Hot on the heels of the announcement that Joe Madureira is taking his creator-owned Battle Chasers to
Image Comics comes another huge creative coup for Image - Kevin Smith.
The acclaimed fanboy filmmaker and top-selling comic writer is moving his entire line of "View Askew" comics
to Image in summer, 2001. Smith titles such as Clerks and Jay and Silent Bob had previously been published
at Oni Press. Smith cited the departure of one of Oni's founders as a reason the move.
"When Bob Schreck moved over to DC, Oni wasn't the Oni I knew anymore," Smith said. "[Oni principals]
Joe [Nozemack] and Jamie [Rich] are fine guys, but my relationship was with Schreck. Once he ankled, it was
like going to a party with a friend who knows everybody in the room, and you know nobody. Then that friend
leaves, and you're standing in the midst of strangers, smiling politely."
All future collections of Clerks and Jay and Silent Bob will be published at Image, as will new material,
starting with a three-issue Bluntman and Chronic mini-series in June. Smith will write, with the Powers art
and color team of Michael Avon Oeming and Pat Garrahay handling interiors. The original (and previously
mythical) covers by Madman artist Mike Allred seen in Smith's film "Chasing Amy" will be used on the series.
"The premise is that these are the comics Holden McNeil and Banky Edwards drew in 'Chasing Amy.' I figured
it'd be fun to actually put them out there," Smith said. And movie fans take note: Smith also revealed that
the plot of "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back," his next movie, "hinges on these books."
The Image deal itself hinged elsewhere: On the shoulders of Bob Chapman, president of comic merchandiser
Graphitti Designs. Graphitti has a close relationship with Smith, having done over a dozen "View Askew"
T-shirts and even a "Buddy Christ" stature from "Dogma," Smith's most recent film. "Chappy and I were
originally going to publish the books ourselves under a Graphitti Designs label," Smith revealed. "But when
the Image option revealed itself, we opted to head thataway. The 'I' guys knew more about putting comics
together and getting them into the marketplace."
Graphitti and Image got together almost by accident. "Chapman and I have been friends for about 20
years," said Image Publisher Jim Valentino. "We have lunch together about once a month. On one recent
lunch, Bob said he and Kevin were looking to get into the publishing game. I said, 'Well, why don't you go
through us?' It was really just that simple."
Smith is happy with his decision, and insists he's remaining true to the roots he laid down as an
independent filmmaker. "It's not like I've shrugged off the indie cottage for the mainstream penthouse and
simply sold out." he said."The nature of these characters makes it a little hard for either DC or Marvel to
house the books. Image isn't constrained by a corporate parent or stockholders, so we're afforded a lot
more leeway, content-wise."
Future content will include a long-awaited Bartleby and Loki one-shot (painted by Scott Morse, and
featuring the angel characters from Smith's "Dogma") and Mallrats 2: Die Hard in a Mall. Smith is also
dead-set on getting the material outin a timely fashion. Bluntman and Chronic will actually ship biweekly.
"I know this may be a well-earned reservation for some, but I'm telling you, we're going to hit every one of
our biweekly dates," Smith said. "Taking a page out of my Green Arrow book, I waited until all the scripts
were finished to even approach Image about soliciting. And with Mike Oeming already hard at work on the
art, I personally guarantee these comics will be on your shelves on their scheduled release dates. I'm as
committed to that as I am to getting 'Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back' into theaters on August 10, 2001."
With Smith, Madureira, and the possibility of J. Scott Campbell (Danger Girl) coming through its doors, Image
is seeing a flood of talent the likes of which it hasn't seen since the publisher's inception in 1991. "And we've
got more to come, just you wait," Valentino concluded.