The latest in independent comic related news items from January 3rd - 5th, 2014!
When Disney purchased LucasArts in 2012 to add them to their gigantic empire which already includes Marvel Entertainment, ESPN and Pixar, it became inevitable that the days of Dark Horse Comics being allowed to publish officially licensed "Star Wars" comics would come to an end. The loss of many licensed Disney comic books from BOOM! Studios line up (such as "Darkwing Duck" and the Roger Langridge "Muppet" books) happened not long after the sale of Marvel to Disney become official in 2010, as Disney simply allowed their existing license deal with BOOM! to expire so that any future Disney comics would be published by the comic book company they now owned. However, this official confirmation leaves more of an impact as Dark Horse Comics has been producing canonized "Star Wars" comic books since 1991.
An official announcement of this shift in the comic book paradigm featured statements from Carol Roeder, director of Lucasfilm franchise publishing as well as Marvel publisher Dan Buckley and Dark Horse founder Mike Richardson. The original "Star Wars" comics were published by Marvel Comics during the peak of the franchise's emergence in the 1970's into the 1980's, but Dark Horse's quest to gain "the Force" for themselves began in 1989 and became real just two years later. Dark Horse Comics anticipated this move and runs on their current "Star Wars" books will end by December 2014, with the creative teams not expected to be retained by Marvel. Brian Wood, last seen writing "X-Men" and being "revealed" as a comic con lounge lizard, confirmed his run on "Star Wars" will end as scheduled with issue twenty. The Gabriel Hardman/Corinna Bechko run of "Star Wars: Legacy" will also end with its eighteenth issue, with both closing out around August 2014.
But what of digital sales? Dark Horse Comics are actually one of the few North American comic book publishers who sell comics digitally via their own online shop, rather than through a third party such as ComiXology. Spokesman Aub Driver stated that while Dark Horse would no longer be allowed to sell their "Star Wars" comics there after December 2014, all sales of such books from their app would be final, and buyers should not fear having their digital comics deleted. After that, a deal for back issues from the 22 years of "Star Wars" comics published by Dark Horse would likely have to be hashed out between Disney and Dark Horse for that library. One would also expect some Dark Horse trade collections to become pricier in 2015.
Dark Horse has been preparing for this eventuality for at least a year. Not only have they been pushing out as many Star Wars comics as they could until the deadline, but they have been working on filling the inevitable gap in their solicitations. This comics not only in their work to relaunch older franchises such as "the Ghost", "Conan the Barbarian" (also written by Wood) "Bloodhound", or "X", but doubling down on licenses controlled by Joss Whedon such as "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and soon "Firefly".
Jim McCann & Janet Lee regain rights to "Dapper Men"!
"Return of the Dapper Men" was created by Jim McCann and Janet Lee and made quite a splash for both themselves and publisher Archaia Entertainment in 2010. Now, as the creators seek to move forward with a proposed trilogy of "Dapper Men" stories, they have regained ownership of the franchise from Archaia and their parent owner, BOOM! Studios. As such, the trade collection of "Return of the Dapper Men" will go out of print after December 31st, 2014. McCann didn't issue any hard feelings but stated that regaining ownership of the Eisner winning property was "in the best interest of all parties".
The next book in the series, "Time of the Dapper Men", was previewed in Archaia's "free comic book day" offering from 2012 but will now presumably be published by another company, or self published by McCann and Lee. It is inevitable that the first "Dapper Men" graphic novel will become available again after 2014, but the time table for such a thing will be unknown. Regaining ownership will naturally give the creators not only more control of the direction of the property, but also a higher cut of sales gross. McCann and Lee have since collaborated together for the four issue "Lost Vegas" at Image Comics, which has become a go-to publisher for many creator owned properties in recent years.