It’s official: Stars Wars license moving from Dark Horse to Marvel

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201401031335 Its official: Stars Wars license moving from Dark Horse to Marvel
Marvel and Dark Horse just sent out statements confirming what many had long expected: that Disney would move the Star Wars comics license to its in-house company, Marvel, and away from Dark Horse which ran the franchise with immense success for many years.

The move comes as no surprise, and Mike Richardson acknowledges that Dark Horse has been preparing for it for a while.

Disney purchased Lucasfilms in a blockbuster deal last year. Although moving the books does seem like a no-brainer, Marvel’s current setup has downplayed licenses in favor of their own superheroes. Of late they’ve jumped in on a few Disney properties like Castle and a theme park-related comic, but it hasn’t been their bread and butter for a long time.

Marvel’s Bill Rosemann was recently promoted, and he’s been overseeing some licensed books, so perhaps he’ll be the one to assume the Jedi mantle.

The Dark Horse Star Wars run was a noble one that added many great characters and stories to the expanded universe. Although business is business, they can look back with pride.

Richardson’s statement:

All things come to pass. So too, do all licensed deals. I am sad to report that Disney, the new owner of Lucasfilm, has notified us here at Dark Horse of their intention to move the Star Wars publishing license to another of their recent acquisitions, Marvel Comics, beginning in 2015. This will end a partnership that has lasted more than two decades.

For those who are new to the industry, Dark Horse revolutionized the treatment of comics based on films. After a history of movie properties being poorly handled with little regard for execution and continuity, Dark Horse took a new approach, carefully choosing licenses and approaching them with excitement and creative energy. Our goal was to create sequels and prequels to the films we loved, paying careful attention to quality and detail, essentially treating those films as though they were our own. Star Wars has been the crown jewel of this approach. We began chasing the title as far back as 1989, and with the launch of Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy’s Dark Empire, a new era in comics was born. I’m not ashamed to admit that we were Star Wars geeks, and we have been determined to spare neither effort nor expense in the pursuit of excellence.

It is ironic that this announcement comes at a time when Dark Horse is experiencing its most successful year ever. For obvious reasons, we have prepared for this eventuality by finding new and exciting projects to place on our schedule for 2015 and beyond. Will they take the place of Star Wars? That’s a tall order, but we will do our best to make that happen. In the meantime, 2014 may be our last year at the helm of the Star Warscomics franchise, but we plan to make it a memorable one. We know that fans of the franchise will expect no less. The Force is with us still.


Marvel’s PR:

The Walt Disney Company’s Lucasfilm Ltd. and Marvel Entertainment are joining forces to bring new Star Wars adventures to readers across the galaxy, with Marvel granted exclusive rights to create and publish Star Wars comics and graphic novels beginning in 2015.
 
The agreement marks a homecoming for the Star Wars comic books. Marvel Comics published the firstStar Wars comic book, Star Wars #1, in March 1977, which went on to sell more than 1 million copies. Marvel Comics published its Star Wars series for nine years. In 1991, Dark Horse Comics took over the license, publishing fan-favorite titles like Dark Empire and Star Wars: Legacy. Last year, Dark Horse released The Star Wars #1, an adaptation of George Lucas’ original rough-draft screenplay for the film, garnering rave reviews and national media attention and ranking among the top-selling Star Wars comics of all time.
 
“Dark Horse Comics published exceptional Star Wars comics for over 20 years, and we will always be grateful for their enormous contributions to the mythos, and the terrific partnership that we had,” said Carol Roeder, director of Lucasfilm franchise publishing, Disney Publishing Worldwide.  “In 2015, the cosmic adventures of Luke, Han, Leia and Chewbacca will make the lightspeed jump back to Marvel, to begin a new age of adventures within the Star Wars universe.”
 
“We here at Marvel could not be more excited to continue the publication of Star Wars comic books and graphic novels,” said Marvel Worldwide Publisher and President, Dan Buckley. “The perennial brand ofStar Wars is one of the most iconic in entertainment history and we are honored to have the opportunity to bring our creative talent pool to continue, and expand Star Wars into galaxies far, far away.”
 
