Why Dark Horse Comics is on track to have its best year ever
Who says you need superheroes in order to be powerful? Over the past few years, Dark Horse Comics has gone from a small start-up that housed a handful of original titles to a publishing powerhouse that now regularly produces comics based on some of the most popular entertainment properties: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Avatar, and Star Wars.
With its recent first-look cable deal and publication of movie studio properties, Dark Horse is leading the pack and there’s no sign of its reign stopping — especially with the induction of a new Editor-In-Chief, Dave Marshall, a former senior editor whose work has landed him on the New York best seller list no less than nine times thanks to Avatar: The Last Airbender. A proponent of original work, Marshall credits Dark Horse’s success to its collaborative atmosphere. Marshall is just the latest of editorial promotions that include Scott Allie as executive senior editor, Freddye Miller as editorial coordinator and Cardner Clark as an assistant editor.
“I feel so fortunate to have built my career in comics here,” Marshall tells EW. “One of the things that’s special about Dark Horse is the way that it supports your pursuit of your passions, no matter how diverse they may be. We do so many different kinds of books. We do manga, we do original projects from all kinds of creators, we do tie-ins to major video games and films. And when you come here, it’s like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: you pick your pleasure, and if you go into that 100 percent, Dark Horse is there to support you. So I really see my fellow editors flourish in that environment, I think that’s the reason we’re on track to have our best year ever, and why the past three years have seen a lot of growth for Dark Horse.”
Pushing the company forward in 2016, Marshall says he wants to “continue to foster” that growth, a journey he’s experienced himself. “One of the things that I want to accomplish is to continue this trend we have of pairing industry veterans with young, fresh perspectives from junior editors,” he continues. “We’re looking at how teams are assembled so that you have both voices speaking to each other and contributing to a group of projects. I think that’s something Dark Horse has done well in the past, and something we want to strengthen and support for the future.”
While Dark Horse may not have the complexity of huge companies like Marvel or DC, that’s ultimately a good thing, as being part of a smaller company allows the creators and editors to work on projects that they find passionate. Judging from the quality, it’s a formula that’s working. “The quality is in the details — it’s in the day-to-day, it’s in those relationships that we build with every creator on every project, as well as the big corporations that own some of the properties that we work with,” says Marshall.
Dark Horse will spotlight multiple new projects at next month’s New York Comic Con, spearheading what promises to be a year full of even more growth. “I think in the role that I’m stepping into, I want to enable other editors to do what I did in my time here, to encourage them to bring innovative ideas to the department and when they have a video game or film or a television show, or particular author or artist that they love,” says Marshall. “There’s really a lot that I feel I have to learn from the newest members of the staff and the veterans and I really want to be that person that solves problems, that is always there in the day-to-day thick and thin of getting books out the door, to help everyone continue to do their best work and cull their passion.”
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