Malibu Comics

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Malibu Comics
Former type Comic publisher
Industry Comics
Founded 1986
Founder(s) Dave Olbrich and Tom Mason
Defunct 1997
Headquarters Calabasas, California
Key people Dave Olbrich, Publisher
Tom Mason, Creative Director
Chris Ulm, Editor-in-Chief
Scott Mitchell Rosenberg
Parent Marvel Comics (as of 1994)
Divisions Malibu Graphics
Malibu Comics Entertainment
Malibu Interactive
Subsidiaries Aircel Comics
Eternity Comics

Malibu Comics (also known as Malibu Graphics) was an American comic book publisher active in the late 1980s and early 1990s, best known for its Ultraverse line of superhero titles.[1][2][3] Notable titles under the Malibu label included The Men in Black, Ultraforce, The Night Man, Exiles, and Black September.

The company's headquarters was in Calabasas, California. Malibu imprints included Aircel Comics and Eternity Comics. Malibu also owned a small software development company that designed video games in the early to mid-1990s, alternately called Malibu Comics Entertainment and Malibu Interactive.

History[edit]

Origins[edit]

Malibu Comics was launched in 1986 by Dave Olbrich and Tom Mason (joined by Chris Ulm in 1987) thanks to the financing of Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, who was operating a comic book distribution company (Sunrise Distributors) at the time.[4] Olbrich had previously been an employee of Fantagraphics, as well as the administrator of The Jack Kirby Awards.

Malibu began modestly with creator-owned black-and-white titles, but made a name for itself publishing a combination of new series and licensed properties such as the classic characters Tarzan and Sherlock Holmes, and popular TV, movie and video game tie-ins.

Eternity, Aircel, and Adventure acquisitions[edit]

Malibu's 1987 financing arrangement with Rosenberg also led to it effectively acquiring Eternity Comics and Canadian publisher Aircel Comics as imprints.[4] In 1989, Malibu acquired the publisher Adventure Publications.[5]

From that point forward, the Malibu brand was used for superhero titles, while the Eternity brand was used for the magazine line, and also for anime-inspired titles like Robotech. The Adventure Publications brand was used for Malibu's licensed titles, such as Planet of the Apes and Doc Savage; while the Aircel brand was used for Barry Blair's comics and Malibu's adult line.

In 1992, heroes from Centaur Publications (a Golden Age publisher whose properties fell into public domain) were revived in the form of the Protectors, Airman, Amazing-Man, Aura, Arc, Arrow, the Ferret (not to be confused with Timely's version), Man of War, and Mighty Man, among others. Several of these characters had short-lived spin off titles of their own.

Image Comics publisher-of-record[edit]

The company served as publishers of record for the first comics from Image Comics in 1992, giving the upstart creator-run publisher access to the distribution channels.[6] This move led to Malibu grabbing almost 10% of the American comics market share,[7] temporarily moving ahead of industry giant DC Comics.[8] However, by the beginning of 1993, Image's financial situation was secure enough to publish its titles independently, and it left Malibu.[9]

Malibu Comics Entertainment[edit]

In late 1992, seeking to capitalize on the growing video game market, Malibu merged with video game developer Acme Interactive to form Malibu Comics Entertainment, Inc.[10][11]

Malibu Interactive games[edit]

Ultraverse[edit]

The Ultraverse line was launched during the "boom" of the early 1990s, roughly concurrent with the debut of publishers such as Image and Valiant, and new superhero lines from DC and Dark Horse (Milestone and Comics' Greatest World, respectively). The line was in part intended to fill the gap left by Image's independence. They boasted improved production values over traditional comics (especially digital coloring and higher-quality paper), and a roster of respected and/or talented new writers and artists. Emphasizing the tight continuity between the various series in the Ultraverse line, Malibu made extensive use of crossovers, in which a story that began in one series would be continued in the next-shipping issue of another series. Various promotions for special editions or limited-print stories followed. The Ultraverse line came to dominate Malibu's catalog.

Malibu launched additional imprints following the Ultraverse line; Bravura for creator-owned titles and Rock-It Comix for rock band comics.[12]

Acquisition by Marvel Comics[edit]

As sales declined industry-wide in the mid-1990s, Malibu canceled lower-selling series.[13] Nonetheless, the company's assets were still seen as attractive enough to garner interest from DC Comics in the spring of 1994.[14] In addition, Rosenberg and Malibu signed with the William Morris Agency.[15] The company was purchased by Marvel Comics on November 3, 1994.[16][17][18] In the middle of the next year, Malibu standard-bearers Mason and Ulm left the company.[19]

Marvel cancelled the entire Ultraverse line, but (during the Black September event) re-launched a handful of the more popular titles as well as a number of crossovers with Marvel characters. The "volume 2" series each started with "# (infinity)" issues and were cancelled a short time later. Very little Malibu content was published after 1996.

