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This time last year, longtime U.K. book and magazine publisher Titan announced it was delving into comics with a new imprint titled, aptly enough, Titan Comics. And in the 12 months since, the company has published a number of creator-owned titles as well as new editions of formerly out-of-print stories such as Jack Katz’s The First Kingdom. But 2014 looks to see the company grow by leaps and bounds, as it recently announced the acquisition of the comics license for Doctor Who, previously held by IDW Publishing.
During IDW’s seven-year run publishing Doctor Who comics, it produced an ongoing series and a number of miniseries and one-shots to some success, so it’s conceivable that Titan Comics could do much the same. If so, it could help expand Titan from a boutique publisher to a sizable presence in the marketplace.
That isn’t to discount the titles Titan Comics has released in 2013 or plans to in 2014. However, numerous publishers have relied on a blend of licensed and creator-owned books to help establish themselves in the direct market. In the past 20 years, licensed comics have gone from being an ancillary part of the industry, sometimes viewed with derision, to becoming a pillar for many companies. The early successes of Dark Horse, IDW and Dynamite Entertainment can be greatly attributed to the licensed titles in their portfolios, and in the present day they — along with BOOM! Studios — rely on licensed properties for a significant portion of their outputs. And while the focus of DC and Marvel remains primarily on their own properties, both have met with success with licensed titles.
Before launching the Titan Comics imprint in July 2013, Titan was best known as the publisher of media tie-in magazines such as Star Wars Insider and The Walking Dead Magazine. It had published comics in the past — especially for the U.K. market — but these projects were primarily on a limited or piece-meal basis. In the late 1980s and very early 1990s, it even ran a comics distribution service in the United Kingdom before selling that portion of its business in 1992 to Diamond.
Despite not having a big hit in 2013, the steady stream of releases since July, along with the promise of the Doctor Who license and the established business ties it has with its magazines, Titan Comics is in an ideal position of growth. Imagine if Titan’s comic division could leverage some of the contacts the company has with its magazine and book divisions to reel in the comics licenses for properties like James Bond, or mothballed series like Alias and Babylon 5 (which it’s done magazines on in the past). IDW, Dark Horse, BOOM! and Dynamite have already sewn up a large amount of the obvious multimedia properties, but Titan seems to have the history, the rolodex, and the track record to make room at the table.