The internet-breaking news that Disney’s has purchased Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion has a certain ring of familiarity to comic fans, just 3 years ago Disney purchased Marvel for roughly the same amount ($4.0 billion). And after fans come-to and recover from the conjoined news that Disney has every intent to make episodes 7, 8, and 9 plus more another familiar question comes to mind, what does this mean for the comics?
Dark Horse Comics, the home of Star Wars comics since 1991, had this to say from President Mike Richardson:
Dark Horse and LucasFilm have a strong partnership which spans over 20 years, and has produced multiple characters and story lines which are now part of the Star Wars lore,” Richardson said. “‘Star Wars’ will be with us for the near future. Obviously, this deal changes the landscape, so we’ll all have to see what it means for the future.
So for the immediate future this probably means no change.
Which is good news for anyone looking forward to Brian Wood’s Star Wars ongoing scheduled for a January 2013 release. Brian Wood avoided any long-winded or offical Dark Horse business questions on Twitter but did confirm that all is well for his comic (at least as far as he knows)…
Graeme McMillan of CBR suggests that if anything it’ll probably just get cut short,
The answer is, more likely than not, that it’ll probably be shorter than originally intended. I may be being far too cynical about this — after all, for all I know, Dark Horse has an iron-clad multi-year contract with Lucasfilm that’ll be grandfathered into the Disney deal.
So we’ll get that new Star Wars #1 in January and a good amount of the series no matter what. Same probably with any other Star Wars series running right now.
But what about beyond that? Because Disney now owns Star Wars, and Disney also owns Marvel. But Dark Horse currently publishes Star Wars comics (see the dilemma?).
Well, as Graeme McMillan also pointed out, after acquiring Marvel in August 2009 it wasn’t too long until BOOM! Studios ceased publishing Disney properties (October 2011) and Marvel announced their first Disney book, Toy Story #1 (December 2011). So about two, two and a half years.
Does that mean that Dark Horse has a similar window? And if so what does that mean for one of comics most successful licensing publishers?
Conor Kilpatrick from iFanboy suggests a bit of worry for the company,
It’s not hard to see the same thing happening with Star Wars comics once those licenses with Dark Horse expire. And then what will happen to Dark Horse Comics if they lose some of their most high profile books? I have no knowledge of Dark Horse’s finances, but most comic book companies operate on the razor’s edge of profitability, if they do at all. The ripple effect of this deal could be wide-reaching and we’ll just have to wait and see what actually happens.
Joey Esposito from IGN sees this as a sign of change,
To me, that sounds like things will be changing at Dark Horse in terms of Star Wars.
And Andy Khouri from Comics Alliance makes a pretty good point,
It’s much more in Marvel’s action-adventure wheelhouse, and it’s hard to imagine the company not taking advantage of Star Wars should they find themselves with the keys to that toybox. Indeed, Marvel was the first to publish Star Wars comics back in the 1970s, and that work — currently available from Dark Horse — remains popular with fans to this day.
So in other words – no one knows yet but if history is the best indicator of the future (and it often is) Marvel will be publishing Star Wars comics again. And if it’s in a similar time frame were looking at 2014. It’s also worth noting that the Episode 7 movie is set for a 2015 release and with Marvel’s recent success with the movies/comics relationship I doubt Disney wants to miss out on an opportunity to form a similar relationship with Star Wars.
A changing of the guard for Star Wars comics from Dark Horse to Marvel would make a lot of fans timid or nervous I’m sure. Dark Horse has done an excellent job of giving the appropriate amount of care the property deserves and while Marvel is an industry leader in quality and has a lot of creator talent it’s also pretty crowded, with characters that have been around longer and bring in more comic-money than ones in the Star Wars universe, so it’s fair to wonder just what kind of attention the Star Wars properties would get.
The good news/bad news; because the comics are admittingly probably pretty low on the radar of the decision makers right now we’ll have plenty of time to speculate and wonder.
On a lighter note Bleeding Cool is collecting Star Wars/Disney/Marvel mash ups from creators around the web, some of my favs…
From Francesco Francavilla
From Jon Bolerjack
From Alex [freaking] Ross