It’s time for Young Animal to expand.
I’m sure Gerard Way, already consumed by deadlines, would cringe upon reading that sentence. But it is the truth. The line is poised to best its predecessor, Vertigo, with novel takes on oft-neglected titles. It is perhaps the setup Marvel has with Ta-Nehisi Coates on an even grander scale. As with Coates, Way lends his celebrity to the brand, beefing up the marketing on a select subset of titles with his name alone. There is also the added benefit of a company using a celebrity not only as a talented creator, but as a human Rolodex. Both DC and Marvel have the ability to use Way’s and Coates’ connections to reach out to creative circles to which they would not otherwise have access. And they do so. Eagerly.
Moreover, by placing creators on already existing brands in need of renovation, publishers skirt issues that arise with creator-owned properties such as licensing and credits. In some instances, as creators come up with concepts whole cloth that are tied only tangentially to an existing property, this feels rightfully like exploitation. If all that remains that is recognizable about an original character is the name? I would advise any popular creator to take his ideas to Image. However, if a creator is happy to work within an established framework? Young Animal is the perfect place to provide the stability one needs with the ability to explore themes and subjects that one could not explore with a beloved and tightly controlled brand such as Superman.
Why not Vertigo? Because Vertigo is considered old and Anglophilic, whereas Young Animal is considered…young and Anglophilic. Vertigo is iconic; Young Animal is now the brash upstart. And an expansion will help cement that idea in the public’s collective consciousness (1) before younger Vertigo doppelgängers can launch lines and (2) now that Image is best known as the premier place for established creators to publish creator-owned works. That’s where I would start as a mercenary marketer for Young Animal—doing my level best to portray Image as a playground for the old and famous, and any other upstart that leaned hard on Vertigo’s past glory (and let’s be honest, almost all of these imprints do, including Young Animal) as a poor facsimile.
And yet this is comics, not Highlander. There is room for everyone, but you must either be (1) unique or (2) the most talented to get the largest share. Since most creators aren’t exclusive, having the best crew is nearly impossible. The talent pool in comics is amazing, but every comic company dips a toe into it. An imprint must make its mark via individuality and authenticity. What does your imprint bring to the table that is truly distinctive? How is your “voice” different?
I was about to say that Young Animal is in the best position to usurp Vertigo’s role as the industry’s lightning rod, but I must correct myself. Vertigo lost that role to Image long before the creation of Young Animal. Sadly, Vertigo seems to have no interest in heeding my previous advice to become an exclusive playground for established creators with cult followings. And so Image will likely take that prestigious role and the evergreen backlist that comes with it as it abandons its former position as a rabble-rouser—resulting in two organizations benefitting from Vertigo’s decline.
Next up: Four new titles I’d like to see from Young Animal and the creative teams I believe they should hire for the project. See you Wednesday!