Hellboy And Umbrella Academy Publisher Dark Horse Comics Looking For A Buyer

Another major media buyout may be in the cards, this time for one of the most notable comic book publishers not named Marvel or DC. It looks like Dark Horse Comics, the publisher of "Hellboy" among many other titles, may be looking for a buyer, which could be quite attractive to a studio or streaming service looking to get in on the comic book adaptation game. Which is to say, virtually every studio or streaming service around.

According to a recent report from Bloomberg, the publisher "is working with an adviser to weigh options that could include a sale, according to people familiar with the matter." Dark Horse declined to comment, but this lines up with recent trends in the industry. Every streaming service is in desperate need of content, ideally connected to established properties that bring with them some recognition, especially if they can be linked to the comic book/superhero world. Someone like Netflix or Apple could, as a result, see a great deal of value in owning a library like the one Dark Horse has.

Established in 1986, Dark Horse has crafted some noteworthy titles over the years, including "300," "Black Hammer," "The Mask," "Sin City," "The Umbrella Academy" and, perhaps biggest of all, "Hellboy." Many of these have already been turned into other forms of media in the past. Netflix scored a huge hit with "The Umbrella Academy," so maybe they would make a good fit? Then again, the already own Millarworld, though that has been slow to prove fruitful, with "Jupiter's Legacy" bombing pretty hard out of the gate.

It's a Seller's Market

I discussed the topic in detail not too long ago elsewhere, but the need for streaming services (that have deep pockets we might add) to generate movies and TV shows capable of luring in subscribers has created an interesting situation in Hollywood. Anyone with a library to sell, be it of movies, TV shows, or even song publishing rights, has become wildly valuable. To illustrate that point, "Alvin and the Chipmunks" is looking for a buyer, and it might be worth $300 million.

Marvel is locked up at Disney, with DC firmly in place at Warner Bros. Image Comics is kind of doing its own thing, and Netflix owns Millarworld. Dark Horse, as far as comic book publishers go, is one of the big dogs left in play, right alongside Valiant Comics. The big question is, what might this be worth? Mark Millar's Millarworld sold for $31 million in 2017. Marvel sold to Disney in 2012 for $4 billion. It's pretty tough to say where it would land in the modern marketplace.

One last interesting note that would certainly impact the asking price is that a huge part of Dark Horse's publishing game is related to licensed comics — everything from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" to "Planet of the Apes." Obviously, they don't control the underlying IP in those cases, so it would really be about the value the company's original books bring. We'll have to see how this plays out in the coming weeks/months.