BF Awards 2009 - Best Publisher: Dark Horse

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Dark Horse winning the 2009 Broken Frontier Award  for Best Publisher likely is proof of the fact that BF doesn’t attract a superheroes-only readership. Better odds are that more and more fans have come to dig the no strings attached and fundamentally sound publishing ethos the company continues to uphold.

Dark Horse is not the kind of company that throws anything against the wall to see what sticks. Instead, they rely on a small group of top industry talent to produce quality work over a multitude of genres, ranging from horror (Hellboy, BPRD) to adventure (Conan, Usagi Yojimbo) and offbeat superhero (Umbrella Academy). People like Mike Mignola, Guy Davis, Stan Sakai and Eric Powell have been with the company for years, and are given all the creative freedom they need to push their own boundaries and make their stories better. As a result, the aforementioned titles never read as ‘the same old, same old’, but keep on surprising time and again. 

The ‘gold core’ Mike Richardson and crew have assembled has also allowed for the publisher to attract talent such as Mike Oeming (Rapture), Rick Remender (Fear Agent, Gigantic) and Gerard Way (yes, Umbrella Academy, again) to inject some new oil in the machine’s cogs at regular intervals.

I could go on stipulating other aspects of Dark Horse’s publishing approach – such as its manga line or licensed properties – but that wouldn’t do anything but fortify the verdict: Dark Horse does a little bit of everything, does it incredibly well, and most importantly, without a media mogul providing overhead.

Milwaukie, Oregon is a place where true creative freedom roams and where standalone properties are cherished. In this day and age of superhero crossovers and Hollywood-influenced decision-making, that mindset alone is worthy of an award.

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