That said, "exclusive" has a somewhat more amphorous meaning for The Bigs than it does for us. When I heard about it, I thought it meant, you know, exclusive. Nope. Some have exceptions allowing them to work for certain other indies or take the occasional side job at The Competition. Some don't have exceptions, it's just allowed, the exclusivity thing is in name only. I don't remember who it is off the top of my head, but there is a comic creator who is somehow exclusive with BOTH Marvel and DC.
However, "exclusive", because of the benefits attached to it, does carry a price. DC recently started a two-tier payment system for inkers, letterers, and colorists. They've also been continuing to work with certain creators while letting the exclusivity arrangement expire and not renewing it. Exclusivity is becoming a lot harder to get.
And when the gods of comic book publishing smile on you, you goddamn well better appreciate it.
Frank Quitely and Grant Morrison are two of DC's "architects." When they start big company events, they are instrumental in plotting them out, setting editorial schedule, and so on. They are superstars. They also work for DC, which ended their creator-owned imprint, Piranha Press, years ago (Vertigo is an odd case. The creators retain the rights to their work, but DC gets an exclusivity window if the book gets canceled and a cut of spin-off media moneys during that time. In case you're wondering why iZombie isn't just going to Image). Marvel sidesteps this with Icon, their own creator-owned line that seems to have terms similar to Image (Epic was killed off).
Quitely and Morrison each have their own creator-owned series coming out from Image and they are talking them up. In fact, they are talking them up a lot more than their work on DC Comics.
DC is putting the word out to others that they are going to be tightening the leash. They are expecting "exclusive" to mean you won't go to the competition (read that: self-publishers? Good. Image, Dynamite, and others of that ilk? Watch your step).
And I'll bet a lot of modern creators are kicking themselves that they helped kill the indie market that gave them stuff independent of the dick waving of The Bigs right about now.