In the first sign of consolidation in the graphic novel market, Boom! Studios announced on Monday that they were acquiring Archaia Entertainment. Terms were not disclosed. Both companies are located in Los Angeles, and Archaia will function as an imprint of Boom!, with all Archaia personnel staying on, including editor-in-chief Stephen Christy, marketing manager Mel Caylo and president and CEO Jack Cummins, who will remain in the same role for the Archaia imprint.
The deal was announced by Boom CEO and founder Ross Richie and gives Boom! a significant backlist of well-regarded creator owned titles including such award winning books as David Petersen’s Mouse Guard and Josh Tierney’s Spera.
"Our creator-friendly model ensures that creatives are rewarded financially as they generate the franchises of tomorrow,” said Richie in a statement. “Archaia operates with the same philosophy and objectives, which is one of the many reasons this combination is such a great fit." He also praised Archaia’s high production values and high level of quality—it was announced that several key back list titles will be brought back to print.
“We are thrilled and excited to join with BOOM!,” said Cummins in his statement, praising Boom! for “avidly working behind the scenes to expand our market penetration and carry our catalog deeper into retail channels. Archaia readers can expect the same editorial approach that has garnered industry-wide awards but we will have a much stronger platform to deliver our content in all forms and channels.”
According to BOOM! executive chairman Scott Lenet of the venture capital firm DFJ Frontier, they are looking to continue expanding Archaia properties in multiple channels and media.
The acquisition marks the latest chapter of a long journey for Archaia which has weathered many ups and down along with the growth of the graphic novel business. The company was founded in 2002 by New Jersey-based Mark Smylie—a self publisher and artist himself on the well-regarded fantasy strip Artesia—along with a business partner, Aki Liao. Liao departed in 2008, and many wondered at the time if Archaia would pull through, but it emerged with an even better profile after being acquired by Chicago-based PJ Bickett and Kunoichi Inc. Archaia bounced back with an ambitious slate of handsome hardcover graphic novels. However, a switch in distributors at the bookstore level left Achaia with a punishing number of returns, and recently they had been readjusting their business plan after Bickett’s departure.
The move unites two companies with strong licensing tie-ins. Boom! has had incredible success of late with its Adventure Time, Regular Show and Bravest Warrior comics. Archaia has hit with comics based on various Jim Henson properties, including Fraggle Rock comics and the Eisner Award-winning A Tale of Sand, based on an unproduced Henson screenplay.
Meanwhile, both companies are also having success in the Hollywood arena. For Boom!, 2 Guns, starring Denzel Washington, based on the comic of the same name by Steven Grant comes out in August. Jeremiah Harm, a feature based on the comic book by Keith Giffen, Alan Grant, and John Mueller, is slated to be directed by Timo Vuourensola of Iron Sky (jeremiahharm.com).
Archaia also has several properties in development including Royden Lepp’s Rust, which is at Twentieth Century Fox, Lucid (Warner Bros.), Bolivar (Warner Bros.), and Feeding Ground (Pressman Films).
Boom! has also been solidifying its position in the industry of late by announcing exclusives with well known creators such as Paul Jenkins and Brian Stelfreeze.