The GeeksverseNEWS Round-up | Week of Jan. 4, 2014

NEWS Round-up | Week of Jan. 4, 2014
Published on Saturday, January 4, 2014 by
The first News Round-up of 2014 opens with a bang: click through to learn about the huge announcement from Disney’s Marvel Entertainment concerning the future of comics featuring  properties from Disney’s Lucasfilm. Because Disney owns everything now.
Disney announces Star Wars comics license move to Marvel, Dark Horse responds

marvelstarwars01In a development that perhaps every industry observer considered inevitable with Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in late 2012, Marvel (which Disney bought in 2009) has announced on its website that it has been granted the exclusive rights to create and publish Star Wars comics and graphic novels beginning in 2015. Marvel was the first comics publisher to obtain the license to the popular space opera property, releasing Star Wars #1 in March 1977 and publishing a variety of Star Wars-branded titles until 1986.

Dark Horse Comics acquired the Star Wars license in 1991 and over the course of 22 years, added extensively to the  fiction’s Expanded Universe canon via the work of creators such as Tom Veitch, John Ostrander, Jan Duursema, Randy Stradley, John Jackson Miller, Kevin J. Anderson, Michael A. Stackpole, and many others whilst keeping the property firmly within the comics community’s consciousness in the years before the “Prequel Trilogy” with regular and consistently high-quality output.

Despite the migration of the license to a publisher operating under the Disney corporate umbrella being expected in all quarters, Dark Horse Comics president Mike Richardson nonetheless expressed disappointment in the move in an open letter entitled “The End of  an Era.” The full text of Richardson’s letter follows:

SW_Darkempire1All 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.

How will this move affect the Star Wars digital comics customers bought from the Dark Horse Digital Store? Will those users have to “re-buy” their digital comics from Marvel’s own digital comics sales outlets once Dark Horse’s deal with Lucasfilm expires at year’s end? For now, at least, Dark Horse Comics public relations strategist Aub Driver assures us that Dark Horse Digital users will be able to keep their purchased Dark Horse Star Wars digital comics on their accounts’ cloud.

BOOM!/Archaia announces Alyssa Milano’s Hacktivist

From the press release:

Hacktivist_001_CoverAward-winning publisher Archaia Entertainment, an imprint of BOOM! Studios, is excited to announce that Alyssa Milano’s HACKTIVIST will debut as a new, four-issue limited series in January. Set in the world of tech entrepreneurs and social media, HACKTIVIST is the story of two friends who operate one of the largest social media firms by day, but by night, use their hacking skills to help important social causes all over the world. That is, until the U.S. government finds out!

“HACKTIVIST combines my love of tech, social media, and philanthropy,” said actress and producer Alyssa Milano (“Charmed,” “Mistresses”). “This idea sprang from my friendship with Jack Dorsey, the creator of Twitter, and my fascination with how one person can single-handedly bring about positive change in the world. It’s a concept I felt Archaia was the right publisher to help me develop. They understood the potential and assembled a great team in Jackson, Collin, Marcus, Ian, and [letterer] Deron [Bennett] to create a story that had no limits. I can’t wait for people to read it!”

WHY WE LOVE IT: From the creative mind of Alyssa Milano, with artist Marcus To (CYBORG 009, HUNTRESS, RED ROBIN), and writers Jackson Lanzing (FREAKSHOW) and Collin Kelly, HACKTIVIST is a fast-paced cyber-thriller about friendship and freedom in a time of war.

WHY YOU WILL LOVE IT: Fantastic characters and stunning action set pieces, beautifully illustrated by Marcus To and Eisner Award-nominated colorist Ian Herring (JIM HENSON’S TALE OF SAND).

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Ed Hiccox and Nate Graft are young, brilliant, and the co-founders of YourLife, a social networking company that has changed the way the world stays connected. In secret, these best friends are also “.sve_Urs3lf,” the largest, white-hat hacking group on the planet, exposing information and sparking revolutions across the globe.

HACKTIVIST #1 arrives in comic shops on January 22nd with a cover price of $3.99 under Diamond order code NOV130890.

