We caught up with Dark Horse Comics founder and CEO Mike Richardson to find out more about how the company got involved with the Moebius Library and its plans for future Moebius and other BD releases.

ICv2:  Tell us a little about how Dark Horse got involved with BD and with Moebius.

Mike Richardson:  I've been interested in French graphic novels from the earliest days of Dark Horse. We put an anthology out titled Cheval Noir, which is about as close as we could get to Dark Horse. It was a companion to Dark Horse Presents.  We had creators from all over the world, but basically, it focused on the BD creators, creators like Tardi and Druillet and Jean Giraud or Moebius, and many others, the French graphic novel scene.

When was that?
That was from 1990, and it ran for five or six years.  There are certain problems. A lot of the material we tried to bring in to the U.S. in the French graphic novel format. American readers don't seem to respond as well to that particular format, so we've reformatted some of the material, and brought it over here and put it in a more traditional American presentation, higher page count books.

We've partnered with a number of European companies, and it's always been Dark Horse's goal to bring comics from around the world, and bring material that generally wouldn't be seen in America if somebody hadn't brought them over.

Of course, there's always been other publishers doing the same, we've just done it for 30 years, so, almost from the beginning. With Jean [Giraud], or Moebius, we started working with him many years ago. In fact, if you remember, we started our own Moebius publication line.

When Marvel had their graphic novel line, we published the zero volume that was all the material that Marvel didn't include in their own line of Moebius books. And we did a number of other books on our own, too, with Moebius.  I've known him, he's been to Portland, and of course, it was a great blow to all of us when he passed away.

My own interest in the French creators. Jean [Giraud] and Druillet, came along around the time the original Metal Hurlant came out.

Now, in the US, there’s a version of it called Heavy Metal. Before Heavy Metal was the French publication known as Metal Hurlant. I have every copy of that and collected it. Then Heavy Metal sort of evolved out of that book. I think that there wasn't that information for fans in those days, so just the name Moebius, for me, was intriguing. Of course, we got to know Jean, and later on, we published his work, a number of graphic novels that we did in a smaller format than the European style.

After Jean passed away, I met Isabelle. I actually met Isabelle through Geof Darrow, who had worked with Jean. They had done a project that we had published very early on at Dark Horse, a portfolio that he and Jean had worked together, called City of Fire. We re-offered it over here in the States, did a new version of it. That was the first work that Dark Horse had ever done with Moebius. Then after Jean passed away, Isabelle was looking for someone to work with.

Geof persuaded her to sit down with me, so we flew over to France and spent some time. As it turns out, it's been a great relationship with Isabelle and her daughter, Claire.

You’ve announced six Moebius titles so far.  Will there be more after that? Because there's more material, obviously, than what you announced.
We hope. I believe that's the plan. I think that Isabelle wanted to make sure she felt good about the relationship because they don't always work out the way you would like, but so far, it's been great, and the first book turned out very nicely and we've gotten lots of praise for it.

We had a good review on the site (see “Review:  ‘Moebius Library:  The World of Edena’”). How long is it going to take to publish these first six books?
We're hoping to do them over about a two year period.

Then did Moebius retain the rights to everything he's done?
Not everything, there are other rights holders. I know there's some of the books that are sitting elsewhere, but I think that Isabelle is reacquiring and confirming her control of most of the library. I think that she has great plans. We're hoping to do some prints and even product based on his three dimensional art.

We wanted to check on a non-Moebius BD title, one with edgy content, that Dark Horse announced but seems to have dropped off the schedule, and that's the Ranx book (see “Dark Horse to Collect ‘Ranx’”). What's going on with that?
The big problem is we have to scan the scans of scans. I guess the original material is gone, and it doesn't look very good. We could do it, and it's going to be not a pristine presentation. I wish we could find some...

That was a surprise after you acquired the rights?
Yeah, because we were eager to do it, and then we saw it was all second or third generation material. I know that some other people have used it, but I just didn't feel good using it. I mean, we set the bar on producing Manara's work.

Obviously, we don't shrink away from content when the artists are premier artists and talented, and Manara certainly had some edgy content, as you say. We were able to create beautiful books. With the material that we've got here, we looked at it and looked at it, and I just didn't feel like it was good enough to shoot from.

What other BD titles do you have coming up that you're excited about?
Moebius ‑‑ lots of Moebius. We have several projects that I'm negotiating now that I'm really excited about. But we haven't closed the deal, so I can't tell you. One of my favorite French artists is coming up. I want to do a complete library of this particular artist.