When CBR News reported in May that "Ant" was moving to Image, we didn't realize that the character was literally moving into the Image universe's neighborhood. Ant will be introducing herself to her new Image neighbors--beginning with the Savage Dragon and Spawn -- in issues #2 and #3 of her new series. We contacted Ant's creator, Mario Gully, to find out more about the logistics in making this happen.
Most comic book fans probably think of Image as a publishing company first, and as a superhero universe second. Since each book at Image is creator-owned, the continuity between characters' books has always been loose. Therefore, the decision to add characters to this universe isn't an easy move…or is it?
"After Ant moved to Image, Erik [Larsen-- Image's publisher and creator of 'Savage Dragon'] told me that he wanted Ant to be part of the Image universe," Gully told CBR News. "I was thrilled. I felt for years that I was a part of Image and now-- having Ant adopted in the Image universe-- is beyond words."
Ant's first Image "visitor" is Savage Dragon in issue #2. Gully explained, "Erik wanted the Arachnid to appear in the issue and take on Ant. He mentioned a couple of times that he thought a cover with Ant all webbed up would be a great image. I wanted Savage Dragon in the issue as well, so I had to ask Erik if I could draw the big guy. The Dragon comes in issue #3 to give Ant a hand with the Arachnid. Ant starts to battle three villains on the building-tops and the fight gets way out of control. This first story arc is way cool and full of surprises, with Ant and Savage Dragon fighting side-by-side."
After this, another one of Image's icons stops by: "Spawn comes in in issue #3…and Ant and Spawn go for blows. As comic fans, we always talk about what character would win fighting another character, but you usually don't see characters going for blows in comics. Not like this issue. I wanted to explore this concept with Ant and Spawn. This issue is really amazing. Spawn and Ant fans will really dig what we have in store for this issue. And I love drawing Spawn. It's a dream come true."
As you may surmise from the way he talks about the characters, Gully was a fan of Savage Dragon and Spawn before he even became a comic book creator. Now that he can play in the Image sandbox though, the writer-artist is beside himself. "I've been hooked on Image since the beginning. I still can't believe that Ant is on the same playground as these guys. Seriously, it's like a kid watching 'Star Wars' for years and, all of a sudden, he's playing in the movie. It's that sort of thing for me. Truly surreal!
"The first thing that popped into my head was that Ant was making history. This character went from the back of the bus to the 'Members Only VIP Club' of comic books, just like that. I'm truly honored. It's also nerve-racking. I want to do a great job and make Erik and Todd proud of the presentation of their kids I took on. It's my goal to make Ant an Image icon as well and I think we are on the right track. But for now, I just need to focus on doing these characters right in the cool Gully style."
Since Ant is "entertaining" visitors from the Image universe, one may wonder if there are any other characters from this shared world that Gully is itching to draw. When asked this question, he responded, "Not really. Spawn and Savage Dragon are at the top of the charts for me. It's not my goal to draw the lot of Image universe or to fit in as many Image characters in 'Ant' as possible. It's my hope for other Image creators to follow suit and do what they can to unite the Image books-- build on the Image universe in new and exciting ways. We are a family at Image. And it's my hope to start a spark with 'Ant' that will open the doors for new ideas and new Image comic team-ups. Image Comics is on the rise in a big way."
In closing, Gully added, "I'm really honored and still can't believe that I'm allowed to draw these guys in my books. I've been giving it a lot. I'm still trying to draw the Savage Dragon's fin right. It's harder than it looks..."
Issue #2 of "Ant" is solicited in the Image section of the current issue of Previews.