Dating fail comics
In February 2004, Larsen replaced Valentino as publisher, largely continuing existing business practices.Larsen stepped down as publisher in July 2008 and executive director Eric Stephenson was promoted to the position.By the mid-1990s Image series such as Spawn and The Savage Dragon had proven themselves as lasting successes (the former frequently topping the sales charts for months in which new issues came out), while new series such as Wildstorm's Gen¹³, and Top Cow's Witchblade and The Darkness were also successful.Image had become the third-largest comics publisher in North America, exceeded only by long-established industry leaders Marvel and DC Comics. Several of the partners complained that Liefeld was using his position as CEO of Image to promote and perhaps even to financially support Maximum Press, a publishing company that Liefeld operated separately from Image.This significantly hurt the studios, which were each responsible for their own cash flow and profitability.Valentino quipped in interviews that Marder's job was literally to "direct the executives" (i.e. Marder developed better financial planning and had some success in disciplining creators to deliver their work on time, in part by insisting that retail orders for new issues would not be solicited until the books had been illustrated, usually ensuring they would be ready to ship when promised.This development was nicknamed the "X-odus", because several of the creators involved (Claremont, Liefeld, Lee, Silvestri, and Portacio) were famous for their work on the X-Men franchise.Marvel's stock fell .25/share when the news became public.
Image partners such as Larsen and Valentino, who did not take this approach, assumed a neutral position on it, in keeping with the requirement that none of them had any say in how the others' studios were run.
Later, some established self-published series also moved to Image, such as Jeff Smith's Bone and Colleen Doran's A Distant Soil.
The partners had little business or management experience, and many series quickly fell behind their intended publishing schedule.
This focus on non-studio comics increased when Valentino took on the role of Image's publisher, assuming many of the responsibilities held by Marder until he left the company in 1999.
The company's position in the North American direct market diminished in the 2000s, challenged by Dark Horse Comics and IDW Publishing for the position of "third largest publisher" after Marvel and DC.
The creators had the same meeting with DC Comics the next day.