A Touch of Image: An interview with Jim Valentino

Fri, February 1st, 2002 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Michael Thomas, Contributing Writer

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Some personal history.

I've been working since the age of 10.

I cleaned real estate offices for my mom for a tidy sum of $24 a week, almost all of which went to buying the Jack Kirby run of Captain Americas from the 190s to 215.

I worked for my step-dad on the weekends and some weekday afternoons swinging a hammer or sweeping a concrete foundation or hauling large chunks of roofing shingles. It paid for a '76 Pinto (that didn't explode), school clothes for many a fall and a good chunk of comic books that I collected over those years.

I can honestly say that I haven't been without a job since 10 for more than a month total (two weeks the summer of college's sophomore year and two weeks following college graduation).

Most mornings in college, I was up before 6 a.m. in order to make a job by 7 a.m. and make a class by 8:30 or 9. I alternated work and class till about 8 a.m. just about every weekday.

I have a work ethic that has been instilled and distilled over many years of toil and trouble. I don't have sympathy for a generation of people who haven't worked and paid their way through life. What I own I paid for. I'm very much a "pull yourself up by your boot straps" sort of fella.

The more I read about Jim Valentino, the more I see a long-lost brother-in-arms.

Jim wasn't a teenage prodigy who could draw like the hot taste of the month. He worked out some of his personal demons in some early 80s work called "Valentino," a short series of comics published Aardvark Vandaheim Press, eventually gathered into a collection called "Vignettes." These detail the breakup of a marriage, the death of his grandmother and how he dodged the Vietnam draft bullet.

He parlayed that into working for Marvel and eventually helmed a revamp of the 70s future super-group the "Guardians of the Galaxy" in the late 80s. In his own admission in interviews, creatively it wasn't as fulfilling as doing Vignettes, but he had a family to support and superheroes sold.

From there, the rest is well-recorded history. With his five co-conspirators, in the early 90s he formed Image and there seems to have been no looking back for this creator. He used his new publishing venue to publish "ShadowHawk," "1963," as well as reprints of "Vignettes" and the newer semi-autobiographical work, "A Touch of Silver."

Since taking over as publisher of Image a few years back, he has seemed to take it in a much more serious direction than has previously been seen. The diversity of work in the past few years seems to be working on some sort of atonement for the early years that we had to endure Rob Liefeld's smush of gore names with sexy actions ("Youngstrike," "Blood Brigade" or whatever). "Savage Dragon" (still pumping towards #100) can share the Image section with Greg Rucka's "Felon" or Eric Shanower's Eisner Award-winning series "Age of Bronze."

Though Valentino enjoys the dual aspect of being a writer/artist who's in charge, his sympathy level is low for those can't keep it together long enough to honor their commitments. If he could put together his stories in a book while copying them for the local cons with his modicum of talent, why can't someone with obvious drawing talent and opportunities make theirs? No excuses. Valentino is a hard-working individual who seems to epitomize the best of managers: never ask anyone to do what you're not prepared to do yourself.

In the following email interview, you'll see why Image is always confused as a normal publisher, why Jim has a healthy sense of humility & self-deprecation and why "talent" and "success" can often be mutually exclusive.

-- Michael David Thomas

[Jim Valentino Interview]Michael David Thomas: How did you come into Image Comics?

Jim Valentino: I was there from the beginning with Rob and Erik when Rob first asked Dave Olbrich if he'd publish us. Then, in 1991, when Rob started to get serious about doing this, he talked to the three people he trusted most at the time -- me, Erik and Todd and convinced us to join him. Jim and Marc didn't come on until later and Jim brought Whilce (who was in the Philippines at the time) which was cool because everybody liked Whilce.

MDT: Many have a misinterpretation of what exactly Image does. What the encapsulated version of what kind of publisher Image is?

JV: We facilitate creators in getting their self-owned, self-generated books to market. We handle their distribution, solicitation, shipping, printing, storage, foreign and we run a top-notch day-care, too.

MDT: Some have - creators and fans alike - have said that you were probably the weakest link in the Image chain when you signed on. Did you personally ever feel that way?

JV: It's not a question of "feeling" one way or the other about it. The simple fact is that they were all on million selling books and my book only sold a couple hundred thousand.

MDT: What did you do about that?

JV: I tried to produce a good comic. I worked my ass off. I did interesting and glitzy covers. I bunted.

[Cyberforce #1]MDT: Was there even a perceived rivalry between yourself and Silvestri once the initial numbers came in for Todd's and Rob's books?

