C2E2 EXCLUSIVE: "Dark Horse Presents" Reformats With "Big Guy & Rusty" And More

This August, Dark Horse is presenting a new face for its signature series.

Announced today at C2E2, the long-running title "Dark Horse Presents" will receive a facelift later this year as it shifts formats away from the 80-page volume it's been since its 2011 return to print. Along with a new, slimmer format for the book, Dark Horse will welcome and welcome back a number of creators and serials to celebrate - starting with a new "Big Guy & Rusty The Boy Robot" story from Geof Darrow and Frank Miller as well as David Mack's Kabuki.

"It's been 80 pages. We're going to change the page count down to 48 pages along with a price reduction. It'll be $4.99," Publisher Mike Richardson told CBR News. "The main reason is that for three and a half years we've been producing 80 pages a month - that's about 10 different features - and it's time to make it a little easier on ourselves."

Richardson revealed some of the stories coming to the new DHP over the coming months, including:

- David Mack's "Kabuki" - New "Resident Alien" stories by Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse - Brendan McCarthy's "Dream Gang" - Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and Andy Kuhn's "Wrestling With Demons" - More "Sabertooth Swordsman" by Damon Gentry and Aaron Conley - Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey's "Action Philosophers" - Ricardo Delgado's "Age of Reptiles" - Horton and Dialynis's "Amala's Blade" - Tyler Jenkins' (Peter Panzerfaust) "The Chaining" - Jerry Ordway and Alex DeCampi's "Semiautomagic" - Peter Tomasi and Keith Champagne's "The Mighty" drawn by Leonard Kirk - Ed Brisson's "Murder Book" with Declan Shalvey, Michael Walsh, and more - Shannon Wheeler's "Too Much Coffee Man"

For the return of "Big Guy" - a futuristic all-ages romp that once inspired a Saturday morning cartoon series - Darrow explained that for him, the return is a chance for a brief, fun ride from Richardson and company.

"I have an idea of what it's going to be," Darrow said. "It's kind of funny, I think. I hope. In theory, Frank is going to do the dialogue for me when it's ready. He said he would. He can really put something into it...I don't want people's expectations to be too high. This is just a simple thing."

Meanwhile, Darrow will continue to develop his signature series "Shaolin Cowboy" and craft his own kinds of comics. "That's something I like to do. Looking at Europe, they don't do many comic books, but each comic is its own unique thing. Most of the artists over there - and I learned this from Moebius - create their own little world. It's not a generic world, and there are a lot of generic worlds in comics. I understand why, but when I draw something I want it to look like something you haven't seen. It's got its own little story, but I see things where people draw cars, but they're just cars. I'll draw them where people have a bumper sticker on them or there's a dent in the fender. That kind of stuff to me is a story in and of itself. It's probably a waste of time, but that's what interests me."

As "Dark Horse Presents" carries forward, Richardson said the anthology will keep its "like a box of chocolates" ethos to present a wide variety of styles. "'Dark Horse Presents,' from the beginning, was meant to be a sampler of our whole company," he said. "And the three major categories of books that we publish - creator-owned books, licensed books and some company-owned characters - are all represented there. We've always tried to find new voices as well as established talent. Particularly in the latest edition of 'Dark Horse Presents' we've featured a lot of new talent, but it's also a great place to introduce new characters or preview new licensed book. So it's always a snapshot of our company and showing the kinds of books we like. It represents our philosophy.

"I think there's always been some resistance to an anthology. Oftentimes you hear fans says that they like one feature but don't like another. I think the idea is that there are a lot of different genres and a lot of different types of stories in every issue, so there's a certain kind of reader who likes that variety and others who want one book with a single feature. So there will always be some people who resist that, but the anthology is still a great way for us to discover new talent or to introduce readers to new books they might not have tired otherwise. It's a great overview of the comics industry - the different kinds of books and talent that are out there. For a lot of people, that's what's exciting."

And keeping excitement for "DHP" high is a factor in Richardson's recruitment efforts for this new, slimmer iteration. "We're lining up some great creators, and we're returning with a very successful and creative properties. 'Big Guy' is one of my favorites that we've ever done."

"After [May's] issue #36, we'll have a two-month break, and then we'll restart it," Richardson said of the planned rollout. "It'll still be a very nice package. It's just hard to explain exactly how hard it is to put out 80 pages of content every month. We don't have any ads in the book, so it's been easily ten different series by almost 25 different creators in every issue. When we started 'Dark Horse Presents,' it was a traditional comic - black and white with three eight-page stories for a total of 24 pages. And 80-page deluxe version we've been doing is something I love, but I'm happy to be slimming it down a bit. Although, we will be having some fat issues from time-to-time."

And as a tease, the publisher noted that Dark Horse has been counting all the issue numbers of ever iteration of "DHP," and the series is close to a major milestone. "They've all been numbered from the very beginning if you look inside the cover at the indicia. On the cover, we'll start with new numbering to go with the new format, but if you look inside, you'll see we're in the 180s. So we're approach our 200th issue, which will be a very special one."

Stay tuned to CBR News for more on the future of "Dark Horse Presents."

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