invest in Image were it a public company? Leave a comment to let us know what you think of the indie comics opportunity and what, if any, indie series you're reading right now.

Indie comics may be on the rise, but the world still can't get enough of superheroes. Super-powered movies have been some of the highest-grossing films of all time, and as these franchises continue to grow, the numbers are only going to get more impressive. The Motley Fool's new free report "Your Ticket to Cash In on the Superhero Battle of the Century" details what you need to know to profit from your favorite superheroes. Click here to read the full report!

Read/Post Comments (12) | Recommend This Article (2)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On August 18, 2013, at 3:50 PM, vlasdelemore wrote:

    I think they need to remake Spawn

  • Report this Comment On August 18, 2013, at 4:08 PM, libra13132002 wrote:

    Didn't even know they were still around. Thought they went out of business back at the end of the 90's.

  • Report this Comment On August 18, 2013, at 5:02 PM, wasleeper wrote:

    As a freelance illustrator and long time comic fan I would be wary of Image comics as an investment (IF they were public of course). Some food for thought, Image was created in '92 out of a collaborated exodus by the top talent of the "Big Two" these guys (Seven if I remember, Lee, Leifield, McFarlane, Larson, Silvestri, Valentino, and Portacio) crafted what is now Image comics, the problem is most of these guys who really are among then finest comic artists of the last 40 years, have pretty much gone their separate ways, Plus most of the super hot titles that even passive comic fans know, Spawn (see previous poster:) Witchblade, Wild C.A.T.s, Astro City, are either gone or are really shells of their former selves. Really there are just too many newer publishers who are hotter right now. I don't know if IDW publishing is public or not, but they would be a much better investment, they currently own the comic licenses for Real Ghostbusters, TMNT, Evil Dead/Ash, the Rocketeer and G.I.Joe, all highly prized pop culture commodities.

  • Report this Comment On August 18, 2013, at 5:28 PM, isodore wrote:

    Most of the books I buy anymore are from Image. They are, along with a number of other "indie" publishers, producing the books that fill the huge genre gaps in mainstream comics. DC and Marvel are so tied to the superhero format that they don't have room for much else. At least DC has Vertigo to produce interesting and different stories. I just hope Image is able to keep independent and creator owned, and doesn't become a part of a Disneyesque machine.

  • Report this Comment On August 18, 2013, at 5:34 PM, Devildude512 wrote:

    Image and Wildstorm were heavy hitters in the 90's along with Valiant et al. With the Spawn reboot on the way, if Image can pull off a mega hit like Avengers, then we might see a shift toward the indie companies. I believe their hope lies on creating a darker more violent and evil 'hero' that the teens of the 90's loved.

  • Report this Comment On August 18, 2013, at 5:56 PM, QuinnDEskimo wrote:

    Well,I believe the fool part of the name.Anyone who thinks Image has any shot of a profit outside of the Walking dead franchise is clearly a fool. Tim Beyers, stick to penny stocks or something.You know absolutely nothing about comics. Also,for all of you clamoring for thew spawn reboot,do you realize there are several characters,INCLUDING ANGELA, that Image can't use?They belong to Neil Gaiman,except for said Angela,who he sold to Marvel.

  • Report this Comment On August 18, 2013, at 8:17 PM, DrNerdLove wrote:

    A lot of people seem to think Image is still "the other superhero company" that it tried to be in the 90s, rather than the indie powerhouse that it's become. In fact, Image has been putting out some of the best non-superhero comics in the industry today.

    Saga, for example, is an incredibly vibrant and original sci-fi story of forbidden love during wartime. Morning Glories is a Lost-esque exploration of the mysteries surrounding an exclusive boarding academy that is more than it seems. Thief of Thieves is an amazing crime drama. The Strange Adventures of Luther Strode is a blend of grindhouse and grand guginol-esque violence.

    And of course, there is the juggernaut that is The Walking Dead.

    The strength of Image is in the way that it handles it's IP. Unlike at Marvel or DC, all of Image's titles are owned by it's creators.

    Kirkman (and, now, Tony Moore, I believe) own Walking Dead outright. Justin Jordan owns the copyright to The Legend of Luther Strode. Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staple own Saga. Steven Grant owns 2 Guns... which is currently doing nicely in theaters.

    None of these are titles that would have worked at Marvel or DC - the creator owned (or creator-participating) contracts at both publishers are things of the past... and that's why Image has continued to thrive.

