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Dark Horse Comics

Maison d'édition à compte d'éditeur crée en 1986

Dark Horse Comics was founded in 1986 by Mike Richardson as an offshoot of his Oregon comic-book retail chain, Things From Another World. Richardson pursued the idea of establishing an ideal atmosphere for creative professionals, and thirty years later the company has grown to become the third-largest comics publisher in the United States.

In 1980, Mike Richardson used a credit card with a two-thousand-dollar credit limit to open a comic-book store, Pegasus Books, in the small resort town of Bend, Oregon. His intention was to write and illustrate a children’s book himself while working in the store, but the business expanded, and his project was put on hold. He still plans to finish that book. As business grew, Richardson opened new retail locations in Oregon and Washington State. He soon became frustrated, however, by the lack of quality in the products he was selling, and so, using funds from his retail operation, he began his own publishing company. From the very start Dark Horse Comics was a different kind of publishing house. Writers and artists were treated as partners, an unheard-of generosity in the comic-publishing field at that time. Soon the industry’s top creators were flocking to Dark Horse, where they became involved in the publishing and marketing of their creations.

Dark Horse Comics launched with two initial titles in 1986, Dark Horse Presents and Boris the Bear. Paul Chadwick’s Concrete, about a congressional speechwriter who transforms into a two-thousand-pound cement creature, was a runaway hit and has received twenty-six industry awards and nominations to date. Within one year of its first publication, Dark Horse Comics added nine new titles to its roster, including The American, The Mark, Trekker, and Black Cross.

In 1988, Dark Horse revolutionized comics based on popular films with the release of its hit series Aliens, with Predator following soon after. The launch of Star Wars in 1990 solidified Dark Horse’s domination of movie-based comics series. While licensed projects had been around for decades, most publishers devoted few resources to titles they did not own. Dark Horse took a different tack by plotting stories and using top talent to create comics series that were essentially sequels to popular 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. Current publications include Star Wars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mass Effect, Aliens, Predator, Conan, Serenity, Dollhouse, and many others.

Richardson had a strong interest in manga and jumped ahead of market trends by publishing Dark Horse’s first manga series, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, in 1987. More manga series followed, and by the early nineties, he was traveling regularly to Japan, where he cultivated strong relationships with top creative talent there. As a result, Dark Horse built a powerhouse manga program, including titles such as Koike’s Lone Wolf and Cub, Tezuka’s Astro Boy, Otomo’s Akira, Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell, Samura’s Blade of the Immortal, Sonoda’s Gunsmith Cats, and Nightow’s Trigun, as well as America’s longest-running manga series, Oh My Goddess!, by Fujishima. In 2010, Dark Horse began a new partnership with superstar Japanese manga creators CLAMP, collecting such best-selling titles as Clover, Chobits, and Magic Knight Rayearth. 2011 will see the release of Gate 7, CLAMP’s brand-new manga series.

In 1990, Dark Horse startled the entire industry by teaming up its two hot Fox movie franchises in one comic. Aliens vs. Predator caught the comics industry by surprise, and its success spawned an industry-wide trend. Today, the comic crossover is a staple of the industry. This strategy led directly to a series of crossover projects with industry giant DC Comics. Projects such as Batman versus Predator, Superman/Aliens, and Joker/Mask have been runaway hits.

That same year, Frank Miller (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns) and Dave Gibbons (Watchmen) brought Give Me Liberty to Dark Horse. Later that year, Frank teamed with artist Geof Darrow and released Hard Boiled, again through Dark Horse. The success of these titles, together with Dark Horse’s creator’s-rights platform, led to the signing of talent from the “Big Two” to Dark Horse. High-profile creators such as Mike Mignola, Art Adams, Walt Simonson, John Byrne, and Chris Claremont brought projects to a company other than Marvel and DC for the first time. As a result of this talent movement, the field was opened wide for other creators, leading directly to the formation of numerous “independent” comic-book publishers.

