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The Linfield Review

The student news site of Linfield University

The Linfield Review

The student news site of Linfield University

The Linfield Review

The Dark Horse of comics: Mike Richardson

Comics given out at the NW Media Fest event.

In Graf-Hall room 117, with both the sun and classroom light illuminating the limited audience and the ever-present leaf blowers humming outside, Richardson began his talk. 

On Oct. 27th, CEO and founder of Dark Horse Comics Mike Richardson paid Linfield University a visit to discuss his company and its origins. Dark Horse Comics is one of the biggest comics companies behind Marvel and DC respectively. Richardson is also a writer and film producer.

The CEO started as an art major from Portland State, yet had the loftier ambition of working for himself instead of “watching a clock.” 

The process began with him opening up a comic shop in Bend, Ore. where he sold dice, toys and of course comics. 

Richardson attributes his success to him not being a business major, because according to him, business majors “think only one way.” 

In his shop, Richardson had comic artists and writers sign their books as a way for them to retain ownership of their work. It bothered him that the comic artists and writers in the 80s were not able to retain ownership of the work, this was his way of giving back.

What propelled Richardson to create Dark Horse proper, and not just the shop were two Marvel comics stories he had read. One had the Incredible Hulk being frightened of a gay man and the other story saw the Avengers having a casual conversation as their ship was being swallowed by a blackhole. 

Richardson, after reading these stories, desired to create a space where creatives could write real stories. The CEO went so far as to describe how one of Dark Horse Comics’ original characters, Boris the Bear, was used to kill other comics characters, and to show disapproval for Marvel and DC. 

As the CEO, he urged his creators to make three-act plays in their stories to give them a more timeless quality. He described it as, “First fourth of a story was act one, the next two fourths were act two, and the last fourth was act 3.”

Richardson believes Dark Horse Comics is unique to his competitors because they target book readers and more mature audiences rather than placing their focus on comic collectors. Dark Horse Comics as a company too is one of the only distributors to both handle their own online stores and sell their physical books in traditional bookstores, outselling Marvel and DC in that specific market. 

When asked directly about what makes his company unique, Richardson remarked decisively that, “We aren’t our competitors, we are our own company.”

As the talk was winding down, an audience member asked, “Why have comics stood the test of time?” Richardson paused, taking a moment to ruminate on the question, “It’s words and pictures. Anything that can be thought of, can be drawn. Each storyteller has their own unique style and voice.” 

The CEO elaborated further, saying that comics allowed the imagination to run wild, with no budget or constraint on an untamed medium. The talk concluded with an applause from the small audience. Attending students were then given the chance to pick out some Dark Horse Comics at the conclusion. 

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About the Contributor
Julian Ortiz, Staff Writer
Julian Ortiz is a staff writer with a particular focus on writing movie reviews. He is a JAMS major, creative writing minor. Coming out of Keizer Oregon, Julian loves to write, and to create. In his free-time he enjoys watching video essays on Youtube, going to the movies, writing, and talking way too much about storytelling.

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