JV: I'm not sure what you're asking me here-was there a rivalry between me and Marc? No, never. Was there a rivalry between me and Marc against Rob and Todd? I can't speak for Marc, obviously, but for myself, never, no. I'm not an extremely competitive person. I tend to revel in others success, not be jealous of it. I tend to believe that someone else's success does not preclude my own.

MDT: Of all the founders of Image, you seem to be the only one that doesn't mire himself in controversy every time he speaks. Why is that? Conscious or unconscious decision-making?

JV: Oh, I've been known to step in it a time or two. I think you may have me confused with Jim Lee, he was the polite one.

MDT: Why wasn't Whilce Portacio made a partner?

JV: Whilce declined partnership. There were other far more pressing things going on in his life at the time and he decided he did not want to be a "comics mogul." It was his choice not to be partner.

MDT: You've said in past interviews that your intent was to make Image the anti-Marvel. But once the separate partners set up their own studios, it became much more like Marvel. Has that been toned down since then? What precipitated the change?

JV: You're confusing the umbrella co-op organization that Image is with the partner studios. I contend that to this day Image remains the antitheses of the corporate structure comics company. To this day Image owns nothing save the image "i" and logo, just as we said it would when we founded the company.

What the partners do with their own fully autonomous businesses is their deal and has nothing to do with the partnership that is Image. We've been explaining this for ten years now. Frankly, I'm at a loss as to why people are still confused by what seems to me to be a rather simple concept. Image is a co-op. Every partner is an island unto himself.

MDT: Three founders have left Image. One was thrown out, one left and another came back soon thereafter. First, what's your relationship with Rob Liefeld these days?

JV: Very warm, actually. We don't hang out or anything anymore, but I will always have a very deep affection for Rob.

MDT: Was there anything that tipped you off that Jim Lee was going to publish on his own and leave Image for good? How well did he hide was it?

JV: Oh, yeah, lots of things. But, that's a subject for the book I intend to write when all this is over, "In Their Own Image." You'll have to read it to find out.

MDT: Why did Silvestri leave and more importantly, why did he come back?

JV: You'll have to ask Marc. I think a cursory glance between the lines of the events of the day should tell all but the least astute. Again, I will refer you to the Image Comics Timeline in the Tenth Anniversary Book. It's all there, dates and all.

MDT: While you've lost partners, has there been discussions of taking on new partners?

JV: Only an Image FOUNDER can be a partner. Once a chair is removed from the table, it is removed permanently.

[Spawn #1]MDT: It's a question that has to be asked. Where do you stand on the Miracleman debacle?

JV: I have been asked by both Todd and Neil not to involve myself in this. I intend to respect both of my friends' wishes, thank you.

MDT: When did Larry Marder come on?

JV: His first official day was December 6, 1993.

MDT: At what point was it apparent that someone like Larry was needed in the company?

JV: We first interviewed him on October 27th, so I would guess that the conversation about bringing him on board would have been in the early part of that month.

MDT: What did he do to turn things around?

JV: Larry was the Executive Director, a title I coined for him, incidentally. His title perfectly explained his role in Image, which was to direct the executives and that's exactly what he did. Larry never wanted to be the publisher of Image, he said that right from the start.

MDT: What kind of things did Larry Marder institute when he came on board that weren't there before?

JV: You seem to be harboring some unusual ideas about Larry's job, perhaps you'd like to speak with him directly? Larry had a very "hands off" policy toward what would become known as "Image Central." One of the first things he made clear in his initial interview was that he had no intention of becoming the publisher. He was not applying for that position, nor would he accept it.

His job, as I believe I stated, was to act as communicator to and negotiator for the Image partners and to make the central office run smoothly.

MDT: Why did Larry Marder leave? When he left, was the job as head honcho a no-brainer for you or did you and the partners have other people in mind?

JV: No, I actually petitioned for it, it was something I wanted to do. I had a vision for where I thought the company should be, but wasn't. I thought it wasn't living up to it's full potential, that we could do better than the amateur hour and the sleaze we were publishing. I thought the company should have a role in the community, so I campaigned for the CBLDF and joined ACTOR and participated in conventions and retail summits. I thought we could have a bloody web-page.

We have since won Eisners, been nominated for Library association awards, become a positive voice for the industry. Um, sorry to blow my own horn there, but we've worked really hard these last couple of years to improve what Image is and I think we get very little credit for all we've done.