Odds and Sods

More links to news from around the world of comics and related media:

  • HatsunemixcoverJapaneseDark Horse Manga editor Carl Horn runs down the imprint’s plans for 2014. Highlights include the Hatsune Miku: Unofficial Hatsune Mix omnibus written and illustrated by the humanoid persona’s character designer  Kei Garō as well as the launch of the 11 volume New Lone Wolf and Cub collection, the official sequel to the classic manga, written by Lone Wolf and Cub co-creator Kazuo Koike and illustrated by Hideki Mori (Bokkō, Umizuru) Also, our CBLDF Presents Manga review gets a linkback. Hooray! (
  • Google has been awarded a patent for what it calls a system for “self-creation of comic strips in social networks and other communications,” designed by UK-based Google engineer Satish Kumar Sampath. According to the USPTO patent dated 31 December 2013, the “comic strips are created with a simplified user interface and are formatted to be well-suited for display on a selected social network or other electronic facility… [and] are displayed in an embedded form directly in the social network or other facility, without the need for a user to go to a separate site to view the comic strip.” (US Patent and Trademark Office, via The Telegraph) [If you think Google’s patent description sounds reminiscent of the Bitstrips app, you’re not alone—ed.]
  • Speaking of Bitstrips, CEO, creative director, and co-founder Jacob “BA” Blackstock recently outlined the lessons the Toronto-based company learned over the past year and its plans for 2014. (Entrepreneur, via Reuters)
  • empmedicinewarrengrahamBrandon Graham (Prophet, Multiple Warheads) previews some of his artwork for an upcoming Empowered one-shot written by Adam Warren, who is apparently something of a personal comics hero to the creator of the Eisner Award-winning King City. Graham even throws in cameos from background characters that appeared in Warren’s early Dirty Pair work. (Royal Boiler)
  • Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki finally breaks his silence on the death threat letters he and supporters and fans of his comics have been receiving over the past year and the arrest and subsequent indictment of the suspect. (, via Anime News Network)
  • Ron Marz looks back on the 25 years he’s spent in the comics business, listing his favorite published works, the output that he finds most disappointing in retrospect, his influences, and more. Musing on the nature of the work-for-hire aspects of the industry, the veteran writer waxed philosophical: “… everything in superhero comics is cyclical. I don’t think you as a creator can get too caught up in what happens on a title after you leave it. We borrow somebody else’s toys for a while and play with them. Creators are ultimately caretakers for these corporate-owned characters. The best you can hope for is to tell stories you’re proud of, and leave your mark in some way.” (13th Dimension)
  • The Comics Reporter‘s Tom Spurgeon posted three stellar interviews in the days leading up to the New Year as part of the site’s series of holiday interviews with notable comics creators. You can read his conversations with Colleen Doran (A Distant Soil) here, Nate Powell (March: Book One) here, and Ed Piskor (Hip Hop Family Tree) here.
  • Writer Gail Simone is headed back to Marvel, after spending the past few years working mostly with DC and Dynamite. The first submission under her new contract with the publisher is a story that will appear in Deadpool #27. (Bleeding Cool)
  • BOOM! Studios imprint Archaia Entertainment returns the publishing rights to the Eisner Award-winning graphic novel Return of the Dapper Men to creators Jim McCann and Janet K. Lee. (Comic Book Resources)
  • Christina Blanch, whose Gender Through Comics course (read our assessment of the course here), is launching a new free course on the Canvas online learning platform entitled Social Issues Through Comics, which will run from March 10, 2014 through August 18, 2014. Registration is ongoing. (
In case you missed them…

Don’t forget that we regularly post new previews of trade paperbacks and hardcovers. This week, we added previews of three new titles: Pariah, Vol. 1 (Dark Horse), Star Wars Omnibus: Dark Times, Vol. 1 (Dark Horse), and Fairy Quest, Vol.1: Outlaws (BOOM! Studios).

Before going on his holiday break, Zedric wrote and posted his thoughts on Deathmatch, Vol. 2 (BOOM! Studios), Fever Ridge: A Tale of MacArthur’s Jungle War, Vol. 1 (IDW), Empowered, Vol. 8 (Dark Horse), and Richard Stark’s Parker: Slayground (IDW) in the reviews of December 2013’s trades and hardcovers.

Over the course of the holidays, Zedric, Troy, and Jason also shared their favorites comics, comics creators, toys, and comics-related media of 2013. Click on the links below to read their picks:

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