ICv2 recently spoke with Dark Horse CEO Mike Richardson to talk about comics and graphic novels, the economy, comics on the Web, creators rights, Clamp, the Dark Horse Emmy, and more. 


In Part Four, we discuss the Dark Horse Emmy, and its film and TV projects; Richardson also hints at a big announcement coming soon.  


In Part One, we talk about the state of the graphic novel market; the future of the pamphlet; trends within the shojo market; and potential for attracting shojo fans to other material.


In Part Two, we talk about the different impacts of the economy on comics and graphic novels; Richardson’s take on the recently revived creator rights topic; and his thoughts on comics and the Web. 


In Part Three, we talk about the impact of illegal filesharing on comic sales; the role of social networking sites; Dark Horse’s Clamp project in 2009; and the role of anthologies. 


On the TV and film side, Dark Horse Indie’s Mr. Warmth just won two Emmys--that doesn’t seem like a Dark Horse-style project.  Can you talk about the different areas of production you’re involved in and give an overview of what Dark Horse is doing with Universal?

We’re very excited about our new partnership with Universal.  We had deals with studio before--we’ve made five or six films with Universal in the past--but this is a much larger deal.  We have a lot of goals: how to build the entertainment brand and for the comics, to take advantage of that higher profile.  The Universal deal basically is for the larger movies, franchise movies, they’re looking for us to supply movies such as Hellboy, and we have R.I.P.D. coming up soon with David Dobkin directing, based on the Peter Lenkov graphic novel.  There’s a number of other projects (we’re about to announce the slate), so those will all be high profile, large budget films.


Dark Horse Indie is... I don’t want to say is for low profile films, but for films that may not be your typical studio or even your typical Dark Horse film.  We’re coming out later this month with My Name is Bruce starring Bruce Campbell, which is kind of a comedy horror picture playing on his Hollywood image.


Mr. Warmth came about just through good friends and good fortune, I guess. John Landis, who we’re talking with about directing a horror film for Dark Horse Indie, invited me to dinner and to meet Don Rickles, with Don and his wife Barbara, and during the course of that, Don said that he would very much like see his son’s idea of a documentary on his life come to reality.  Because we had a fund at the time for Dark Horse Indie, I told him I’d be happy to do that, just because I was a big fan and loved the stories connected with Don and thought it would be a great glimpse into a great career.  We agreed to do it, and John directed it.  And of course, as soon as we started shooting the fund disappeared, and so for a nervous period of time, I was funding the project out of my pocket.  Luckily HBO and Salient came to our rescue and we never had to have a break in our shooting.  We did it.


Sometimes you do something for love of the project and good things happen.  Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to go up and accept an Emmy.  That was a lot of fun and a very exciting day.  I got to work with John, who’s a good friend, and my good friend Bob Engelman, who was the line producer of The Mask, and Mystery Men and several other pictures I’ve done.  We intend to continue to work together in the future. And of course, Larry Rickles, Don’s son.  Again, it was so great to get to know Don and Barbara.  It was punctuation on a very exciting project and not a direction that you would think Dark Horse would go in.


We’ve done a number of Indie films.  We have some others coming up, one in particular is in discussion right now that we’re trying to find out where that’s going to land.  And we’re also talking about starting a small horror label and discussing it with Universal.  We’ll see how that comes along.


What’s the latest on a Sin City sequel?

Well, Frank [Miller] talks about a lot of things.  Frank has a lot of work on his hands.  He’s in more demand than ever.  I can hardly imagine what that must be like.  He’s busy with The Spirit right now.  He does the Sin City films, we’re not part of that.  We do the publication of the books, and we’re always ready to work with Frank however he would like. 


Frank was the real turning point in our company.  We had had a lot of critical success and we were starting to have success with the licenses, but it was when Frank and Geof [Darrow] and Dave [Gibbons] came to Dark Horse instead of bringing Give me Liberty and Hard Boiled to Marvel or DC, that really changed our future.  So we’re always eager to work with Frank anytime we can.


Anything going on with Nexus?

Yes, that’s a movie I would very much like to get done.  I can’t really tell you anything now, but we’re working hard on it, trying to get a deal done with the property.  I think it has huge potential.  We have several people interested.  You just have to check back.  It’s a project... it’s one of my personal favorites and one that I’d very much like to see us make.


Anything exciting going at Dark Horse that we haven’t talked about?

There’s so much going on.  It’s like having a tiger by the tail.  We’ve experienced a lot of growth.  We’ve had three great years in a row, and this year we’re on the path for a fourth year in a row.  When I say great years, I mean where we’ve broken our sales records each year, and so we’re hoping to do that again this year.  We’ve got a lot of great projects.


We have a huge announcement that I’ll tell you about later, very shortly.  It will be a gigantic project working with another company.  Obviously, that tidbit for you, to watch the skies...