To those of you who aren’t Valiant fans, news of a company called DMG pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into bringing that company’s characters to the large and small screen, in addition to throwing tens of millions into expanding Valiant’s global publishing presence, might not seem like big news. But, it is very big news. Now, most of the other articles about this deal, are going to hit you with a bunch of names of companies in the deal, global distribution and all that kind of Jazz. While that might be interesting to some folk out there, for your average comic book reader, it means diddly squat, especially if you don’t read those books, but let me shine the light on it in a way that most of the other news outlets have not, what it means to the industry as a whole and to the future of comic book creators.
In a series of articles I wrote not that long ago, I took a look at big business, and how it is affecting the comic book industry. In I touched on Disney’s purchase of Marvel Entertainment, and the effects that acquisition has had on Marvel. I’m going to do that here too, but we are taking a look at Valiant this time. And more importantly, I’m going to take a look at how this affects the comic book creators themselves, something I touched on a bit in the last part of Continuity, Inc., discussing the new Image Renaissance.
First, let’s take a look at what this means for Valiant. On the outside it looks like the boys at Valiant were able to swing one hell of a sweet deal. And make no mistake about it, this is what these guys have had in mind since they revived Valiant back in 2012. Back then, it was obvious that comic book movies were money-making machines, and in the two years since, it’s become obvious that comic-related TV shows are as well. So when Dinesh Shamdasani and Jason Kothari bought up Valiant back in 2005, I’m sure they were dreaming of this day, and now it’s here. What you are going to start seeing from Valiant is a new, broader push for their properties in the comics world, aimed at getting their books in front of more people, and building their fan base up. This is not just going to be a US-targeted audience either–oh, no, these guys have their eyes set on capturing wider untapped markets around the world, especially in China. So what we have here are two really smart guys, who had the investment capital to do what I’ve been saying could be done for years now: use a comic book company to build a large, multimedia, money-making behemoth.
In all fairness, this could blow up in their faces. If they don’t do it right, and if they don’t have have the kind of high-quality product that will grab the market’s attention, they don’t have a long-established fan base to fall back on. They don’t have the half-century or more of fans that Marvel and DC enjoy–a fan base so deeply ingrained into American pop culture that even a flop like Green Lantern can make a small profit against its huge $200 million price tag. Needless to say, the jury is still out on whether the Valiant movies will be a slam dunk. What Valiant needs to do now, and we will be sure to see this as they expand their publishing, is to start bringing in new blood and expanding their universe, and even more importantly, create an imprint, and start bringing in more ideas besides their established superhero characters. As we all know, there are a ton of properties that make their way to the silver screen via comics that are not superhero-related, and if Valiant can lock down some of that as well, they will bring in even more money by diversifying their brand.
Now, I promised I would go into what this means to the average Joe working in comics, or those trying to break into comics. What this shows us is that comics can be a place where you can make more than just a decent living as a creator. If anyone would have asked around back in 2004, just before Shamdasani and Kothari bought Valiant, that it would one day be part of a nine figure deal, they would have been laughed at. At the time, the dormant Valiant had lost some of its biggest-named characters, like Magnus, Solar, and Turok, those rightshaving reverted back to Random House. That left the Valiant universe a shell of what it had been at its mid-90s peak. But here we are in 2015, with this monster of a deal having been done, and with Valiant’s line-up once again burgeoning. This is proof of what I have been saying for a long time now: comics can be a gateway into bigger money for creators. If you can get a unique character out into circulation, the possibilities of your earnings off of that character now have so much more earning potential. Hell, the character doesn’t even have to be that original, just in a comic book that has exposure.
So in the end, what the deal really is, besides a gang-buster deal for Valiant, is a watershed moment for comics. It shows that a company that was not one of the founding fathers of the industry, with characters that are not among the icons of American entertainment, can work out a deal that in the end is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. So if you ever thought there was no money to be made in comics, well, you’re wrong. In today’s market, Hollywood has a great big bull’s-eye on our beloved industry, and they are pulling the trigger all the time.