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Dark Horse Comics acquired by game publisher the Embracer Group

Dark Horse logo
(Image credit: Dark Horse Comics)

Dark Horse Comics has been acquired by Embracer Group, Dark Horse announced December 20.

The Milwaukie, OR based publisher with entertainment offices in Los Angeles, CA was founded in 1982 by Mike Richardson, who was still serving as Dark Horse's CEO and minority share-owner prior to the acquisition.

Richardson will continue to lead the company together with existing management.

"I can't express the excitement I feel as Dark Horse moves into this new chapter in our history," Richardson says in the deal's announcement. "The synergies that exist with the Embracer network of companies promise exciting new opportunities not only for Dark Horse but also for the creators and companies we work with. I've had a number of compelling conversations with Embracer CEO Lars Wingefors and I'm very impressed with him and what he and his team have built. I have to say, the future for our company has never looked brighter."

The Embracer Group is the parent company of several major game publishers, and collectively oversees over 250 franchises ranging from Saints Row and Borderlands to Kingdoms of Amalur and World War Z. The bigger horses in its stable include Koch Media, which itself owns Deep Silver, the publisher of the Metro, Saints Row, and Dead Island games; Borderlands developer Gearbox, which also has its own publishing label for such games as Tribes of Midgard and Risk of Rain 2; and THQ Nordic, which was established after Nordic Games snapped up the THQ trademark as well as many of its IP, including Darksiders. These studios are all treated as "operative groups" under Embracer, and Dark Horse will be the company's tenth operative group.

Dark Horse is one of the small handful of second-tier 'major' North American comic book publishers after Marvel and DC and for many years was consistently the industry's third-largest publisher by sales. 

It employs 181 people across its three business units, the core Dark Horse Comics; Dark Horse Entertainment, a production company founded in 1989 that has produced over 40 movies and series with partners like Netflix, Amazon, Syfy, Sony, MGM, Universal, and Warner Media including the Hellboy films and the Umbrella Academy streaming series; and Things From Another World, a comic book, graphic novel, toy, and pop-culture related collectibles retailer that includes three brick and mortar locations and an e-commerce presence.

According to the announcement, Dark Horse owns or controls more than 300 intellectual properties and the acquisition strengthens Embracer's "transmedia capabilities" by adding expertise in content development, comics publishing, and film and TV production, allowing it to "cross-fertilize" licensing partnerships across PC, console, VR, and mobile along with "untapped potential" to create new video games, 

Dark Horse is well known for licensed comic books, published Star War comic books, and comics based on 20th Century Fox properties like Alien and Predator for decades before those licenses were granted to Marvel Comics, a Disney subsidiary that now owns Lucasfilm and Fox, in recent years.

Dark Horse is perhaps best known for publishing creator Mike Mignola's Hellboy family of properties and Frank Miller's Sin City series of stories and graphic novels that have also been adapted into two feature films. 

Terms of the transaction, which is expected to complete by early 2022, were not disclosed. 80% of the shares of Dark Horse will be acquired from a seller based in Hong Kong and China. The remaining 2% will be acquired from Richardson and COO Neil Hankerson, who will also remain with the company.

According to the announcement, business will remain "as usual" and there is no planned restructuring of Dark Horse after the transaction is complete. 

Dark Horse's Hellboy rates as one of the best non-Marvel or DC superheroes of all time.

I'm not just the Newsarama founder and editor-in-chief, I'm also a reader. And that reference is just a little bit older than the beginning of my Newsarama journey. I founded what would become the comic book news site in 1996, and except for a brief sojourn at Marvel Comics as its marketing and communications manager in 2003, I've been writing about new comic book titles, creative changes, and occasionally offering my perspective on important industry events and developments for the 25 years since. Despite many changes to Newsarama, my passion for the medium of comic books and the characters makes the last quarter-century (it's crazy to see that in writing) time spent doing what I love most.