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Dark Horse Comics is an American
comic book A comic book, also called comic magazine or (in the United Kingdom and Ireland) simply comic, is a publication that consists of comics art in the form of sequential juxtaposed panels that represent individual scenes. Panels are often accompanie ...
and
manga Manga (Japanese: 漫画 ) are comics or graphic novels originating from Japan. Most manga conform to a style developed in Japan in the late 19th century, and the form has a long prehistory in earlier Japanese art. The term ''manga'' is used i ...
publisher. It was founded in 1986 by Mike Richardson in
Milwaukie, Oregon Milwaukie is a city mostly in Clackamas County, Oregon, United States; a very small portion of the city extends into Multnomah County. The population was 20,291 at the 2010 census. Founded in 1847 on the banks of the Willamette River, the city, k ...
. Richardson started out by opening his first comic book store, Pegasus Books, in Bend, Oregon, in 1980. From there he was able to use the funds from his retail operation to start his own publishing company. ''
Dark Horse Presents ''Dark Horse Presents'' was a comic book published by American company Dark Horse Comics from 1986. Their first published series, it was their flagship title until its September 2000 cancellation. The second incarnation was published on MySpace, run ...
'' and ''
Boris the Bear Boris the Bear is a fictional comic book character featured in several comic book titles published between 1986 and 2008. The series began as a response to the popularity of the wave of anthropomorphic character titles that began with the publishi ...
'' were the two initial titles in 1986 and within one year of its first publication, Dark Horse Comics added nine new titles to its roster, including ''
Hellboy Hellboy is a fictional superhero created by writer-artist Mike Mignola. The character first appeared in ''San Diego Comic-Con Comics'' #2 (August 1993), and has since appeared in various eponymous miniseries, one-shots and intercompany crossovers ...
'', '' The American'', ''The Mask'', ''Trekker (comics), Trekker'', and ''Black Cross''. Frank Miller (comics), Frank Miller's ''Sin City'' is one of the most famous works associated with Dark Horse, and it has become something of a signature comic to the publishing house. They also established a reputation for publishing licensed works such as ''Alien (franchise), Alien'', ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics, Buffy the Vampire Slayer'', ''Conan (Dark Horse Comics), Conan'', and ''Star Wars comics#Dark Horse (1991–2014), Star Wars''.


History


Independent era


Overview

Dark Horse has published many licensed comics, including comics based on ''Star Wars comics, Star Wars'', ''Avatar: The Last Airbender'', ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV series), Buffy the Vampire Slayer'', ''Aliens (film), Aliens'', ''Predator (film), Predator'', ''Mass Effect'', ''Dragon Age'', ''Conan the Barbarian, Conan'' and ''Who Wants to be a Superhero?'' Dark Horse has also published creator owned comics such as Frank Miller (comics), Frank Miller's ''Sin City'' and ''300 (comics), 300'', Mike Mignola's ''
Hellboy Hellboy is a fictional superhero created by writer-artist Mike Mignola. The character first appeared in ''San Diego Comic-Con Comics'' #2 (August 1993), and has since appeared in various eponymous miniseries, one-shots and intercompany crossovers ...
'', Stan Sakai's ''Usagi Yojimbo'', Gerard Way's ''Umbrella Academy'', ''Overwatch'', and Michael Chabon's ''The Escapist (character), The Escapist''. Today, the comic arm of the company flourishes despite no longer having its own universe of superpowered characters. Dark Horse also published the English translation of ''The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia'' in 2013. Like Dell and Gold Key, Dark Horse was one of the few major American publishers of comic books never to display the Comics Code Authority seal on its covers. In 2006, ''The New York Times'' reported that "Dark Horse pays by the story or the page, and shares profit generated by comic books and related merchandise. That is different from the standard work-for-hire arrangement at DC and Marvel: creators are paid for a specific story and perhaps receive royalties from collected editions, but the bulk of the revenue, and all of the merchandising opportunities, remain with the companies".


1986–2000

Dark Horse was founded in 1986 by Mike Richardson and launched in July 1986 with the black-and-white anthology series ''Dark Horse Presents'' that featured Paul Chadwick's ''Concrete (comics), Concrete'' and Chris Warner (comics), Chris Warner's ''Black Cross.'' ''The New York Times'' reported that "Dark Horse entered the game thanks to the birth of the direct sales market in the 1980s, which moved comics beyond newsstands and into specialty stores." In 1991, Dark Horse created a unit to develop toys and then in 1992, created Dark Horse Entertainment, the company's film and television production division. Dark Horse established itself by publishing creator-owned series and licensed titles. "When the Dark Horse editorial staff decided to create a comic universe of its own, the result was the boastfully named Comics' Greatest World (CGW). ... Despite Dark Horse's efforts, the comics industry became glutted in the mid-1990s and imploded." All CGW titles were canceled except for ''Ghost''. "Successes of the '90s included books based on the ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer'' franchise, American-distributed Japanese manga series such as ''Ghost in the Shell'' and ''Lone Wolf and Cub'', and original works by writer Frank Miller, including ''Sin City'' and the graphic novel ''300''".


