This was originally published January of 2001. I had done an interview with Jim previously and thought it went well. Now he had recently been named Publisher of Image comics and was working with ACTOR (now called Hero Initiative). I thought I’d interview him again about his new roles. This was sadly a short interview. I had sent Jim a batch of 13 questions and he only answered a half of them. I then sent him another batch of 12 questions and again only answered half of those too. I was pretty frustrated and decided to just go with what I got instead of continuing with the teeth pulling exercise.
An Interview With Jim Valentino
When I first interviewed Jim Valentino in June of 1998, he was working on the Altered Image mini-series and had just announced he was doing some work with Archie’s Sonic the Hedgehog and Knuckles titles. Since then, he has become the Publisher of Image Comics and a board member of ACTOR (A Commitment To Our Roots). In this interview, we talk about new books and talents at Image, Jim’s background and his work in ACTOR, a charity group that helps out retired creators in their time of need.
Jamie: What are your goals for Image? How do you want it to improve?
Jim Valentino: I want Image to improve in every way conceivable. Better stories, better art, better on-time shipping. I want fans and retailers to trust that Image is a company they can depend on for quality, diversity and professionalism.
Jamie: Were you surprised when Tom DeFalco wanted to do a creator owned book through Image? Since he was the Editor In Chief of Marvel way back when the founders broke away and formed Image?
Jim Valentino: I was delighted. Tom brought me into Marvel, we have always had a very warm and friendly relationship. This is pure joy for me. I’ve read the first issue of Randy O’Donnell is The M@n, Tom’s first book for us–and it’s a sheer delight! It’s the best stuff Tom and Ron Lim have ever done, I could not be happier.
Jamie: Image has gotten some big name creators and titles as of late with Battle Chasers and now Kevin Smith books. Just to clear something up, will Image be reprinting books that were done at Oni?
Jim Valentino: This was covered in the press release. Chasing Dogma and Clerks will both be re-issued with photo covers, the former in color.
Jamie: Do you plan on doing any creative work soon?
Jim Valentino: The work I’m doing every day to make Image a better company is both creative and rewarding enough for me at the present time.
Jamie: How is working on the business end of comics different than working on the creative end?
Jim Valentino: It’s different on nearly every level. The job descriptions are different. As a creator, one must create–something new where it did not previously exist.
On the business level, one must wear many hats. Find solutions to problems that come up on a daily basis. The two could not be any more dissimilar.
Jamie: Does being a former creator give you an insight or advantage that others in the business side of comics don’t have?
Jim Valentino: Certainly it gives me insight and experience. Having worked at all levels in this business from retail to distribution, creator to editor to publisher, I’ve learned one or two things along the way. How that compares, favorably or in any other way to anyone else I cannot say.
Jamie: I wasn’t aware you had experience in retail and distribution, can you tell more about your time in these areas? (Who did you work for, when & how long, what did you did there, etc…)
Jim Valentino: I worked for several retail stores in the 70’s–Colorado Comics and Jack Dickenson’s Comic Kingdom in San Diego, among others. Also in the late 70’s, I helped Ken Krueger open the first distribution center in LA for Pacific Comics (so Diamond big-wig, Bill Shanes, was my boss!). I also worked with Pacific in San Diego.
Jamie: TPB backlists have become a topic in the industry with DC benefiting greatly from one and Marvel admitting they need one. Any chance that Image will create a backlist program for all of it’s creators instead of having them do it all on their own?
Jim Valentino: Image already has a large and growing backlist of titles. And since all Image comics are creator owned, I’m uncertain what the last sentence means.
Jamie: DC has a staffed warehouse full of TPB’s and keeps them all in print. Do you see Image doing that as a service in the future?
Jim Valentino: All of Image’s trades are in Diamond’s Star System (as are DC’s). They are warehoused. As books go out of print, we gauge whether or not there is sufficient demand for the title. We discuss reprinting with the creator/owner (DC’s owning their Marks and Image publishing creator owned properties is not merely a difference in semantics, but a difference in the entire way we operate), if there is sufficient interest in the title and if the creator is willing, we go back to press. Again, we are not DC. Comparing us, one to the other, is an apples/oranges argument.
Jamie: Who came up with the idea of ACTOR and how did it form?
Jim Valentino: Jim McLaughlin came up with it. I do not know how it was formed, I suggest you ask Jim.
Jamie: Do you know who ACTOR will help out first and when and how it will do that?
Jim Valentino: No. It’s set up so there are two separate committees. The one I’m on will get the word out (promotion, propaganda, whatever) and help to raise the funds. Then there is another committee that will nominate recipients and disperse the funds.
Jamie: Can you tell us who is on which committee?
Jim Valentino: The Board of Directors (fund-raising committee) are: Jim McLaughlin, Mark Alessi, Brian Pulido, Patrick McCallum, Joe Quesada, Diana Schutz and Jim Valentino. The disbursement committee are: Roy Thomas, George Perez, Joe Kubert, Denny O’Neil, John Romita, Sr. and Dick Giordano.
Jamie: How can fans help out with ACTOR?
Jim Valentino: They can donate money–they can buy the stuff going up for auction. They can look for more auctions.