In 1986, at the vanguard of the black & white comics boom, Mike Richardson launched Dark Horse Presents #1 and Dark Horse Comics was born. Thirty years later, still publishing from Milwaukie, Oregon, Dark Horse has weathered the rise and fall of hundreds of publishing rivals to stake an impressive claim on comics shop real estate alongside “The Big Two,” as well as fellow upstart independent publisher Image Comics. This Saturday is Dark Horse Comics Day, and comic shops around the around the country will be joining in the celebration.
Although the company’s bread & butter has been its excellent licensed property-based series, such as Aliens, Buffy, and, until recently, Star Wars, there are a wealth of creator-owned gems in the DHC catalog. This weekend, when you’re out perusing the racks, look for some of our favorites.
Concrete by Paul Chadwick
Chadwick’s Concrete made its debut in that very first Dark Horse Presents, and his short stories appeared in a number of that anthology’s issues over the next few years. These are the stories of -, a political speechwriter whose brain was transplanted into the body of a hulking stone-like giant. The genius of the comic, and the reason it became such an important breakthrough for the medium, is that every story follows a genuinely human response to this one bizarre character development. What would it really be like if you were suddenly seven-feet of near-indestructible alien construct. How would the world, completely unaccustomed to things like billionaire weapons designers with flying exoskeletons or the unexpected effects of radioactive spiderbites, react? How do you live? How do you love?
Chadwick’s art is some of the most affecting, tender linework you’ll ever see. And the fragile beauty of his brushstroke underscores the guiding premise that we often take for granted our most human of actions and reactions. Speaking of fragility, if you need one collection to get started, check out Concrete, Vol. 3: Fragile Creature, which collects the mini series of the same name, as well as some of his earlier short stories.