MDT: Diana Schutz talked recently about the perils of becoming management when you want to be involved in the creative process. How has this position affected your creative goals? When do you find the time to write and draw?

JV: I haven't written or drawn anything on a regular basis for three years or so, so I don't. I believe that people-ALL people move through different phases of their life. For a creator, this could mean a "blue period" or whatever. For me, I felt very burned out at the drawing board after twenty years. The business is another way to be creative. I feel I'm in one of the most creative periods of my life, it just has a different direction than telling stories.

MDT: Anthony Bozzi left Image as Marketing Director recently with Eric Stephenson stepping in and apparently wowing you and many others. What happened with Bozzi? Was he fired or did he leave?

JV: Aside from the fact that it's against the law for an employer to discuss such things, good manners and my personal friendship with Bozzi precludes my answering that question, I'm sorry.

MDT: What was it that made it apparent to you that Eric Stephenson had been the right person to pick as Marketing Director?

JV: Eric had turned in a three page proposal to me of what he thought the job needed, where he felt it lacked and how to accomplish these goals. His thoughts nearly mirrored my own. This, plus the fact that I had worked with him previously, have known him for over ten years and I knew he had the intelligence and knowledge to actually accomplish those goals.

MDT: You've said in past interviews that Image was given 6 months to live. It's now been 10 years. What does it mean to you to have lasted a decade?

JV: Well, I didn't say that-Tom DeFalco actually did-and many others besides. How does it feel? I feel vindicated.

MDT: Also, to last with you at the helm now?

JV: I consider it proof positive of either Darwinism or the Peter Principle. I can't decide which.

MDT: Why do big-name creators come to Image? Why should someone publish at Image?

JV: We pretty much have an unparalleled level of freedom for an artist to pursue his creation his way and to own it outright-that includes Trademarks, copyrights and his book's film. It's their book, they own it. We do not interfere with the creative vision-we support it.

MDT: Was the Comics Code ever part of the discussion when forming Image? If so, what was the conversation surrounding it?

JV: I believe it was discussed and discounted at the first meeting. When I first came on as publisher, the Code was romancing us and several other publishers, trying to get us to join. I took it to the Board of Directors and asked if they wanted to join. I think their responses are indicative of how Image has always felt about the Code. Marc said, "Let me get this straight, these people want us to pay them so they can tell us what we can't do?" Todd replied, "Just shoot me" and ever-erudite Erik simply said, "Fuck no."

MDT: What kind of review process is used when submissions are sent to you at Image? Is it a paraphrase of the Supreme Court obscenity definition ("I can't define it, but I know it when I see it.")?

JV: No, not at all. There are any number of questions I ask myself and my staff about any proposed project.

First, is the work of professional caliber? The vast majority of submissions I receive are not, so they're rejected out of hand. Is there a STORY here? Is there an angle that's different or interesting? Is there a perceived audience for this book and, if not, or if that's dicey, is there enough artistic merit in it to warrant it's publication? Can the creators actually produce the work? Can the book make it through it's first story arc in terms of sales? All of these are taken into account and discussed among my staff.

MDT: How much consulting is done with the partners these days?

JV: We hold a face-to-face meeting once or twice a year. They are always as far away as the closest phone should something come up that requires their attention.

MDT: If for some reason, the partners decided to sell Image, what exactly would someone be buying?

JV: Can't be done. We set it up that way-Image can never be sold, never go public. Image owns nothing. All someone would be buying is the "i"-that's it. There were two things we all agreed on in that first meeting-one was that we would never interfere with one another's businesses. The second was that we would never co-own anything except the Image "i"-we figured it would give us far less to fight about in case of divorce. I think those were two fairly astute decisions.

MDT: How does Image make money if you're not taking advantage of licensing?

JV: Image is an S-Corp. By definition of tax law we are not allowed to show a profit at the end of the fiscal year. As I said, the company was set up so creators and not the corporation could profit from it. It is the antitheses of a regular publisher. We make just enough money from our office fees to keep the lights on. At Image every man rises or falls according to their own merit.

MDT: What's the purpose of the Image Introduces book coming out?

JV: Well, the title, Image Introduces pretty much says it all. I had been reading Comics Retailer for a long time and it was a way for me to address retailer complaints about being asked to order a new book, with an unknown character by a new creator sight unseen and with far too little information. I took a page from the Silver Age, this was "Showcase's" function. It introduced new concepts without asking for a great commitment from either retailer or fan. In their case they knew if they had a hit from the returns they got on an issue, in mine, I figured the re-order numbers would tell me. It was my solution for a problem I understood and agreed with.

