Mike Richardson on Dark Horse & the iPhone

Dark Horse released on Monday its first digital comics formatted for the iPhone and iPod touch devices. "Terminator: Death Valley," a four-issue miniseries by Alan Grant and Steve Pugh -- originally published in 1998 -- is now available in the Apple Apps Store/iTunes as a series of four "apps" priced at $0.99 each. The company's press release noted the miniseries was chosen to coincide with upcoming "Terminator: Salvation" film starring Christian Bale. CBR News caught up with Dark Horse publisher Mike Richardson for a quick chat about Dark Horse's new digital initiative.

"We're excited about [the iPhone] as a new way of extending our reach with the content we have," Richardson told CBR. "We were one of the first to do Terminator comics -- as you know, these days everyone is starting a Terminator series, and we just thought we would reestablish our claim as the original and best Terminator," Richardson explained, alluding to the fact that because "Terminator" and "Terminator 2" are distinct licenses, it is possible for multiple publishers to legitimately produce comics based on the series of films. Dark Horse's original "Terminator" series, which began in 1990, is collected in multiple omnibus editions, and Richardson said that a new series will be officially announced at this year's Comic-Con International in San Diego.

"[This iPhone initiative is] three beginnings for us: it's the beginning of a re-association with Terminator. It's also our first step into electronic presentation of our material, and it's the beginning of a program in which we plan to be innovators," Richardson said.

While there are emerging media companies dedicated to translating existing comics into iPhone-ready content, Dark Horse notably developed "Terminator," their first iPhone app, in-house. "We have in-house our internet guys who are all chomping at the bit to work on this stuff," Richardson said. The company is often commended for its high production values with print comics and, though acknowledging that producing digital material can require a different set of skills, Richardson said "right now we have people with those skills on staff."

The "Terminator: Death Valley" comics will be reformatted to display one panel at a time in landscape display, with the option of flipping through pages, transitioning with swipes or fades, or setting a timer to turn pages automatically.

The publisher gave no hints as to what Dark Horse comics would follow "Terminator: Death Valley" onto the iPhone, but upcoming titles will be selected by Richardson in coordination with designers, editors, and series artists to determine suitability for the format. "We're going to be very ambitious," Richardson said. "We've always tried to be the best at everything we do, and this will be no different. It's one of the reasons we've held back up to this point, because we've wanted to make sure we can do a great job in presenting the material, and we also wanted to make sure the delivery systems were able to deliver the material in the way that we wanted it ourselves."

As to whether Dark Horse would explore formatting its comics for other mobile platforms, such as Google Android phones, the option is certainly on the table. "We're actually talking to a number of companies about a number of different platforms," Richardson said.

Spider-Man JJ Abrams
Marvel Just Introduced a New Spider-Man and His Amazing Sidekick

More in Comics