Dark Horse‘s first year. Twenty years ago, Dark Horse Comics was just starting out, with only two titles – an anthology and a satire starring a teddy bear. How things would change!
Oregon-based retailer Mike Richardson assembled a bi-monthly anthology series called Dark Horse Presents using local creators who had recently gotten some professional credits under their belts from Marvel Comics, as well as some brand-new talent. Paul Chadwick, who had penciled some issues of Dazzler, Marvel’s disco queen super-hero, broke out from the beginning with the story of Concrete, a man whose mind is trapped in a large rock-like body. (The character would eventually spin off into his own series and go on to win multiple prestigious industry awards.) The second issue of DCP included a story by J.M. DeMatteis. Having written for both DC Comics and Marvel Comics, and with a creator-owned series called Moonshadow turning heads, DeMatteis was easily the most established creator the young publisher could claim at the time. Dark Horse Presents proved successful enough to switch to a monthly schedule in the following year, as it attracted more and more creators with higher profiles. It continued until 2000, making it Dark Horse’s longest-running title and America’s longest-running anthology comic to date.
Meanwhile, newcomer James Dean Smith’s Boris the Bear was a violently satirical book that took aim at unfunny funny animals (like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), the giant robot craze, and ownership and creator rights issues in comics. His rival Wacky Squirrel, introduced in Boris the Bear #4, would get his own series the following year. While somewhat forgotten today, the book turned out to be something of a hit and continued running at Dark Horse until Smith began publishing it under his own Nicotat Comics in 1987.