Having achieved great success transforming film characters into comic-book stars, it was logical for Dark Horse to reverse that process and use its own original characters and stories as the basis for film and television. Richardson established Dark Horse Entertainment, Inc., in 1992 and set up shop on the lot of Twentieth Century Fox through a first-look deal with Larry Gordon and Largo Entertainment. Dark Horse Entertainment immediately went into development with a half-dozen projects, resulting in the production of four films in less than three years. Two of those productions, The Mask and Timecop, were created by Richardson and opened at number one at the box office. In the company’s first nineteen years, Dark Horse Entertainment has produced over two dozen films and television projects.

1993 saw Dark Horse return to its roots, and a new corporation was formed to establish a retail presence at the Universal Studios CityWalk in Los Angeles. Named Things From Another World, Inc., the corporation’s flagship retail operation, opened in 1994, was designed with a crashed spaceship embedded in the building.

As Dark Horse continued looking into new business opportunities, the Dark Horse Deluxe brand was initiated in 1998 with a line of merchandise that included model kits, toys, apparel, and collectibles. Initially planned to draw on Dark Horse properties, the division soon outgrew its initial vision. Successes include such collectible lines as Tim Burton’s Tragic Toys for Girls and Boys, Joss Whedon’s Serenity, and most recently, merchandise for the popular video-game franchise Mass Effect. Dark Horse, working with Big Tent Entertainment and the NHK broadcasting corporation, brought Domo-kun, a popular Japanese cult-icon character, to the United States, with a series of products ranging from Qee figurines to journals and stationery sets. Dark Horse now sells over thirty-five different Domo-themed products, available in stores nationwide.

A prose imprint was created in 2004 to capitalize on Dark Horse’s expanded distribution into bookstores. Early publications included Ursula Bacon’s Shanghai Diary and the series The Playboy Interviews. More recently, Lovecraft Unbound, edited by Ellen Datlow, and Yahtzee Croshaw’s Mogworld have been solid successes.

In 2007, Dark Horse again revolutionized licensed comics with the launch of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, which picked up where the hit television series left off. Plotted by series creator Joss Whedon, with stunning covers by Jo Chen and interiors by Georges Jeanty, the book was a smash hit, with initial sales of over one hundred thousand for the first issue. Over the course of the title’s three-year run, the series boasted story lines from television writers Jane Espenson and Drew Goddard, as well as best-selling author Brad Meltzer.

A short time later, Dark Horse launched The Umbrella Academy, created by My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way. Through a mix of dynamic storytelling and eye-catching artwork by Gabriel Bá, the book was a success with music and comics fans alike, and has won numerous awards over the course of two miniseries.

At Comic-Con International that same year, Dark Horse relaunched its legendary flagship title Dark Horse Presents in a groundbreaking partnership with then-number-one social-networking site MySpace.

2008 saw the release of Hellboy II: The Golden Army, helmed by acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro. The Universal Pictures film received rave reviews from fans and critics alike and debuted at number one at the box office.

In 2009, best-selling author Janet Evanovich teamed up with Dark Horse for the release of Troublemaker, the author’s first-ever graphic novel and the newest volume in her best-selling Alex Barnaby series. Dark Horse also joined forces with video-game company BioWare to publish all-new Mass Effect comics, cowritten by lead game writer Mac Walters.

In 2011, the company celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary in style, with the launch of an all-new proprietary digital-comics app, boasting hundreds of titles for download through both the iTunes store and the Dark Horse Digital storefront at Digital.DarkHorse.com.

The anniversary year sees another landmark event, as the company relaunches its flagship title, Dark Horse Presents, in an all-new eighty-page print format. The roster of contributors reads like a who’s who of comics talent, including the return of Paul Chadwick’s Concrete and Steve Niles’s Criminal Macabre, and new talent including Sanford Greene, Carla Speed McNeil, Nate Cosby, and many, many more!