2000–2020

In 2006, Dark Horse was the third largest comics publisher. Per Diamond Comic Distributors, "Marvel Comics, Marvel had 36.9 percent of the market", DC Comics, DC "had 32.9 percent" and Dark Horse had "5.6 percent". In 2007, Dark Horse donated copies of all of its published works to the Portland State University Library, which maintains both a browsing collection of book titles, in addition to a research collection which also includes every "print, poster, statue, figure, and all other products." As of July 15, 2016, the library has cataloged over 10,000 titles as "the official archive of Dark Horse publications." In 2011, ''Dark Horse Presents'' relaunched including the return of Paul Chadwick's ''Concrete'' and Steve Niles' ''Criminal Macabre'', as well as new talent including Sanford Greene, Carla Speed McNeil, Nate Crosby and others. Starting in 2013, Dark Horse began to reprint E.C. Comics, E. C. Archives, picking up the project of reprinting classic E. C. Comics from the 1950s where Gladstone left off, using the same size and format as Gladstone, with all stories reprinted in order and in full color. In early 2017, Dark Horse Comic entered partnership with Crypton Future Media to publish official English-language Hatsune Miku-related manga. In late summer of 2018, a set of comic books for ''Mysticons'' were released. In 2020, Dark Horse announced it was severing ties with writer and editor Scott Allie "after another former Dark Horse employee accused him of sexual harassment and sexual assault across a period lasting more than a decade." It was reported that in 2015, "after reports of multiple instances of sexual misconduct" by Allie:
Dark Horse Comics founder Mike Richardson released a statement to The Beat (comics magazine), ''The Beat'', which in part read, "In this particular case, action was taken immediately, though we did not, and cannot, perform a public flogging, as some might wish." Although Richardson said action had been taken, Allie continued as an editor for Dark Horse, transitioning from editor-in-chief to the role of executive senior editor in 2015, before departing Dark Horse as a full-time employee in 2017, continuing to work with them [until 2020] in a freelance capacity.


Imprints and studios


Comics' Greatest World/Dark Horse Heroes (1993–1996)

From 1993 to 1996, Dark Horse published a line (comics), line of superhero comics under the Comics' Greatest World imprint, which was later renamed Dark Horse Heroes. After 1996, publication of this line came to a near halt, ceasing production of any books concerning the characters with the publication of the last crossover books involving Ghost (Dark Horse Comics), Ghost, in the early 2000s.


Legend (1994–1998)

Legend was a
comic book A comic book, also called comic magazine or (in the United Kingdom and Ireland) simply comic, is a publication that consists of comics art in the form of sequential juxtaposed panels that represent individual scenes. Panels are often accompanie ...
imprint (trade name), imprint at Dark Horse Comics created in 1994 by Frank Miller (comics), Frank Miller and John Byrne (comics), John Byrne as an avenue for creator-owned projects. Its logo was a moai drawn by Mike Mignola. Later on, other creators were asked to join them. The imprint ended in 1998.


Members

* Art Adams * Frank Miller (comics), Frank Miller * John Byrne (comics), John Byrne * Mike Mignola * Paul Chadwick, Dave Gibbons, and Geof Darrow were also on the initial Dark Horse Legend launch tour. * Mike Allred * Walter Simonson


Dark Horse Manga

Dark Horse Manga is an imprint for Japanese
manga Manga (Japanese: 漫画 ) are comics or graphic novels originating from Japan. Most manga conform to a style developed in Japan in the late 19th century, and the form has a long prehistory in earlier Japanese art. The term ''manga'' is used i ...
translated into English. The company's first ongoing title was ''Oh My Goddess!'' by Kōsuke Fujishima, starting in August 1994. (''Oh My Goddess!'' since became America's longest running manga series.) Other publications include ''Akira (manga), Akira'', ''Astro Boy'', ''Berserk (manga), Berserk'', ''Blade of the Immortal'', ''Ghost in the Shell (manga)'', ''Lone Wolf and Cub'', ''Trigun'' and ''Blood Blockade Battlefront'' by Yasuhiro Nightow, ''Gantz'', ''Hellsing'' and ''Drifters (manga), Drifters'' by Kouta Hirano, ''Blood+'', ''Multiple Personality Detective Psycho'', ''FLCL'', ''Mob Psycho 100'', and ''Oreimo''. Dark Horse also publishes a number of titles by the all-female Japanese manga artist group Clamp (manga artists), CLAMP, including ''Clover (Clamp manga), Clover'', ''Chobits'', ''Okimono Kimono'', ''Cardcaptor Sakura'', ''Magic Knight Rayearth'', and ''Gate 7''. A manga magazine titled ''Super Manga Blast!'' was published by Dark Horse starting in the spring of 2000. It was discontinued in December 2005 after 59 issues. Dark Horse also publishes a number of Korean manhwa titles, including ''Banya: The Explosive Delivery Man''.


