After more than 20 years at Dark Horse Comics, the “Star Wars” comic-book license is returning to Marvel Comics. The move wasn't entirely unexpected following Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm, since Disney is also the owner of Marvel.
Marvel has history with the license — it was the first company to publish a “Star Wars” comic, in March 1977. The first “Star Wars” comic from Marvel went on to sell 1 million copies, and is credited for helping keep the company afloat in an otherwise soft sales era. Marvel published comics based on the “Star Wars” property until 1986.
Dark Horse picked up the license in 1991 and published “Star Wars: Dark Empire,” which along with Timothy Zahn's novels helped spur the appetite for more “Star Wars” fiction in the era between the original films and the prequels. Dark Horse's license to publish “Star Wars” comics will end in 2014, with Marvel taking over the license in 2015. With new “Star Wars” films on the way from Disney, the spotlight will shine even more intensely on the popular property. It seems likely that the related comics could benefit from that attention.
Bryan O'Quinn of Empire Strikes Books, 600 NW 23, Suite 103, said he anticipated strong consumer demand for the first Marvel “Star Wars” issues.
“I'm sure when it first launches, it'll explode,” O'Quinn said. “A lot of people will come in and grab it, especially if they see a ‘Star Wars' No. 1.”
Brian Berlin of New World Comics, 6219 N Meridian, agreed that the move to Marvel could result in more sales.
“I think a lot of the people who have held off on buying ‘Star Wars' comics will finally come over,” Berlin said.
He didn't expect sales to necessarily skyrocket, however.
“I think it will be a net gain, but not a huge gain,” he said. “It depends on if they treat it like a major property or just a license.”
Both O'Quinn and Berlin said they were seeing good sales of the current “Star Wars” titles, particularly the main “Star Wars” book written by Brian Wood starring the major players from the original trilogy, and “The Star Wars,” which is based on George Lucas's original screenplay.
“Those are the two best-selling ‘Star Wars' titles,” Berlin said.
Oklahoma City author Jackson Compton, writer of the sci-fi comics series “Nadir's Zenith,” said he would miss the Dark Horse era of “Star Wars.”
“I understand Disney's business decision to move the ‘Star Wars' comic books from Dark Horse to Marvel. However, it really saddens me,” Compton said.
Compton said he thinks that Marvel's 1980s “Star Wars” tales were sometimes subpar, which along with the end of the original movie series, eventually led to the series' cancellation.
“When Dark Horse picked up the rights, they reinvigorated the ‘Star Wars' series with an impressive expanded universe,” he said. “I'm sure the new ‘Star Wars' stories will flourish under Marvel, but you really have to give props to Dark Horse for keeping the ‘Star Wars' universe alive and kicking between the years without films. It's been a sweet era for Dark Horse.”
In a news release, a Lucasfilm executive praised the work of Dark Horse.
“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 a news release.
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