The companies behind the comic books are the publishers. They are on the front line, taking the risks in publishing comic books, and are putting their money where their mouths are. Without publishers big and small, there would be no comics for us to read and enjoy. Comics needs the big time publishers and the smaller ones willing to take risks and push the boundaries of the world of comic books.
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. Their tie in material, with such movies as Iron Man, Spider-Man, and The X-Men have 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 isn't without fault though, but has weathered the storm of the comic book world fairly unscathed, making them the top in comic book publishing.
Copyright DC Comics
DC Comics is the other entity known of as "The Big Two." 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 superheroes out there today. These icons and the extra material based off them are always big hits.
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 offerings. They have really pushed the boundaries in terms of comics for adults with their Vertigo line and continue to seek becoming a better company.
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 lately been a place for creators to keep their properties alive 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. It has recently taken over the top three spot in the last few years from Image and continues to solidify itself with funds from other markets such as the film industry. Dark Horse is looking strong these days.
Copyright Erik Larsen
Image Comics burst onto the scene 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., Withcblade, 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. They continue to lead the charge for creator owned comics and remain a big player.
5. IDW Publishing
Copyright IDW Publishing
IDW has quickly come on the radar lately with top quality creator owned comics and smart licensing properties that have made their sales solid. They've revitalized the Transformers and Star Trek lines, with sites 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.
IDW continues to make smart moves on comics that find a good niche among buyers and if they continue this patter, they threaten to take over the top rungs of the small publisher market.