In 2012, Dark Horse reestablished itself as the premier publisher of creator-owned and licensed content by kicking off the year with a New York Times number-one bestseller, Avatar: The Last Airbender, which quickly became a smash hit. Soon after, The Art of Mass Effect followed and swept video-game audiences off their feet. As Dark Horse’s comics continued to grow in print, Dark Horse Digital continued to grow in the consumer market, invading Nook, Kobo, and Kindle tablets, as well as producing a four-star Android app. Dark Horse Deluxe celebrated a record year as well, releasing the beloved Troll dolls back into the public, not to mention keeping fans busy with a series of highly collectible Game of Thrones products. Dark Horse’s creator-owned series saw a significant number of titles launched, including Matt Kindt’s MIND MGMT, Mike Mignola’s Hellboy in Hell, and Michael Avon Oeming’s The Victories. Perhaps the most celebrated launches came from acclaimed author Brian Wood, who began writing Conan the Barbarian along with his own series, The Massive, and finished the year with the announcement that he would be writing a new Star Wars series. Dark Horse Comics also took home five Eisner Awards in 2012, including Best Anthology for Dark Horse Presents.
January 2013 saw one of the biggest months ever, with the launch of Brian Wood's Star Wars series and the release of what was to be one of the highest-selling books in the history of the company, The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia! Dark Horse Digital expanded beyond in-house offerings with the addition of Dynamite Entertainment titles through the digital comics storefront and associated apps. DHD also created its first branded app for the hit game turned comics series Plants vs. Zombies, which saw record downloads across all of the Dark Horse apps. Dark Horse continued to expand its video game related offerings, with the announcements of both Halo, with creatives from the game, and Tomb Raider, written by comics superstar Gail Simone. Dark Horse expanded its growing line of superhero books, with the introduction of Captain Midnight and Brain Boy, written by rising stars Joshua Williamson and Fred Van Lente, respectively. Additionally, the company resurrected the Agents of Change in the genre-bending Catalyst Comix, written by Joe Casey. Another Dark Horse character appeared as never before in Art Baltazar and Franco's kid-friendly Itty Bitty Hellboy. The latter half of the year saw the announcement of the 2014 return of other popular titles from Dark Horse's publishing history: Aliens, Predator, and Alien vs. Predator, all interconnected, with the addition of Ridley Scott's epic Prometheus! Dark Horse again took home the Eisner and Harvey Awards for Dark Horse Presents.

Dark Horse entered the Year of the Horse in 2014 with predictions of the biggest year on record, with Serenity: Leaves on the Wind, Tomb Raider, and Greg Rucka's Veil launching in the first three months of the year. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel & Faith returned for Season 10, and Hellboy turned twenty with one of the most successful promotions in the history of the company (Hellboy even got his own beer!). Avatar: The Last Airbender hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list with the debut of its third volume, The Rift, which was also nominated for best graphic novel of the year by Goodreads. Dark Horse’s mammoth volume Big Damn Sin City also went to the top of the bestseller list, where it was joined by an adaptation of George Lucas’s original draft of The Star Wars. Serenity: Leaves on the Wind closed out the year at the top of the charts. A fan favorite and critical darling, Blacksad: Amarillo wowed readers around the globe, along with Matt Kindt’s thriller opus MIND MGMT. At the 2014 Eisner Awards, Dark Horse took home wins in five categories and then repeated the five-win streak at the Harveys, where Dark Horse Presents earned its third win in a row.

2015 was a banner year in which a slate of brand-new creator-owned works set the stage for greatness. Joëlle Jones premiered Lady Killer, a wildfire title starring a contract-killing housewife. Mike Mignola discovered new horrors in Frankenstein Underground. Rafael Albuquerque delivered a mind-bending world in EI8HT, and Brian Wood explored a new perspective on the American revolution in Rebels. Dark Horse Manga saw a resurgence with the rise of the New York Times number-one bestseller Unofficial Hatsune Mix and a revamped catalog of manga omnibus editions for die-hard fans. Perhaps the biggest triumph of 2015 was Chuck Palahniuk’s expansion of his chaotic fictional world in Fight Club 2. Spring and summer saw the releases of some of the biggest video game art book collections and licensed properties with The World of the Witcher, The Art of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe,and the madcap Archie vs. Predator. Dark Horse’s product line of Halo replica ships hit store shelves just in time for the holidays, along with an ever-expanding line of Game of Thrones figures and collectibles. Original graphic novels ruled the year’s end with Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá’s Two Brothers, Jonathan Case’s The New Deal, and Ethan Young’s Nanjing: The Burning City appearingas part of the Dark Horse Originals line.

