It’s been a week since the news went out that the Star Wars comics license will go to Marvel Comics for 2015, leaving Dark Horse Comics after a twenty-two year run. With the news on Tuesday that Dark Horse will be releasing a new series, adapting the unproduced The Clone Wars scripts for the finale of the Darth Maul storyline, we know that 2014 will still be a big Star Wars year for Dark Horse. Over the course of the past week, questions about the switch have started to get some answers, at least from Dark Horse:
While we’ve known that the “bonus content” being worked on for The Clone Wars wasn’t necessarily going to bring closure to the series, Lucasfilm told Newsarama that at least one of the show’s loose ends will be told in comic form this spring, giving a big finale both for Darth Maul and for Dark Horse Comics.
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir will be a four-part comic starting in May, based on unproduced screenplays. Newsarama interviews the writer, Jeremy Barlow, on what’s in store for this tale. With a title of Son of Dathomir, one might expect a return to the planet, and revenge against Darth Sidious, but Barlow also teases some more locales and characters as well, including a new one named Brother Viscus.
Newsarama points out that while this unproduced story arc is being told first in comic form, it doesn’t mean that it will only be told in this form. I wouldn’t take this as anything more than Lucasfilm simply leaving the door open, and not as a sign that it will be actually realized in animated form.
Although Newsarama is calling this storyline the series finale, the show’s “final arc,” there’s been some clarification from Lucasfilm folks:
The Maul comic is very cool, but it *wasn’t* the series finale. It was a 4-part arc that fell beyond what was already in production.
— Pablo Hidalgo (@infinata) January 8, 2014
If there's still confusion: the new Dark Horse miniseries only deals with a Darth Maul arc from near end of the series. Not a series finale!
— Jennifer Heddle (@jenheddle) January 8, 2014
Long story short: It wraps up the Darth Maul arc, but isn’t the show’s intended finale. Pablo also says it wasn’t intended for S6.
Friday’s bombshell that Star Wars comics will be moving to Marvel may not have been a huge surprise, but it did elicit a lot of emotions in fans and pros alike.
Dark Horse’s Randy Stradley addressed the change Sunday, speculating that the changes coming due to Disney and sequels may result in less freedom to do the sorts of comics that they prefer anyway:
But Dark Horse must lose the license, this is probably a good time for it. From my perspective, the upcoming films will mean less freedom to do what we at Dark Horse have always done best: expanding the universe. With a new film scheduled every year, and a new television series, it is likely that there will be a lot of comics pages devoted to adaptations and direct spin-off stories in support of the films and TV shows. That’s not where my interests lie, and it has never been Dark Horse’s strong suit. That would be too much like real work to me. :)
He goes on to say that he’s “immensely proud” of what Dark Horse’s comics creators have done, and encourages fans to channel their anger into gratitude and thanks for them.
John Jackson Miller, who owes his own Star Wars tenure to Dark Horse, reminisces and thanks the company, as does Jason Fry. Heidi MacDonald at The Beat has weighed in, as have the fans at Eleven-ThirtyEight.
On the business end of things, The Hollywood Reporter’s Graeme McMillan weighs in on what the licensee change may mean for Star Wars comics. The numbers are not particularly encouraging – I was shocked that Dark Horse actually has a bigger share of the bookstore graphic novel market than Marvel. It’s not super encouraging at this point, but as I said Friday – Marvel has some very big shoes to fill, and they have to know it. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of product they end up putting on the table, and Dark Horse still has a year to show them how it’s done.
One thing that’s still in question – and has fans worried – is the state of comic reprints. Although Dark Horse has confirmed that digital comics will remain in a buyer’s cloud on their app, the future of print collections is less clear. A Dark Horse rep told Big Shiny Robot that reprints “would require Disney to purchase the original files directly from Dark Horse,” but what can Dark Horse do with them come 2015? Can they reprint – or recollect – the older material they produced under the license, or is anything not in print by the end of 2014 doomed? Is it all in the hands of the IP holder – that is, Lucasfilm? (Where are they in that statement, Dark Horse?) Is that why Dark Horse was able to reprint the old Marvel material from the OT days: because Lucasfilm gave it to them?
In short, if you’ve been waiting to pick up any Star Wars trades or omnibuses from Dark Horse I’d probably grab them ASAP. (As always, I recommend Star Wars Tales and Tag and Bink.)
Marvel will take over the Star Wars comics license in 2015, StarWars.com announced this afternoon.
Marvel was the original comics home of the franchise, publishing Star Wars #1 in March 1977. There was plenty of speculation dating from almost the moment the Disney sale was announced that the license would return to Marvel. Dark Horse is the third-largest comics publisher, but Marvel is one of the big 2 – and perhaps more importantly, Disney also owns them.
