Two key comic publishers have announced major reprint projects this week. Marvel Comics is preparing trade paperback collections of the G.I. Joe and Transformers comics that it published in the 1980s, and Dark Horse will reprint the Star Wars comics that Marvel published in the 1970s and 80s. Image has recently revived the G.I. Joe comic to great effect (see 'Image Goes Back To Press With G.I. Joe #1'), and there is no doubt that the G.I. Joe franchise fits in well with the tenor of these times. Hasbro, the G.I. Joe license holder, is bringing back the G.I. Joe toys (see 'Can Pearl Harbor Save G.I.Joe?'), and it just makes sense for Marvel to pony up and renew the rights to the material it has already published. The current strong market for trade paperback collections makes reprinting G.I. Joe material as trades even more attractive. The first Marvel G.I. Joe trade paperback collection is set for an April release. If it does well, new trades could be issued as frequently as bimonthly.
Marvel is also planning trade paperback collections of another licensed property from the 1980s, the Transformers. The Transformers cartoon (anime) series on Fox Kids is doing very well, so there is a renewed interest in the transforming robots, which is evident in video releases of vintage Transformers material (see 'There's Gold in Them Thar Old Cartoons'), as well as in a revival of transforming toys. Both the Transformers trades and the G.I. Joe collections should appeal to younger readers, and if Marvel can secure strong placement in mainstream bookstores, these collections might help spread the habit of comic reading among the often videogame-obsessed tweens.
Marvel also licensed the Star Wars property from 1977 to 1986 and actually published 107 issues of its Star Wars comic, but Dark Horse is the current licensee for Star Wars comics. Lucasfilm, which holds the Star Wars rights, has always been strongly supportive of its current licensees (considering the royalties Lucasfilm receives, it should be), so it comes as no surprise that Dark Horse, not Marvel, will be reprinting the original Star Wars comics. Dark Horse has not yet decided on formats or timing, but look for announcements in the near future. Though the quality of the Marvel Star Wars comics declined somewhat over the years, lots of topflight creators were involved in their creation, including Howard Chaykin, Roy Thomas, Terry Austin, Archie Goodwin, Michael Golden, Chris Claremont, and Al Williamson, just to name a few.