Blackstone Publishing and Valiant Entertainment, a subsidiary of media company DMG Entertainment, have announced four inaugural titles in their new trade publishing partnership. Valiant, which publishes superhero comics, will work with Blackstone to develop and publish novels about fan-favorite characters. The first title from the Valiant imprint will be released in early 2025 and will be marketed, sold, and distributed to bookstores by Blackstone. The company is still determining how many titles to release annually.
“The prose books will not be in continuity with the comic books, but the characters will have to be true to their core,” said Valiant publisher Fred Pierce, who explained that the initial rollout includes novelizations of characters Bloodshot, Shadowman, Livewire, and the Eternal Warrior. “Our comic book editors are the main point of contact with the writers and [Blackstone editor] Brendan Deneen. They’re not even looking so much at the plot and script, they’re looking at whether it’s consistent with the character’s personality and history.”
Valiant Entertainment, working with Nicole Resciniti of the Seymour Agency, reached out to Blackstone about a potential partnership in April 2021. Pierce met to talk about the imprint with Resciniti, Valiant president of promotion and consumer products Russell Brown, and Blackstone’s head of new business development, Rick Bleiweiss. “We want to expose our characters to the biggest audience possible, and there are people who read novels who don’t read comics,” Pierce said. In addition to book publishing, Valiant is expanding its animation and videogames, including a remastered game by Nightdive Studios called Shadowman and an as-yet-unrevealed game launch in 2024.
"As we grew our publishing program, we looked around to see what tangential properties could be exciting for us to publish," said Blackstone's Bleiweiss. "Comics fans are loyal to the characters they enjoy, and there is a widening of consumer interest into more specialized sub-genres, [so] today seemed to be a good time to novelize comic books. Plus, Blackstone as a company continues to expand into more of a media company, being involved in film and TV, printing, manufacturing, and sales/distribution for other publishers. The Valiant books, as well as those we will have coming out from Weird Tales magazine, extend the width, breadth, and diversity of how we are growing."
Deneen, who joined Blackstone in July 2021 and serves as director of media, TV, and film, identified authors to write from the IP and helped craft the storylines with Valiant’s editors. “We wanted to make the books standalones, as well as expand the audience,” Deneen said. Blackstone and Valiant anticipate that the novels will be read by detail-obsessed superfans as well as by newcomers unfamiliar with the characters’ backstories, so they need to run the gamut.
Fred Van Lente, already a contributor to Valiant Entertainments comics series, wrote Bloodshot: Awakening as a YA novel for Blackstone, reimagining the adult character (played by Vin Diesel in a 2020 film release) as an 18-year-old. Effigies book series author Sarah Raughley restyled warrior Livewire as a teen too, for Livewire: Circuit Breaker, another novel aimed at the YA market. Debut author Shola Adedaji wrote the supernatural thriller Shadowman: The Abyss Stares Back. Ari Marmell, an experienced writer of licensed work for Star Wars and Dungeons & Dragons, wrote The Eternal Warrior: Servants of the Dead, which Deneen describes as “Highlander-style epic fiction with a modern element. We’re taking popular IP and finding new ways to get it into readers’ hands.”
Valiant was founded as Valiant Comics in 1989 and acquired by video game company Acclaim Entertainment in 1994. When Acclaim went bankrupt in 2005, Valiant almost went down with it. Jason Kathari and Dinesh Shamdasani acquired the rights to Valiant’s characters, and in 2011, the company announced it would relaunch as Valiant Entertainment. “Comic book fans bought the IP out of bankruptcy, and I was brought in to be publisher,” said Pierce, who has been in that role ever since. A little more than a decade after Valiant’s resurrection, “we’re leaning aggressive.”