Archaia Goes BOOM!
by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)
Big news for fans of smaller press publishing when it comes to comics: BOOM! Studios acquired Archaia Entertainment. The deal will bring together two forces in the comic book industry that will still act with some independence (Archaia will still operate as its own entity). This means there’s another burgeoning big boy on the block to provide some competition to not only Marvel and DC, but other publishers such as Image, IDW and Dark Horse. Business class aside though, what does the acquisition mean for the comic book reader?
Prior to the merger, BOOM! Studios was primarily known for fantastic creative control rights with their books. BOOM! seems to be striving to become a feeding ground of sorts for Hollywood. Ideally, creators can publish their books with the publisher, maintain creative rights and leverage the newfound attention to their work in a movie deal. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it encourages creators to bring their work to the publisher as they’re assured that it will remain “their” work. Marvel and DC have some pretty stringent contracts regarding rights (Mark Waid has an excellent piece on how DC contracts work here).
Archaia, on the other hand, has been about providing readers with top-notch presentation and quality of material. The studio thrives on gorgeous, hardbound collections of their works, demonstrating an attention to detail that few other publishers infuse their everyday releases with. This is the same publisher who offers hardcover books on Free Comic Book Day, giving nostalgic readers more than just the touch and feel of a comic book. They offer works that endure and would look lovely on anyone’s bookshelf.
From a talent perspective, both studios have their fair share. BOOM! counts among its talent the aforementioned Waid, Clive Barker, Paul Jenkins, Brian Stelfreeze and a host of others. These creators offer books such as Hellraiser, Superbia, Freelancers, Adventure Time and many others. Archaia counts among its comic luminaries David Petersen, Joshua Hale Fialkov, Nick Tapalansky and a lot more. Archaia offers works tapping into the late, great Jim Henson, Mouse Guard, Return of the Dapper Men, Rust, Awakening and other solid titles. There’s certainly not a dearth of talent coming from either studio, which means that readers will definitely still be getting what they’ve come to know and love from each.
From Archaia’s standpoint, the deal needed to be made. The publisher was struggling since moving back to Diamond Distribution in 2012, having difficulties in shipping books and keeping things on track. There was a notable lag in Archaia books shipped last year, despite a fine showing at last year’s Eisner Awards capped with the acclaimed Tale of Sand, Ramón Pérez’s adaptation of an un-produced script by Jim Henson and Jerry Juhl, sweeping up many of the awards. Now that they’re teaming up with BOOM! Studios, there’s a great chance that Archaia will get back on track on getting their books out.
The perspective on the BOOM! side of things is one of an improved portfolio. By acquiring Archaia, BOOM! is adding a ton of talent and presentation to their shop. Primarily, many of the works published by Archaia will slide in nicely in the KaBOOM! imprint, which is focused more on family friendly works. Some of Archaia’s other works (like Hawken: Genesis and Cyborg 009) will fit in better with the more mature imprint of BOOM! Studios. The deal is a win-win for BOOM! Studios, because they get to increase their ever-growing repertoire of books that will target a wider audience.
Both publishers on their own have been cutting their own pieces of the comic book industry pie. Together, they’ll be able to better capitalize on the reputation and talents of the other to take out an even bigger piece. They’re not going to dethrone Marvel and DC as the big two in the industry, but they will be able to offer readers a lot more in the way of good stories that they’ve come to expect. Hopefully fans of both will learn about the other and only expand their horizons when it comes to great comics. Everything doesn’t have to be capes and tights; there’s enough room in the industry for some different flavors of books.
Both BOOM! Studios and Archaia are more than happy to offer great books with great presentation. Comic fans should be looking forward to what comes from the new partnership.