The other day, I got this email from Dark Horse founder, Mike Richardson:
The End of an Era
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 Wars comics 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.
I guess when the announcement was official and Disney had purchased the Star Wars franchise from George Lucas (article here), it was a foregone conclusion that eventually Disney would move Star Wars comics back under its own umbrella and publish them under Marvel (which they also own). I don’t think there is a soul that knows anything about Disney, Marvel, or Star Wars out there that wasn’t aware this move would happen. But then it didn’t. A week went by. No movement. A month went by. No movement. San Diego Comic Con comes around. Surely this would be the big announcement by Marvel. Nothing. I even asked the creative team behind the great Star Wars: Dark Times comic, Randy Stradley and Doug Wheatley (Both absolutely amazing guys. Here’s the interview I did with them for Yodasnews.com) about it and they were as unsure as you and I of what was going on. Finally a year goes by and nothing. Was the Disney juggernaut content with leaving Star Wars with Dark Horse? Based on the lack of any news and without any rumblings, I assumed things had gone to a status quo.
However, just after new years 2014, I get the above email from Dark Horse that Marvel will be the new publisher for all Star Wars books. It isn’t shocking news by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it was a bigger shock that this hadn’t been announced sooner. But it was a sad realization, nonetheless. Dark Horse has been the steward for Star Wars comic books for the last 20+ years. TWENTY-TWO YEARS! That’s a long time. And in that time, they have done a fantastic job. From Star Wars Tales to The Clone Wars to Dark Times to The Knights of the Old Republic, they have put out some fantastic work. Not only was it quality on the page, but the pages themselves were better stock with better cover quality than the other big publishers. Also, the price tag was lower than the Marvel and DC books. All of this just screamed that Dark Horse took Star Wars and it’s fans with a great amount of respect.
Now reading this, you may think that I am down on Marvel. That isn’t the case. Marvel publishes some fantastic books. I read quite a bit of Marvel stuff. But it takes a long time to find that groove with a source material. It also takes a hard stance to say “We want to give a great product to our readers and to Star Wars fans” and not everyone can do that. Marvel is going to have to earn whatever respect they are going to get in the Star Wars comics realm and they are going to have to give the same proper treatment to the franchise and its fans that Dark Horse has given.
So I want to take a quick moment of silence for the end of an era. And I want to say if 2014 is going to be the last of Star Wars on Dark Horse, then let’s go out with a bang!