I disagree with your assessment, Chris. Image provides opportunities for creators to release their books to a large audience, and apparently does not apply a heavy editorial hand with regard to genre or content. There is no “Image” style to which writers and artists are obliged to adhere. Granted, not every book they publish is a DEADLY CLASS or an EAST OF WEST or even a WALKING DEAD; but just as Image took a chance on those books, they continue to provide an opportunity for books like BITTER ROOT and COLD SPOTS and OUTPOST ZERO to find an audience and become as successful as those earlier books.
And it’s important to understand that each book Image publishes is a stand-alone. You don’t need to read Kirkman’s WALKING DEAD in order to understand and enjoy his OUTCAST or OBLIVION SONG or DIE DIE DIE. Each Ales Kot miniseries is completely independent of the one that came before and the one that comes next. I take a look at each new series or mini that Image releases, but I never feel like I need to buy them (unlike the old days when I felt like I had to buy every X-book that Marvel released, for fear of missing out on an important continuity event).
But, yeah, DC and Marvel should seriously consider paring back their lines, for the health and longevity of the industry.