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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. 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

Origins

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.[1] 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/video-game tie-ins. Malibu's 1987 financing arrangement with Rosenberg also led to it effectively acquiring Eternity Comics and Canadian publisher Aircel Comics as imprints.[1]

In 1989, Malibu acquired the publisher Adventure Publications.[2]

Image Comics publisher-of-record

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.[3] This move led to Malibu grabbing almost 10% of the American comics market share,[4] temporarily moving ahead of industry giant DC Comics.[5] However, by the beginning of 1993, Image's financial situation was secure enough to publish its titles independently, and it left Malibu.[6]

Malibu Comics Entertainment

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.[7]

Bravura line

The Bravura line, consisting of creator-owned titles, was soon started. In 1992, heroes from Centaur Publications (a Golden Age publisher those properties fell into 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.

Ultraverse

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.

Acquisition by Marvel Comics

As sales declined industry-wide in the mid-1990s, Malibu cancelled lower-selling series. Although the company's assets were still seen attractive enough to sign a deal with the William Morris Agency,[8] the company was purchased by Marvel Comics in late 1994.[9][10][11] Reportedly Marvel made the purchase to acquire Malibu's then-groundbreaking in-house coloring studio, and/or its catalog of movie-licensable properties. Shortly after the purchase, Malibu standard-bearers Mason and Ulm left the company.[12]

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

Ultraverse revival

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.[13]

Titles

Some of Malibu's titles included:

Ultraverse

Crossovers with Marvel Comics

Genesis Universe

This line made use of many Centaur characters:

Bravura line

Aircel Comics

Licensed properties

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 "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.
  2. "Malibu Acquires Adventure," The Comics Journal #127 (February 1989), p. 21.
  3. "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.
  4. "NewsWatch: Malibu Commands 9.73% Market Share," The Comics Journal #151 (July 1992), p. 21.
  5. "Malibu Moves Ahead of DC in Comics Market," The Comics Journal #152 (August 1992), pp. 7-8.
  6. "Image Leaves Malibu, Becomes Own Publisher," The Comics Journal #155 (January 1993), p. 22.
  7. "Newswatch: Malibu to Produce Video Games: Comic publisher merges with video game developer Acme Interactive," The Comics Journal #153 (October 1992), p. 19.
  8. "Malibu Signs with William Morris Agency," The Comics Journal #170 (August 1994), p. 40.
  9. "Comics Publishers Suffer Tough Summer: Body Count Rises in Market Shakedown," The Comics Journal #172 (Nov. 1994), pp. 13-18.
  10. Reynolds, Eric. "The Rumors are True: Marvel Buys Malibu," The Comics Journal #173 (December 1994), pp. 29-33.
  11. "News!" Indy magazine #8 (1994), p. 7.
  12. "Mason, Ulm Leave Malibu," The Comics Journal #179 (August 1995), p. 24.
  13. "Joe Fridays - Week 9". Newsarama. 

References

External links

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