MDT: When a title is cancelled by Image, what does that mean? Is that a mutual agreement by you and the creators or is it something you hand down from on high?

JV: We attempt to always work WITH creators on every level. If a title is canceled, it is done so either because the numbers are so low that it can't pay for itself, let alone pay the creators or because it is unconscionably late. And before anyone asks, no, that does NOT go for partner books. They own the car, they can take a sledgehammer to it if they want.

MDT: You've said that unprofessional behavior in the comics is appalling to you, such as missing deadlines set up way in advance. How you keep people publishing under the Image banner from succumbing to late deadlines? What sort of facilitation is there in Image to help creators get their shit together?

JV: Well, just like everyone else on this planet I cannot force anyone to act in a responsible manner, even if it's in their own best interest to do so. What I can do is stop them from soliciting more books when they're behind. What I can do is not let them add more books if they clearly cannot do the books they already have in the pipeline. What I can do is create fines, hit them where it hurts for bad behavior. And what I can do for those who are exceptionally bad is make them PROVE to me they have something to solicit before they're allowed to solicit.

I've done all of these things, and more, and lost at least one major producer for us by instituting these policies. But, as we have clearly seen, even they are not enough to make some people honor their commitments. A late book serves us in no way, shape or form. It ties up our cash flow even as it ties up a retailer's, maybe more because we have fewer revenue streams. It doesn't serve the fans and it doesn't sever the creator who can't get paid if he doesn't produce. What I find most frustrating are the creators who don't understand that very simple, basic concept. You want to eat? Ya gotta work. What's not to understand?

But, here again, at the end of the day it's THEIR book and their money, their car, if you will. I cannot replace them on it and I cannot control them, even if I think they're headed for a brick wall at 100 MPH. Some people just have to hit that wall before they realize it might not be the best of ideas. Try as I might, and I do try, I cannot make anyone "grow" a work ethic. I can and I do chose to stop them when they prove to be irresponsible.

[Savage Dragon #1]MDT: When someone signs a contract with Image, what kind of agreement are they signing (length, stipulations, money, etc.) without getting too legalese?

JV: They are giving us the right to publish their book. To bring it to market. Period. There is no "non-competition" clause, if a creator is unhappy with us; they're free to go elsewhere without prejudice once they've honored any outstanding solicitations. We said this would be the case when we first announced Image and we have proven it to be so time and time again.

MDT: Are there any absolute rules about material that Image would not publish?

JV: No. We tend to go as far as a "Hard R" rating. I don't particularly want to publish pornography, but, that said, given the chance, I'd publish Crumb in a heartbeat, X-rated stuff and all.

MDT: What's a typical day-to-day schedule for you? Or if it helps, what happened yesterday?

JV: I suffer from short-term memory loss, so yesterday is a complete blur. While I have no set schedule, per se, this is how a typical day stacks up for me: I wake up at around 6:30, I drink a couple of cups of coffee and smoke enough cigarettes to get my lungs working and either write in my journal or make a list of all the things I forgot to do the day before. I eat breakfast, shower, shave, check my e-mail to see if anything's on fire. I drive 45 minutes into work, checking my voice mail on the way. I arrive in the office, talk to the staff-tell them what I have for them, ask them what they have for me. The day can consist of any or all of the various-I answer the phone and talk to whomever's on the other end-be it creator, retailer, whomever. I place the phone calls I have to, check and answer my e-mails.

Write or edit copy, lay out ads, talk with attorneys, accountants, put out whatever fires I'm able. If my kids have a sporting event or some other thing I'll leave work early. If not I usually stay till about seven. On the 45 minute drive home I place the phone calls I couldn't get to during the day. When I get home if it's my turn for chores (we rotate chores in our home) I either make dinner, clean up or do the dishes. We usually have dinner as a family. I talk to the kids, my fiance, walk the dog, do human type stuff. Sometimes I relax for a while by playing a SIM game-I rarely watch TV. I go back on line to check any further developments-I try to get to the Image web page once a day. I go to bed usually around eleven or so and read for a little bit before going to sleep.

I'll tell ya, it's the life of Reilly!

MDT: You've said before that trade paperbacks are the future of publishing, but cannot be done without monthly title publishing. Why not?