Within the Marvel Comics multiverse, the Malibu Universe is designated as Earth-93060.

Potential Ultraverse revival[edit]

In June 2005, when asked by Newsarama whether Marvel had any plans to revive the Ultraverse, Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada replied that:

Let's just say that I wanted to bring these characters back in a very big way, but the way that the deal was initially structured, it's next to impossible to go back and publish these books.

There are rumors out there that it has to do with a certain percentage of sales that has to be doled out to the creative teams. While this is a logistical nightmare because of the way the initial deal was structured, it's not the reason why we have chosen not to go near these characters, there is a bigger one, but I really don't feel like it’s my place to make that dirty laundry public.[20]

In May 2012, Steve Englehart suggested in a podcast interview that the reason Marvel will not presently publish the Ultraverse characters is because five percent of the profits from those books would have to go to the Malibu creators that are still alive.[21] Marvel Editor Tom Breevort later denied that the five percent was what was holding Marvel back, but was unable to give a real explanation due to a non-disclosure agreement.[22]

Titles[edit]

Some of Malibu's titles included:

Ultraverse[edit]

Crossovers with Marvel Comics[edit]

Genesis Universe[edit]

This line made use of many Centaur characters:

Bravura line[edit]

Aircel Comics[edit]

Licensed properties[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Crisafulli, Chuck (1994-02-06). "Crank Up the Colors". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-08-30. 
  2. ^ Apodaca, Patrice (1992-10-13). "Publishing: After inking strategic deals, Malibu Comics has become a leader in the world of mutants and super-heroes.". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-08-30. 
  3. ^ "Malibu Comics Launching New Super-Hero Line". The Los Angeles Times. 1993-06-15. Retrieved 2010-08-30. 
  4. ^ a b "Distributor Finances Five Publishers," The Comics Journal #115 (Apr. 1987), pp. 12-13: About Rosenberg and Eternity Comics, Imperial Comics, Amazing, Malibu, and Wonder Color Comics.
  5. ^ "Malibu Acquires Adventure," The Comics Journal #127 (February 1989), p. 21.
  6. ^ "Bye Bye Marvel; Here Comes Image: Portacio, Claremont, Liefeld, Jim Lee Join McFarlane's New Imprint at Malibu," The Comics Journal #148 (February 1992), pp. 11-12.
  7. ^ "NewsWatch: Malibu Commands 9.73% Market Share," The Comics Journal #151 (July 1992), p. 21.
  8. ^ "Malibu Moves Ahead of DC in Comics Market," The Comics Journal #152 (August 1992), pp. 7-8.
  9. ^ "Image Leaves Malibu, Becomes Own Publisher," The Comics Journal #155 (January 1993), p. 22.
  10. ^ "Newswatch: Malibu to Produce Video Games: Comic publisher merges with video game developer Acme Interactive," The Comics Journal #153 (October 1992), p. 19.
  11. ^ "Malibu Comics Sells Stake to Animation Firm". The Los Angeles Times. 1994-01-11. Retrieved 2010-08-30. 
  12. ^ Considine, J.D. (July 10, 1994). "Comics That Rock -- It's Not The New Music Video - Yet - But The Comic Book Has Become A Hot Marketing Tool For Top Names In Rock,". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 4 October 2011. 
  13. ^ Straub, L. D. (1994-11-04). "Comic Book Giant Marvel Buys Upstart Rival Malibu". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-08-30. 
  14. ^ Tom Mason, quoted in MacDonald, Heidi. "Quote of the day: get in the time machine," The Beat (Nov. 16, 2013): "Marvel bought Malibu for only one reason: to keep it away from DC which had been negotiating to buy the company since April/May 1994."
  15. ^ "Malibu Signs with William Morris Agency," The Comics Journal #170 (August 1994), p. 40.
  16. ^ Reynolds, Eric. "The Rumors are True: Marvel Buys Malibu," The Comics Journal #173 (December 1994), pp. 29-33.
  17. ^ "Comics Publishers Suffer Tough Summer: Body Count Rises in Market Shakedown," The Comics Journal #172 (Nov. 1994), pp. 13-18.
  18. ^ "News!" Indy magazine #8 (1994), p. 7.
  19. ^ "Mason, Ulm Leave Malibu," The Comics Journal #179 (August 1995), p. 24.
  20. ^ "Joe Fridays - Week 9". Newsarama. 
  21. ^ Johnston, Rich. "Steve Englehart – How 5% Doomed The Ultraverse," Bleeding Cool (May 22, 2012).
  22. ^ Johnston, Rich. "Marvel And Malibu – What’s Five Percent Between Friends," Bleeding Cool (May 25, 2012).

References[edit]

External links[edit]