Dark Horse Comics in Portland to be acquired by Swedish video game giant

A Swedish video game holding company has bought one of the best-known names in American independent comics.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed at time of writing. Dark Horse will retain its current CEO, Mike Richardson, and current management.

Embracer Group announced on Tuesday that it has agreed to buy Portland, Oregon-based Dark Horse Comics. Dark Horse will become Embracer’s eleventh operational group, alongside several video game creators and a French board game publisher, in order to “strengthen its transmedia capabilities,” according to the company.

Dark Horse, founded in 1986 by Richardson in Bend, Oregon, is one of the largest comic book publishers in the United States. While its monthly sales are a relative fraction of that of Marvel or DC (independent trackers place Dark Horse controlling around 3% of the total market), Dark Horse has occupied a successful niche for decades as a comic book publisher. original and licensed, as well as one of the first translators of Japanese comics (manga) for English speaking audiences.

Dark Horse has also released a long series of assorted mini-series set in the shared universe of the Aliens and Predator film franchises, as well as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Conan the Barbarian, and The Terminator. Its current licensed comics include a comic based on the Netflix series Stranger Things, several volumes that expand on the story of Avatar: The Last Airbender, and a range of books set in the show’s campaign world in direct Dungeons & Dragons Critical Role.

Embracer’s original version notes that Dark Horse owns or controls the rights to over 300 intellectual properties, “many of which are attractive for future transmedia exploitation, including the creation of new video games.”

In the video game world, Dark Horse is the typical publisher behind a series of tabletop books that showcase the designs and artistic concepts of various mainstream versions. This line includes The Last of Us, Apex Legends, Far Cry, and, on December 15, Halo Infinite.

What seems to have motivated the acquisition of Embracer, however, is Dark Horse’s position as one of the leading publishers of original creator-owned comics, many of which have been made into top Hollywood films over the years. year.

Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, about a Nazi-hitting paranormal investigator who also happens to be a big red demon, is about as close as Dark Horse comes close to a single flagship franchise. He is also the current publisher of great independent books like Beasts of Burden by Evan Dorkin, Sin City by Frank Miller, The Mask by John Arcudi, The Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way and Grendel by Matt Wagner, all or part of which could be a ripe material for a video game. adaptation, and all of which have been licensed for film / television. “I cannot express the excitement I feel as Dark Horse enters this new chapter in our history,” Richardson wrote in a press release. “The synergies that exist with the Embracer network promise exciting new opportunities not only for Dark Horse, but also for the creators and companies we work with. I have to say that the future of our company has never been brighter.

The Embracer Group, headquartered in Karlstad, Sweden, was founded in 2008 as a publishing subsidiary of the Game Outlet Europe retail chain. It entered the gaming industry’s radar in 2014 by acquiring the trademarks of former publisher / developer THQ, after which it renamed its operation to “THQ Nordic”. It was renamed again in 2019 to Embracer Group, while the name THQ Nordic is currently used by an LLC subsidiary. Embracer is currently on a wave of acquisitions bordering on insanity. Earlier this year, Embracer acquired Gearbox Entertainment, the developer of the Borderlands game franchise, for $ 1.3 billion.

On the same day that Embracer announced its acquisition of Dark Horse, it also announced its intention to acquire Hungarian animation studio DIGIC, French board game company Asmodee, North American subsidiary of Chinese company Perfect World , Miami-based game developer Shiver Entertainment (co-founded by former Xbox Live director John Schappert) and German advertising company Spotfilm

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