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‘Dark Horse Presents’ a New Anthology Volume

Comic books are all about telling new, interesting, and/or other worldly stories. However, sometimes one issue isn’t enough, which is where anthology comics come into play. Here, readers are able to enjoy a handle of stories from different writer and artist combinations about virtually anything.

Throughout the years anthology comics have come and gone with old series like EC Comics’ “Tales from the Crypt” and “Suspense Stories” to new titles like Marvel’s “Strange Tales I and II.” Today, readers get another anthology with the relaunch of “Dark Horse Presents.”

“Dark Horse Presents” first entered the comic book industry in 1986 and ran until 2000. During this time, new comic book characters like Concrete appeared and became an icon for Dark Horse Comics. The series by writer/artist Paul Chadwick featured a man who is abducted by aliens and has his mind transferred into the body of a concrete hulking. However, in a world where super heroes and villains don’t exit, he’s left to ponder his new existence.

Another concept that began in “Dark Horse Presents” #51 and has gain notoriety was the “The Hard Goodbye,” the first story in Frank Miller’s “Sin City” series.

After the cancellation of “Dark Horse Presents” Volume One, another volume appeared for readers online called MDHP (MySpace Dark Horse Presents). From 2007 to 2010, comic book creators posted their work on MySpace for free as readers got a glimpse at what these creative writers and artists had to offer fans.

The tradition of anthological stories continued with tales featuring Dr. Horrible (from the musical blog) written by Joss Whedon, a Guild comic by its creator Felicia Day, and an “Umbrella Academy” tale by Gerald Way.

As the series ended in 2010, Scott Allie, a Dark Horse editor, spoke to about what this venture meant to the publisher and the series.

“Part of the gimmick with MDHP was that we didn’t ask for money. It’s hard to sell an anthology, blah blah blah, that’s the common wisdom. But we wanted to do an anthology, so we said, hell with it, we won’t try to sell it, we’ll give it away. At the time, I felt a sense of urgency to get content online, but I felt like no one had cracked the nut of how to monetize comics online. Things have changed, so it’s time to change our strategy,” he said.

Today, “Dark Horse Presents” has returned to print like it began back in the 80’s. The third volume of “Dark Horse Presents” graced comic book shops last April to give readers a chance to view a number of new stories from the imagination of today’s comic book writers and artists.

While talking to at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con, Dark Horse publisher, Mike Richardson, said why it was decided this series would make another comeback.

Richardson said, “I’ve always been hands-on, and ‘Dark Horse Presents’ was the first book we started all those years ago… The thought was always there in the back of our minds about restarting it. We were waiting for the right time. This seems like a good time to restart the book, the combination of new projects, young creators, as well as premier creators.”

The new volume is comprised of new writers and artists and familar names returning to offer more stories. Chadwick, for instance, is continuing the tale of his average Joe who must still make do with his life as a living rock.

Miller has come back to introduce a preview of his “300” prequel comic centring on the Persian king of legend titled “Xerxes.” The fact that Miller will write and draw this story as well helps to keep this story and “300” in a nice synch.
Yet, “Dark Horse Presents” isn’t about letting veteran writers and artists draw more tales but having fresh talent do so as well. Some story examples include “Snow Angel” by writer/artist David Chelsea, “The Wraith” by Patrick Alexander, and “Number 13” written by Robert Love and David Walter and illustrated by Love. Familiar series also reappears in this new volume such as “Star Wars-Crimson Empire III” and Steve Niles unstable paranormal detective, Cal McDonald.

Rich Johnston of reviewed issue #1 and wrote, “This is a nugget of comics, mixing nostalgia with the new, it’s comforting and surprising, it’s a whole world of comics in eighty pages, close and confined. There’s the feeling you could tuck yourself up with this and stay here for ages. Sure there are other comics out there, somewhere, but you’re happy here, with ‘Dark Horse Presents.’ Just like you used to be.”

Since the new volume premiered in April, four issues have been published featuring stories one-shot tales or continued narratives from one installment to another. Stay on the lookout as upcoming writers and artists prove themselves with exciting new tales while fan favorites also enter into the fold with more adventures from Mike Mignola’s “Hellboy” and Eric Powell’s “The Goon” in future installments.

“Dark Horse Presents” Vol. Three #5 arrives in stores on October 19 and costs $7.99.