UPDATE 1/3/2014 3:00 PM PT: Good e-Reader has more details on "Star Wars" comics moving from Dark Horse Comics to Marvel, with a Dark Horse representative quoted, "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." Additionally, "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."
In a move many industry observers considered inevitable, Marvel and Lucasfilm announced Friday that Marvel now has "exclusive rights to create and publish 'Star Wars' comics and graphic novels," starting in 2015.
This follows Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012, putting the "Star Wars" franchise and Marvel under the same corporate umbrella (Disney purchased Marvel in 2009). Marvel Comics was the original publisher of "Star Wars" comics starting in 1977 (with the first issue selling more than one million copies), but Dark Horse Comics has held the license since 1991, publishing dozens of successful and acclaimed series under the property including "Star Wars: Dark Empire," "Star Wars: Legacy," "Star Wars: Republic," "Star Wars Tales," "Star Wars Infinities" and current miniseries "The Star Wars," based on George Lucas' dramatically different original screenplay.
"We here at Marvel could not be more excited to continue the publication of Star Wars comic books and graphic novels," Marvel publisher and president Dan Buckley said in a statement. "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."
"Star Wars" has been a significant part of Dark Horse's publishing line, with five new single issues solicited for release in this month alone. Dark Horse publisher and founder Mike Richardson said in a statment that he was "sad to report" the news, but "we have prepared for this eventuality by finding new and exciting projects to place on our schedule for 2015 and beyond."
Brian Wood, who writes the ongoing "Star Wars" series at Dark Horse and "X-Men" for Marvel, wrote on Twitter that his run reaches its scheduled end this year with issue #20. "No reason to think Marvel has interest in me writing SW. I'm sure everyone and their mothers will want to write a Marvel Star Wars book!" In a follow-up, Wood stated, "I love Marvel, but DH put 22 years into developing and nurturing SW, and this sucks for them, ESP the staff who handles the franchise there."
2015 will also see the release of the next entry in the film franchise, the J. J. Abrams-directed "Episode VII" schedule for release on Dec. 18, 2015. Marvel's full press release and a statement from Dark Horse Comics follow.
Official Press Release
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.Â "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. Â© 2013 Lucasfilm Ltd.Â All rights reserved.
UPDATE 1/3/2014 10:10 AM PT: Dark Horse Comics founder and publisher Mike Richardson has issued a statement on the "Star Wars" license moving to Marvel:
"The End of an Era
"All things come to pass. So too, do all licensed deals. I am sad to report that Disney, the new owner of Lucasfilm, has notified us here at Dark Horse of their intention to move the Star Wars publishing license to another of their recent acquisitions, Marvel Comics, beginning in 2015. This will end a partnership that has lasted more than two decades.
"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. 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.
"It is ironic that this announcement comes at a time when Dark Horse is experiencing its most successful year ever. For obvious reasons, we have prepared for this eventuality by finding new and exciting projects to place on our schedule for 2015 and beyond. Will they take the place of Star Wars? That's a tall order, but we will do our best to make that happen. 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."