We’re feeling a conflict deep within us today thanks to the announcement that Marvel Comics are to be the exclusive publisher of Star Wars comics from 2015. The news has caused a great disturbance in the force as the prospect of a new digital Star Wars comic from Marvel has set our metachlorians racing, but it also means the end of the deal between Lucasfilm and Dark Horse Comics, the home of the titles since 1991.
The prospect of new Star Wars titles from the House of M is obviously an exciting one, however it comes at the expense of Star Wars’ long time publisher Dark Horse Comics who will no longer be producing the adventures of Luke Skywalker and co. An inevitability from the moment Disney anounced it’s acquisition of Lucas’ Galaxy Far Far Away last summer, it is still a story tinged with sadness as the Star Wars franchise had been one of the crown jewels in Dark Horse crown.
The agreement marks a homecoming for the Star Wars comic books as Marvel Comics published the first Star Wars comic book, Star Wars #1, in March 1977. It went on to sell more than 1 million copies with Marvel Comics publishing its Star Wars series for nine years. In 1991, Dark Horse Comics took over the license, publishing fan-favorite titles like Dark Empire and Star Wars: Legacy. Last year, Dark Horse released The Star Wars #1, an adaptation of George Lucas’ original rough-draft screenplay for the film, garnering rave reviews and national media attention and ranking among the top-selling Star Wars comics of all time.
“Dark Horse Comics published exceptional Star Wars comics for over 20 years, and we will always be grateful for their enormous contributions to the mythos, and the terrific partnership that we had,” said Carol Roeder, director of Lucasfilm franchise publishing, Disney Publishing Worldwide. “In 2015, the cosmic adventures of Luke, Han, Leia and Chewbacca will make the lightspeed jump back to Marvel, to begin a new age of adventures within the Star Wars universe.”
“We here at Marvel could not be more excited to continue the publication of Star Warscomic books and graphic novels,” said Marvel Worldwide Publisher and President, Dan Buckley. “The perennial brand of Star Wars is one of the most iconic in entertainment history and we are honored to have the opportunity to bring our creative talent pool to continue, and expand Star Wars into galaxies far, far away.”
“We’re incredibly excited by this next chapter in the Star Wars saga,” said Andrew B. Sugerman, executive vice president of Disney Publishing Worldwide. “Bringing together the iconic Lucasfilm and Marvel brands to tell new stories will allow us to continue to thrill lovers of the original Star Wars comic books and entertain generations to come.”
By contrast, news from Dark Horse Comics was much more sombre with the following message appearing from Dark Horse Publisher Mike Richardson
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.
One thing we can say, is that as digital comics fans, this means the Star Wars titles will be coming to ComiXology and the Marvel Comics app in 2015 and we will be sure to bring you the best coverage when that happens!