Maverick (1999–2002)

Maverick was an imprint for creator-owned material.


DH Press

The DH Press imprint (trade name), imprint publishes novelizations of Dark Horse's more popular comic book titles, including ''Aliens (novel series), Aliens'' and ''Predator (novel series), Predator''. DH Press has now been absorbed by DH Books.


M Press

Publications ranging from novels to film books by Leonard Maltin about John Landis, to comic related material such as a biography of Will Eisner, to health books. They have also published a series reprinting ''Playboy'' interviews. The M Press imprint was created to publish a diverse list of both literary fiction and non-fiction prose for authors with a unique voice. One such series is ''Tom Morello#Writing, Orchid'' by Tom Morello, published from 2011 to 2013. The newest addition to M Press is an original graphic novel ''The Fifth Beatle (graphic novel), The Fifth Beatle'' by Vivek Tiwary, Andrew Robinson (artist), Andrew Robinson, and Kyle Baker, published in November 2013.


Dark Horse Digital

In 2011, Dark Horse launched their iOS app and online digital comics store, followed by the release of the beta version of a native Android (operating system), Android app in 2012. Any device with a modern web browser can be used to read Dark Horse comics at their web store.


DH Deluxe

Initiated in 1998, Dark Horse Deluxe rolled out a line of merchandise that included model kits, toys, apparel, and collectibles. Its original purpose was to draw on Dark Horse properties but expanded to include such collectibles as Tim Burton's ''Tragic Toys for Girls and Boys'', Joss Whedon's ''Serenity (2005 film), Serenity'', and merchandise for the popular video-game franchise ''Mass Effect''. Dark Horse, working with Big Tent Entertainment and the NHK Broadcasting Center, NHK broadcasting corporation, brought Domo (NHK), Domo-kun to the United States with a series of products ranging from Qee figurines to journals and stationery sets. David Scroggy was Vice President of Product Development at Dark Horse for many years, starting in that department in 1993 and retiring in 2017.


Kitchen Sink Books

In 2013, Denis Kitchen and John Lind co-founded Kitchen Sink Books with Dark Horse as a joint venture and independent imprint. The imprint name is in reference to Kitchen's former publishing company Kitchen Sink Press which ran from 1970 until 1999. Kitchen said of the venture, “John and I have packaged books for a number of first-rank publishers, but we have long discussed the ideal house to enjoy maximum freedom and creativity,” says Kitchen. “In longtime friend and publisher Mike Richardson and Dark Horse Comics, we found just that.” The imprint's output is infrequent, publishing 2-3 high-profile projects annually with editorial focus on art books and deluxe format collections. Creators published under the Kitchen Sink line include Will Eisner, Frank Miller, Harvey Kurtzman, Tony DiTerlizzi and collections/anthology titles include work from Jack Davis (cartoonist), Jack Davis, Will Elder, Art Spiegelman, S. Clay Wilson, Monte Beauchamp, Bob Powell, Justin Green (cartoonist), Justin Green, Trina Robbins, Harvey Pekar, Arnold Roth, and Al Jaffee.


Berger Books

Former executive editor of Vertigo Karen Berger established the Berger Books imprint at Dark Horse in 2017. Titles published under the imprint include ''Hungry Ghosts'' written by Joel Rose and Anthony Bourdain, Incognegro (comics), ''Incognegro'' (10th anniversary edition) and a prequel ''Incognegro: Renaissance'' both written by Mat Johnson, ''The Seeds'' written by Ann Nocenti, ''She Could Fly'' written by Christopher Cantwell (filmmaker), Christopher Cantwell (2018 July), and ''LaGuardia'' written by Nnedi Okorafor.


