Well, well. While the general state of comics is pretty healthy these days, there had been one company whose well-being we continually heard whispers about, and that was Archaia: an ill-timed move to a bookstore distributor two years ago left them with massive returns and a lot of cash flow problems. None of these ever stopped them from putting out a series of gorgeous, hardcovers that almost always hit the mark in one way or another, from A Tale of Sand to Mouse Guard to Cursed Pirate Girl, but it was slow going for a while.
However, it seems BOOM! Studios has ridden to the rescue, acquiring Archaia as a imprint. Archaia’s Jack Cummins will stay on as will, if we’re reading Twitter correctly, Archaia employees Stephen Christy and Mel Caylo.
Deadline’s announcement touted the IP possibilities of the merged companies:
Archaia, established in 2002, is known for graphic novels Mouse Guard, Jim Henson’s A Tale of Sand, Rust, Spera, Cowboy, and Gunnerkrigg Court. Now those titles join the fold at BOOM!, which aims to start nipping at the heels of WB‘s DC Entertainment and Disney‘s Marvel Entertainment as the largest independently-controlled comics and graphic novel library in town. BOOM!’s creator-friendly business model also shares IP ownership between the company and creatives — a nice incentive for artists looking to feed their comics properties into the Hollywood mill.
Indeed, BOOM! has been smartly riding the success of periodical comics while staying small and focused. Adding Archaia’s great library of highly personal fantasy and genre books should be a great move for both brands.
BOOM! Studios, the Eisner and Harvey Award-winning comic book and graphic novel publisher and two-time winner of Diamond Comics Distributors’ prestigious “Best Publisher” Gem Award, has merged with Eisner and Harvey Award-winning Archaia Entertainment, the publisher of graphic novels including Mouse Guard, A Tale of Sand, Rust, Spera, Cowboy, and Gunnerkrigg Court. BOOM! Studios will be the surviving company and the Archaia brand shall be maintained as a distinct imprint of BOOM!.
The addition of Archaia positions BOOM!’s catalog of intellectual property as the largest independent company-controlled comic book and graphic novel library, behind only industry titans DC Entertainment (Warner Bros.) and Marvel Entertainment (Disney). BOOM!’s comic books and graphic novels pioneer a new business model, sharing intellectual property ownership between the company and the creators who generate the content. BOOM!’s Chief Executive Officer and founder, Ross Richie, noted, “Our creator-friendly model ensures that creatives are rewarded financially as they generate the franchises of tomorrow. Archaia operates with the same philosophy and objectives, which is one of the many reasons this combination is such a great fit.”
“We are thrilled and excited to join with BOOM!,” Archaia President and Chief Operating Officer Jack Cummins, who will continue in the same role, said. “BOOM! is very committed to maintaining the brand we’ve worked so hard to build and preserving our relationship with our creators, fans, and retailers. They’re fans of Archaia first and foremost, and are avidly working behind the scenes to expand our market penetration and carry our catalog deeper into retail channels. Archaia readers can expect the same editorial approach that has garnered industry-wide awards but we will have a much stronger platform to deliver our content in all forms and channels. I am personally looking forward to bringing our team together with the fantastic team Ross has built.”
Richie added, “Archaia has a terrific track record for creating award-winning, beautiful books with high production values. Jack Cummins, Stephen Christy, Mark Smylie, and the entire Archaia team have built an amazing publisher. With BOOM!’s resources, Archaia fans will see more of the books they love, while retailers will enjoy better business through stronger trade terms.” The companies also plan to put key items from the Archaia catalog back into print.
BOOM! Executive Chairman Scott Lenet of the venture capital firm DFJ Frontier noted, “We are excited to be investors in a profitable, growing company with a fantastic early track record of creating, curating, and marketing properties that audiences genuinely love. We have ambitious plans to continue to fund the company’s expansion in comics, graphic novels, and other media.”
August 2nd sees the release of the first BOOM! Studios feature film, the Universal Pictures-distributed 2 Guns starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, based on the Steven Grant comic book published by BOOM!. The company is currently preparing its second feature film for production: Jeremiah Harm, based on the comic book by Keith Giffen, Alan Grant, and John Mueller, will be directed by Timo Vuourensola of Iron Sky (jeremiahharm.com).
Archaia has optioned Royden Lepp’s graphic novel Rust to Twentieth Century Fox. Among Archaia’s other announced deals are the development of Lucid (Warner Bros.), Bolivar (Warner Bros.), and Feeding Ground (Pressman Films).
Recently, legendary creators including writer Paul Jenkins (Wolverine: Origin, Inhumans) and artist Brian Stelfreeze (Batman: Shadow of the Bat, Wednesday Comics) have announced to the industry that BOOM! is their new publishing home. This summer BOOM! also launched the first original comic book Clive Barker has ever created and written, Clive Barker’s Next Testament.
July sees the blockbuster release of Archaia’s Mouse Guard: The Black Axe, created by Eisner Award winner David Petersen, Cyborg 009 in partnership with acclaimed Japanese publisher Ishimori, and The Thrilling Adventure Hour based on the long-running stage play of the same name.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.