Yesterday it was announced that the massively important comic book publishing license for Star Wars would be leaving Dark Horse Comics for the first time in 20 years to move to Marvel Comics. On the heels of LucasFilm’s purchase by Disney and with Disney already owning Marvel, it was only a matter of time before Disney put Marvel in charge of publishing Star Wars comics.
Mike Richardson, CEO of Dark Horse, released a statement as well about the move, saying:
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.
The move wasn’t met with a lot of surprise by the comics industry or fans, but like any change with a property this important, fans do have concerns. While Marvel was responsible for publishing the very first Star Wars comics in 1977, a lot has changed since then. Among other potential issues, Star Wars has a strong female fan base and Marvel often targets male consumers, so what could this mean for female fans as far as female-friendly content? Disney has particularly placed emphasis on Marvel and Marvel properties as part of their endeavor to reach more boys (given they’ve locked down the girl demos with Princesses and Fairies) so will they be pushing for Marvel to make Star Wars comics targeted only at males? It’s too soon to tell, but it’s clear that Disney Publishing does have a hand in this transition – after all, in a Marvel-LucasFilm press release, Disney Publishing Worldwide executive vice president Andrew Sugerman is quoted alongside representatives from LucasFilm and Marvel. The quote reads:
“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.”
That’s pretty unusual in the course of business for these companies – Disney Publishing doesn’t oversee Marvel so much as the two work together in various ways on their individual publishing initiatives. The two otherwise operate separately…unless something about how the two companies do business is about to change. To have someone from Disney Publishing involved in a statement such as this indicates these three companies will probably be working together in entirely new ways to ensure the new Star Wars publishing program hits specific goals for all of them. It’s definitely the end of an era to see the Star Wars comics transitioning away from Dark Horse, and yes, change is scary, but it’s too soon to tell how this will impact the Star Wars comics of the future.