    There's no reason for Warner Bros. or Disney to buy Image because all they would be getting is a publishing company, not the IP that goes with it. They would still have to negotiate with the creative teams in order to actually bring any of the titles to the screen.

  • Report this Comment On August 18, 2013, at 10:16 PM, grimlock75 wrote:

    lets not forget about IDW,they have the HASBRO account(Transformers,JI Joe,and My Little Pony)plus the Star Wars account

  • Report this Comment On August 18, 2013, at 10:22 PM, DrRonThomasJr wrote:

    Image may have Walking Dead by I think Dynamite Comics has far more cross-media licenses. Already they have The Shadow, The Green Hornet, the Lone Ranger, Dark Shadows, John Carter of Mars, Game of Thrones, Battlestar Galactica, the Phantom, Flash Gordon, and Buck Rogers. Plus, they have top creators like painter Alex Ross and properties from sci-fi writers like George R.R. Martin, Charlaine Harris and Jim Butcher.

    Unlike DC, and especially Marvel, they have not screwed up their numbering system or made their series hard to follow by jumping around with issues numbered 15.1. By and large, I wait for Marvel to collect their story arcs into hardcovers or trade paperbacks. It's cheaper that way, already organized, and they haven't printed anything I couldn't wait for in a long time.

    Dynamite would be nominee to be #3 company or at least #3A if Image is #3.

  • Report this Comment On August 18, 2013, at 10:28 PM, DrRonThomasJr wrote:

    BTW, I like IDW and they ought to do pretty well this year with the Doctor Who license, being the 50th anniversary of the program. With both Star Trek and Star Wars, plus the Hasbro toy lines (GI Joe and Transformers), I'd make them at least a solid #5. Non-licensed content would make them stronger but the licenses do guarantee some built in sales.

    Unlike pro wrestling, you can't just buy up the competing brands as WWE did because, as was pointed out above, the independent companies are actually licensing characters from the writers and artist who really own them. My best friend from college was working at McFarlane Toys (Image) when the KISS license was acquired.

    Now, if you want to talk about investing, I wish I could buy stock in KISS ...

  • Report this Comment On August 19, 2013, at 1:43 AM, Richard233 wrote:

    It's not the publisher that is key, its the story.

    The only problem is, once the story is complete,

    and the issues available in collected form, the

    demand for the originals tend to drop quite a bit.

    Sometimes you will get something that gets

    transformed into a movie or TV show, like the

    Walking dead, but that is far and away the exception and not the rule.

    The reality is, few books will ever be truly collectible long term and that in turn helps kill the market to some extent. While not everyone plans to resell the books at a profit, its still nice to know that you could not have just waited a few months and bought the book at a fraction of the cover price.

    With ongoing titles there at least tends to be

    some form of potential buy in, at least with the

    big titles like Detective, Batman, Spiderman, and

    X-men. The key issues always seem to have a

    growing fan base much in the way that key

    rookie cards will always carry demand despite

    the fact that few people living have seen the players play.

  • Report this Comment On August 19, 2013, at 1:32 PM, spinod wrote:

    To be honest there are 3 major point to be made.

    1 If they were worth investing, wouldn't companies like Marvel and DC be at least attempting to buy them or work with them?

    2 The base of comics is already small, to raise that base you need to expand to other mediums.Image has Walking Dead, what else? Other than that, it wouldn't be hard to "raise sales 40 percent" if you are low on sales to begin with.

    3 It's Image. The core of the company hardly works for the company anymore.... The ones that are lingering around are not doing anything great for the company. The thing is, this company started as a retaliation to the big guys, so they "gave rights to the creators." Those creators can leave any minute they want, and the company is worthless. When you invest in Marvel, you invest in their characters and their licenses. Image doesn't have either.

Add your comment.

Compare Brokers

Fool Disclosure

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2599626, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 9/29/2016 3:07:08 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Today's Market

updated 5 hours ago Sponsored by:
DOW 18,339.24 110.94 0.61%
S&P 500 2,171.37 11.44 0.53%
NASD 5,318.55 12.84 0.24%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

9/28/2016 4:00 PM
AMCX $51.62 Up +0.67 +1.32%
AMC Networks CAPS Rating: ****
DIS $92.20 Up +0.48 +0.52%
Walt Disney CAPS Rating: *****
TWX $78.56 Up +0.68 +0.87%
Time Warner CAPS Rating: ****