Online Video, Brown Bag Talk     

Making Portland Into Comic City, USA

If Portland is Comic City, USA, then Dark Horse Comics founder Mike Richardson is its mayor. Born of a maxed-out credit card and a passion for creator rights, Dark Horse Comics of Milwaukie, Oregon, has transformed the creative landscape in the Pacific Northwest, turning the Portland area into the country's largest community of cartoonists and graphic artists outside of New York. Richardson, who had opened a small chain of comic-book stores in the early 1980s, founded Dark Horse Comics on the strength of that credit card. Frustrated that the market had little to offer other than the usual super-hero fantasies, Richardson and Randy Stradley decided to publish comics aimed at more mature readers and—in a novel break with industry traditions—offer the creators full ownership of the material.

On the strength of Richardson's energy and instincts, Dark Horse pioneered comics based on licensed projects—including Star WarsBuffy the Vampire Slayer, Aliens, and Terminator—and has dramatically popularized Japanese manga. Richardson formed Dark Horse Entertainment in 1992, which has produced such films as The Mask, Timecop, and Hellboy. Richardson has written numerous graphic novels and comics series, as well as Comics Between the Panels and Blast Off, two critically acclaimed books about pop culture.