Dark Horse Comics does video game titles like no other

Dave Marshall, Editor Dark Horse Comics. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Dave Marshall, Editor Dark Horse Comics, holding a coffee table book of video game art. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

SEATTLE, Washington – Walk into a comic shop, and you’ll probably see titles from publisher Dark Horse Comics. Known for its creator-owned series like Mike Mignola’s Hellboy and Sergio Aragonés’ Groo the Wanderer as well as television and movie adaptations like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or 300, the comic book publisher has a booth at the Penny Arcade Expo this weekend in Seattle to show off a different genre of comic.

The booth at the Washington State Convention Center in is full of video game-themed books of all stripe, from Mass Effect and Tomb Raider single-issue comics to larger, coffee table volumes like Hyrule Historia, which is chock full of the lore of The Legend of Zelda, and The Art of Naughty Dog, an art book that focuses on the popular game developer’s artistic output.

Dave Marshall says that video game books are the third pillar in the Dark Horse publishing strategy, and have become just as valuable a content stream as the creator-owned or media-based titles.

“We get the original writers and artists from the video games themselves to actually write or consult on these books,” he told us at the Dark Horse booth Saturday morning, “so we can come to the fans at a deeper level than just a crummy tie-in or cash grab.”

The booth looked like a high-end comic shop, complete with wall-mounted racks of individual issues of Mass Effect, Tomb Raider and Halo comics at one end, and then bookshelves full of larger volumes like Hyrule Historia and other game-centric lore books.

Right in front of the cash register were two larger statuettes, maybe a foot or two tall, of Link from the Legend of Zelda series of games, as well as a statue of villain Ganondorf from the same series. The price on these two objects of art? $80 to $120 — not your run of the mill toy, by any means.

“Video game content is super popular right now,” said Marshall, “and we’re having a blast creating and distributing them to the fans.”

He also mentioned that all the comics were available via the Dark Horse app, on iOS and Google Play, most of them on the same day they’re out in print, making distribution issues much less tricky than in the past, when publishers had to rely on print runs and guess at the amount of titles they needed to print.

“We really like comics,” he said, “so we try to reproduce the format on mobile devices in as authentic format as possible. We don’t think there’s anything wrong with comics as they are now.”

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About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, Creative Screenwriting, Shelf-Awareness, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef, and send him a cookie once in a while; he'll really appreciate it.

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