Dark Horse has been having a time of it with their licensed properties. They lost Star Wars, and decades of comics, after LucasFilm sold the rights off to Disney.
Then, earlier this year, Marvel made the announcement that they had reacquired the rights to Conan the Barbarian, of which Dark Horse had notched some major critical acclaim during its initial run in the early 2000’s (and right as they had hit the middle point of Conan’s chronology too!).
And post-Disney’s purchase of 20th Century Fox, it seemed like it was only a matter of time before the next shoe dropped on a couple of the publisher’s other notable licensed titles, such the Joss Whedon created Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And according to an interview at CBR with the writer/director, that property’s removal is imminent:
“…We want to do something more with Dark Horse right now – especially because Fox is taking the Buffy license and the Firefly license back…and Dark Horse has shepherded these licenses for decades now.”
Whedon, in said interview, is referring to the fact that he’s licensing out Dr. Horrible comics at Dark Horse currently as a way of continuing to work with them.
Dark Horse has been producing Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics since 1998, and has acted as the official continuation of the series for some number of years now with their subsequent season-based volumes.
Fox had previously changed the comics home of Firefly, another Whedon property, from Dark Horse to Boom! earlier this year, as well.
One wonders how much longer Dark Horse might be hanging onto the Alien/Predator titles, given that they are also changing hands to Disney as a part of the Fox deal.
On the bright side, this could be a good opportunity for Dark Horse to add more original titles to their line-up. Their strongest work lately has been in that vein, especially the incredible Black Hammer line of comics that Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston and others have been knocking it out of the park with, the equally terrific Beasts of Burden from Evan Dorkin, Jill Thompson and Benjamin Dewey, and their Berger Books imprint scored a coup with the upcoming Invisible Kingdom by G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward.
And there’s always Hellboy. Sure, it’s about to wrap up its present day storyline in BPRD: The Devil You Know at some point in the nearer future, but the flashback Hellboy & the BPRD series could continue ad infinitum (or up until Seed of Destruction) if Mignola and company saw fit to do so.
Then again, they’re just beginning a new reprint line of Aliens comics in November, going all the way back to the original Verheiden/Nelson run. So they may hang onto it for just a bit, yet.