Monday, October 31, 2011
PULPTACULAR | Dark Horse
the villains of a classic Spider story.
But like pulps, comics cover many more genres than just costumed heroes. There are as many comics genres as there are sections in a bookstore, many of them falling under the category of pulp. And one of the biggest publishers of non-superhero pulp comics is Dark Horse.
Dark Horse didn’t respond to my interview request for this article, but their history is well-documented enough that we can get by without talking to them directly. They were formed in 1986 by comics retailer Mike Richardson who started the company with two titles: the dark parody comic Boris the Bear (in the first issue he "slaughters the Teenage Radioactive Black Belt Mutant Ninja Critters," if that gives you any idea about the target of the book’s humor) and the anthology title Dark Horse Presents. DHP quickly became popular for including Paul Chadwick’s stories about Concrete, a man trapped in a stone body by aliens (a pulpy concept if ever there was one) and went on to feature other stories like Frank Miller’s extremely pulp-inspired crime thriller Sin City.
pulp comics of all genres.
It’s cool that we’re talking about Dark Horse on Halloween, because they’re especially good with horror in several subgenres. If Lovecraftian horror is your thing, Hellboy and BPRD are the best comics to ever touch that style. If you like your scares mixed with a bit more fantasy, they’ve got you covered with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. For horror-comedy, it doesn’t get any better than The Goon, and if you want some noir in there, Criminal Macabre is the series for you.
If sword-and-sorcery is more your thing, Dark Horse has an entire line devoted to the father of the genre, Robert E Howard. And of course they’re still going strong with Star Wars, the most famous space pulp series in the galaxy. They’ve even got those pre-WWII costumed heroes if that’s what you want.
Dark Horse has always published pulp and it continues to overshadow their output, but they’re also starting a new imprint called Sequential Pulp that puts the influence right there in its title. We’ll take a closer look at that later in this series and see how it differentiates itself from the rest of the company.