Although American comics are presently in the roughest shape I've ever personally experienced—the 90s included—they can course-correct. However, my hopes don't rest on the shoulders of Marvel and DC. If any company can save the industry, it's Image Comics.
By virtue of its creation in 1992, Image was able to learn from the mistakes of its forebears and account for the future of comics in ways the big two never could. Instead of the company owning the intellectual properties of the creators, Image allowed the creators to own their IPs. With this one innovation, Image ensured its future success.
The first years of Image, albeit massively successful, were heavily derided by comics fans who grew fond of the literary masterworks within the pages of 80s comics. 90s Image was crass, commercial, and incredibly derivative of Marvel's most popular books. Ironically, fans regard the Image Comics of modernity as the bleeding edge of innovation in comic books.
In 30 short years, Image Comics has provided a home for some of the greatest and most imaginative comics in history. Image Comics earned their spot at the top of the publishing heap with books like The Walking Dead, Saga, Paper Girls, Sex Criminals, and The Manhattan Projects. So, let's take this time to celebrate the original seven creators(Todd McFarlane, Erik Larsen, Rob Liefeld, Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri, Whilce Portacio, and Jim Valentino) for gambling big and betting on creator rights. Here's to another 30 years of awesome comics.