JV: Economics. Our current economy is based on precocity. Books coming out on a weekly basis insures income on a weekly basis. I believe that someday we may get to a point where there are enough trades being produce that they will fill that revenue stream, we're just not there yet.

MDT: If TPBs are the next step, then when are we going to see an Image Graphic Novel? Why hasn't there been one up to now? Cost, effort, good material?

JV: Again, economics. Image does not pay page rates, ours is a strictly back-end deal. If one considers that it can take up to a year for a creator to produce a graphic novel-then that creator is going to have to be independently wealthy, have a very understanding spouse or a really big jar of peanut butter.

MDT: On the same note, many blame Image's success for the inflation of page rates and general attitude from prima donna pencilers, inkers, etc. Is there a correction on the way or has it already happened? Is the general slump a sign of things to come?

JV: No, while I firmly believe that every individual is responsible for their own actions and behaviors and no third party is to "blame" for their behaviors, I blame all of that on Image, too. It was the greatest error in our theory. We thought, and perhaps in hindsight, naively, that creators would take up the gauntlet we'd thrown down and embrace the freedom of self-determination. We thought they would work harder for themselves. For what they owned. Instead, our desire to share the wealth, to empower them, created a generation of entitlement. That was never our intention and, I believe, it remains our biggest failing and our deepest regret. We should have been the selfish bastards everyone was saying we were and just locked everyone else out, paid them crap and treated them the way they'd always been treated (that was sarcastic).

MDT: Crazy money seems to have been made in the early 90s when Image couldn't do any wrong. Did you make your share of it? The easiest gauge: if everything tanked and you had to rely on that money, how long could you float on it?

JV: I'm sorry, but I never discuss these kind of things, one never knows what one's ex-wife might read.

MDT: Is the comics industry like a lifeboat? In some odd way, are all the companies dependent on the success of the others in order for the medium to survive?

JV: Well, I hate to resort to clichŽ, but I believe a rising tide raises all boats. A healthy economy tends to perpetuate itself, doesn't it?

MDT: Except for Rob Liefeld, most of you were in your late 20s, coming on 30s when Image started. Did being a little older give you an advantage?

JV: I was in my late thirties, I saw no advantage in it, heck, I wanted to be in my late twenties, too!

MDT: Would it have been a different company had you started today? Why or why not?

JV: Yes, absolutely. I don't think we could have done it in today's economic climate. If timing is everything ours was impeccable.

MDT: Which do you look forward to more: penciling or writing? Which is easiest for you?

JV: Well, beside the ShadowHawk story I just did and the single pager I did for the "9/11" benefit book, I haven't done either for several years. But to answer your question, I approach both with the exact same amount of trepidation and excitement. They both bring me equal pleasure and equal anxiety.

MDT: Have you considered doing more work outside of image besides Sonic the Hedgehog?

JV: I did Sonic the Hedgehog a few years ago because my youngest son was a fan. I enjoyed doing funny animals for the first time in my career, but had no intention of making a career out of it. But, would I do work for another publisher? Sure. I still have a couple of things I'd like to do. It's fun playing with other peoples' toys. I just haven't been asked. I like to convince myself it's because of my position, rather than due to the fact that I suck. Please allow me my delusions few as they are.

MDT: In light of two of the founders absence from the 10th Anniversary book, how much inclusion or exclusion of their part of the history was discussed?

JV: If you mean in the Image Comics Timeline I wrote for the book, they are certainly a major part of it. I would never deny Jim, Rob or Whilce their place in Image's history. I doubt that anyone could.

MDT: Were either approached about contributing in some way?

JV: No. It was decided that the book should be by those partners who survived the first ten years.

MDT: What's your role in ACTOR?

JV: I'm on the fundraising portion of the Board of Directors. I am also empowered to co-sign checks due to my geographical proximity to ACTOR founder, Jim McLauchlin.

MDT: How did you become a part of it?

JV: Jim called me up, told me his idea for it and asked if I would join. It was a no-brainer.

MDT: What does it do exactly?

JV: Well, the comics industry has a long history of treating it's aging creators very poorly. There are no pensions, there are no retirement plans and these guys can't get steady work. Some of these persons fall into insolvency. So, ACTOR, which stands for A Commitment To Our Roots, raises money mostly through charity auctions, to help those giants upon whose shoulders we stand to retain a modicum of dignity in their twilight years by offering grants, defraying medical or funeral expenses, whatever. It's about giving back to those who came before us and gave so much to us. That's a pretty good thing if you ask me.

