Valiant Comics - Valiant Heroes, Acclaimed Games
By Hervé St-Louis
November 6, 2002 - 12:09
VALIANT HEROES, ACCLAIMED GAMES
These are the word spoken by Jim Shooter in the letters page of Harbinger #1."The comic you hold in your hands is as important as Avenger # 1." To this day, I don't know whether to believe him or not. In 1991-92, Valiant Comics was a new comic book publisher promising quality and entertainment. For a while it delivered.
I jumped in early on Valiant's bang wagon. I had pre-ordered my Harbinger books from the Previews book (or whatever it was in the days when they were several comic book distributors). I was also there for Rai # 3, Unity, X-O Manowar and my favourite Valiant title ever, Archer and Armstrong.
When Valiant started, they had some gimmicks, but good contents. It went after the college crowd, tired of the old DC/Marvel stuff. All the books had the same look and strong stories. No books were rushed out. New talent were carefully matched with old pros to help groom them.
So what went wrong with Valiant? How could a successful publisher who understood marketing fold? Their biggest mistake was getting rid of Jim Shooter. He was driven, but damn, he was good.
'Time is Not Absolute'
Some of the best and innovative creative houses are often led by difficult men. Jim Shooter is a lot like Walt Disney, except for that he got fired. There's much back room politics involved in that episode. Officially, Shooter was damaging the atmosphere in the studio and not friendly with the financial backers of Valiant's owner, Voyager Communications.
Valiant became a joke after this event. Bob Layton and the investors thought that with the established books and creators there, they could hold their own. They were wrong. Without their strong editor, Valiant created many books without any direction. Worse, they could not manage difficult personalities like Barry Windsor Smith.
Valiant copied flavours of the month instead of continuing their game plan. The publisher went for Image Comics' target, high school kids, abandoning college jocks. A perfect grab for any media group, Acclaim, the new Valiant became one of the first comic book studio developing contents primarily for video games and film producers.
The next year, When everybody from Dark Horse to DC and Malibu got into the business of introducing new universes, instead of improving their existing books, Valiant introduced six more! Long live Valiant. It was a good idea, but it failed. As for my copies, I've decided to keep them. They were great comics.
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