The Top Comic Book Publishers and Companies

When you're first getting into comic books, it can be useful to differentiate between the major comic book publishers, as each publisher has different styles, characters, and expectations.  Comics needs both the big time publishers and the smaller ones willing to take risks and push the boundaries of the world of comic books.

Below you'll find all the top comic book publishers and some of the characters and comics they're known for. As comics increase in popularity, the number of publishers behind the books will only continue to grow.

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Marvel Comics

Spider-Man. Copyright Marvel Comics

Marvel Comics has been the top dog in comic book publishing recently, with their well received high profile events, strong sales, and popular characters. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has helped bring in new readers and have kept the spotlight on superheroes as a popular medium. Their characters are down to earth and people feel they can relate to them, a form of comic character that Marvel pioneered. Marvel certainly isn't without fault, but has weathered the storm of the comic book world fairly unscathed, making them the top in comic book publishing.

New comic book readers should take note of Marvel Unlimited, a digital library Marvel offers containing well over 15,000 of Marvel's comics throughout history. It's a great way to gain familiarity with the publisher and read more of their characters such as Daredevil, The Avengers, and Jessica Jones.

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DC Comics

Superman. Copyright DC Comics

Alongside Marvel, DC Comics is the other of the "Big Two" comic book publishers. They have a bevy of super powerful characters, with near godlike powers that were some of the first that comics had to offer. Their trinity of characters - Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman - are some of the most well known and iconic superheroes out there today, making their first cinematic appearance together in 2015's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

DC also has some of the most well-known graphic novels and series of all time. Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, Sandman, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Fables, Y The Last Man, and many more make up their more mature Vertigo imprint comics. They have really pushed the boundaries in terms of comics for adults with their Vertigo line, with the likes of Watchmen and Sandman frequently considered some of the best comics of all time.

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Dark Horse Comics

Star Wars. Copyright Dark Horse Comics

Dark Horse first became know for their licensed properties - Star Wars, Aliens, Predator, and others. They have also become well known for their creator-owned lines with Hellboy, The Goon, Sin City, Groo, The Umbrella Academy, and more. They have also been a place for creators to keep their properties going, with Joss Whedon continuing his Buffy series alive through comics.

Dark Horse continues to be a place for creator-owned lines, as well as a place for people looking to further license their properties into new markets. Great Dark Horse comics include Matt Kindt's Mind MGMT, and BPRD, an extension of Mike Mignola's Hellboy universe.

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Image Comics

Savage Dragon. Copyright Erik Larsen

Image Comics burst onto the scene in the 1990's with a group of hotshot artists tired of working for the man. They wanted the profits from their own creations and launched forward as a place for creator-owned properties. They found quick success with the likes of Spawn, Youngblood, Savage Dragon, Dark Hawk, Wild C.A.T.S., Witchblade, and others. Soon they were rivaling sales of Marvel and DC and things were looking good.

They eventually lost some of the steam they had with comics not being put out on time, infighting, and other issues. Image weathered the storm and continued to bring in new blood with the likes of Robert Kirkman, Jay Faerber, Matt Fraction, and Joe Casey.

Image is now known as the go to for creator-owned comics and is a frequent owner of many year-end best of comics. Image publishes some instant classics like Saga, Sex Criminals, and Criminal.

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IDW Publishing

30 Days Of Night Graphic Novel. Copyright IDW Publishing

IDW has made a name on top quality creator owned comics and smart licensing properties that have made their sales solid. They've revitalized the Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Star Trek lines, with additions on the GI Joe and Terminator series as well. Of course one of their top performers has been 30 Days of Night, which put them on the map of the comic book world.

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Valiant Comics

Valiant Comic Book Superheroes
Valiant Comics

 Valiant Comics launched in the early 90's as a new superhero universe for the modern era. Valiant was started in part by former Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Jim Shooter, and prided itself on grounded superpowers and airtight continuity, sometimes timing interactions down to the minute.

The 90's launch success eventually faded, requiring Valiant to close its doors until a reboot in the summer of 2011. Valiant has come back strong since that time, with flagship books like X-O Manowar, Harbinger, and Unity delivering some of the strongest superhero comics on the market.

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Your Citation
Albert, Aaron. "The Top Comic Book Publishers and Companies." ThoughtCo, Aug. 6, 2017, Albert, Aaron. (2017, August 6). The Top Comic Book Publishers and Companies. Retrieved from Albert, Aaron. "The Top Comic Book Publishers and Companies." ThoughtCo. (accessed April 24, 2018).