Marvel and Dark Horse announced today that Disney is taking back the license for the Star Wars comics and will move it over to Marvel in 2015.
Dark Horse has had the franchise for over 20 years, during which they not only spun out a series of prequels and sequels that added to the Star Wars universe but also, in the past year, launched two new series: Star Wars, which was set in the world of the first movie, and The Star Wars, a comic based on George Lucas’s first draft of the screenplay.
There has been speculation that Disney would make this move ever since it acquired Lucasfilm in December 2012. Last year, they announced that they will make a new Star Wars trilogy, with the first movie scheduled for a summer 2015 release date—making 2015 the year that Star Wars comics turn into big money. Since Disney also owns Marvel, this is an obvious next step, but it’s one that many fans of Dark Horse’s Star Wars comics were hoping wouldn’t happen.
I asked Dark Horse spokesman Aub Driver what would happen to Star Wars comics that were purchased digitally via the Dark Horse app and he said “All purchased titles residing in your account on Dark Horse Digital will remain in your account’s ‘Cloud’ forever. So, while the Star Wars titles may no longer be purchasable from the storefront after December 2014 – they will certainly remain viewable and readable in your account.”
As for what will be the fate of the 20 years’ worth of comics produced by Dark Horse, Driver said, “Per our original contract with LucasFilm, reprints/usage of Dark Horse published material would require Disney to purchase the original files directly from Dark Horse.”
Here’s what Dark Horse president Mike Richardson had to say, in a letter sent out today. “For those who are new to the industry, Dark Horse revolutionized the treatment of comics based on films. After a history of movie properties being poorly handled with little regard for execution and continuity, Dark Horse took a new approach, carefully choosing licenses and approaching them with excitement and creative energy.”
He elaborated “Our goal was to create sequels and prequels to the films we loved, paying careful attention to quality and detail, essentially treating those films as though they were our own. Star Wars has been the crown jewel of this approach. We began chasing the title as far back as 1989, and with the launch of Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy’s Dark Empire, a new era in comics was born. I’m not ashamed to admit that we were Star Wars geeks, and we have been determined to spare neither effort nor expense in the pursuit of excellence.”
He also notes that Dark Horse has been preparing for this for some time and has added a number of new projects to its schedule for the next two years, and he concludes with this – “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.”