Monday, November 7, 2011

PULPTACULAR | Dynamite Entertainment

This week’s publisher is another comic book company, Dynamite Entertainment. Like Dark Horse, they didn’t respond to an interview request, but I’m familiar enough with them to give a brief overview of how I think they fit into the world of New Pulp. Next week, we'll have a real interview again.

Nick Barrucci founded Dynamite. He’s also the President and CEO of Dynamic Forces, probably the biggest producer of limited edition and autographed comics-related memorabilia. In 2005, Dynamic Forces formed Dynamite Entertainment to produce their own, original comic book, an Army of Darkness mini-series published by Devil’s Due. That led to a second mini-series and before long Dynamite was publishing their own stuff, really taking off once they revived Marvel’s version of Red Sonja.

Since then, they’ve published (or have plans to publish) comics featuring a Who’s Who of pulp characters: Buck Rogers, Zorro, Dan Dare, The Green Hornet, The Spider, The Lone Ranger, The Phantom, Tarzan, John Carter of Mars, Sherlock Holmes, Flash Gordon, and a plethora of Golden Age comics heroes. They’ve also put out comics with pulp-inspired concepts and characters: Xena, Battlestar Galactica, Blackbeard the pirate, Dracula, Danger Girl, Frankenstein, The Dresden Files, Highlander, Jungle Girl, The Bionic Man, Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name, Stargate, Terminator, Robocop, Vampirella, and Voltron.

To contrast this week's publisher with last week's, Dynamite and Dark Horse both publish original and licensed pulp-inspired comics, but each company has its own approach. This is certainly up for argument, but the major difference I’ve noticed in the two is that Dark Horse seems to be targeting current fans, where Dynamite is apparently after newer readers. A Dark Horse Star Wars or Conan comic will typically feel as close to a Star Wars movie or Robert E Howard story as the creators have been able to get. That’s not to say that they always nail it, but it’s apparent that the effort is there. They’re trying to create more of what readers already like.

Dynamite, on the other hand, does a couple of things differently. Their series often feature re-imagined, updated versions of the classic characters and begin with origin stories to introduce new readers to the concept. Their stories also tend to be decompressed and slow-burning, a popular trait of Marvel and DC superhero comics. These things combine to give Dynamite’s series a modern flavor that’s rare in pulp-inspired comics. Whether that’s a positive or negative factor is up to individual tastes, but at six years in the business, Dynamite’s obviously found an audience that appreciates what they’re doing.

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