Axel-In-Charge: Facing the 'Divided' Marvel NOW! Future
I think IDW and Dark Horse are having some sort of competition at C2E2 this weekend to see who can overwhelm my email box with the most press releases, or at least that’s what it seemed like last night when a ton of press releases pop up around the same time from both companies. Here’s a rundown of what we’ve heard from both of them at the show thus far …
• Both companies announced they’ve picked up some new licenses. As I noted yesterday, Dark Horse will publish Wendy and Richard Pini’s Elfquest starting later this year, and they’ve also picked up the license for new Halo comics. IDW, meanwhile, has picked up the license to the Jay Ward characters, with plans for series Mr. Peabody & Sherman and Rocky & Bullwinkle next year. Also, two of IDW’s other licensed titles will meet up in Mars Attacks Judge Dredd by Al Ewing and John McCrea. The first issue arrives in September.
• Both companies are also reaching into comics’ past to bring back some titles we haven’t seen in awhile. IDW announced that they’ll release deluxe hardcovers of Christian Gossett’s The Red Star this fall. They’re also bringing back Zombie War by Kevin Eastman, Tom Skulan and Eric Talbot in October. The original series was published by FantaCo and Tundra back in 1993. Dark Horse is resurrecting Geof Darrow’s Shaolin Cowboy, which was originally published by Burlyman Entertainment.
The inarguable success of Marvel Studios has Hollywood’s attention. In an industry forever nervous about new ideas, the strategy impulsively becomes how to duplicate it.
DreamWorks Animation’s $155 million purchase of Classic Media was inspired, at least in part, by the record-shattering performance of Marvel’s The Avengers, DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg told Reuters. And similar to Marvel’s pre-Iron Man days, Katzenberg sees this as a strong opportunity to farm out the newly acquired characters to other studios for adaptation. Aside from its Mr. Peabody & Sherman 3D movie already in the works, DreamWorks has no plans to create new live-action features based on the Classic Media characters. But the small screen may be another matter: The studio is setting up its own television or Internet channel, but whether this is to re-run classic episodes, like Cartoon Network does with Boomerang, or for new series is still unknown.
“A channel is one of the many opportunities we see for combining the DreamWorks brand with this extraordinary library of characters,” Katzenberg said. “It could be a domestic cable channel, international, even an Internet channel.”
But more immediately, the purchase provides DreamWorks additional leverage as it negotiates to renew its distribution deal with Paramount Pictures.
All of this studio-driven activity around comic book properties sounds great, but where does that leave the comics themselves? Will DreamWorks open a comics publishing company? Will Doctor Solar be reunited with the recently revived Valiant Universe? Will The Lone Ranger vanish from Dynamite Entertainment’s line-up? What about Ape Entertainment’s Casper the Friendly Ghost and Richie Rich relaunches? Will the world finally get a new Fat Albert comic?