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Monday, January 5, 2015

Image Issue: Berkeley Comics Company Brings Expo to Yerba Buena

Posted By on Mon, Jan 5, 2015 at 9:44 AM

click to enlarge SF WEEKLY'S COMIC ISSUE

Are you a comics reader who gets the heebie-jeebies just thinking about the crush of humanity that descends on San Diego for Comic-Con every July? Do you miss the days when Wonder-Con was still held at Moscone Center and offered a relaxed but exciting means of checking out the newest monthly superhero comics and graphic novels? Are you hip not only to the pulpy charms of everyone's favorite zombie TV show, The Walking Dead, but familiar with well-reviewed but still slightly obscure titles like ProphetEast of West and Fatale? If so, you might want to head to San Francisco's Yerba Buena Park on Thursday.

January 8 marks the return of Image EXPO, the one-day media event for readers, retailers and the press, celebrating the comics and graphic novels published by the Berkeley-based comics company Image Comics. More intimate than the run-of-the-mill convention, the expo will feature signings with Image talent, presentations about favorite titles and announcements of new products by some of the biggest names in the medium.

Marvel currently rules the multiplex with box-office blockbusters like The Avengers, Iron Man, The Amazing Spider-Man. DC has its hit-or-miss approach to TV, offering up basic cable versions of The Flash, Green Arrow and even John Constantine. For its part, Image has its undeniably popular multimedia properties like The Walking Dead, but the company seems still to be in the business of publishing excellent comics you actually want to read, especially if you're not interested in keeping track of decades of complex continuity and frequent narrative retrofits.

Image was formed in 1992 when seven artists – Erik Larsen, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Todd McFarlane, Whilce Portacio, Marc Silvestri, and Jim Valentino — left their Marvel assignments to develop their own creator-owned books. At various times, Image has been ranked as the third-largest comics publisher in the U.S. Larsen, McFarlane, Silvestri and Valentino currently remain as partners in the company, along with Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman.

Saga, written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples, is one of Image's most acclaimed titles, serving up a freewheeling space saga focused on a family of mismatched humanoid extraterrestrials caught up in an interstellar war. The Manhattan Projects, with scripts by Jonathan Hickman and art by Nick Pitarra, imagines an alternate version of World War II where physicists Einstein, Feynman and Oppenheimer don't necessarily have humanity's best interests in mind. Sex Criminals, created by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky, chronicles the romantic adventures of two bank robbers who can stop time with the power of their orgasms.

Creators scheduled to appear at the expo include Scott Snyder (American Vampire), McFarlane (Spawn), Marjorie Liu (Dark Wolverine), James Robinson (The Saviors), Vaughan, Emi Lenox (Em Town), Jeff Lemire (Trillium), Emma Rios (Pretty Deadly) and Brandon Graham (Multiple Warheads).

Image Expo, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, Thursday, January 8, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

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Michael Berry

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