Dark Horse Comics wants to take the fan experience to the next level. After introducing Dark Horse Deluxe to bring fans merchandise from their favourite gaming, comic, and television series, the company is expanding its reach to suit the tastes of more discerning consumers through the creation of carefully curated and crafted limited edition products available through a direct-to-consumer program.
Melissa Lomax, Director of eCommerce and Dark Horse Direct was very excited to show off their latest product offerings at the recent San Diego Comic-Con, including their Stranger Things and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt giclée prints. Having focused primarily on statues and models, including the Umbrella Academy Spaceboy maquette, the giclée prints are the newest experiment for the fledgling high end product company that opened its virtual doors last July. “We’re constantly rethinking how we do things, because we’re just learning, which is really fun for me,” said Lomax about their evolving process. “It’s a lot of different moving pieces besides just putting out cool products.”
“Dark Horse Direct is the latest example in Dark Horse’s long history of innovation,” says Dark Horse President and Founder Mike Richardson in a quote on the DH Direct site. “We are constantly looking for new ways to reach our fanbase, using every tool technology affords us. A direct-to-consumer program is a logical move as we continue to grow our business and look for opportunities to create and cultivate new fans.”
The Direct team works closely with the Deluxe team to determine which products get the Direct treatment. If production costs are simply too high for their Deluxe line, then the concept shifts over to Direct for an exclusive product run. Once they have crafted their limited numbers of a particular item, that’s it, thereby ensuring the value of the product.
Paying attention to every detail, right down to the packaging of the merchandise, Lomax and her team want to shape a truly memorable experience for collectors, providing them not only with a product that they can display proudly, but also providing them with the peace of mind in knowing that their purchase is in good hands and delivered with care. Unboxing videos on the site reveal the meticulous care that goes into ensuring that the products that arrive at a fan’s doorstep do so in mint condition. Plus the packaging itself is part of the fun. “The box [for the Spaceboy maquette] that we haven’t unveiled yet is really particularly amazing — and it’s funny to get excited about a product box — but this one gives you such a nostalgia feel for the show and for the comics.”
From selecting the right material, to reviewing the end results, Lomax and her team is involved in every step of the production process. “We want fans to feel confident in purchasing from us,” Lomax continued, which is why they put such effort into providing as much detail as possible, including relative sizing and close up, 3D imaging of each product on their site. For those lucky enough to view the items on display at conventions, you’ll get up close and personal with the cold gaze of Game of Thrones’ Night King riding on his ice dragon’s back, the frightening features of The Witcher’s leshen statue up close, and you can examine the battle scoring on the new Starcraft Terran Battlecruiser.
With properties including Mass Effect, Stranger Things, Halo, Game of Thrones, Hellboy, and more, DH Direct covers a lot of ground when it comes to honing the collector experience through these high end products, and there’s still lots more to come as Lomax and her team continue their work. “We’re always looking to diversify a little bit,” she explained. “so we’ll do a lot more video game things, while we’re also looking to do more comics-centric things because we’re, after all, originally a comic book company. I want to support creators and see how we can support the publishing line.” Products that complement the comics publishing line, such as bookends, are on Lomax’s list of ideas.
It helps to be a fan of the source material when coming up with the concepts and seeing them to fruition. Lomax counts Umbrella Academy and Stranger Things among her favourites, and is looking forward to offering so much more from these lines, as well as others.