Dark Horse Comics
|Founded by:||Mike Richardson|
|Notable members:||Mike Richardson|
|Major activities:||Comic book publisher|
|Subsidiaries:||Dark Horse International|
Dark Horse Comics is an American comic book and manga publishing company based in Milwaukie, Oregon. It was founded in 1986 by Mike Richardson. Dark Horse is responsible for publishing the Aliens, Predator and Aliens vs. Predator comics lines, as well as recent comics based on the 2012 film Prometheus. The company was also the publisher of Aliens and Predator novels between 2005 and 2008, via its novel imprint DH Press.
As well as its principle Aliens, Predator and Aliens vs. Predator comic book lines, Dark Horse has also been involved in a number of crossover comics featuring the Alien and/or Predator creatures in scenarios with other comic book properties, both from within Dark Horse's own stable and involving characters from other publishing companies (most notably DC Comics). Dark Horse is currently the largest independent comic book and manga publisher in America.
Formation and growthEdit
Mike Richardson opened his first comic book store, Pegasus Books, in Bend, Oregon in 1980, and the business soon expanded to include several retail locations in Oregon and Washington State. Frustrated by a perceived lack of quality in the products he was selling, Richardson began investing profits from his retail operation into producing new, original comic stories, to be released by his own publishing company, Dark Horse Comics. The company launched with two initial titles in 1986 — Boris the Bear and an anthology series called Dark Horse Presents, but this lineup soon expanded. Currently, the publisher is based in Milwaukie, Oregon. Notable properties that originated with Dark Horse Comics include Frank Miller's Sin City and 300, Mike Mignola's Hellboy, Paul Chadwick's Concrete, Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo, Gerard Way's Umbrella Academy and Michael Chabon's The Escapist.
Dark Horse was started partly with the express purpose of acquiring various movie licenses to publish high quality adaptations and continuations of famous movie property story lines, and expanding on such franchises. While licensed projects had been around for decades before the formation of Dark Horse, most publishers at the time devoted few resources to titles they did not own. Dark Horse took a different approach by employing top talent and plotting stories to create comic series that were essentially sequels to popular theatrical films. This fresh approach met with enormous success, and sales on these popular titles sailed into the millions. Today, Dark Horse is the acknowledged industry leader in this profitable publishing niche. Over the years, the company has acquired many prominent movie licenses, including Alien, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Conan, Indiana Jones, Planet of the Apes, Predator, RoboCop, Serenity, The Terminator, The Thing and, perhaps their most-widely known franchise, Star Wars. Dark Horse also own the rights to produce comic books based on the Mass Effect video game series.
From its inception, Dark Horse has always been keen to cross over into producing movies based on its properties, and has done so with such films as The Mask (1994), Timecop (1994), Hellboy (2004) and Alien vs. Predator (2004). Dark Horse has also expanded into the publication of books and novels and has published various original novels and reference books based on its various movie series, including a number of Alien and Predator novels.
Aliens, Predator and Aliens vs. PredatorEdit
In July 1988, Dark Horse released the first issue of its first Aliens mini-series, a direct continuation of the story from James Cameron's film of the same name. Almost one year later in June 1989, Dark Horse released the first issue of the first Predator mini-series, also continuing the story from the film series. Both series were written by Dark Horse writer Mark Verheiden, and both met with enormous success, establishing long-running lines that have continued until the present day.
Dark Horse first laid the foundation for connecting the Aliens franchise with the Predator franchise 1989, in the company's flagship anthology series Dark Horse Presents; issues #34 and #35 of the series featured an Alien and a Predator story, respectively, then in January 1990 Dark Horse Presents #36 featured their first Aliens vs. Predator story, the first ever officially licenced material featuring a crossover between the two franchises and a prequel to the first full-fledged Aliens vs. Predator mini-series, which followed shortly in June 1990. Written by Dark Horse vice president, creative director and editor Randy Stradley, the original Aliens vs. Predator comic caught the comics industry by surprise, and its success spawned an industry-wide trend of creating crossovers between franchises. Today, Aliens vs. Predator is considered a staple of the industry.
In 1992, Dark Horse launched another trend when it co-published the landmark Batman versus Predator comic, a major three-issue miniseries, in collaboration with mainstream comics powerhouse DC Comics. The crossover was a huge success and paved the way for numerous other collaborations and crossovers involving the Aliens, Predator and AVP franchises, incorporating properties both from within Dark Horse and from other publishing companies.