“We’re incredibly excited by this next chapter in the Star Wars saga,” said Andrew B. Sugerman, executive vice president of Disney Publishing Worldwide. “Bringing together the iconic Lucasfilm and Marvel brands to tell new stories will allow us to continue to thrill lovers of the original Star Wars comic books and entertain generations to come.”
 
Marvel has continued to push comic book publishing forward with innovations and experiments like motion comics and digital-only releases, in addition to its deep, ongoing catalog of monthly series and graphic novels created by some of the industry’s most gifted artists and writers. 


 

Comments

  1. Johnny Memeonic says:

    Wish Dark Horse would sell on Comixology. This is the era of Netflix, itunes, and Steam. People want their stuff in the same place, not scattered across a million services. Get with 2014 please.

  2. Michael P says:

    It’s the end of the Extended Universe as we know it, and I feel fine.

  3. @johnny Comixology takes 30% of the total cost, thats a huge cost. Its just a small app, albeit, the DH app is clunkier.

  4. jim sheridan says:

    I hope that does not hit Dark Horse too hard. I want that company to be flush with cash so that they can afford to put out more Nexus Archives. It has been too long since the last one.

  5. Naveed says:

    Well its the end of an Era. Marvel will surely run this franchise to the ground and for sure cross it over to the MU at some point in time. How long before we see Guardians of the Galaxy in the Star Wars univers or better yet another useless X-Men or Avengers crossover. Not to mention the Marvel Now branding so they can relaunch the titles ever 12-18 issues. It will be crap. The bad news it may be a fatal blow to DH. But its obviously not a surprise to anyone as this point. Good luck to DH and its employees.

  6. Brian says:

    Anybody remember marvel’s second run with Star Trek comics? Yeah, me neither.

  7. MBunge says:

    Does anybody think Marvel’s going to do anything with Star Wars that’s even close to what Dark Horse has managed? And I ask that as someone who tapped out on the whole “expanded universe” think a while ago.

    On a practical note, since Star Wars and Marvel are both owned by Disney, does this really fit the traditional licensed comics model? ‘Cause if it does, I can almost guarantee some problems since essentially no one at Marvel today has the slightest clue about handling licensed properties. It will be hilarious if Marvel’s move from publisher to intellectual property generator actually renders them unable to successfully exploit other properties owned by Disney.

    Mike

  8. ChrisC says:

    Just curious about who has the reprint rights for the material Dark Horse produced?

  9. jacob lyon goddard says:

    Is it possible to credit the cartoonist/artist/illustrator when their work is used in articles like this?

  10. Andrew Farago says:

    It seems likely that reprint rights of the Dark Horse comics would go to Marvel, since Dark Horse secured the reprint rights to the Marvel works while they had (have) the license.

    That’s a huge backlog of material, though, and I’d imagine that Marvel will focus their attention on movie tie-ins and establishing one or two “main” Star Wars books for fans to buy once they start publishing the comics again.

  11. Earth-2 Chad says:

    What happens to people’s digital copies of the Dark Horse Star Wars titles once the license shifts over to Marvel?

  12. @ Earth-2 Chad

    According to Dark Horse they will still be available.

    http://www.newsarama.com/19952-dark-horse-confirms-star-wars-digital-purchases-will-stick-around.html

  13. rob e says:

    Remember when Disney reclaimed all publishing rights to their animated characters (Mickey, Donald, ect.) in the early 90’s, thinking they could publish them themselves? That didn’t work out too well. Now that Disney owns a comic book company (Marvel), how long before they try it again?

  14. so much negativity in these comments, sheesh

  15. DublDownDrew says:

    Can’t say I’m enthused about it, but hopefully Marvel will give us some Walt Simonson covers or maybe even interiors on their efforts . . .

