Readers of Image Comics have no doubt noticed some conspicuous new house ads across the indie publisher's diverse line of mostly creator-owned titles. The promos feature not artwork or anything else that we're used to seeing in the form of a comic book advertisement, but rather photographic portraits of some of the creators of those comics paired with the slogan "Experience Creativity." The campaign is part of Image Publisher Eric Stephenson's recent emphasizing of the company as a creator-driven alternative to publishers like Marvel and DC, whom Stephenson has criticized for recycling old ideas.In a recent blog post dedicated to the new house ad campaign, Stephenson explained the thinking behind the portrait-based scheme:

I think the idea speaks for itself, but we wanted to focus on what makes Image Comics great. In an industry populated by some of the most imaginative minds ever, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that they are – without a doubt – our single greatest resource. We wanted to celebrate, not just the comics we publish, but the amazing people who create them. Above all else, we wanted to tell their story – because their story is our story.

When I first saw these ads -- which have so far spotlighted Ed Brubaker (Fatale), Jonathan Luna (The Sword), Shaky Kane (Monster Truck), Brandon Graham (Prophet) and Ross Campbell (Glory) -- I was impressed with Jonathan Chan's sophisticated and striking design, but it seemed strange to me to spotlight the human face of a writer or artist above the work itself. After all, a curious new reader wouldn't get much from these ads, and they don't even include the titles of the books these men work on. But upon further reflection, I think Stephenson makes an important point, and one that seems more and more relevant in recent months, when issues surrounding creators' ownership of their work and their treatment by work-for-hire entities have created such unhappiness in the comics community. And Stephenson is absolutely correct to observe that the elevation of the Comic Book Creator is built-in to the DNA of Image Comics, whose 2012 promises to be an auspicious year indeed.

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