Over the years, Dark Horse has published a large number of Aliens, Predator and Aliens vs. Predator comics, in the form of limited series, short stories and one-shots, and collected variously in trade paperback form. To date, Dark Horse has published 61 Aliens titles, 36 Predator titles, 22 AVP titles, and 24 miscellaneous crossovers with other comics lines.
While limited series and one-shots would become infrequent at times, the lines also had a fairly consistent home in the pages of the Dark Horse Presents black-and-white anthology, and in a subsequent color sister-anthology titled simply Dark Horse Comics. The comics were published fairly regularly between 1986 and 1999, but, following the Xenogenesis crossover event, the lines entered a ten-year hiatus during the 2000s, the only new comics released during this time being a handful of one-shot Alien vs. Predator film spin-off titles and several non-canon crossovers.
Omnibus releases and relaunchEdit
In 2007, the company began producing definitive Omnibus trade paperback editions that collected the pre-existing releases from many of its major properties into easily-accessible volumes; this included the Aliens, Predator and AVP comic lines. In all, six volumes of Aliens Omnibus were released, four volumes of Predator Omnibus, and two volumes of Aliens vs. Predator Omnibus. While comprehensive, these Omnibus titles were not utterly exhaustive and a handful of comics, chiefly from the Aliens line, remain uncollected.
In 2009, Dark Horse ended its hiatus on Aliens, Predator and Aliens vs. Predator titles and began a relaunch of all three lines with the Aliens/Predator Free Comic Book Day Split Issue, which in turn led new Predator and Aliens series in 2009, and a new Aliens vs. Predator series in 2010. Comics have continued to be published since, although with markedly less frequency than during the lines' heyday in the 1990s.
In 2014, Dark Horse added a new line to the universe for the first time since Aliens vs. Predator 25 years previously, based on the 2012 film Prometheus. The launch of the new line was marked with the Fire and Stone crossover event, which included releases from all four lines that shared a single story set on the planet from Prometheus, LV-223.
Dark Horse InternationalEdit
- Main article: Dark Horse International
In the early 1990s, Dark Horse established a UK-based branch, Dark Horse International, responsible for publishing the company's material for the British market. Dark Horse International was primarily responsible for producing Aliens magazine, and also produced the anthology magazine Total Carnage. The branch went out of business in 1994, resulting in the cancellation of its publications.
- Main article: DH Press
DH Press is the imprint of Dark Horse responsible for publishing text novels. DH Press was responsible for publishing Aliens and Predator novels between 2005 and 2008. Following the publication of Aliens: No Exit and Predator: South China Sea in 2008, the rights to publish Alien/Predator/Alien vs. Predator novels moved to Titan Books.
Feature Film AdaptationsEdit
The following is a list of feature films that are based on Dark Horse Comics properties.
|Timecop||Featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme|
|2000||G-Men from Hell||Featuring Gary Busey|
|Timecop 2: The Berlin Decision||Featuring Sven-Ole Thorsen, directed by Steve Boyum|
|2004||Hellboy||Featuring Pavel Bezdek, John Hurt, Ron Perlman and Brian Steele|
|Alien vs. Predator|
|2005||Son of the Mask|
|Sin City||Featuring Tommy Flanagan, directed by Robert Rodriguez|
|2007||300||Featuring Michael Fassbender|
|Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem|
|2008||Hellboy II: The Golden Army||Featuring John Hurt, Ron Perlman and Brian Steele|
|2010||El Zombo Fantasma|
|2014||Sin City: A Dame to Kill For||Directed by Robert Rodriguez|
- While the vast majority of Alien and Predator comics have been published by Dark Horse, there are exceptions — most notably the comic book adaptation of the film Alien, which was created by Heavy Metal magazine in 1979 (before Dark Horse Comics actually existed).
- Publisher and founder Mike Richardson is often credited as an Executive Producer on feature film adaptations of Dark Horse properties.
- Chris Warner, who was the artist on the first Predator miniseries in 1989, was elevated to the position of editor of all three Aliens, Predator and Aliens vs. Predator lines in 2009.
- The official AvP zone for all things Aliens/Predator at the official Dark Horse Comics website: http://www.darkhorse.com/Zones/AvP
- Dark Horse Presents in its current form, a free online comic produced in conjuncion with myspace.com: