Report: Dark Horse Comics is looking to be acquired

Comic News

Dark Horse Comics, always a top five company in the direct market, is looking to be acquired as part of the media streaming/acquisition/SPAC frenzy going on, according to a report by Bloomberg.

The item is only a brief mention in a newsletter by Lucas Shaw that reports that it’s a boom time to sell content libraries.

Add comic book publisher Dark Horse Comics to the list. The company is working with an adviser to weigh options that could include a sale, according to people familiar with the matter. A representative for Dark Horse couldn’t be reached for comment.

Unmentioned in this story (or reports at other comic book news sites) is the fact that Dark Horse owner/founder Mike Richardson sold a majority of the company to a Chinese firm investment firm Visionary Vanguard in 2018. Although in interviews Richardson indicated that Visionary Vanguard, which is chaired by former Disney executive Stanley Cheung, had acquired a stake in the publisher, other reports indicated it was a partnership.

Whatever the nature of the deal, it hasn’t been heard from much since. However, significantly, it’s mentioned in every Dark Horse press release that goes out, so whether it is Cheung or Richardson driving the current sale rumors is unknown.

Founded in 1986 by Mike Richardson, Dark Horse Comics is an excellent example of how integrity and innovation can help broaden a unique storytelling medium and transform a company with humble beginnings into an industry giant. Under a new partnership with Vanguard Visionary Associates, Dark Horse is positioned to further expand its reach globally with publishing, products, and filmed entertainment.

Back to the current rumor. Shaw positions the potential Dark Horse sale as part of the current IP gold rush, citing such deals as agency Endeavor selling its content arm to Korea for $1 billion, children’s YouTuber Moonbug selling to Blackstone for $3 billion, and the potential sale of Alvin and the Chipmunks. 

The attraction of content libraries to streaming giants Netflix/Amazon/Apple etc. is obvious. He adds that a surplus of money left over from the pandemic has billionaires needing to unload some money. Why not buy a squeakquel while you’re at it?

The appeal of the Dark Horse library for sale in such a market is obvious – and they already have many successful media spinoffs, including The Umbrella Academy and Polar on Netflix, and the upcoming Lady Killer and Mystery Girl. Dark Horse published the comics behind such notable film franchises Hellboy, Sin City and 300. And of course, they arguably kicked off the entire non-Big Two comic book movie stampede with The Mask starring Jim Carrey all the way back in the 90s.

Dark Horse is far from the only comic book company that is rumored to be available for sale – at least one company with an explosive name is always mentioned as being in play whenever the topic comes up. And while few – if any –  comics publishers would bring the kind of money a Dark Horse would, let’s just say, it’s a great time to be in the IP business.

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