Monday, March 30, 2015

Fixing Dark Horse's Project Black Sky line of comics in a nutshell. Preserving it's future in the market

    In it's short couple of years on store shelves Dark Horse has really sparked a fire among fans of their 90's "Comics Greatest World" (CGW) books as well as had garnered the attention of new fans when they launched Project Black Sky 2 years ago featuring a mix of characters from CGW and classic characters long forgotten. For about two years they pumped out Captain Midnight, X, Ghost, Brain Boy, Blackout, and The Occultist in sets of ongoing titles and mini's that brought dedicated fans of these characters together to enjoy the adventures of this unfolding universe while releasing little secrets and hints along the way which was supposed to lead to something on a grand scale that never quite materialized. But what did materialize was a solid universe of heroes and villains that was accessible and fun to read. Fans of Project Black Sky were heart broken when they realized that the 3 core titles of the line (Captain Midnight, X, Ghost) were going to be ending their runs and that little was being announced by Dark Horse as to the future of the Project Black Sky Line. But luckily Dark Horse announced a miniseries based on King Tiger as well as a series based on 90's heroine Barb Wire to whet the appetites of Black Sky fans, leaving hope that more could be coming down the line. And while I'm optimistic that we will see more, I must remain a bit skeptical on the subject since Dark Horse's full dedication to the line seems to be hanging by a thread.
    Why does it appear to be hanging by a thread, you ask? Well, that statement was made in response to the lack of marketing the entire Project Black Sky line has enjoyed over the past year or so. When it first launched the Dark Horse staff sang its praises and swore up and down that they were 100% behind the books and the promotion was there with ads on comic book news sites, interviews, blurbs in other Dark Horse titles, and other such instances that made the reader believe that Project Black Sky was not only here to stay, but a top priority of the publisher. But as the months went by fans saw little from the publisher in the way of marketing, social media, convention news, or interest, which of course led the books to begin to decline in sales and eventually fall off the map as a whole. One thing I've noticed with comic book publishers these days is that they love to promote books for a brief period of time and then they move on to something else and ignore said books which causes a sales decrease followed by an impending cancellation that the publisher then plays off as "planned". It's sad to watch and it isn't fair to the fans. But if Dark Horse is truly dedicated to keeping the line alive than I have an idea that may help the publisher moving forward, especially in the orders and sales department.
     What I'd like to see the publisher do is relaunch the core books (Captain Midnight, X, Ghost) as a set of revolving mini's kicking off with a brand new issue #1 and ending with an issue #6. After the 6th issue take two months to work on the next chapter of the books and then launch the next set of mini's of these characters with a new #1 on the cover, then rinse & repeat. Every 8 months you can promote a new #1 issue of said characters with an inserted subtitle to the series so customers don't get confused, thus enjoying the early issue orders for a hot new series and keeping these characters alive for existing (and new) fans of these great characters. It isn't rocket science. Comics sell at their best when they're heavily promoted and when they're in their earliest numbering, so using this method should entice people to buy the books on a consistent clip. Having a Captain Midnight series (as example) come out over the course of 6 issues giving us a solid chapter in the characters history would be a great thing. Then two months later having another chapter, "Captain Midnight: A Man Out of Time" (as an example) hitting shelves as a new chapter with brand new numbering should keep the readers coming in and stores ordering the book thanks to the #1 on the cover. Remember, comic book fans are generally drawn to new beginnings and new titles for collecting purposes, so relaunching the books as mini's is smart because it should keep interested people coming to the books. But the key is marketing these books and heavily promoting them using social media and posting ads on major comic book news sites, also having a fairly popular creator attached tends to help as well. It's there for the taking if Dark Horse decides to take it, but that remains the biggest question of them all. Does Project Black Sky have a future beyond Barb Wire and King Tiger, or does the cancellation of X, Captain Midnight, and Ghost, mark the end of the line as we know it with these last two mini's being a last slab of meat for the imprints fan base? Let the speculation begin.....

 © B-Sly The Gamer Guy


  1. Yes, this would be great! I'm a big Dark Sky fan and have high hopes that the series can continue in one shape or form. Hopefully with the same writers as those great writers are no small reason why I've connected so strongly with the characters.

    1. I've connected with these characters too, it's a wonderful universe of characters headed by amazing creative teams. Sad to see it go.