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Image Comics Staffers Form New Union: Comic Book Workers United - Request Voluntary Recognition ‘In An Effort To Seek Better’ Working Conditions

Published Wednesday, November 3, 2021
by Casey Donahue/
Image Comics Staffers Form New Union: Comic Book Workers United - Request Voluntary Recognition ‘In An Effort To Seek Better’ Working Conditions

(PORTLAND, OREGON) - The Staffers of Image Comics have formed a new Union - Comic Book Workers United, and are requesting voluntary recognition from Image and the rest of the Comic Book Industry.

The formation of this Union is part of a movement to improve conditions in the Comic Book Industry, which was hit hard by the Coronavirus Pandemic and continues to be plagued by issues such as paper shortages across the world.

More Comic Book Creators have been calling out how they are not fairly compensated for their creations by publishers, who rake in billions of dollars from movies, games, comics and other merchandise based on characters created by Writers and Artists.

Comic Creators have been moving more towards creator-owned ventures through newsletter services such as Substack, but this is one of the first instances of the Staffers of a comic book company calling for their own Union.

1TThe formation of Comic Book Workers United was announced with a letter signed by Image Staffers Ryan Brewer, Leanna Caunter, Marla Eizik, Drew Fitzgerald, Melissa Gifford, Chloe Ramos, Tricia Ramos, Jon Schlaffman and Erika Schnatz.

The Union Organizers expressed that the industry has a history of taking labor for granted and even exploiting it, and that this pattern of behavior has been exacerbated by the challenges presented by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

"Our workforce, and the comic book and publishing industry as a whole, is overtaxed and undervalued.  This is detrimental not only to General Staff, but also to the creators we are paid to serve and the audiences they in turn work to entertain," the letter said. "Our labor is integral to the Comic Book Industry.  It requires specialized skills, dedication, and makes quality publishing possible."

The Organizers cited the formation of Image Comics itself as an inspiration.

The company was launched in 1992 by a group of Comics’ Creators who wanted ownership and more creative control of their works than they were offered at the Big Two Publishers of Marvel and DC.

"We are honored to grow their legacy by taking this step to give all Comic Book Industry Professionals, regardless of title, the same rights, guarantees, security, and protections which the founders sought when they broke away from the big two to start their own company," the Comic Book Workers United Organizers said. "In fact, several months into our organizing efforts, Jim Valentino made a comment on Social Media celebrating Union accomplishments.  That was the moment we knew this could work."

The Union lists a number of goals on its website designed to create more transparency in terms of salaries and workloads for Employees, improve Staff morale through annual reviews of Staff and management, create a more transparent company culture through monthly meetings, increase knowledge retention through more detailed record-keeping, encourage better career mobility for Staffers, continue remote work and reasonable accommodations for Employees who request it, adding Staff in the Production and Marketing Departments to create a better overall product, addressing the lack of diversity in Staff and management, and a commitment to company values by implementing a voting option to cancel titles whose Creators "have been found to have engaged in abuse, sexual assault, racism and xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, ableism, etc."

Comic Book Workers United is asking for people to champion the cause, either as individuals or as groups, by signing a letter of support and sharing statements of support on Social Media, and as well as calling on Image Comics to voluntarily recognize the Workers' Union.

The letter by the Comic Book Workers United Organizers ends by saying they believe Image Comics has the desire to do right by its Workers by supporting the Union.

"That's why we know we will win, because our success is the company's success," the letter states. "Our success is the Creators' success.  Our success is the readers' success."

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