Now I could, without looking, tell you what Marvel, DC and Image have for sale this week: A bunch of super-hero comics, often with near-naked, female super-heroes on the cover. What does Dark Horse have for you this week?
How about a collection of rare and new material from one of the most lauded cartoonists of the past 30 years in Larry Marder’s Beanworld Vol. 3: Remember Here When You Are There!? Or a collection of early punk photos from the Misfits and beyond in Eerie Von’s Mystery Obscura? Maybe you’d like an anthology across all different subjects pulled from Dark Horse’s award winning digital comic Dark Horse Presents Vol. 4? It’s got Joss Whedon writing Buffy in it!
My point is Dark Horse Comics continues to publish the most diverse material from the greatest talents in comics today, a trend that will continue to cement their reputation as industry leaders.
In the Golden Age and Silver Ages of comic book’s past there were many companies turning out many different styles. The demand for comics meant that anyone who could swing a brush could get work on cowboy comics, romance comics and that brass ring of the funny book, Super-Hero comics.
This last type of tale proved so popular its success drove most of the other books off the shelves, leaving only two companies telling the exact same stories. There were still the occasional deviation, such as when horror and monster Comics were back on top of the heap in the 60’s and 70’s, though by that point it was still only Marvel and DC still around to put these books out.
Dark Horse earned its place at the Big-Kids Table through quality licensed titles such as Aliens, Predator and eventually Star Wars, while importing and translating manga for American audiences such as Lone Wolf and Cub. When the Image boys broke out of stables of Marvel and DC, Dark Horse responded by starting their Legends imprint: Mike Mignola, John Byrne, Arthur Adams and Paul Chadwick were given the spotlight to create whatever they wanted. Arthur Adam’s INCREDIBLE Monkey-Man and O’Brien was a notable first result, and Hellboy was another, forever changing the face of comics by blending super-fisticuffs with gothic imagery and monsters.
Dark Horse’s business model of trying out different publishing avenues on the back of their more successful titles means that any new trend in comics will probably be predicted by the Horse.
Innovation continues to be the key at Dark Horse. This week they’re publishing a 400 page graphic novel by European artist J.P. Kolonji entitled 365 Samurai and a Few Bowls of Rice. With a crisp, street style reminiscent of Von Bode meeting Guy Davis, this fast paced slash-em-up will surely be a hit with fans of anime titles like Afro-Samurai and comic fans alike.
MY PICK OF THE WEEK, without a doubt, is the Empowered Special: The Wench With a Million Sighs by America-manga master and Gen•13 stalwart, Adam Warren. Warren is blending cheeky romance with his high-octane art style for an unparalleled comic that’s equal parts sexy, hilarious and seriously underappreciated.