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NYCC 2008: Dark Horse Comics on "Hellboy Animated," "Turok," "Gremlins," and Manga

We missed the Dark Horse Comics panel at New York Comic Con, but had a chance to meet up briefly with Jeremy Atkins at the Dark Horse booth on Sunday to catch up on the animation-related comics from Dark Horse, and chat about a few other things besides.

- For now, there aren’t any new Hellboy Animated comics on the way, but if the current chatter about a new Hellboy Animated feature pans out, then we can definitely expect to see new tie-in comics as well.

- The most recent Dark Horse solicitations contained a new Turok comic, which is a direct adaptation of the direct-to-video movie from Gold Key and will be done in “screenshot” style, with the panels being made from stills from the film. The comic will be written by Tad Stones, supervising director for the video. Unfortunately, this one-shot is the only Turok-related material we can expect to see for now; there are no plans at Dark Horse to resurrect the franchise or reprint older Turok material for now.

- While it was never really made it to animation, the first issue of Disney’s Gremlins comic is out now. The comics are based on an aborted collaboration between the Walt Disney Animation Studios and children’s book author Roald Dahl. The only real product of the collaboration was a children’s book, which Dakr Horse reprinted at the end of 2006. The 3-issue comic book mini-series is written by Mike Richardson, founder and president of Dark Horse, and issue #2 will be released to comic shops this Wednesday, April 23, 2008. There is also a trade paperback planned which will collect all 3 issues.

- Dark Horse has had a long history bringing manga to American shores, with this year being their 20th anniversary of publishing manga. The first manga they ever imported was a Godzilla title.

- The Blood+ manga has just been released to great fanfare among the anime and manga community. The first volume of the manga and the first volume of a series of novels are both available from Dark Horse now.

- The Gantz manga will be arriving this summer, which has also generated a lot of buzz. Dark Horse has apparently been working on getting the license for some time, so they’re as excited about finally landing the license as the fans are.

- We asked Dark Horse about how the increasing number of manga publishers and titles is affecting them. Atkins said that it’s getting harder to compete for sure, but that he felt that Dark Horse’s brand has a lot of history and integrity associated with it, which generates a halo effect around their titles.

- For quite a while, direct market comic book shops were the only place where people could get manga. Considering their long history of publishing manga, we asked Atkins if he felt that the comic book shop manga market had been affected much by the increasing bookstore sales. Atkins said that Dark Horse hasn’t noticed a drop in demand for the manga that they offer to the direct market comic book shops, and that the rise of the bookstore market has just given them another avenue to get the product into the hands of people who are interested in it. Much of the manga in bookstores is aimed at younger audiences and females, which are audiences which just aren’t going to comic book shops in great numbers.

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