Staff at Image Comics have today formed Comic Book Workers United – a new union to support its writers and artists.
Announced via an official statement, the union aims to support creators in the comic book industry and was launched today by several key figured at the company.
“We, the workers of Image Comics, have formed a union,” reads the statement.
“For years, comics publishing workers have watched our professional efforts support creators and delight readers. Sadly, we have also watched that same labor be taken for granted at best and exploited at worst. Keeping our heads above water was the new normal before the pandemic and since its onset we have been expected to take on even larger workloads with fewer resources.”
The comic book industry on the whole has been rife with issues – largely focussing on creative rights and IP ownership, as well as the rights of freelancers. But now, it looks as though Comic Book Workers United will bring support to staffers.
“Our workforce, and the comic book and publishing industry as a whole, is overtaxed and undervalued,” explains the statement. “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.”
“We love what we do,” it continues, “But loving what you do doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t ask for improvements to your working conditions. It is with this in mind and with great hope for the future of Image Comics and the comic book industry itself that we announce our intent to form a union and request voluntary recognition.”
“In the early stages of organizing, we looked to Image’s founders for inspiration,” the statement notes. “Their dreams of self-determination and more equitable treatment in the industry they loved and helped make successful are also our dreams.”
Image Comics was founded in 1992 by prominent comic book creators Erik Larsen, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Todd McFarlane, Whilce Portacio, Marc Silvestri, and Jim Valentino as an outlet for creator-owned properties.
“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. In fact, several months into our organizing efforts, Jim Valentino made a comment on social media celebrating union accomplishments. That was the moment we knew this could work. Despite years of union busting and anti-organization sentiments in the American workforce, we know that Image has, at its heart, a desire to be first when it comes to doing the right thing for comics workers.”
“That’s why we know we will win, because our success is the company’s success. Our success is the creators’ success. Our success is the readers’ success.”
The statement was signed by Image Comics workers, Ryan Brewer, Leanna Caunter, Marla Eizik, Drew Fitzgerald, Melissa Gifford, Chloe Ramos, Tricia Ramos, Jon Schlaffman and Erika Schnatz.
Image comics is perhaps best known for Spawn, which creator Todd McFarlane is set to turn into a whole comic universe. Over the years the publisher has grown into one of the most prominent comic book companies in the world, publishing the likes of mega-hit Saga (which returns after an extended hiatus very soon), The Wicked + The Divine, and Deadly Class, among dozens more. It’s also the home of many of Robert Kirkman’s comics, including Invincible (which recently became a hit Amazon animation) and The Walking Dead.
Ryan Leston is an entertainment journalist and film critic for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.