At this year's Comic-Con in San Diego, indie upstart Image Comics held a panel introducing new top-tier creators and series. The news is evidence of the rise of creator-owned material, Image's unique specialty.
The now 20 year old Image Comics, formed with the purpose of publishing works owned by their creators, has taken full advantage of its anniversary celebration. They've released something in the neighborhood of 20 to 25 #1 issues so far this year, both for miniseries and ongoing titles. Between the surge in new creator-owned properties and the gargantuan success of The Walking Dead, I think it's safe to say that Image is worthy of being grouped together with Marvel and DC — the Big Three of the comics world.