Image is the HBO of comics, separate from Marvel or DC, completely creator-owned and able to put out anything from zombie apocalypse The Walking Dead to space opera Saga. Image is where creators go to be free from content restrictions on violence or sex or subject, and obligations to do what’s expected. Basically, their comics are the medium in its truest, best form – and they deserve your attention.
Below are my top 5 recommended Image comics to check out:
WRITER – Brian K. Vaughan
ARTIST – Fiona Staples
My favourite comic of all time, Saga lands somewhere between Star Wars and Game of Thrones. Alana and Marko, lovers from different sides of an interspecies war, flee assassins sent by both sides to kill their cross-species daughter, Hazel.
“I’ve never become so invested in characters so quickly.”
Want to see what makes comics special? Vaughan wrote Saga to be everything film and TV can’t, creating a jaw-dropping universe that mixes magic, tree-ships, TV-headed androids, planet-sized babies, meerkat people, and a cat that knows when you’re lying….
But it’s Saga’s incredibly likeable, heartfelt cast that draw you in: Marko overcoming his violent past, The Will’s father-daughter bond with the slave he rescues, Prince Robot IV’s intricate redemption; I’ve never become so invested in characters so quickly. Vaughan guides you through years of their lives only to brutally rip them away when you least expect it, sending the story spinning in ways you never expected.
Fiona Staples’ art is some of the best to ever grace a comic – gorgeous vistas blend seamlessly with her achingly human facial expressions. You can tell she’s having the time of her life designing spider-women, teenage ghosts, even dragons and a space-station called Sextillion.
WRITER – Matt Fraction
ARTIST – Chip Zoarsky
COLORIST – Becka Kinzie
Sex Criminals is your typical rom-com: Boy meets girl at party, boy and girl have sex… boy and girl stop time.
Librarian Suzie and bored bank worker Jon discover they both have the same power; when they orgasm, time freezes. So, of course, they end up planning to rob the bank where Jon works to save Suzie’s library from being closed.
“Sex Criminals is a surprisingly tasteful, intimate and touching mediation on the nature of sex, human connection and romance.”
This is the kind of bonkers, R-rated pitch you’ll only see in indie comics. Faction revels in the story’s pulpy style, crafting instantly likeable characters with his trademark wit and style. Zoarsky’s stunning pop-inspired art brings the time-stoppage to life with Kinzie’s mesmerising lighting and colours.
Despite its crass-sounding premise and pitch-perfect comedic tone, Sex Criminals is a surprisingly tasteful, intimate and touching mediation on the nature of sex, human connection and romance. Set against a raucous backdrop of crime, sex, and more sex.
WRITER – Brian K. Vaughan
ARTIST – Cliff Chang
COLORIST – Matt Wilson
Stranger Things meets Back to the Future in this 30-issue time-travel adventure.
Four girls doing their paper run together on Halloween night 1988 get swept up in a generational war between two factions of time-travellers. Paper Girls’ mind-bending mystery maxes out its time-hopping premise, with each 5-issue arc taking place in a different period – from prehistory to the far future to New Years Day 2000.
“Paper Girls is above all a coming of age story, about friendship and fate and making the most of the time you’re given.”
Whether it’s Erin struggling with her faith or Mackenzie overcoming internalised homophobia, Vaughan’s snappily written characters ground a billion-mile-an-hour plot that mixes clones, giant robots, dinosaurs, and the fourth dimension. Paper Girls is above all a coming of age story, about friendship and fate and making the most of the time you’re given.
Artist Cliff Chang’s flowing linework is matched perfectly by Matt Wilson’s gorgeous, vivid colours – there’s a reason they’ve won so many awards.
WRITER – Rick Remender
ARTIST – Greg Tocchini
COLORIST – Dave McCaig
Billions of years in the future, after the sun has started expanding, humanity has retreated to the bottom of the ocean. Thousands of years before, humanity sent out probes to find a new planet but only one returns, to find us hanging on in the last underwater cities.
“Low is a visually sumptuous and intricately designed.”
Low follows the Caine family’s fight for their own (and humanity’s) survival – it can be a crushingly depressing post-apocalypse story, and yet writer Rick Remender always emphasises the importance of holding on to hope in the darkest of times. Remender was moving past a long fight with depression and nihilism when he created Low, and main character Stel Caine’s ceaseless optimism acts as a light in the dark, for him and the reader.
Besides the deep worldbuilding and streaks of existential horror, Low is a visually sumptuous and intricately designed. Tocchini’s dreamlike sketches meld manga and steampunk with a quirky European flair.
THE WICKED + THE DIVINE
WRITER – Kieron Gillen
ARTIST – Jamie McKelvie
COLORIST – Matt Wilson
Every 90 years, 12 young people become the Pantheon – a group of reincarnated gods from cultures across the globe. They are musical superstars – loved by their fans, hated by their disbelievers, and in two years they’ll be dead.
This London-set series starts as a devilishly twisty murder mystery and quickly evolves into a thought-provoking mediation on celebrity, fandom and what it costs to achieve your dreams.
“Gillen is better than anyone I’ve ever read at capturing the frustrations of a generation and the impulsiveness of youth.”
WicDiv has a deep, rich lore stretching back centuries, but that never distracts from the immediacy or moral complexities of its plot. These teenagers are struggling with the incredible burden of superstardom coupled with the knowledge they’ll never grow to be adults. The story veers between godly infighting, teen drama (with some of the best LGBTQ+ representation I’ve seen in comics) and bursts of gorgeously rendered superhero action.
Gillen is better than anyone I’ve ever read at capturing the frustrations of a generation and the impulsiveness of youth. As for McKelvie? He might just be the best costume designer in comics – WicDiv is worth it just to see Odin reinvented as a Daft Punk-style electronic artist or Lucifer as a punk-rock icon.
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