Malibu Comics

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Malibu Comics Entertainment, Inc.
IndustryComics
Founded1986; 35 years ago (1986)
Founder
Defunct1994; 27 years ago (1994)
FateAcquired by Marvel Comics
Headquarters
Key people
ParentMarvel Entertainment Group
DivisionsMalibu Interactive

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.[1][2][3] 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 Adventure, Aircel and Eternity. Malibu also owned a small software development company that designed video games in the early to mid-1990s called 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 managing editor of the trade publication Amazing Heroes, as well as the administrator of The Jack Kirby Awards. He was financing Malibu Comics, along with other comic companies like Eternity Comics, Amazing Comics, Wonder Comics, and Imperial Comics.[5] After this fact was made public, Rosenberg discontinued most of these publishers, but retained the Eternity label as a brand of Malibu Comics.[6]

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 television, film, and video game tie-ins. Malibu's first title was Ex-Mutants. Malibu later created a shared universe called Shattered Earth with this characters, after a legal battle with the creators.[7]

Publishers acquisitions and Genesis[edit]

Malibu's 1987 financing arrangement with Rosenberg also led to it effectively acquiring the Canadian publisher Aircel Comics as an imprint.[4] In 1989, Malibu acquired the publisher Adventure Publications.[8] From that point forward, the Malibu brand was used for superhero titles, while Eternity was used for the magazine line and also for anime-inspired titles like Robotech, Adventure was used for Malibu's licensed titles, such as Planet of the Apes and Alien Nation, and Aircel was used for Barry Blair's comics and Malibu's adult line. The company also acquired the character Shuriken, from his creator Reggie Byers, in 1988 (a character that was self-published before in Victory Productions from 1985–1988).[9][10] The character was published in three mini-series and two one-shots by Malibu (later the character was introduced in the Ultraverse imprint).[11]

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. However, the line had a short life period.

The Bravura imprint was then launched for the creator-owned and licensed titles. The company also served as publisher of record for the first comics from Image Comics in 1992, giving the upstart creator-run publisher access to the distribution channels.[12] This move led to Malibu obtaining almost 10% of the American comics market share,[13] temporarily moving ahead of industry giant DC Comics.[14] However, by the beginning of 1993, Image's financial situation was secure enough to publish its titles independently, and it left Malibu.[15]

Malibu Interactive and Ultraverse[edit]

In late 1992, seeking to capitalize on the growing video game market, Malibu merged with video game developer Acme Interactive to form Malibu Interactive.[16][17]

The Ultraverse line was launched in June 1993[18] 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.[1]

Acquisition by Marvel Comics[edit]

As sales declined industry-wide in the mid-1990s, Malibu canceled lower-selling series.[19] But their biggest problem was their game division, started in an attempt to break into the video game market, which costed them more than $200,000 a month.[20] Nonetheless, the company's assets were still seen as attractive enough to garner interest from DC Comics in the spring of 1994.[21] In addition, Rosenberg and Malibu signed with the William Morris Agency.[22] The company was purchased by Marvel Comics on November 3, 1994.[23][24][25][26][27] In the middle of the next year, Malibu standard-bearers Mason and Ulm left the company.[28]

Because Malibu had sufficient market share that an acquisition from DC would make the latter surpass Marvel's market share, Marvel decided to purchase Malibu themselves to prevent this from happening. To slow down rumors that Ultraverse titles would be cancelled as soon as the deal closed, Malibu claimed that Marvel wanted them because of their digital coloring system.[29]

Marvel eventually 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.

Within the Marvel Comics multiverse, the Genesis Universe is designated as Earth-1136 and the Ultraverse as Earth-93060.[30]

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.[31]

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.[32] 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.[33]

It has been speculated that Scott Mitchell Rosenberg's ongoing producer deal for all Malibu properties (and his alleged personal troubles) is another possible factor.[34][35][36][37]

Titles[edit]

Some of Malibu's titles included:

Genesis[edit]

This line made use of many Centaur heroes plus characters previously published by Adventure, Aircel and Eternity:

Ultraverse[edit]

Crossovers with Marvel Comics[edit]

Adventure Comics[edit]

Aircel Comics[edit]

  • Bodyguard (reprint of Australian title, with new material)
  • Carmilla
  • Casanova
  • The Men in Black
  • The Men in Black vol.2
  • Samurai
  • Team Nippon
  • Vampyre's Kiss

Silverline[edit]

  • Cat & Mouse
  • Demon's Tails
  • The Mantus Files
  • Silver Storm

Eternity Comics[edit]

Shattered Earth[edit]

  • Ex-Mutants vol.1
  • Ex-Mutants: The Shattered Earth Chronicles
  • New Humans
  • Shattered Earth
  • Solo Ex-Mutants
  • Wild Knights

