Comics industry observers are used to seeing publishers tout exclusive contracts with creators, but with its latest personnel news, Valiant Entertainment has aimed for quality and quantity. In advance of this weekend's C2E2 convention in Chicago, Valiant has announced an impressive 15 new or renewed exclusive agreements with artists (line artists and colorists). CBR has the exclusive first details.
Here's the full list: Raul Allen (currently working on "Wrath of the Eternal Warrior"), David Baron (colorist on "Divinity II" and "Bloodshot Reborn"), Diego Bernard ("Ninjak"), Doug Braithwaite ("Ninjak"), CAFU ("Rai"), Khari Evans ("Imperium"), Robert Gill ("4001 A.D.: Shadowman"), Trevor Hairsine ("Divinity II"), Clayton Henry ("4001 AD: X-O Manowar"), David Lafuente ("A&A: The Adventures of Archer & Armstrong"), Lewis LaRosa ("Bloodshot Reborn"), Pere Perez (former "Archer & Armstrong" artist said to be working on a "top secret" project), Brian Reber (colorist on "A&A" and "Bloodshot Reborn"), Juan Jose Ryp ("Wrath of the Eternal Warrior") and Mico Suayan ("Bloodshot Reborn").
Each creator was already announced as contributing to current or had illustrated past Valiant projects, and some of the exclusive deals had previously been made public or are extensions of prior deals. But by publicizing this full list, Valiant makes a clear statement on the importance of locking down its talent roster, as well as the creators' apparent enthusiasm for sticking with the publisher.
"Since Valiant returned to publishing in 2012, we've emphasized two goals above all others: to make the best and most accessible comics anywhere on the stands, and to foster the most creator-friendly environment possible for the amazing collections of writers, pencilers, inkers, colorists, and letterers that call Valiant home," Valiant CEO & Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani said in a statement. "In the intervening years, many have attempted to duplicate the ethos behind Valiant's approach and few, if any have, succeeded. Today's announcement only reinforces what our fans, critics, and creators have known all along: that Valiant has assembled one of the most formidable teams in recent memory and that Valiant's dedication to excellence is matched only by the vision of our creators."
The current incarnation of Valiant -- which launched in 2012 as a fresh-start revival of the characters and concepts from the original Valiant, which started publishing in 1992 -- has gained a reputation for a "Moneyball"-esque approach to talent, recruiting creators that may have been undervalued at Marvel or DC Comics. Many of the 15 artists on Valiant's exclusive list had earlier gained notoriety at Marvel or DC, including Lafuente, Henry and Braithwaite.
"It has taken patience, teamwork, and many late nights to make Valiant into one of the industry's driving forces, but, from our first issue onward, we've been exceptionally fortunate in one regard: each and every one of our creators treats their respective title as their number-one priority, not the third or fourth most important project they might happen to be working on that week," Valiant Editor-in-Chief Warren Simons said in a statement.
Though Valiant's sales remain modest compared to larger publishers -- in February 2016's Diamond direct market sales charts, the company was No. 9 in overall unit share and No. 13 in overall dollar share -- the publisher has had a notable hit already in 2016 with "Faith" by writer Jody Houser and artists Francis Portela and Marguerite Savauge, which has seen four printings of its first issue. Last year, it was announced that Chinese company DMG Entertainment had made a nine-figure investment into Valiant with an eye on developing its properties for film, starting with "Bloodshot."
Valiant is slated to talk more about its creative lineup this Saturday at C2E2, during its "Valiant: 4001 A.D. and Beyond" panel.