Titles

Dark Horse Comics has acquired the rights to make comic book adaptations of many popular films and series. Some of these include ''Aliens (Dark Horse Comics line), Aliens'', ''Army of Darkness'' (before Dynamite Entertainment acquired the license), ''Indiana Jones comic books#Dark Horse Comics, Indiana Jones'', ''Predator (comics), Predator'', ''RoboCop (comics)#Dark Horse Comics, RoboCop'', ''The Thing from Another World (comics), The Thing'', ''Star Wars comics, Star Wars'', ''Terminator (franchise)#Comics, The Terminator'', ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics, Buffy the Vampire Slayer'' (and its spin-off, ''Angel (1999 TV series), Angel''), ''Planet of the Apes (2001 film), Planet of the Apes'', ''Let Me In (film), Let Me In'' and ''Avatar: The Last Airbender (comics series), Avatar: The Last Airbender''. In 2013 CCP Games announced that Dark Horse would be publishing a series of comic books based on stories collected from players of the MMORPG EVE Online. In 2014, Lucasfilm announced that, as of 2015, future ''Star Wars'' comics would be published by Lucasfilm's corporate sibling, Marvel Comics. In 2017, Dark Horse Comics began publishing ''Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins'' based on the web series ''Critical Role''. In 2019, ''Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins'' was Dark Horse's 6th best selling title with 19,000 copies sold.


Dark Horse Entertainment

Dark Horse's production studio arm, Dark Horse Entertainment, produces films and television shows based on Dark Horse Comics. Established by Richardson in 1992, Dark Horse Entertainment set up shop on the lot at 20th Century Fox, Twentieth Century Fox through a first-look deal with Lawrence Gordon (producer), Larry Gordon and Largo Entertainment. Dark Horse Entertainment has produced over two dozen films and television projects. In 2019, Dark Horse Entertainment set up a first-look deal with the streaming company Netflix.


Television

The following are TV projects based on Dark Horse comic books: *''Duckman'' (1994–97 animated series) *''The Mask (1995 TV series), The Mask'' (1995–1997 animated series) *''Timecop (TV series), Timecop'' (1997–1998 series) *''Fat Dog Mendoza'' (1998–2000 animated series) *''The Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot (TV series), Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot'' (1999–2001 animated series) *''Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense#Television, The B.P.R.D. Declassified'' (2004 special) *''The Amazing Screw-On Head'' (2006 pilot) *''Dark Matter (TV series), Dark Matter'' (2015) *''The Umbrella Academy (TV series), The Umbrella Academy'' (2019) *''Resident Alien (TV series), Resident Alien'' (2021-) ''Upcoming projects'' *''Usagi Yojimbo#Appearances on television, Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles'' (TBA, animated series) *''Briggs Land'' *''Harrow County'' *''Sin City''


Television shows with graphic novels

*''Avatar: The Last Airbender (comics), Avatar: The Last Airbender'' (2012-Present) *''The Legend of Korra (comics), The Legend of Korra'' (2017–present) *''Mysticons'' (2018–present) *''Trollhunters''


Films

The following are feature films based on series from Dark Horse Comics: ''Released projects'' * ''Dr. Giggles'' (1992) * ''The Mask (1994 film), The Mask'' (1994) * ''Timecop (film), Timecop'' (1994) * ''Tank Girl (film), Tank Girl'' (1995) * ''Barb Wire (film), Barb Wire'' (1996) * ''Mystery Men'' (1999) * ''Virus (1999 film), Virus'' (1999) * ''G-Men from Hell'' (2000) * ''American Splendor (film), American Splendor'' (2003) * ''Timecop 2: The Berlin Decision'' (2003) * ''Alien vs. Predator (film), Alien vs. Predator'' (2004) * ''The B.P.R.D. Declassified'' (2004, TV special) * ''Hellboy (2004 film), Hellboy'' (2004) * ''Sin City (film), Sin City'' (2005) * ''Son of the Mask'' (2005) * ''The Amazing Screw-On Head'' (2006, TV pilot) * ''Hellboy: Sword of Storms'' (2006, animated, direct-to-video) * ''300 (film), 300'' (2007) * ''30 Days of Night (film), 30 Days of Night'' (2007) * ''Hellboy: Blood and Iron'' (2007, animated, direct-to-video) * ''Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem'' (2007) * ''Hellboy II: The Golden Army'' (2008) * ''R.I.P.D.'' (2013) * ''Sin City: A Dame to Kill For'' (2014) * ''300: Rise of an Empire'' (2014) * ''Polar (film), Polar'' (2019) * ''Hellboy (2019 film), Hellboy'' (2019) ''Upcoming projects'' * ''Beasts of Burden (comics)#Film, Beasts of Burden'' * ''Emily the Strange#In other media, Emily the Strange'' * ''Timecop (franchise)#Future, Timecop'' * ''ArchEnemies#Film, ArchEnemies'' * ''El Zombo Fantasma'' ''Canceled projects'' * List of unproduced Dark Horse Comics projects


References


Further reading

*


External links

* ** * * * * *


Interviews

* * * ** * * {{Authority control Dark Horse Comics, Comic book publishing companies of the United States Manga distributors Manhwa distributors Companies based in Milwaukie, Oregon American companies established in 1986 Publishing companies established in 1986 Webcomic publishing companies Book publishing companies based in Oregon Privately held companies based in Oregon 1986 establishments in Oregon Publishers of adult comics