Swedish video game conglomerate to acquire Portland’s Dark Horse Comics

Mike Mignola’s Hellboy has been a Dark Horse series exclusive since 1994. (Dark Horse Image)

One of the biggest names in American independent comics has been acquired by a Swedish video game company.

The Embracer group announced Tuesday that it has reached an agreement to acquire Portland, Oregon-based Dark Horse Comics. Embracer’s stated plan is to make Dark Horse its 10th operating group, along with several video game developers and a French board game publisher, in order to “strengthen its transmedia capabilities.”

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed at the time of writing. Dark Horse will retain its current CEO, Mike Richardson, and current leadership.

Dark Horse, founded in 1986 by Richardson in Bend, Oregon, is one of the largest comic book publishers in the United States. While its monthly sales are a relative fraction of those of Marvel or DC (independent trackers place Dark Horse controlling around 3% of the total market), Dark Horse has occupied a successful niche for decades as a comic book publisher. as well as one of the first translators of Japanese comics (manga) for English-speaking audiences.

The original version of Embracer notes that Dark Horse owns or controls the rights to more than 300 intellectual properties, “many of which are attractive for future transmedia exploitation, including the creation of new video games.”

If a typical geek knows Dark Horse for something, maybe it’s time he was the lead editor for the official Star Wars comics, many of which take place in the old, pre-Disney Expanded Universe. Dark Horse published several Star Wars books between 1991 and 2015, before Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm forced Marvel to regain the rights to the comics.

Dark Horse has also released a long series of varied miniseries set in the shared universe of the Aliens and Predator movie franchises, as well as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Conan the Barbarian, and The Terminator. Its current licensed comics include a comic based on the Netflix series Stranger Things, multiple volumes expanding on the story of Avatar: The Last Airbender, and a line of books set in the world of the show’s campaign. Direct Dungeons & Dragons Critical Role.

In the world of video games, Dark Horse is the typical editor behind a series of desktop books that show the designs and artistic concepts of various mainstream versions. This line includes The Last of Us, Apex Legends, Far Cry and, on December 15, Halo Infinite.

However, what appears to have motivated the Embracer acquisition is Dark Horse’s position as a leading publisher of creator-owned original comics, many of which have become Hollywood’s best films over the years. years.

Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, about a paranormal investigator who beats up Nazis and is also a big red demon, is the closest thing to Dark Horse that comes close to a single flagship franchise. He is also the current editor of major independent books such as Evan Dorkin’s Beasts of Burden, Frank Miller’s Sin City, John Arcudi’s The Mask, Gerard Way’s The Umbrella Academy, and Matt Wagner’s Grendel, all or part of which could be a mature material for a video game. adaptation, and all of them have been licensed for film / television.

“I cannot express the excitement I feel when Dark Horse enters this new chapter in our history,” Richardson wrote in a press release. “The synergies that exist with the Embracer network promise exciting new opportunities not only for Dark Horse, but also for the creators and companies we work with. I must say that the future of our company has never been brighter.

Embracer Group, based in Karlstad, Sweden, was founded in 2008 as a publishing subsidiary of the Game Outlet Europe chain of stores. It appeared on the gaming industry radar in 2014 when it acquired the trademarks of the late publisher / developer THQ, after which it changed the name of its operation to “THQ Nordic.” It was renamed again in 2019 to Embracer Group, while the name THQ Nordic is currently used by a subsidiary of LLC.

Embracer is currently in a wave of acquisitions bordering on insanity. Earlier this year, Embracer acquired Gearbox Entertainment, the developer of the Borderlands game franchise, for $ 1.3 billion.

On the same day that Embracer announced its acquisition of Dark Horse, it also announced its intention to acquire Hungarian animation studio DIGIC, French board game company Asmodee, the North American subsidiary of Chinese company Perfect World, the based game developer. at Miami Shiver Entertainment (co-founded by former Xbox Live director John Schappert) and German advertising company Spotfilm.

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