During our two concurrent investigations of the early years of Image (Bad Girls in retrospect, specifically, and Year of the Knockoff, by regular coincidence), every now and then we’ve come across (though this is admittedly an inexact science) a handful of apparently feminine names. Who are these people? Let’s find out.
1: Wendy Fouts, spotted in Deathblow #1
Wendy Fouts, now Wendy Broome, continues to colour; check out her work in DC’s Bombshells or Legend of the Dark Knight, for example. Mat Broome, an Image contributor who penciled Stormwatch from December ’93 and had a ten-issue run on WildCATS in ’97, is now her husband. Wendy coloured WildCATS on and off from ’93 to ’97, seventeen issues total, as well as various other Wildstorm books (Wildstorm being Jim Lee’s Image studio) and a smattering of wider Image-brand offerings, such as assisting Joe Chiodo on Tribe and Union. Though she also contributed to non-Wildstorm Image books, Lee, it seems, was pleased with her work, as his (and the Wildstorm universe’s) transition to DC seems to match hers. Her credits list is long and varied, having conquered not only the extreme sheen of the 90s, but also the more Allred-inspired, modern-retro look that benefits books like Bombshells or the below.
2: Renae Geerlings, spotted in Spirit of the Tao #12
As ComicVine has it, Geerlings began at Top Cow (Marc Silvestri’s Image studio) in 1997 as a temp receptionist (her current professional profile prefers the term “editorial assistant”). Over the next eleven years, she worked her way up to Editor in Chief. Renae Geerlings, we salute you. Geerlings is one of the few women—truthfully, one of two (Hi Christina Z!)—whose credits on TC titles gave me some sustenance as a teenage reader toughing it out. Her credit number in ComicVine’s issue list is three hundred and thirty six, twenty more than Broome’s own impressive number.
Renae still edits at Darby Pop; she is currently Managing Editor. Between 2006 (when she left Top Cow) and 2013 (when she joined Darby), she kept up a freelance editorial career alongside various film and televisual gigs. Catch her in Halloween II or Compound Fracture! Also, FYI, the first Fox Sabretooth is her hubs. Catch one or both of them at Heroes Dome convention in June, or make do with this interview.
(Geerlings and Broome are the only two names found in my own reading that appear to still be present in the industry.)
3: Monica Rodríguez
Monica Rodríguez is hard to research! She doesn’t have a ComicVine listing; Rodríguez’ comic book database listed credits are all for Top Cow titles between ’95 and 2002 (her last being Fathom, which after 2002 moved with Michael Turner from Top Cow to his own studio imprint Aspen). She appears to have been a colourist; this doesn’t help in a Google search, as several different people called Monica Rodríguez either use Pinterest or work as hair colorists. Maybe one of them is her? Moving from the page to the scalp would be a career arc I’d love to hear about.
4: Annie Skiles
An inker whose work appeared in Top Cow’s Aphrodite IX, Skiles is also hard to track. She appears, in name only on Aspen’s “Female Staff Members” page; her personal page list both personal and professional histories as unknown. Aspen’s (now Aspen MLT) Wiki also lists Skiles as a letterer, without additional details. Their page for Fathom Collected Editions Volume one, issue three, lists Annie as a “producer.” What that means, I cannot say. This weird list suggests she inked the third issue of a Magdalena solo series.
5: Cheri Liefeld, spotted in Vogue #1
Liefeld? Huh? That surname sounds familiar…Yes! It’s Rob’s big sister (she’s older by seven years). Now a blogger and public speaker, sharing recipes and prayers at CheriLiefeld.com, Cheri was right there at the beginning working for her artist-owner brother at his Image studio (Extreme Studios) during the early-mid nineties. Here’s an excerpt from an LA Times news item in ’92:
Liefeld is set to autograph the first 1,000 copies of “Youngblood.” And the crowd is expected to be enormous, considering that first issues of Superman now fetch as much as $47,000. Buyers of the $2.50 comic will receive a signed and numbered “First Day of Issuance Certificate.”
Negotiations are also in progress for posters, games and trading cards.
“And we’re looking into toy deals and T-shirt deals,” says Cheri Liefeld, the cartoonist’s older sister, who began handling his licensing and business arrangements about a month ago.
Hey, who doesn’t love a bit of Liefeld cheesecake? Haha, that’s a funny joke. Seriously though, I’m hungry.
