Valiant Comics’ former director of Design & Production, Travis Escarfullery, has recently taken to social media to unload on the company’s bad business practices.

X-0 Manowar: Planet Death Vol. 3 #12 (2013). Words by Robert Venditti. Art by Cary Nord.

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The company had an epic relaunch in 2012, with owner Dinesh Shamdasani bringing in key talent and creating innovation in a superhero-shared universe that hasn’t been done since the silver age of Marvel and DC Comics. Five years after Shamdasni’s exit, the company has fallen to levels not seen since Valiant originally was canceled during Acclaim Entertainment’s 1990s bankruptcy with new claims that their talent is not getting paid what they’re owed for work.

Jim Shooter headed the original Valiant Comics, in an effort to capitalize on the comic industry’s boom in the early 1990s. The company created several hit characters, including X-O Manowar, Bloodshot, and Shadowman. Valiant made history with one of the biggest crossover events in history, with a line-wide storyline titled ‘Unity’ which brought all of the characters together.

Bloodshot Reborn Vol. 10 (2016), Valiant Comics. Words by Jeff Lemire. Art by Lewis Larosa.

Shooter eventually left the company, but the company kept its lines going with quality comics until defunct video game developer Acclaim Entertainment bought Valiant in 1994. Several of the titles were relaunched, but they also benefited from marketing from video game adaptations. However, the quality of both turned out to be dubious, and Acclaim filed bankruptcy in 2004, where the rights to Valliant characters were eventually sold to Shamdasani.

The Valiant Comics Relaunch was also a huge success. Shamdasani brought in heavyweight creators like Matt Kindt, Jeff Lemire, Robert Venditti, Lewis LaRosa, and Tomas Giorello to helm their books, and fans were pleased with the high-quality art and storytelling.

X-0 Manowar #26 (2017). Words by Matt Kindt. Art by Tomás Giorello.

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Valiant also innovated with special pre-order deals for comic shops where fans could reserve a full run of issues in advance and get special editions of their comics which had behind-the-scenes interviews, sketches, and more features that were not made available otherwise.

One of the chief talents of these innovations was the aforementioned Escarfullery, who added many of Valiant’s new initiatives including special variant covers made out of glass or metal, which made waves in the collectors’ markets.

At the beginning of 2018, however, Valiant’s golden age revival came to a halt as Chinese-owned DMG Entertainment acquired the fledgling comic company.

Unity Vol. 1 (2013), Valiant Comics. Words by Matt Kindt. Art by Dough Braithwaite.

Upon the acquisition, CEO Dan Mintz assured fans and readers they wouldn’t be making any wholesale changes but that he would be adding writers familiar with the filmmaking process to make a smooth transition from comics to streaming and movie formats.

His promises never came to fruition, as almost all of the artistic talent who had been working for Valiant left the company and began projects for Shamdasani’s new venture, Bad Idea Comics. Mintz also hired controversial activist Heather Antos as an editor, who brought in a slate of artists and writers she’d worked with to the company. These were subpar and amateurish compared to the work Valiant produced before.

Sales soon began to decline. Valiant cut back its production on books. The new incarnations of Ninja-K and X-O Manowar upset fans, who pulled their support from the company they’d been loyal to for years.

Ninja-K Vol. 1 (2017), Valiant Comics. Words by Christos Gage. Art by Tomás Giorello.

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In a Valiant Comics Fans Facebook group, Escarfullery unloaded on the company’s direction since DMG and Mintz took over.

“So after almost 11 1/2 years at Valiant, I’m not moving forward with them,” said the company’s former Director of Design and Production. “What bothers me the most is that Dan[Mintz] stiffed me on my severance. The guy has zero class and can care less about anything. Because I don’t want anything to do with the brand, I’m selling off my books/merch at a discounted price.”

“Oh, and anyone who bought into NFTs, I would probably consider your money gone and I can’t forget about the Kickstarter,” he went on. “One thing is for sure, I’m not building an AR cover or explaining how it’s done. Wait, is that thing even close to going to the printer along with its add-ons? Hmmm.”

Travis Escarfullery comments on the Valiant Comic Fans group via Facebook

Fans were sympathetic towards Escarfullery’s experience, eventually prompting a response from the former Valiant Comics employee.

“It’s sad that within 5 years Dan ran the company into the ground. They went from 7 books a month to 1. Pulled X-O for September to run Ninjak. Really screwed up with the NFTs thinking it was a money grab. Too much greed,” he asserted

Escarfullery continued, “Now a publisher, has to get another publisher to print their books. Oh X-O 4 has been sitting on the printers servers since May,” adding, “I do wish the 3 people left good luck. Dan, your movie ideas a terrible and the fact you couldn’t get anything done during the pandemic when the WORLD was consuming content speaks volumes.”

Travis Escarfullery comments on the Valiant Comic Fans group via Facebook

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Valiant’s been embattled with an unfulfilled Kickstarter for an Eternal Warrior graphic novel which has upset fans with constant delays and no confirmed delivery date. The book was funded in 2021 with a delivery date listed of November 2022 with only 531 backers. Valiant stopped giving updates to backers as of March.

Eternal Warrior: Scorched Earth by Valiant Entertainment via Kickstarter

Moreover, Valiant has struggled in the collected edition formats, with delays on the omnibus and deluxe edition reprints leaving fans to wonder if certain books would ever be released.

Currently, Valiant is only producing one floppy comic per month as Escarfullery stated, and it doesn’t appear like they are making moves to increase or improve their output. If they are stiffing their employees on severance or back pay, it bodes ill for the company’s long-term health.

Bloodshot Vol. 1 (2019), Valiant Comics. Words by Tim Seeley. Art by Brett Booth.

What do you think about Valiant Comics’ fall from grace? Leave a comment and let us know.

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  • About The Author

    Jon Del Arroz is the leading Hispanic voice in science fiction, a #1 bestselling author and an award winning commentator. He is a contributor to the Federalist and his books are available on Amazon.