Marvel, Dark Horse and Star Wars: Creators take in comics changes, and what about reprints?

Dark Empire #1 - Dark Horse's first foray into the EU.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.)

One Reply to “Marvel, Dark Horse and Star Wars: Creators take in comics changes, and what about reprints?”

  1. The original comments:

    1 Mark Elwood // Jan 6, 2014 at 10:00 am

    I just though of something. Marvel printed the original run of comics but when Dark Horse acquired the rights they published them as collections about 20 years later as first “Classic Star Wars: A Long Time Ago… Volume 1: Doomworld” through “Volume 7: Far, Far Away” (You know the brightly colored covers of 2002-2003) Then, more recently they’ve reprinted again as “Omnibus: A Long Time Ago… Volume 1″ through “Volume 5″ (2010-2012) So it seems to me that Marvel may eventually begin reprinting Dark Horse material as collections. But maybe not for several years. Maybe they’ll reprint the original run again as collected volumes but with a new Marvel cover this time. The collector in me shudders. I don’t really need the original run in yet another set. Unless they make it hardback. That might be acceptable. ;)

    2 Dunc // Jan 6, 2014 at 10:13 am

    I mention Dark Horse reprinting Marvel in the seventh paragraph. ;)

    So glad I’m not a collector. Having the comics in some form or another is enough for me, though I prefer trades to individual issues.

    3 Nancy K // Jan 6, 2014 at 10:24 am

    I am a collector, but I have limits. If I have it once in trade I don’t need it again in a more different trade. That first set, Volumes 1-7, was enough for me. If Marvel upped the ante with extra material of some kind I might consider it, but a straight reprint, nope.

    What will happen to Dark Horse issues not yet collected in trade by the end of 2014? I’m guessing we’ll have to rely on the magnanimity of Marvel for those?

    4 Dunc // Jan 6, 2014 at 10:27 am

    I would guess that they may be able to print trades of the 2014 stuff – but anything past that, like things going out of print or omnibuses, forget it.

    5 Iiari // Jan 6, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    “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”

    Oh so right. I’ve always thought, “Oh, I’ll pick up some of the comics at some later point when I have time…” Looks like that time has arrived.

    Maybe someone can post or put together a “best of the DH years” guide for those of us less knowledgeable about the comics?”

    6 Dunc // Jan 9, 2014 at 12:22 am

    I have a comics rec coming up on the Tumblr, but it’s not really extensive… Or much of a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention. Maybe I’ll bug James to write something. ;)

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