Robot 6

Dark Horse shifts three creator-owned series to digital-to-print model


Though they’re remaining committed to a recent wave of new creator-owned books, Dark Horse has shifted its sales strategy for a trio of lower performing series.

The publisher announced this week that The Ghost Fleet from Donny Cates and Daniel Warren Johnson, Resurrectionists by Fred Van Lente and Maurizio Rosenzweig and Sundowners by Tim Seeley and Jim Terry would all shift their monthly comic output to digital first series. Plans for print graphic novels collecting the continued stories remain in place for the fall.

Calling the program “Dark Horse Digital Exclusives,” all three series will continue as new offerings on the Dark Horse app until their overall stories are complete. “Dark Horse is throwing its support behind these creators and their innovative titles, and we are choosing to continue them in a series of original graphic novels. These stories deserve to be told, and to continue in a reader-friendly and accessible format,” Publisher Mike Richardson said in a statement. “In the meantime, for those who would like to continue reading the series, we will also offer new issues of each title on our Dark Horse Digital platform.”

The writers of all three series added their take on the move in PR, with Seeley offering, “I’m not sure why some books succeed while others don’t, especially when I know Dark Horse has been making some super-cool, all-new, creator-owned material that I was proud to be part of. But I’m glad they’ve got the dedication and respect to ensure readers and creators get to bring their stories to a logical conclusion.”



Damn, really? I really love Resurrectionists. It’s turned out to be a lot of fun. Issue #4 of came out a couple of weeks ago and issue #5 is/was scheduled to come out March 11 with issue #6, the last issue of the first arc scheduled for April 8. Does this mean that issues 5 and 6 won’t see print now and only on the digital app? I have no desire to pay for that, and then again for the printed graphic novel form. If this is the plan, it’s bad enough I’ve already paid for the first 4 issues, and then to have to pay for it again in the form of the first collected trade to get issues 5 and 6? That really sucks. I wish Dark Horse would see these last issues of the arc through to print and then start arc number 2 with their digital first thing. At least then I wouldn’t have to pay twice to finish the first story.

Went all digital when my local comic shoppe of 20 years closed 2 years ago. Don’t miss physical copy and I still get the art and story. As a mature collector digital is more practical.

Spider Jerusalem

February 22, 2015 at 3:42 pm

Can’t they do digital AND print issues like DC does? I love Sundowners. :/

Spider Jerusalem

February 22, 2015 at 3:43 pm

I ask because I love the monthly model and I’m low on room for trades.

I liked Resurrectionists, but I won’t be following it in its new format. I understand the need to do it from a business perspective and I wish the book’s creators all the best, but digital isn’t for me.

I am sure this will be the future of comics.. 6 issues digitally, and then 7month, trades in stores.

The industry is in danger and this is a clear sign.

For some publishers, maybe, toede.

Comic shops are enjoying great results the last 5 years.

Damn Fool Retailer

February 22, 2015 at 7:12 pm

The reason these titles don’t sell is because there are just way too many comics being published. No retailer can possibly support all of the comics being published today and still stay in business. It really is just that simple. I think DH, Image, Boom, IDW and many more small publishers are producing great stuff, but as long as the majority of comic fans continue to buy into the crap super-hero fare being published by the big two there really is little prospect of any more than a hand full of independent comics ever becoming profitable. Sad but true…..

“As a mature collector…” that doesn’t even make sense. People are going to enjoy going down their own road. This is a hobby, nothing mature or immature about it.

Digital seems good, but I still like the printed stuff too. But, digital just makes so much more sense, for the publisher of low selling books.

Wowtapwater, I don’t believe that how he meant that statement, regarding maturity. If you note he says it’s more practical and mentioned his shop of 20 years having close down. By mature he simply meant someone who has been buying comics for a long time, and now has lots and lots of them sitting around the house. Storing all those books isn’t easy, where as your digital collection will only take up the space of whatever you view it on. I’ve only been on digital the last year or so but already I’ve saved a couple more long boxes worth of space in storage.