In 2016, Dark Horse celebrated its thirtieth anniversary with many new and exciting projects. Dark Horse Day, a comics retailer event, was held in comics stores nation-wide to celebrate thirty years of Dark Horse! In another milestone, Dark Horse was proud to publish Angel Catbird, the first graphic novel by Booker award-winning novelist, Margaret Atwood. The graphic novel debuted at #1 on the New York times best seller list. Licensed comics also took off as Dark Horse released Aliens: Defiance by writer Brian Wood, as well as Aliens: Life and Death #1 by writer Dan Abnett. Aliens fans had even more reason to celebrate as Dark Horse kicked off Alien Day by announcing a new series Aliens: Dead Orbit from Orc Strain creator James Stokoe, as well as Volume 2 of Aliens: The Original Comics Series. Dark Horse manga also had a big year of critical and commercial success with the release of I am a Hero Volume 1, Danganronpa: The Animation Volume 1, and Blade of the Immortal Omnibus Volume 1. Video game art books were huge in 2016 as Dark Horse released many best-sellers! Teaming up with Blizzard Entertainment, Dark Horse released World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, the first of three volumes exploring the lore of the massively popular game. Other video game art books including The Art of Fire Emblem Awakening, The Art of Doom, and The Art of Battlefield 1 helped establish Dark Horse as a premiere publisher of video game art books in 2016.

2017 was a year of continued success as Dark Horse took home multiple Eisner Awards, including Best New Series for Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston’s Black Hammer. Teaming up with legendary Vertigo Comics founder, Karen Berger, Dark Horse announced Berger Books, a new line of creator-owned comic books and graphic novels. The new imprint launched with Anthony Bourdain and Joel Rose’s Hungry Ghosts in January of 2018. With an ever-expanding line of art books, Dark Horse saw major critical and commercial successes with The Art of Overwatch, The Art of Rick and Morty, as well as The Legend of Zelda: Art & Artifacts. Dark Horse was also thrilled to publish the first comic series adapted from Neil Gaiman’s award-winning novel American Gods. The comic series launched in March of 2017, followed by the highly acclaimed television series on the Starz network.

Dark Horse began 2018 with the announcement of Disney Frozen, the first series launched in collaboration with Disney to bring fan-favorite characters to the world of comics. Comics icon Frank Miller returned to the world of 300 with his long-awaited new series Xerxes: The Fall of the House of Darius and the Rise of Alexander. Dark Horse also announced a major publishing initiative with the release of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy Omnibus. The six trade paperbacks in the Hellboy Omnibus collection offered fans the complete Hellboy story in chronological order for the first time. Dark Horse and Netflix joined forces in 2018 with the announcement of Stranger Things, a new series based on the hit Netflix series. Expanding its product division, Dark Horse launched Dark Horse Direct, a new business venture dedicated to bringing high-end, limited production collectibles directly to consumers. Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba reunited for the return of their Harvey, Eisner, and YALSA award-winning series. The Umbrella Academy. The new series Hotel Oblivion launched in October of 2018 amid buzz of an upcoming Netflix Original Series based on the graphic novels. Rounding out the year, Dark Horse announced an exciting new global partnership with Vanguard Visionary Associates to grow the Dark Horse brand internationally in both its media and pop culture businesses.

2019  has been a banner year for Dark Horse and for Hellboy as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of Mike Mignola’s legendary creation with Hellboy Day, a special event for comics retailers and fans, and a new Hellboy movie directed by Neil Marshall and starring David Harbour, Milla Jovovich, and Ian McShane. Also in 2019, Netflix premiered the new film Polar based on the Dark Horse graphic novel by Victory Santos, starring Mads Mikkelsen and Vanessa Hudgens. Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba’s The Umbrella Academy television series also premiered on Netflix to worldwide acclaim.

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