Shuriken spin-offs[edit]

  • Blade of Shuriken
  • Hellbender
  • Shuriken vol.2
  • Shuriken Team-Up
  • Shuriken: Cold Steel

Bravura[edit]

Rock-It Comix[edit]

  • Black Sabbath
  • Lita Ford
  • Metallica
  • Ozzy Osbourne
  • Pantera
  • Santana
  • World Domination

Other titles[edit]

Malibu Interactive games[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Crisafulli, Chuck (1994-02-06). "Crank Up the Colors". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2016-12-29.
  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 2016-12-29.
  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). April 1987. pp. 12–13. Retrieved February 5, 2016. About Rosenberg and Eternity Comics, Imperial Comics, Amazing, Malibu, and Wonder Color Comics.
  5. ^ "Distributor Finances Five Publishers," The Comics Journal #115 (Apr. 1987), pp. 12-13: About Rosenberg and Eternity, Imperial Comics, Amazing, Malibu, and Wonder Color Comics.
  6. ^ "Eternity Merges with Aircel," The Comics Journal #125 (October 1988), p. 19.
  7. ^ Mitchell, Brian John (November 2004). "David Lawrence interview". QRD. No. 28. Silber Media.
  8. ^ "Malibu Acquires Adventure," The Comics Journal #127 (February 1989), p. 21.
  9. ^ The Masked Man (December 14, 2016). "SHURIKEN!". aintitcool.com/.
  10. ^ "Shuriken!". 1 September 2013.
  11. ^ Curse of Rune #1 (1995) -Malibu Comics
  12. ^ "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.
  13. ^ "NewsWatch: Malibu Commands 9.73% Market Share," The Comics Journal #151 (July 1992), p. 21.
  14. ^ "Malibu Moves Ahead of DC in Comics Market," The Comics Journal #152 (August 1992), pp. 7-8.
  15. ^ "Image Leaves Malibu, Becomes Own Publisher," The Comics Journal #155 (January 1993), p. 22.
  16. ^ "Newswatch: Malibu to Produce Video Games: Comic publisher merges with video game developer Acme Interactive," The Comics Journal #153 (October 1992), p. 19.
  17. ^ "Malibu Comics Sells Stake to Animation Firm". The Los Angeles Times. 1994-01-11. Retrieved 2010-08-30.
  18. ^ McLelland, Ryan (August 25, 2005). "Ultraverse Ten Years Later". Sequart. Sequart Organization. Retrieved February 5, 2016.
  19. ^ Straub, L. D. (1994-11-04). "Comic Book Giant Marvel Buys Upstart Rival Malibu". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2016-12-29.
  20. ^ American Comic Book Chronicles: The 1990s
  21. ^ 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."
  22. ^ "Malibu Signs with William Morris Agency," The Comics Journal #170 (August 1994), p. 40.
  23. ^ Reynolds, Eric. "The Rumors are True: Marvel Buys Malibu," The Comics Journal #173 (December 1994), pp. 29-33.
  24. ^ "Comics Publishers Suffer Tough Summer: Body Count Rises in Market Shakedown," The Comics Journal #172 (Nov. 1994), pp. 13-18.
  25. ^ "News!" Indy magazine #8 (1994), p. 7.
  26. ^ "Marvel buys Malibu Comics". United Press International. November 3, 1994. Retrieved October 2, 2020.
  27. ^ "MARVEL ENTERTAINMENT BUYS UP MALIBU COMICS". Deseret News. November 16, 1994. Retrieved October 2, 2020.
  28. ^ "Mason, Ulm Leave Malibu," The Comics Journal #179 (August 1995), p. 24.
  29. ^ Comic Legends: Why Did Marvel REALLY Buy the Ultraverse?
  30. ^ Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Alternate Universes Vol 4 #17 (2005)
  31. ^ "Joe Fridays - Week 9". Newsarama.
  32. ^ Johnston, Rich. "Steve Englehart – How 5% Doomed The Ultraverse," Bleeding Cool (May 22, 2012).
  33. ^ Johnston, Rich. "Marvel And Malibu – What's Five Percent Between Friends," Bleeding Cool (May 25, 2012).
  34. ^ "Quote of the day: get in the time machine". 15 November 2013.
  35. ^ "Miracleman, Malibu's Coloring Department & More!". 17 December 2013.
  36. ^ "¿Por qué Marvel Comics lleva veinte años sin relanzar Ultraverse?". 12 March 2021.
  37. ^ "GK's Where Are They Now?: Dinosaurs For Hire, Ain't No park Gonna Hold These Dinosaurs". 16 September 2013.
  38. ^ Ninja High School (Malibu), Grand Comics Database. Accessed Jan. 2, 2020.

External links[edit]