|Formerly||Malibu Graphics (1986-1992)|
|Fate||Acquired by Marvel Comics|
|Products||The Men in Black|
|Parent||Marvel Entertainment Group|
Malibu Comics Entertainment, Inc. (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. Notable titles published by Malibu included The Men in Black, Ultraforce, and Night Man.
The company's headquarters was in Calabasas, California. Malibu was initially publisher of record for Image Comics from 1992 to 1993. The company's other imprints included Adventure, Aircel and Eternity. Malibu also owned a small software development company that designed video games in the early to mid-1990s called Malibu Interactive.
Malibu Comics was launched in 1986 as Malibu Graphics by Dave Olbrich and Tom Mason with the private financing of Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, who was operating a comic book distribution company (Sunrise Distribution) at the time. Unbeknownst to most people in the industry, Rosenberg was also financing a number of other small comics publishers: Eternity Comics, Amazing Comics, Wonder Color Comics, and Imperial Comics.
Malibu's output began modestly, with creator-owned black-and-white titles; its first title was David Lawrence and Ron Lim's Ex-Mutants.
In 1987, after Rosenberg's behind-the-scenes roles were revealed, he discontinued most of the other small publishers, merging some with Malibu and retaining Eternity Comics as a Malibu brand. At this point, Chris Ulm joined Malibu as editor-in-chief.
In 1988, Malibu effectively acquired the Canadian publisher Aircel Comics as an imprint, and in 1989 it acquired Adventure Publications.
From that point forward, the Malibu brand was used for superhero titles; while Eternity was used for the magazine line and also for anime-inspired titles like Robotech; Adventure was used for Malibu's licensed titles, such as Planet of the Apes and Alien Nation; and Aircel was used for Barry Blair's comics and Malibu's adult line. It became members of the Malibu Graphics Publishing Group.
In 1998, the company also acquired the character Shuriken from his creator Reggie Byers (a character that was self-published from 1985–1988 by Victory Productions). Shuriken was published in three limited series and two one-shots by Malibu; later the character was introduced in the Ultraverse imprint.
By this time, the company was publishing a combination of new series and licensed properties. Later, after a legal battle with the creators, Malibu created a shared universe called Shattered Earth.
In 1992, heroes from Centaur Publications (a Golden Age publisher whose properties fell into the public domain) were revived in the form of the Protectors, consisting of 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. The Centaur heroes and other characters from Adventure (Miss Fury and Rocket Ranger), and Eternity (Dinosaurs for Hire, Ex-Mutants) plus Dead Clown and Widowmaker, were put together in one Universe to form the Genesis line. This line, however, had a short lifespan.
The Bravura imprint was then launched for the creator-owned and licensed titles.
In early 1992, Malibu served as publisher of record for the first comics from Image Comics, giving the upstart creator-run publisher access to the distribution channels. This move led to Malibu obtaining almost ten per cent of the American comics market share, temporarily moving ahead of industry giant DC Comics.
By the beginning of 1993, Image's financial situation was secure enough to publish its titles independently, and it left Malibu.
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., with Malibu Interactive acting as a subsidiary.
The Ultraverse line was launched in June 1993 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.
Establishing itself as the first company as the first to use digital coloring for all its titles, Malibu boasted improved production values over traditional comics, including higher-quality paper, and a roster of talented and respected 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.
Malibu launched additionally the Rock-It Comix imprint for rock band comics in early 1994. Malibu worked with the Gold Mountain Entertainment management firm in dealing with the musicians, while International Strategic Marketing was distributing the line to comic book shops, music outlets, and newsstands.
As sales declined industry-wide in the mid-1990s, Malibu canceled lower-selling series. But their biggest problem was their game division, started in an attempt to break into the video game market, which cost them more than $200,000 a month. Nonetheless, the company's assets were still seen as attractive enough to garner interest from DC Comics in the spring of 1994. In addition, Rosenberg and Malibu signed with the William Morris Agency.
Because Malibu had sufficient market share that an acquisition from DC would make the latter surpass Marvel's market share, Marvel decided to purchase Malibu themselves to prevent this from happening: on November 3, 1994, Malibu was purchased by Marvel Comics. To slow down rumors that Ultraverse titles would be canceled as soon as the deal closed, Malibu claimed that Marvel wanted them because of their digital coloring system.
In the middle of the next year, 1995, Malibu standard-bearers Mason and Ulm left the company.
Marvel did eventually cancel 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 canceled a short time later. Within the Marvel Comics multiverse, the Genesis Universe is designated as Earth-1136 and the Ultraverse as Earth-93060.
Very little Malibu content was published after 1996.
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.
In May 2012, Steve Englehart suggested in a podcast interview that the reason Marvel will not presently publish the Ultraverse characters is because five percent of the profits from those books would have to go to the Malibu creators that are still alive. Marvel Editor Tom Brevoort later denied that the five percent was what was holding Marvel back, but was unable to give a real explanation due to a non-disclosure agreement.
It has been speculated that Scott Mitchell Rosenberg's ongoing producer deal for all Malibu properties (and his alleged personal troubles) is another possible factor.
Some of Malibu's titles included:
This line made use of many Centaur heroes plus characters previously published by Adventure, Aircel and Eternity:
See also: Category:Malibu Interactive games
About Rosenberg and Eternity Comics, Imperial Comics, Amazing, Malibu, and Wonder Color Comics.