6-9: Catherine Burch, Sandra Chang, Cynthia Morris, and Judy Hosobuchi, spotted in Killrazor #1
Colourists! Catherine Burch was a colourist at Top Cow (branching out once or twice for Pitt at Full Bleed, another Image studio, and a couple of issues of Shi at Crusade), working on various titles, the majority of her work appearing between 1993 and 1996 (in fact the majority in ’96). Sandra Chang seems to have filled in where needed; she appears with an inker credit in a Vampirella pin-up special and seems to have become Sandra Chang-Adair, an artist credited for a wide array of titles including a lot of fuck books (her cover to Head #2 looks airbrushed; a painter able to turn her hand to various stages of comic book process). Cynthia Morris was another Top Cow house colourist, all of whose work there (as far as ComicVine can call) received publication in 1995. Her work appeared in one DC book, a Bettie Page Comics issue for Dark Horse, one of Danzig’s Verotik issues and coloured a couple of books each for for Broadway Comics and Crusade. Judy Hosobuchi, likewise, mained Top Cow ’93 to ’95, but also pitched in with an issue of Pitt. Like Morris and Burch, two issues of Crusade appear in her bibliography, a single Malibu book (Image’s first distributor) in ’94 tops it off.
10: Melody White
Comic Book Database lists Melody White as the cartoonist of a 1989 issue of Critters, which I can’t substantiate by ComicVine or otherwise online. She definitely worked on a handful of Top Cow titles in ’95 and ’96, and is listed there as contributing to “Image” (’96) and “Titans” (’98), neither of which I can further identify.
11: Brenda Donnelly, spotted in Prophet #5
A colourist who worked on nine straight issues of Bloodstrike in 1994, plus an additional one (also in ’94). Her Prophet credit is as a part of an “Extreme Colors is” lineup. The Image Wiki lists her as colourist on Berzerkers in ’95 and Riptide also in ’95. I’ve also come across her name in Chapel #2, again in ’95. Assuming she should receive credit for any instance of Extreme Colors, that credit list will only expand.
12: Jannie Wong, spotted in Savage Dragon #1
I think this is Erik Larsen’s wife. She may not be, but he married a Jannie in 1993 whilst bearing a Jannie as “editor” on his creator-owned comic book, a role he has otherwise outspokenly reviled.
Jannie Wong was the editor on the original Savage Dragon miniseries, as well as twenty-four issues of the ongoing series (1993 to 1995, plus single issues in ’96 and ’98), and the five issue mini The Dragon from 1996. Her editorial credit also appears on one issue of WildCATS, issue fourteen, from September 1994, which Erik Larsen cartooned and Antonia Kohl coloured.
13: Antonia Kohl, spotted in WildCATS #14
Kohl seems to be a loyal member of Team Larsen; her only credits outside of Dragon-related titles are on Image’s Star in 1995 (one of which did, in fact, feature the Dragon) and Vanguard, which also happen to feature the big green one.
14: Stacy Herring, spotted in Savage Dragon #1
Under the generalised heading “Production,” which she can also be seen under in Brigade, Pendulum, Supreme, and CyberForce. Two women are glimpsed momentarily in this Malibu news segment; Dave Olbrich’s blog suggests that Stacy Herring is one.
15: Mary Kelleher, spotted in The Savage Dragon/Teenage Mutant Nunja Turtles #1
This is technically a Malibu production, but the crossover was clearly pitched to the Image audience. Kelleher is the letterer and seems to have come to the book from her regular work on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, having thirty-four credits on that title between 1989 and 1995. Kelleher also lettered eleven issues of Viz’ Crying Freeman translation release of 1992 and 1993, and eight of Revolutionary’s Rock’n’Roll Comics, ’90 to ’91.
16: Cynthia Sullivan, spotted in Cyber Force #3
A short-lived editor on Cyber Force—the first five issues and issue #0, during 1993—as well as Homage’s (an imprint of Wildstorm) Swimsuit Special. Cynthia is pictured in George Khoury’s Image Comics: The Road to Independence:
17: Deborah Marvin, spotted in StormWatch #1
Another editor, who seems to have worked under Jim Lee (her credits are on Wildstorm books and Darker Image— which features Lee’s name on the cover) only during 1993.
18: Teresa Cespedes, spotted in Image+ #1
“Traffic Coordinator.” What? During 1993 and 1994, Cespedes received “other” credits on seven issues of Extreme’s Bloodstrike, and nine on Top Cow’s Cyber Force. What did she do? It sounds like she had the administrative side of an editorial job, from the “traffic coordinator” credit listed in the first issue of Image+.
19: Susan Menning, spotted in Image+ #1
Menning is credited as copywriter for this inaugural issue of Image+, a project by comic shop owner Kim Kolomyjec to answer all of the cult-of-personality questions about the Image gang’s personal lives his shop was fielding. Kolomyjec’s shop did big business selling Image comics and McFarlane toys (“the most,” in fact), and he was even an employee of McFarlane Toys eventually, but whether Image+ #1 was technically an Image production or not is unclear, so whether Menning was technically ever an Image employee is similarly murky. Image certainly published the book, but that may have been her only contact with the company, or with comics at all.