I can’t help but feel Resurrectionists or even Sundowners would have done better at Image. Image has got a great track record. Yes, some titles don’t make it, but soooo many of Image’s current titles have been going on for a quite a while. Resurrectionists makes it to 4 issues and is banished to digital first, and then the long wait for the trades.

I understand this being a bummer for people who’ll end up with half print and half digital or just have to stop reading halfway though, but I like this model and I expect to see more of it in the future.

As someone already pointed out, with BOOM!, Image, Dark Horse, Oni, Black Mask, etc. all doing tons of cool creator-owned series, it’s super tough for readers to read everything they want to read monthly, and for retailers to support all the books that are creatively worthy but commercially niche.

Not only is the bulk of sales still traditional cape books from the Big Two, Marvel and DC are also drawing in the creator-owned crowd with books like SQUIRREL GIRL, BATGIRL, GOTHAM ACADEMY, etc. That’s super awesome, but it makes it that much harder for smaller creator-owned books to make a living.

I read a ton of monthly comics, and I so often end up with five or six unread issues of a book backing up, I’ve started to pick and choose books I think are doing well enough to trade-wait. OUTCAST at Image? No danger of cancellation, trade-wait. Mini-series at BOOM! and Dark Horse? Doubt it’ll be cancelled before issue six of six, trade-wait. Moving smaller titles to the digital-to-print method will probably be better for the company and the creators.

Mjolnir, waiting to find out also what the last print issues are for the books. Ghost Fleet stopped with #4, which is the end of the first arc. On DH’s page, they’ve got Ressurectionists still coming out up to 6 in print so they have the book finish the arc that way. Sundowners, the first issue of the second arc looks like it came out in print so when that one goes to trade us fans may just have to rebuy the first issue. But again, DH does need to clarify this.

I haven’t read these books simply because the Dark Horse app is a buggy piece of shit software. I agree with the comments that these titles should’ve been under Image imprint. I am not sure what these creators were thinking when they decided to publish under Dark Horse. Surely they should know that Comixology app draws in drastically more readers than Dark Horse app does. Especially now that they lost the Star Wars franchise.

This seems kinda exciting to me. Isn’t the first time we’ve seen some top notch creators aim for the “digital first, print later” model. Monkeybrain, DC Digital, & more. If it helps these series last longer, more power to them.

That said, I am a bit hesitant about them only being offered through the Dark Horse Digital storefront. If you’re trying a new strategy, shouldn’t you cast a wider net? I dunno what kind of numbers Dark Horse Digital draws, but I know I haven’t had the best experience with their app.

I’ve got to agree with Cray. To me, the bigger issue is that DH is pushing these comics to a very buggy app. I read a lot of digital, but refuse to buy DH digital for that reason.

I have been purchasing “Ghost Fleet” via paper subscription (I have no comic shop within 120 miles) just so that I don’t have to put up with that crappy app.

So – I don’t have an issue with the model, but if that is going to be your approach as a publisher then you better allow the customer a decent way to read the product. DH doesn’t do that.

An here I thought that Fred Van Lente’s rising star power was going to ensure a creator-owned top seller for DH, but I guess I was wrong.

I honestly think it’s time Dark Horse admits that the loss of Star Wars has taken its toll. If this could happen to books penned by the likes of Lente and Seeley, than who’s to say that that won’t be the eventual fate of other creator-owned titles down the road.

Also, ditto on the app. I had it on my last phone and I feel absolutely no incentive to get the app on my current phone. If you’re going to have an app of your own, than why not put the time, effort, and resources into making it AT LEAST halfway decent!

It’s simply not encouraging to have a publisher make you choose between a shit app and a collected edition that you’ll have to wait for. Screw that nonsence!

Unless they can get their acts together and fix what’s wrong, Dark Horse may need to sell those TV shows/movies at a much quicker pace than they are now.

Graeme_Souness's Mustache of Power

June 13, 2015 at 2:12 pm

Totes bullshit. I dont do digital.

Image, cant you take Sundowners off the hands of this sub-tier publisher?

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