I found a solution but not an explanation. Evidently, loading images at the end of the script keeps them in the app...no idea why, but it works. I've read through few threads and a technical brief for the loading of images into QlikView. Technical Brief didn't mention anything about it, but there was another thread that discussed it in more details, but came to the same conclusion - just use a bundle load after last drop statement.
I hope this will be helpful to anyone else that struggles with this. If anyone can explain the method behind the madness, I'd love to learn it.