The definitive variant of the Malibu Comics logo
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Malibu Comics Entertainment, Inc. (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. Notable titles under the Malibu label included The Men in Black, Ultraforce, Night Man and Exiles.
The company's headquarters was in Calabasas, California. Malibu was initially publisher of record for Image Comics from 1992 to 1993. The company's other 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 called Malibu Interactive.
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. Olbrich had previously been managing editor of the trade publication Amazing Heroes, 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. Malibu's first title was Ex-Mutants.
Publishers acquisitions and Genesis
Malibu's 1987 financing arrangement with Rosenberg also led to it effectively acquiring Eternity Comics and Canadian publisher Aircel Comics as imprints. In 1989, Malibu acquired the publisher Adventure Publications. 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 the public domain) were revived in the form of the Protectors (Airman, Amazing-Man, Aura, Arc, Arrow, Ferret, Man of War and Mighty Man, among others). Several of these characters had short-lived spin-off titles of their own. The Centaur heroes and other characters from Adventure (Miss Fury and Rocket Ranger), Aircel (Cat & Mouse and Men In Black) and Eternity (Dinosaurs For Hire, Ex-Mutants and Shuriken) plus Dead Clown and Widowmaker were put together in one Universe to form the Genesis line.
The Bravura imprint was then launched for the creator-owned and licensed titles. The company also 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. This move led to Malibu obtaining almost 10% of the American comics market share, temporarily moving ahead of industry giant DC Comics. However, by the beginning of 1993, Image's financial situation was secure enough to publish its titles independently, and it left Malibu.
Malibu Interactive and Ultraverse
The Ultraverse line was launched in June 1993 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 additionally the Rock-It Comix imprint for rock band comics in early 1994. Malibu worked with Gold Mountain Entertainment management firm in dealing with the musicians, while International Strategic Marketing was distributing the line to comic book shops, music outlets and newsstands.
Acquisition by Marvel Comics
As sales declined industry-wide in the mid-1990s, Malibu canceled lower-selling series. Nonetheless, the company's assets were still seen as attractive enough to garner interest from DC Comics in the spring of 1994. In addition, Rosenberg and Malibu signed with the William Morris Agency. The company was purchased by Marvel Comics on November 3, 1994. In the middle of the next year, Malibu standard-bearers Mason and Ulm left the company.
Marvel canceled 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 canceled a short time later. Very little Malibu content was published after 1996.
Potential Ultraverse revival
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.
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. Marvel Editor Tom Brevoort 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.
Some of Malibu's titles included:
- The All-New Exiles
- Black September (Universe changing event)
- Break-Thru (a crossover mini-series)
- Codename: Firearm
- Elven (mini-series)
- Hostile Takeover (ashcan)
- Lord Pumpkin (one shot)
- Lord Pumpkin/Necro-Mantra (mini-series)
- The Night Man
- Rafferty (ashcan)
- Ripfire (one shot)
- The Solution
- The Strangers
- Ultraverse Premiere (a rotating backup series)
- Ultraverse Double Feature (one shot)
- Ultraverse Origins (one shot)
- Year Zero: The Death of the Squad (mini-series)
Crossovers with Marvel Comics
- Godwheel (mini series)
- Ultraforce/Avengers Prelude
- Prime vs. The Incredible Hulk
- Nightman vs. Wolverine
- The All-New Exiles vs. X-Men
- Conan vs. Rune
- Ultraforce/Spider-Man #1A, #1B
- Prime/Captain America
- Rune vs. Venom
- Rune / Silver Surfer (published in a flip-book with the other side reading Silver Surfer / Rune)
- Night Man/Gambit
- The Phoenix Resurrection
This line made use of many Centaur heroes plus characters previously published by Adventure, Aircel and Eternity:
