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Wildstorm Productions, or simply WildStorm, is an American publisher of comic books. It began as Jim Lee's personal company under Image Comics, but it is currently an imprint of DC Comics with Jim Lee as the imprint's editor.


The Image years

WildStorm was one of the founding studios that joined together in 1992 to form Image Comics. It grew out of Homage Studios which was founded by artists Scott Williams, Whilce Portacio, Jim Lee, and Joe Chiodo in San Diego, California. Lee, Williams, and Portacio had gained notoriety from their work on various X-Men titles at Marvel Comics.

In late 1992 penciler Marc Silvestri joined the studio to work on the first issue of Cyberforce. Although he worked at the studio, his projects were to debut as a new Image imprint named Top Cow. Silvestri continued to work out of WildStorm's studio for about two years, then moved his staff up to Santa Monica so that he could be closer to Hollywood. Although there was some thought of grabbing talent from the "Big Two", (Marvel and DC) such as John Romita Jr., Lee decided instead to find new talent.

Lee's talent search yielded Brett Booth in 1992, and then J. Scott Campbell in 1993. Apart from McFarlane's Spawn, Wildstorm produced the most consistently commercially successful comics from Image, including Lee's own titles WildC.A.T.s and the teen hero title Gen13, illustrated by J. Scott Campbell. Like many other Image titles, some of the WildStorm titles were plagued with inconsistent completion and shipping, resulting in "monthly" comics coming out every few months. This era, however, produced a number of titles of varying popularity including the afformentioned Gen13 and WildC.A.T.s, Stormwatch, Deathblow, Cybernary, and Whilce Portacio's Wetworks.

Attempts to get his studio's characters into other media were disappointing. A Saturday morning cartoon series of the WildC.A.T.s suffered from poor production values, and lasted only a single season, while a full-length animated version of Gen13 was produced but never released. Disney, who had acquired the distribution rights, later released the film only in a few foreign markets, leaving Jim Lee frustrated. Toys from both titles were less successful than those made by Todd McFarlane, partly due to bad marketing and partly due to the fact that the McFarlane toys were targeted for a more mature audience. However, they had a big success copying Wizards of the Coast's Magic: The Gathering with their introduction of the Superhero card game, Wildstorms, which later spun off into a crossover set of cards with Marvel.

In 1995, WildStorm created an imprint named Homage Comics, centered around more writer-driven books. The imprint was started with Kurt Busiek's Astro City and The Wizard's Tale, James Robinson's Leave it to Chance (with Paul Smith) and Jeff Mariotte's Desperadoes (with John Cassaday). More recently, the imprint has featured works by Sam Kieth, including Zero Girl and Four Women, and three of Warren Ellis' pop-comics mini-series, Mek, Red and Reload.

1997 debuted the Cliffhanger imprint - a line of creator-owned comic books which included to this day such popular works as J. Scott Campbell's Danger Girl, Joe Madureira's Battle Chasers, Humberto Ramos' Crimson and Out There, Joe Kelly & Chris Bachalo's Steampunk, Kurt Busiek & Carlos Pacheco's Arrowsmith and Warren Ellis's Two-Step and Tokyo Storm Warning.

This year also saw a huge revamp of all the Wildstorm universe titles, including such prominent comic book names as Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Adam Warren, Sean Phillips and Joe Casey. After this revamp the new Wildcats series, Stormwatch and DV8 took the places of the most popular and most commercially sucessfull comics of the Wildstorm Universe.

The DC Years

The upsurge in popularity of the Wildstorm titles resulted in the 1998 acquisition of Wildstorm by DC Comics (effective January 1999). According to DC this was to "...strengthen both WildStorm's ability to expand its editorial goals and diversifying DC's output". Jim Lee said that he was lucky that it was DC, and not Marvel that bought him out considering Marvel's bankruptcy of the same period.

1999 was a hallmark year for Wildstorm. They launched The Authority, a dark, violent, superhero comic with heroes who didn't care about such things as honorable battle or not killing their opponents - only making the world a better place. Warren Ellis created the comic from the ashes of Stormwatch, writing its first 12 issues before handing the series over to Mark Millar. The Authority fused the hope and strivings of the Silver Age superheroes with a cynical look at humanity. The fight between the heroes and the corrupt parts of the humanity would lead the series into the 2004 Wildstorm crossover, Coup d'Etat, where the Authority would take control of the United States of America. Ellis, along with the artist John Cassaday, created Planetary, a story about explorers of the strange, intermeshing a look at pop culture, comic book history and literature with the unique artwork of John Cassaday.

Around this time WildStorm also launched a new imprint, America's Best Comics, specifically to allow Alan Moore to create a number of comics based on his own ideas. The line has been widely lauded and awarded, and has created such titles as Promethea, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Tomorrow Stories, Tom Strong and Top 10.

2001 marked the start of Ed Brubaker's critically acclaimed Sleeper, set in the Wildstorm universe, and Warren Ellis's Global Frequency. Global Frequency. The rights for Global Frequency were bought by Warner Brothers in 2004, and a pilot for a TV series for the WB network was made but the show was not picked up. The pilot however was later leaked to the internet.  (http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/rage/111863094537167.htm)

To this day, WildStorm has been varying its publishing with licensed properties, such as Thundercats, Robotech and Speed Racer, and with original graphical novels from the pens of such famous SF writers as Kevin J. Anderson and David Brin.

Notable publications

External link


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