Billed as a take a look at the long run for one of many trade’s main impartial publishers, the 35 Years of Dark Horse: Past and Present panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2021 proved to be simply as a lot a celebration of the medium and its evolution within the three and a half many years previous.
Hosted by Dark Horse publicity maven Kate Jay, the panel was made up of writers Roye Okupe, Cullen Bunn, Christopher Golden, and Faith Erin Hicks, in addition to some of the necessary figures in mainstream U.S. comics, editor Karen Berger, whose Berger Books imprint launched on the writer in 2019.
Berger held courtroom about her historical past within the trade, explaining that she was initially employed at DC Comics because of an interview arrange within the early 1980s by a buddy — author J.M. DeMatteis — regardless that she wouldn’t have categorized herself as a comic book guide fan. After engaged on various titles, together with DC’s horror anthologies, she defined, “I fell in love with the medium, I love the collaborative aspect of creating comics,” though she stated that her lack of early fandom was what allowed her to change into the editor that she did.
“I gravitated toward comics that weren’t male power fantasies,” she stated, including, “I was able to look at the medium and ask, ‘why aren’t we doing stories about real life?’” The results of this line of thought proved to be DC’s much-missed Vertigo line, which Berger based in 1993 and headed up till 2013.
As it occurs, one of many preliminary Vertigo titles is returning to print through Berger Books, and Berger was enthusiastic when speaking in regards to the new version of Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo’s Enigma, which is able to get a hardcover version this fall. “I’m now thrilled to symbolize [Enigma] in one of the best package deal it’s ever had in its life,” she teased. “At DC, we never reproduced it in the best fashion.”
Berger will even re-team with Devin Grayson, who wrote the Vertigo miniseries User, for a brand new collection, Rewild. Berger described the title as a “cli-fi” story — a horror story about local weather change. Illustrated by Yana Adamovic, the guide was described as “sort of like Fables meets The Fisher King,” and options “very mythological beastly characters who have been mutated and disfigured by what’s happened to the climate.”
The way forward for Berger Books, the editor revealed, additionally features a change of format. Moving ahead, every title might be launched as an authentic graphic novel as a substitute of being serialized in conventional comedian kind, one thing that she stated was a mixture of pandemic-inspired re-evaluation of what sorts of initiatives she needed to work on, and easy financial actuality: Berger Books titles have persistently offered higher in collected format than in single points. “For me, for comics, it was always, how do you get to the book form?” Berger requested.
Although Dark Horse publishes plenty of creator-owned titles, it’s additionally the house to various licensed titles, and Bunn, Golden, and Hicks all talked about their expertise engaged on properties owned by exterior firms. “The creators of the video game were very open,” Bunn stated about engaged on a Cyberpunk 2099 tie-in collection, “I wasn’t given marching orders for that comic.” (He was given collectible figurines of characters he created for the comedian, nevertheless.)
Hicks was equally happy by her time engaged on The Last of Us: American Dreams — “The Last of Us was one thing the place I did get to create quite a bit,” she stated, occurring to disclose that she’d co-created backstory for Ellie with the sport’s writers — however admitted that it was “terrifying” to work on the Avatar: The Last Airbender graphic novels, as a consequence of her love of the supply materials. “I think it’s the platonic idea of an animated television program for children,” she admitted.
Roye Okupe, whose YouNeek crowdfunded graphic novels together with EXO: The Legend of Wale Williams and Marika: Warrior Queen might be re-released with new materials by Dark Horse, defined that he bought into comics by chance. “I was too broke to do my own animated films, but it ended up being the best thing that could have happened,” he stated. Wanting to inform African-inspired tales utilizing African expertise, he used Kickstarter to fund 10 graphic novels in 5 years, and talked about how grateful he was for the chance afforded to him.
“At this point in time, you have no excuse not to tell your story. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s easier than it’s ever been,” he stated. “What comics does better than any other medium is allow authentic people to tell authentic stories.”
As the creators mentioned the way forward for comics, all agreed that an elevated deal with variety — by way of characters and creators — was what excited all of them essentially the most. As Berger put it, “it’s not just straight white boy comics anymore.”
“I’m most excited that we are all, in the industry, attuned to the idea that comics are for everybody, no matter where they are in the world,” Okupe agreed.