MDT: What writer did you enjoy drawing for the most?

JV: Probably Alan Moore in the few times I've worked with him. His work is amazing and he's a wonderful guy.

MDT: Who did you like inking your pencils?

JV: Chance Wolf. Hands down, it's always Chance for me.

MDT: A quote that you're attached to is this: "You don't need permission. You don't need a company. You only need yourself." Not exactly a slogan one should espouse for a publishing company, but apparently it's one your use quite often. Why would the head honcho of a publishing house use this slogan? Wouldn't you drive away potential creators?

JV: Well, first, it isn't MY quote. I've always attributed it to it's source, one of the three men I consider my mentors, Clay Geerdes. That said, I think it the PERFECT thing for a publisher with Image's philosophy to say. Your property, your way-self-determination. If Image works for you, great-if it doesn't, great. It's about the creator and what he feels is right for him and his work.

If that philosophy drives anyone away, well, then I figure they weren't meant to be here in the first place. I believe that a creator should own his own work. I believe that work-for-hire is fine, but a creator needs to know what he's getting into and what he's giving away-and I think he should still get a piece of his creation to pass down to his heirs.

I will believe that till the day I die and probably a week or three after.

MDT: What's the Reader's Digest version of "A Touch of Silver?"

JV: A disenfranchised boy in a dysfunctional family escaping the reality he's trapped in via his drawings and his comic books.

MDT: "A Touch of Silver" was a very personal project for you. Any other semi-autobiographical or similar projects that you'd like to do? When?

JV: I've actually been thinking about returning to ATOS very seriously for the past week or two. If I do it will most likely be a graphic novel titled, "Standing On The Corner Of Four Dead-End Streets"-seems apropos for the book. It's calling me, we'll have to see just how strongly.

MDT: Can you give a quick description of what the story was in "Vignettes?"

JV: Vignettes had no singular story, but, as the title implies, was a series of short stories. If I had to describe the book I'd say it was "tales of a misspent youth."

MDT: What started you producing the stories?

JV: "Vignettes" was a compilation of the three issues of a book called Valentino that I did for Aardvark-Vanaheim. Valentino (the book) was comprised of the stories I'd done as small press/underground publisher.

MDT: Have you thought about republishing "Vignettes" for a larger audience through Image or updating them with some new ones?

JV: I've thought about reprinting it. If there was any updating it would probably be in the introduction. I haven't really considered adding anything new to it.

MDT: You've mentioned that your superhero felt strained at one point and the less spandex-related work was easier to do. With you coming back to "ShadowHawk," has that feeling of unease fallen away? What was the change?

[Shadowhawk]JV: I believe that what I said was that was getting tired of super-heroes in general and that "ShadowHawk," in particular was becoming tiresome for me. Let's see, I was doing a guy who was dying of AIDS and breaking peoples' backs-that'll getcha up with a smile on your face every day! This new ShadowHawk is a kid. I liken him to the very young Spider-Man. He's digging it-he does back-flips off of buildings yelling "Wa-Hoo!" Which do you think you'd prefer to do?

MDT: You said that talent wins out in this business. While there are many examples of this, we also see many who seem to succeed on a lot less, especially during the early Image days. How does you reconcile your earlier statement in the face of people who still publish with obviously less talent?

JV: Oh, I'm the LAST person who's going to get into a discussion of who does or does not "deserve" success. Every artist is somebody's favorite and someone else's least favorite. If someone made it in during the heyday and they worked hard and improved themselves, god bless 'em. If they didn't, well, they had their opportunity. I believe a successful man recognizes opportunity and seizes it. More, our business, just like every other creative medium is littered with the corpses of the amazingly talented who squandered their careers away due to lack of drive, ambition and work-ethic. Talent does win out-but, these days I tend to think that it also takes tenacity, ambition and a strong work ethic. And sometimes, the latter will win out over the former.

MDT: Some have talked about a paradigm shift in comics coming, or at least that it's needed for the medium to survive. Have you thought of shifting Image to an e-book format or a new format to access new readers?

JV: No. I'm an old fuddy-duddy, I still want to smell the ink on a page.

In the past year we've conducted interviews with the other founders of Image you may find interesting as well:

June 15th, 2001 - Todd McFarlane Interview: Part 1
June 19th, 2001 - Todd McFarlane Interview: Part 2
July 30th, 2001 - Rob Liefeld Interview
October 31st, 2001 - Erik Larsen Interview

 
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