Today is “Dark Horse Day” so that means you best get yourselves over to your local comic book retailer and help them celebrate thirty years of Dark Horse Comics. Yes, we are at the company’s 30th Anniversary and I am so happy to help rally the charge for such a company. Now while I cannot consider myself an actual “avid” reader to their offerings as I don’t collect every single title that they put out, I have been reading select titles since not long after they first hit the stands.
The company was founded by Mike Richardson in Milwauke, Oregon and it was aimed at being an ideal atmosphere for creative individuals according to its historical link. You can learn all of the finer details care of the Wikipedia entry at the close of this toast because you don’t need me to rehash what is already documented. The first ever title was “Dark Horse Presents” which I do not own but the second offering was “Boris The Bear” and I do have that one. The image below was snagged off the web since I could not determine where my actual copy is at the time that I needed it for this posting. As you can see, the story focused on an anthropomorphic bear who went head to head against a group of martial arts skilled turtles in his debut. This was a very well-received and also strange title and at the time the comics medium was turtles crazy and someone had to stop them before it was too late. Why not Boris. I collected this series up until at least issue #6 or so before the retailer that specialized in your more independent publishers closed up shop. Most of the stores stocked your Marvel and DC Comics stuff and eventually Valiant Comics but the smaller press didn’t always get the love it deserved. Thanks to Norman a lot of us Marvel and DC acolytes got their first go round at stuff like Grendel, Miracleman, Judge Dredd, Grimjack and these early Dark Horse Comics offerings.
Personally speaking the next title that I locked into from Dark Horse Comics was “Aliens Vs. Predator” which was released in 1990. This idea was a Science Fiction fans dream because these two characters had been in very exciting films on their own so the idea of them in mortal combat with each other was simply extraordinary. The cover for that first issue is below and I remember purchasing my own copy at the now shuttered Metro Comics on Montague Street in Brooklyn which was the shop right near my college. I would keep up with the various “Aliens” titles that they put out and also the few that were dedicated to “Terminator”. They were all being done well and were properties that I had a strong interest in. We’ve since gotten a couple of movies that cross the two properties into a film but I am still waiting for the “Terminator, Predator, Aliens” film to come to pass. We’ll probably never see that since Hollywood is so busy rebooting everything but thanks to Dark Horse for putting these things together long before films did.
Now another early read for me with Dark Horse Comics came when they ventured into a unified super-hero universe under their “Comics Greatest World” banner. It was a multi-issue, multi-title initiative that offered up quite a few new characters for the company such as X, Barb Wire, and Ghost. I enjoyed some of X, but hated Barb Wire and absolutely loved Ghost. Hers was the one that I followed the most even up until her solo title. I always thought that Ghost would make an interesting film so perhaps we shall see something come to pass finally. This might be best served on a Netflix or Amazon Prime format of course since its not as well known but I think the action and character could work out. Below is the cover for the first appearance of Ghost from 1993.
There have been more titles in my reading library since 1986 but those are the ones that spoke to me first so I felt like sharing some thoughts about them. Since becoming a music and media scribe I have gotten to meet and deal with many of the people behind the scenes of Dark Horse Comics and I wish them all the very sincerest congratulations on this achievement. Keep up the excellent work Mike R., you are a trendsetter and have some wonderful folks working with you (Aub, Sarah, Dave S., Chris G.). Thanks for everything you do for comics and toys as we aim towards your next milestone. I cannot wait to see what you have coming down the pike.