There are a number of reasons why Image Comics rock beyond having great creators creating great comics.
First, they do not scatter ads throughout the story. There is nothing worse than being drawn into a compelling story only to turn the page and see an advertisement of a fat kid eating Red Baron's frozen pizza. The comics that Marvel, DC, and Vertigo push out feel like they have more pages of ads than comic book. I will never buy another single issue of any Marvel, DC, or Vertigo comic until they take the ads out.
Second, they print on quality paper. Seriously, the paper in Image Comics feels as substantial as their covers.
Finally, Image Comics do not put bar codes on the front cover of the comic. The front cover of the comic is a work of art. I have never seen a bar code on a painting before. Why is a bar code necessary? If one is necessary, why can't they be put on the back of the comic?
For these reasons, Image is number 1 in my book. They will continue to get between $20 and $30 from me every month as long as these things stay the same.
Those are some great points above wwise03, totally agree, these points are the icing on the cake of producing some great compelling cutting edge titles which really feel both contemporary and forward moving.
I hope Image grows and grows, it's got to the stage where I'm easily picking up more of their books monthly than anyone else and you've got to want success for a company who is offering creators the freedom and opportunities that they do.
The only thing that confuses me, is why the creators want to publish their stuff at Image?
This, I just don't get.
In the letter column of Saga, Brian K. Vaughn said that Image was the finest publisher that he has ever worked with, so I will assume that doing business with them is a pleasurable experience.
In a recent Q&A (not sure if it was from a convention or an interview here at CBR), Eric Stephenson (Image's publisher) said that Image Comics promote small up-and-coming creators as much as they promote industry giants: that could be great motivation for smaller guys.
Finally, as Erik Larsen just said, Image pays the best rate.