Some expected it, others thought it unlikely. But today, it has happened. Disney and Lucasfilm have announced that Marvel Comics will publish Star Wars comics and graphic novels beginning in 2015. This will bring to an end Dark Horse's control of the Star Wars license after twenty-three years. The company began publishing Star Wars comics with Dark Empire in 1991.
The news of the license transfer raises some questions, including whether Dark Horse will continue to print its Star Wars omnibus collections. I asked a representative from Lucasfilm about this, and the response was, "Plans are still developing. More information will be shared when available."
Dark Horse founder Mike Richardson said in a statement that he was sorry to see the relationship with Lucasfilm end in 2015, but promised exciting things for the publisher's last year as a Star Wars comics powerhouse. "2014 may be our last year at the helm of the Star Wars comics franchise, but we plan to make it a memorable one," Richardson said. "We know that fans of the franchise will expect no less. The Force is with us still."
Below is the Lucasfilm news release from StarWars.com, featuring comments on the Dark Horse relationship from Lucasfilm's head of publishing and the usual excited chatter from Marvel and Disney executives.
DISNEY’S LUCASFILM AND MARVEL ENTERTAINMENT JOIN FORCES TO PUBLISH STAR WARS™ COMICS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS
Jedi, Sith, and the rest of the Star Wars Universe Come to Marvel Comics in 2015
SAN FRANCISCO, CA (January 3, 2014) – The Walt Disney Company’s Lucasfilm Ltd. and Marvel Entertainment are joining forces to bring new Star Wars adventures to readers across the galaxy, with Marvel granted exclusive rights to create and publish Star Wars comics and graphic novels beginning in 2015.
The agreement marks a homecoming for the Star Wars comic books. Marvel Comics published the first Star Wars comic book, Star Wars #1, in March 1977, which went on to sell more than 1 million copies. Marvel Comics published its Star Wars series for nine years. In 1991, Dark Horse Comics took over the license, publishing fan-favorite titles like Dark Empire and Star Wars: Legacy. Last year, Dark Horse released The Star Wars #1, an adaptation of George Lucas’ original rough-draft screenplay for the film, garnering rave reviews and national media attention and ranking among the top-selling Star Wars comics of all time.
“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 2015, the cosmic adventures of Luke, Han, Leia and Chewbacca will make the lightspeed jump back to Marvel, to begin a new age of adventures within the Star Wars universe.”
“We here at Marvel could not be more excited to continue the publication of Star Wars comic books and graphic novels,” said Marvel Worldwide Publisher and President, Dan Buckley. “The perennial brand of Star Wars is one of the most iconic in entertainment history and we are honored to have the opportunity to bring our creative talent pool to continue, and expand Star Wars into galaxies far, far away.”
“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.”
Marvel has continued to push comic book publishing forward with innovations and experiments like motion comics and digital-only releases, in addition to its deep, ongoing catalog of monthly series and graphic novels created by some of the industry’s most gifted artists and writers.
STAR WARS and related properties are trademarks in the United States and/or in other countries of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. © 2013 Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved.
About Marvel Entertainment, LLC
Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing and publishing. For more information, visit marvel.com.
About Lucasfilm Ltd.
Lucasfilm Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is a global leader in film, television and digital entertainment production. In addition to its motion-picture and television production, the company's activities include visual effects and audio post-production, cutting-edge digital animation, interactive entertainment software, and the management of the global merchandising activities for its entertainment properties including the legendary Star Wars and INDIANA JONES franchises. Lucasfilm Ltd. is headquartered in northern California.
STAR WARS and related properties are trademarks in the United States and/or in other countries of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. © & TM 2013 Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved.
About Disney Publishing Worldwide
Disney Publishing Worldwide (DPW) is the world's largest publisher of children's books and magazines with over 700 million products sold each year. DPW consists of an extensive worldwide licensing structure as well as vertically integrated publishing imprints, including Disney Book Group in the U.S. and Disney Libri in Italy. DPW publishes a range of children's magazines globally, as well as Disney kids magazines in the U.S. Disney English is DPW's English language learning business, which includes Disney English learning centers in China and a worldwide retail-licensing program. DPW's digital products include bestselling eBook titles as well as original apps. Headquartered in Glendale, California, DPW publishes books, magazines, and digital products in 85 countries in 75 languages. For more information visit www.disneypublishing.com.