  16. Whatever says:

    Yes sad news for DH they are great but I am sure they will be just fine. I am surprised so many people are convinced the 1 comic publisher will screw up Star Wars, get a grip. They may make stupid mistakes but they are still number 1 in every way, market share, total dollar, films. Had they wanted Star Wars before this they would have had it anyway. I don’t think it’s a cash cow after you give Lucas his cut, now that Disney owns it that may be different.

  17. I don’t think this will be such a huge blow to Dark Horse Comics. Every time The Beat publishes it’s list of top selling independent comics, Star Wars titles are always way down on the list.

    Thanks Dark Horse for 20 great years! I still remember when I grabbed my hands on the first Star Wars related thing in over 6 years, when Dark Empire came out. My first semester at college.

    I really hope Marvel will keep the continuity. On the other hand, I think that the new films will completely mess up the current EU continuity, so maybe a reboot wouldn’t be so bad?

  18. Rich H says:

    @MBunge – agreed. I don’t feel Marvel will give Star Wars its full creative attention in the way Dark Horse did. I know it’s on not the same scale, but look at Marvel’s recent “revival” of CrossGen (a Disney property now). That didn’t last long.

    OK, Star Wars is completely different to CrossGen. But Marvel don’t really seem to make much effort beyond superheroes.

  19. Torsten Adair says:

    How long can DH keep their SW graphic novel titles in print?
    Do the creators on each title get a royalty if Marvel reprints? Or is it like the Disney classic comics, where only the first printing of any comics story generates royalties, and any reprint anywhere in the world doesn’t?

    Not to suggest anything, but what if Dark Horse decided to follow Image’s lead, and make all of their digital comics downloadable as DRM-free files? Would Star Wars fans expect the same from Marvel?

    DH already publishes mini-series. Marvel will probably do the same.
    Expect a Star Wars magazine aimed at kids, just like Disney publishing does with Marvel Super Heroes.

    What Disney should do… is create a separate comics division under DWP. This line would handle all of the licensed and franchised properties owned by Disney. This wouldn’t be too difficult… Disney Italy already produces most of the comics magazines on US newsstands (with the only Marvel credits being the bigwigs).

    Kingdom Comics (remember that?). Disney Comics & Stories. Star Wars. GorssGen. The Muppets. Animated features. Theme park IP. Movie IP (Tron, Herbie, Medfield College). Disney Channel/ABC TV/ESPN. Anything outside the Marvel Universe. All iTunes content (Disney and Marvel).

  20. @Johnny Memeonic, The Dark Horse app has gotten a lot better over the past year, and in some ways I prefer it to Comixology. Frankly, I’d prefer it if each publisher had its own app. It’d be a little more inconvenient, but I worry about will happen to licenses if Marvel/DC etc decided to yank stuff from the Comixology store.

    On topic, this new bums me out. We all saw it coming, but I think Dark Horse is a better fit for Star Wars than Marvel.

  21. Johnny Memeonic says:

    No, Dark Horse’s app is still pretty bad. Still have it crash on my ipad too much compared to other apps. And who cares if Comixology takes 30% or whatever? That’s revenue they’re not making by not being on there and convenience lost to the customer.

  22. filippod says:

    One major difference between Dark Horse and Marvel I can think of, is that Marvel have a higher cancelation treshold than Dark Horse. Books like Legacy or Dark Times would probably not last as Long under Marvel.

  23. Rich Harvey says:

    Whatever says: “[Marvel] may make stupid mistakes but they are still number 1 in every way, market share, total dollar, films. ”

    Does that include quality?

  24. Snikt Snakt says:

    “Anybody remember marvel’s second run with Star Trek comics? Yeah, me neither.”

    My thoughts exactly. I bought most of those Trek comics and they were mediocre to mostly awful, across the board.

    (I couldn’t unload them on eBay fast enough when I started selling stuff on there.)

    Dark Horse has done a great job w/the SW franchise overall, but I shudder to think what Marvel will do with it…

  25. Whatever says:

    @ Rich Harvey No, from a business standpoint. And I love DH but they put out much more trash than quality Star Wars.

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