Despite their history with Marvel, when Star Wars was beginning a renaissance in the early 90′s, Dark Horse was awarded the license. They’ve published a great many influential series over the years, from Dark Empire and Tales of the Jedi early on to fan-favorites like Legacy, Knights of the Old Republic and the new Star Wars series. Of the current ongoing series, Brian Wood’s Star Wars will end at #20, while Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko’s Legacy will end with #18.
I don’t know enough about Marvel to speculate on what they may do with the franchise, but it’s safe to say that Dark Horse was one of the more beloved licensees in fandom. They’ve always been willing to innovate and look outside the box, and there’s no doubt a lot of fear out there in fandom, no matter how expected this may have been. We’ve become very attached to the folks over there, from editor Randy Stradley on down, and it’s sad to see the end coming on that partnership.
“Dark Horse revolutionized the treatment of comics based on films,” company founder Mike Richardson said in a statement. “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.”
There’s no doubt that Dark Horse has changed the game and set a pretty high standard for a fandom that doesn’t take things lying down. Will Marvel manage to build on that success? Here’s hoping.
Just revealed at NYCC: Matt Kindt (MIND MGMT) will be writing a comic mini-series set during the original trilogy, per Bleeding Cool. Details hopefully forthcoming.
Upcoming. Star Wars Bookworms attended a Star Wars Reads Day event with author Joe Schreiber, who revealed a few things about his next Star Wars book, Maul: Lockdown. They have the recording and an excerpt. (Not into audio? Check their tweets for some detail.) Lockdown will be out in January.
And it’s official: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars is getting two sequels, The Empire Striketh Back and
The blogside. At the Star Wars Blog, Rich Handley and Abel G. Peña conclude their look at The Wheel. Tosche Station’s Bria has some thoughts on redemption in the recent EU. And Alexander Gaultier at Eleven-ThirtyEight has a case for starting over.
Licensees. Dark Horse has signed a distribution deal with Random House, reports Publisher’s Weekly. Given it’s a distribution deal, it’s not that exciting for our purposes, though if you don’t have a comic shop (which will still get their comics through Diamond) this may mean more Dark Horse in your bookstore.
Reviews. The Star Wars #2 gets James on board.
Dark Horse Comics teased Serenity fans for #FireflyFriday with a ‘watch-this-space’ post for the #WheresSerenity? hashtag. Then they followed up with animated gif going from a sketch to the shot above – see the animatedness in its full size glory on BigShinyRobot.com.
Looking at the copyright block, you’ll notice that this is for a Firefly title and not a Serenity title (as they have done in the past), which means that hopefully these stories will take place in the time frame of the TV show, licensed from Fox, and not in the movie-and-beyond time frame that the Serenity license from Universal granted. The Serenity: Firefly Class 03-K64 title was used on the 2012 Free Comic Book Day story, written by Zack Whedon. Will they be rebooting the ‘Verse to have a couple of seasons of material, like has been done with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel? Or will it all still fit into the established time line. No doubt Dark Horse was gauging fans’ opinions at the Star Wars vs Serenity panel they hosted at Comic-Con in San Diego.
And you thought my con coverage was over! Here’s Randy Stradley, writer of Star Wars: Dark Times, and Douglas Wheatley, artist of Dark Times, discussing the start of the current arc, ‘A Spark Remains’. If you haven’t checked it out yet, Issue #1 came out in July, just before Comic-Con, and the second issue comes out today. While setting the stage for the activity in the first issue of ‘A Spark Remains’ (check out my review of #1 on Big Shiny Robot), the pair kept mum about the future of Jedi Dass Jennir and his friends, as well as other projects being worked on. Bonus: we get photobombed at the very end by a certain Sith voice actor.
Dark Horse Comics has unveiled the final version of the trailer for their upcoming 8-issue series, The Star Wars, which brings George Lucas’ original draft screenplay to life. Or watch it in HD on the Dark Horse Comics facebook page. J. W. Rinzler’s series starts September 4th!
This video is fairly close to one of the two videos shown at Comic-Con at the Dark Horse Star Wars panel. Also check out my Comic-Con interview with Rinzler about The Star Wars and The Making of Return of the Jedi.
— Chris Argyropoulos (@ThatChrisA) July 19, 2013
There were no big announcements at the Dark Horse Star Was panel at San Diego Comic-Con – though an upcoming Vader series will heavily feature a clone trooper – but plenty of chat on their current lineup. CBR has a write-up of the panel as well.
Tweets, from our own Jawajames and others, are beneath the cut.