The return of "Dark Horse Presents," the anthology series that represented the birth of a major publisher when it debuted in 1986, has been percolating for some time. With the end of its three-year incarnation as an online comic this month, Dark Horse confirmed in an earlier interview with CBR that the flagship series would be returning in 2011, with publisher Mike Richardson at the helm. Now, in the run up to San Diego's Comic-Con International, CBR News spoke exclusively with Richardson to get further details on the relaunched series, which will feature new material from Howard Chaykin, Mike Mignola, Harlan Ellison, Carla Speed McNeil, and - confirmed for the debut issue - Paul Chadwick, whose "Concrete" was the original "DHP's" first big success. The new "Dark Horse Presents" #1 is tentatively slated for a March release, but CBR has several pages to share now.
"I've always been hands-on, and 'Dark Horse Presents' was the first book we started all those years ago," Richardson said of his decision to take the editorial reins for the new title. "The thought was always there in the back of our minds about restarting it. We were waiting for the right time. This seems like a good time to restart the book, the combination of new projects, young creators, as well as premier creators. There's a lot of great creators out there that we work with, and we're looking to showcase them in new titles and introduce characters into new books."
One of those great creators is Paul Chadwick, who introduced Concrete in the original "Dark Horse Presents" #1, the first breakout comic of the anthology series which later debuted Frank Miller's "Sin City," John Byrne's "Next Men" and many more. "Paul is definitely doing the first story, a Concrete story. It seems proper to have him lead off the relaunch," Richardson said.
In addition to the famous names, Richardson said that in "Dark Horse Presents," "we're looking for young talent to show us what they have. We want to be a showcase of the best of the existing and new talent that's out there."
As for the technical details such as pricing and page count, Richardson said these factors were yet to be determined, but that "it will be larger than a standard issue."
Thinking back to the original launch of "Dark Horse Presents" in 1986, Richardson said there were "a number of things" that led him to enter the ring as a publisher; "one, to give the creators at the time the opportunity to own their own work, and also, to see more of the type of comics that I like to read.
"Most of our first creators came from an APA [Amateur Press Association] I was involved with called APA 5, which was created by Mark Verheiden as a launching pad for a lot of writers and artists," Richardson added. "Because I got to know a number of them over the course of being involved, I approached them to see who was interested."
Two creators featured in the inaugural publication, Randy Stradley and Chris Warner, are Dark Horse editors to this day, and earlier this year Stradley wrote the "Aliens Vs. Predator: Three Worlds War" miniseries. "Randy's the one who got me involved with APA 5. Chris was also in APA 5. We became friends," Richardson said. "As time went by and I started to think about doing this particular project, Randy and Chris had both gone to New York for a period to work with Marvel and DC, so when I decided to start the publication, I invited them to be involved."
When asked about its fifteen-year run, which concluded in 2000 with issue #157, Richardson told us that "Dark Horse Presents" had "too many" landmarks to select only a few highlights. "We had Eric Powell and Mike Mignola and Matt Wagner, and so many afterwards, all the way through the run," the publisher said. "That'll be our goal again, to get amazing creators to work on the series, established and new."
Richardson also praised the second volume, published online and retitled "MySpace Dark Horse Presents" to capitalize on its partnership and venue. "We were excited about [it] because it took comics to a much larger audience," he said of the 36-issue series.
Asked about how changes to the industry over the last twenty-five years might affect the approach to "Dark Horse Presents" this time around, Richardson replied, "The intent will be the same; maybe the delivery systems will [change], there will be more opportunities for different types of distribution. But the intent will remain the same: we want to find new talent and offer existing talent the opportunity to create their own characters, characters they can own.
"Unfortunately, so many creators spend their whole life working on company-owned properties, and they don't have any investment in the long run. It seems to me that for those who are talented enough, creating their own characters is a much more profitable and satisfying way to go. Certainly that's not true in every case, but in many cases, and people like Frank [Miller] and Mike Mignola, Eric Powell and Steve Niles, Rick Remender, have all shown that they can create their characters and profit off those characters far more than they would by working on someone else's creation," he added.
"It's going to be a great book and we're going to make it special."