- Dead Clown
- Dinosaurs For Hire
- Genesis #0
- Malibu Sun #24 (contains a story featuring Widowmaker)
- Man of War
- Protectors Handbook
- Alien Nation
- Ape Nation (a crossover featuring elements from Alien Nation and Planet of the Apes)
- Bodyguard (reprint of Australian title, with new material)
- Breed (2 series) by Jim Starlin
- Captain Harlock
- Cat & Mouse
- Cat Claw
- Bruce Lee
- Demonic Toys
- Demon's Tails
- Dreadstar by Jim Starlin
- Edge by Steven Grant and Gil Kane (unfinished- iBooks released a hardback collection of the complete first series)
- Full Throttle (reprint of Australian titles Rip Snorter and Raw Tonnage, with new material)
- The Man Called A-X by Marv Wolfman
- Men in Black
- Metaphysique by Norm Breyfogle
- Miss Fury
- Mortal Kombat
- New Humans
- Ninja High School by Ben Dunn (1988–1993) — title inherited from, and then taken back by, Antarctic Press
- Nocturnals by Dan Brereton
- Paranoia (based on the Paranoia role-playing game)
- Planet of the Apes
- Plan 9 from Outer Space
- Power & Glory by Howard Chaykin
- Project A-ko
- Puppet Master
- Raver (Created by Star Trek actor Walter Koenig)
- Rocket Ranger (based on the Cinemaware computer game)
- Shattered Earth
- Silver Storm
- Southern Squadron (reprint of Australian superhero title, with new material)
- Star Blazers
- Star Slammers by Walter Simonson (unfinished until the series moved to Dark Horse Comics)
- Star Trek comics:
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
- Star Trek: The Next Generation/Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (co-published with DC Comics)
- Street Fighter
- Strikeback by Jonathan Peterson, Kevin Maguire and Steve Oliff (unfinished - Image Comics released this series later on and completed it)
- Tarzan comics:
- Terminator: Cybernetic Dawn
- Terminator: Nuclear Twilight
- Wild Knights
Malibu Interactive games
- Crisafulli, Chuck (1994-02-06). "Crank Up the Colors". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2016-12-29.
- 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 2016-12-29.
- "Malibu Comics Launching New Super-Hero Line". The Los Angeles Times. 1993-06-15. Retrieved 2010-08-30.
- "Distributor Finances Five Publishers". The Comics Journal' (115). April 1987. pp. 12–13. Retrieved February 5, 2016.
About Rosenberg and Eternity Comics, Imperial Comics, Amazing, Malibu, and Wonder Color Comics.
- "Malibu Acquires Adventure," The Comics Journal #127 (February 1989), p. 21.
- "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.
- "NewsWatch: Malibu Commands 9.73% Market Share," The Comics Journal #151 (July 1992), p. 21.
- "Malibu Moves Ahead of DC in Comics Market," The Comics Journal #152 (August 1992), pp. 7-8.
- "Image Leaves Malibu, Becomes Own Publisher," The Comics Journal #155 (January 1993), p. 22.
- "Newswatch: Malibu to Produce Video Games: Comic publisher merges with video game developer Acme Interactive," The Comics Journal #153 (October 1992), p. 19.
- "Malibu Comics Sells Stake to Animation Firm". The Los Angeles Times. 1994-01-11. Retrieved 2010-08-30.
- McLelland, Ryan (August 25, 2005). "Ultraverse Ten Years Later". Sequart. Sequart Organization. Retrieved February 5, 2016.
- Straub, L. D. (1994-11-04). "Comic Book Giant Marvel Buys Upstart Rival Malibu". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2016-12-29.
- 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."
- "Malibu Signs with William Morris Agency," The Comics Journal #170 (August 1994), p. 40.
- Reynolds, Eric. "The Rumors are True: Marvel Buys Malibu," The Comics Journal #173 (December 1994), pp. 29-33.
- "Comics Publishers Suffer Tough Summer: Body Count Rises in Market Shakedown," The Comics Journal #172 (Nov. 1994), pp. 13-18.
- "News!" Indy magazine #8 (1994), p. 7.
- "Mason, Ulm Leave Malibu," The Comics Journal #179 (August 1995), p. 24.
- "Joe Fridays - Week 9". Newsarama.
- Johnston, Rich. "Steve Englehart – How 5% Doomed The Ultraverse," Bleeding Cool (May 22, 2012).
- Johnston, Rich. "Marvel And Malibu – What’s Five Percent Between Friends," Bleeding Cool (May 25, 2012).
- "Quote of the day: get in the time machine". 15 November 2013.
- "Miracleman, Malibu's Coloring Department & More!". 17 December 2013.
- Ninja High School (Malibu), Grand Comics Database. Accessed Jan. 2, 2020.