A Day at Dark Horse Comics

a day at dark horse comics oregonWhen Mike Richardson was a kid, he used to walk into the same store in Milwaukee, Oregon, a suburb of Portland, and buy comics off the rack. It was a weekly event, one that many can relate with, and one that began a life-long love of the industry. As an adult, Richardson returned to that exact location and fulfilled a dream when he bought the land to open what would become the headquarters of Dark Horse Comics. It wasn’t quite that simple, there were a few thousand steps along the way- and a few decades in between — but Richardson eventually managed to realize his dream of creating an independent comic book publisher, where artists could be free to create without the fear of losing their properties to a corporate entity.

Birth of a Dark Horse

The result is Dark Horse Comics, a company that has managed to carve out an impressive niche in a world that is dominated by the long tenured heavyweights with deep pockets and big corporate owners: Marvel and DC Comics. And while the Dark Horse name may be at least passingly familiar to people that aren’t into comics, odds are the story of Dark Horse is not. And that is a shame.

Dark Horse first began in 1986 as an offshoot of the Oregon-based comic retail chain, “Things From Another World.” Since then, Dark Horse has grown to become the third-largest comic book publisher in the US, and holds the distinction of being the largest independent comic and manga publisher in America. The company has over 350 properties under the Dark Horse corporate umbrella that includes, among others, Dark Horse Entertainment which is responsible for the movie hits Hellboy and Sin City, to name a few.

a day at dark horse comics officesNo Playground

When you first enter the headquarters of Dark Horse Comics, the first thing you notice is the silence. Not in the monastery sense, just in the contradiction that it illicits from your mind’s eye. Dark Horse is a business — one based in entertainment — but still a business. The offices are filled with very skilled, very talented people there to do a job. They need to be smart, and are constantly forced to find creative ways to keep up with companies like DC that have massive budgets and the benefit of a parent company like Warner Bros. to bank roll them into taking chances that smaller publishers like Dark Horse cannot afford.

This stands in stark contradiction to the images of a Willy Wonka-like playground for comic fans you might expect, with oompa loompa-type guides, walking you over rivers of comics as people swing from harnesses overhead to simulate flight, with a break room that serves as a raucous, Mos-Eisley-like den of inequity, full of comic fans arguing over what physics make Superman fly faster. Obviously that is ridiculous… sadly.

Opening the Door to Adults

But that is the first lesson you need to understand when dealing with Dark Horse, or any companies in the comic industry. There is a preconceived prejudice, inherent in many of us, that refuses to see the comic book industry past the immature goggles that our childhood experiences force upon us. Until recently– you can probably make a good case that the shift began sometime in the 80’s — reading comics was the providence of the young. The industry was slanted that way, and the fanbase accepted it as such, not counting a small niche following. It wasn’t until people like Richardson (and several other visionary writers and editors like Frank Miller, Alan Moore and Matt Wagner to name just a few of dozens) tried to expand the field to include an older, more mature demographic.

Once the door was opened to allow an older, smarter fanbase, the industry began to see massive growth potential into new fields. The acceptance of that simple fact, that comics could be for more than kids, changed everything.

Dark Horse was among the pioneers of that new movement, with titles slanted to a more mature crowd. The flash of the superheroes were replaced by the intelligence of characters like the assassin(s) Grendel, and the soul-searching Concrete. A new avenue for storytelling had begun to take shape, and Dark Horse was among the first to capitalize on it.

Emerging Tech

Time for test-tube turkey? Everything you need to know about lab-grown meat

Lab-grown meat is big business. A handful of enterprising startups have raised and invested hundreds of millions of dollars into nascent technology, banking on breakthroughs in biotech to revolutionize the food industry.
Movies & TV

Celebrate the 25th anniversary of ‘The X-Files’ with the show’s 10 best episodes

The X-Files premiered 25 years ago, so here are the 10 best episodes of the award-winning sci-fi series. From alien-abduction drama to hilarious satires, these are the best episodes from all 11 seasons of the hit series.

Spawn creator suggests the antihero could appear in ‘Mortal Kombat 11’

Spawn creator Todd McFarlane hinted that the comic book antihero could join the cast of Mortal Kombat 11 during a Reddit AMA. Spawn previously appeared in SoulCalibur II on the original Xbox.
Movies & TV

Our first look at 'The Punisher' season 2 hints at January 2019 premiere

The Punisher is getting a second season on Netflix, with Jon Bernthal returning to play Marvel Comics' gun-toting antihero, Frank Castle. Here's everything we know about season 2 of The Punisher so far.
Movies & TV

The best Amazon Original series, from 'Bosch' to 'Transparent'

Amazon Studios may not have as big a collection of in-house productions as Netflix, but there are still lots of shows worthy of your eyeballs. Here are our picks for the best Amazon original series.
Smart Home

How Alexa and Google Home can lend a hand over the holidays

Voice assistants are great helpers in the kitchen, so Alexa and Google Home are extra useful for holidays. Here are some ways your smart speakers can keep you in the holiday spirit.
Health & Fitness

Dread the gym? This smart mirror delivers your fitness fix at home

Mirror, launched back in September, is part mirror and part LCD display with on-demand workouts built into it. We visited Mirror's HQ in NYC to test it out and to see if it's really worth cancelling that gym membership for.

To capture nature’s insanity, this storm chaser built his own 16K camera rig

Sure, 16K cinema cameras don't yet exist -- but that doesn't mean you can't make your own. Storm chaser and producer Martin Lisius recently captured a 16K time-lapse film that showcases the powerful beauty of supercell storms.

The best Black Friday tech deals from across the web, all in one place

Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy are offering the best online Black Friday deals, and we've worked hard gathering all of those sweet savings into one convenient location. Get them before their gone!
Emerging Tech

Electric bikes and scooters are here to save the world! But here’s the thing …

E-bike and e-scooter usage has increased in popularity, but also troublesome. Providing these two-wheeled alternative transports while keeping users safe, is what smart cities are grappling with.

How bike tech lets Red Bull Rampage riders flirt with death, and survive

Red Bull Rampage is the craziest mountain bike event in the world, pushing riders to their limits. Fortunately they are armed with some of the best bike technology around, allowing them survive this wild and dangerous competition.

7 insane roads that will push self-driving cars to their very limits

Self-driving cars are getting better all the time, but we won't ever be convinced of their readiness for prime time till we see them comfortably handle some of the world's craziest roads. Here are our picks.

Where Toronto sees smart sidewalks, residents see ‘1984.’ So what now?

Google-parent Alphabet is partnering with Toronto to develop a new, smart neighborhood, but some are concerned about privacy and the company’s motives. Could residents derail the project?
Emerging Tech

Only three people have explored the deep oceans. Meet the next two

In a new mission called Five Deeps, a team of explorers will brave the inhospitable depths of the world’s oceans, observing, mapping, and collecting samples along the way. The explorers aim to traverse 40,000 nautical miles over the…
1 of 3