Dark Horse is well known in a few circles that it caters to, even though it has plenty more to offer to comic readers if they take the chance to see beyond those well-known titles; however, for a lot of people, Dark Horse will always be known as the publishing powerhouse that gives the world Star Wars, Hellboy, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics. While the last two have been around for a good while, I still believe that without Star Wars there would be no Dark Horse as we know it today, which poses the question that I really want to ask: what happens now?
Well, surely Dark Horse will continue to generate great comics in other realms—and as a personal fan of the “Buffyverse” that has come about, I enjoy the many tales that have been told concerning our favorite slayer and her massive assortment of supporting characters. And, while I’m not as well versed as I wish I could be, I have found what few Hellboy and B.P.R.D. comics I’ve read to be considerably well done, so there are no worries about those two franchises dying out anytime soon. But, will they be enough to keep Dark Horse afloat following the departure of its largest client and biggest fan draw? Sadly, the answer is most likely a resounding no.
Let’s take a comparison to another well-known comic book publishing company, IDW, and see how they’ve risen through the years. While the company has some original titles to its name, their massive success has come about from the licensing of well-known properties that already have a built-in following—Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Star Trek, G.I. Joe, Ghostbusters, Transformers, Doctor Who, etc.—and can provide lots of readers/customers for their costs. It doesn’t hurt that a lot of these licensed properties are being written by some truly well-known and creative individuals (such as Chuck Dixon, a personal favorite of mine), but without those licenses, I can’t imagine IDW having risen to the level it enjoys today. Take those lines away, and the company wouldn’t be as popular in my opinion. This is what will happen to Dark Horse if they don’t learn to diversify and bring in more readers.
But, even if Dark Horse is able to survive in the comic book industry—though at a lesser standing than it enjoys now, I am sure—what about the new line of Star Wars titles that will come about from Marvel? Will the creative teams that have so often worked within Dark Horse continue to stay with their home, or will they, too, move along to Marvel to further their adventures? And, that’s assuming that the publishing empire that Stan Lee helped to build will want to keep with the current incarnation of the “Expanded Universe.” What happens if/when Disney’s subsidiary makes the decision to scrap the current timeline and create a new one? I won’t lie and say that I like everything that has happened throughout the history of the galaxy, but I think the good outweighs the bad. But, will the good still remain when it transverses over to Marvel in a few years?
We’ll just have to wait and see what happens, and hope that while Dark Horse has lost the Force, it won’t lose its will to continue forward (and that Star Wars won’t completely lose its appeal when folded back into the publishing giant that gives DC a run for its money).