Dark Horse Comics, the largest comic book publisher owned by one sole individual, Mike Richardson, is to receive a major investment from the Chinese firm Vanguard Visionary Associates, based in Hong Kong.
The plan is for Dark Horse to be able to fully finance the development of movies and TV shows based on comics that Dark Horse publishes and create new ideas as well, and sell their comic books and merchandise lines internationally, especially in China. And Vanguard Visionary Associates Chairman Stanley Cheung joining the board of Dark Horse.
This follows the likes of comic book publisher Boom having a large investment in return for equity from Fox Studios. And Netflix buying Millarworld outright. And Valiant's investment from a Chinese firm – that later turned into an outright buyout. And IDW setting up as a company that makes TV shows like Wynonna Earp and Dirk Gently. However, Dark Horse is bigger and longer established than any of them, publishing everything from Sin City to The Mask to Concrete to Aliens.
Dark Horse Comics began in Portland in 1986, establishing creator-owned titles as standard, exploiting licenses to creative effect and bringing the comics industry to its neighbourhood since. I understand that owner and president of the publisher Mike Richardson has entertained many such offers over the years, but has retained sole ownership of Dark Horse until now.
It is possible that this may be as a result of Boom stealing away licenses for Buffy and Firefly a result of the Fox deal. And losing Star Wars to Marvel as they were bought by Disney.
It will no doubt be the talk of MCM London Comic Con in the morning…
Here's the PR in full:
Dark Horse Entertainment Announces Global Partnership with Vanguard Visionary Associates
MILWAUKIE, Ore., (October 26, 2018)–Dark Horse Entertainment, L.L.C. and Vanguard Visionary Associates are proud to announce their new partnership to grow the Dark Horse brand internationally in both its media and pop culture businesses.
The new venture will allow Dark Horse to fully finance development of properties from Dark Horse's extensive content library as well as cultivate original ideas and acquire material for film and television, then co-finance the production of those projects. The deal will also focus on bringing the company's award-winning publications and product lines to new international markets, particularly China.
"We are extremely pleased with our new relationship with the people at Vanguard Visionary Associates," said Mike Richardson, Dark Horse CEO and founder. "We've had great success over the years, funding our company internally and watching it grow from modest beginnings through the hard work of our amazing staff. This new arrangement will allow us to accelerate our growth and extend our reach worldwide. The deal will offer resources that will take our company to the next level. It will also present new opportunities for our employees as well as the talented content creators we work with."
"We see a great fit between our companies," stated Vanguard Visionary Associates Chairman Stanley Cheung. Cheung is the former Chairman of the Walt Disney Company in Greater China. "Our goals are similar, and we feel that by combining our efforts we will be able to enhance Dark Horse's visibility internationally on the way to making it a leader in the film business, while also making its publishing and product offerings available to new fans around the world."
Cheung will join the Dark Horse Entertainment board while Richardson will continue as the company's CEO overseeing its operations.
Dark Horse established its storied reputation by publishing work by many of the comic industry's leading talents. Its film division has produced over 30 film and television projects. Current projects include The Umbrella Academy and Polar, both appearing on Netflix in early 2019, and a reboot of Hellboy, directed by Neil Marshall and starring David Harbour, scheduled for release in April 2019. The company is also in post-production on a new pilot for SYFY starring Alan Tudyk and directed by David Dobkin, based on the Dark Horse comic Resident Alien.
Dark Horse Entertainment L.L.C. is made up of Dark Horse Comics L.L.C., established in 1986; Dark Horse Studios L.L.C., established in 1992; and its retail chain, Things From Another World L.L.C., established in 1980. Vanguard Visionary Associates is a Hong Kong based company specializing in entertainment and pop culture products.