Valiant Entertainment has pulled out all of the stops to help commemorate their 25th anniversary. Here’s an article originally published in Comix Asylum Magazine Issue 10 (June 2015) outlining the company’s history and its plans moving forward.
Valiant: 25 Years and Going Strong!
This month marks a special occasion for Valiant Entertainment as it celebrates its 25th Anniversary. The publisher recently kicked off the milestone with a traveling roadshow and some major announcements that will have soon have its stable of characters competing with Marvel’s and DC’s on the big screen.
Valiant opened its doors for business in 1990 publishing independent comics in a landscape dominated by Marvel and DC providing comic book fans with options outside of the “big two” that were dominating the industry. Valiant was founded by former Marvel editor-in-chief, Jim Shooter after an unsuccessful bid to purchase Marvel. Undaunted, Shooter along with his investors decided to start their own comic book company, Valiant Comics. Valiant’s first line of comics were based on characters licensed from Nintendo, the WWF and before Shooter brought over several of Marvel’s top talents at the time, including Iron Man scribe and artist Bob Layton and Barry Windsor-Smith of Wolverine’s “Weapon X” fame to launch Valiant’s line of superhero comics. Shooter had acquired the rights to Gold Key’s Magnus, Robot Fighter, Turok, Son of Stone and Dr. Solar, Man of the Atom and intended to use them as the basis for Valiant’s new superhero universe. Valiant published updated versions of the Gold Key characters along with their original creations and by 1992 had titles like X-O Manowar, Archer and Armstrong, Rai, Harbinger, External Warrior and Unity on store shelves. The company’s prominence had grown so quickly that it was also involved in inter-comany crossovers with Dark Horse (1992’s Predator/Magnus, Robot Fighter) and Marvel (1994’s Iron Man/ X-O Manowar in Heavy Metal).
Joining comic book veterans like Jim Shooter, Bob Layton, Barry Windsor-Smith, Steve Englehart and David Michelinie at Valiant were a collection of talented newcomers that have continued to make their mark in the world of comics. Joe Quesada, the current Chief Operating Officer of Marvel Entertainment worked on X-O Manowar, David Lapham, the creator of Stray Bullets pencilled early issues of Harbinger and Shadowman and Sean Chen provided artwork for issues of Bloodshot, Harbinger and X-O Manowar.
Valiant’s financial and critical success no doubt inspired the creation of Image Comics and also brought it to the attention of the video game company, Acclaim Entertainment. In 1994, Acclaim acquired Valiant and renamed the publisher, Acclaim Comics. Acclaim used Valiant’s vast library of intellectual properties to create video games and continued to publish comic books based on Valiant’s universe until it went bankrupt in 2004. The Valiant/Acclaim titles were dormant until Valiant Entertainment was formed in 2005 by Dinesh Shamdasani and Jason Kothari. After Shamdasani and Kothari secured financing and finished setting up the new company, Valiant Entertainment recommenced publishing in 2012. Over the next two years under Shamdsani, Kothari and executive editor-in-chief Warren Simons, Valiant produced several titles including Quantum and Woody by James Asmus, Tom Fowler and Jordie Bellaire, Eternal Warrior and Archer & Armstrong.
Fast forward to 2015 and Valiant Entertainment was ready to take on the world. Before the start of the convention season, the company announced that they would be pulling out all of the stops to celebrate their 25th anniversary. In February of this year Valiant launched Valiant Entertainment Tumblr which according to a press release, “will feature daily updates and behind-the-scenes looks inside Valiant’s award-winning line of titles, including X-O Manowar, Imperium, Divinity, Ivar Timewalker, Unity, Rai, and more…plus special advance glimpses of projects yet to come.” Shortly after the Tumblr launch, they announced that their anniversary celebration would officially kick off on May 2 during Free Comic Book Day with the release of the Valiant 25th Anniversary Special, followed by new releases across their monthly publishing line.
Valiant has also been out meeting fans and bringing attention to their 25th Anniversary Convention Tour at conventions across North America and Europe. Valiant visited the London Super Comic Convention in March, and then officially kicked off the tour at Seattle’s Emerald City Comicon. Emerald City was followed by Wonder Con in Anaheim, Calgary Expo, LA Times Festival of Books and C2E2 in Chicago before hitting more conventions later in the year. Launched in Emerald City, Valiant also has produced Valiant Origins, a 10 part bi-weekly animated web series giving fans insight into the beginnings of some of the company’s most iconic characters. The series began with Valiant Origins: Bloodshot and all of the episodes are available on Valiant’s YouTube channel. Valiant relaunched some of their titles to coincide with the company’s 25th anniversary including Bloodshot Reborn and Ninjak. The publisher has put together strong creative teams for these projects and others in their line with talents such as Matt Kindt, Butch Guice, Joshua Dysart, Scott Eaton, Fred Van Lente, and Clay Mann. While the titles look great across the line there are other reasons for longtime Valiant fans to be excited about the company’s future.
In early March it was reported that Valiant had signed an eight-figure deal with China’s DMG Entertainment to bring the publisher’s intellectual properties to television and film. With that new partnership in place, Valiant continued to create shockwaves in the industry when they announced that a five picture deal was in place with Sony Pictures to bring Bloodshot, Harbinger and Harbinger War to the cineplexes everywhere. Bloodshot will arrive in theaters in 2017 and will be directed by David Leitch and Chad Stahelski (John Wick). The film, written by Jeff Wadlow (Kick Ass 2) and Eric Heisserer (Story of Your Life) will be produced by Neal H. Moritz and Toby Jaffe from Original Film (The Fast and the Furious franchise) and Valiant Entertainment’s Dinesh Shamdasani. Matthew Vaughn and Jason Kothari are on board as executive producers. Bloodshot will introduce film goers to the Valiant universe and will be followed by Harbinger, two sequels with the storylines coming to a close in Harbinger Wars. The five movies will be based on Valiant’s 2013 similarly titled comic book crossover.
In a recent press release Valiant’s Publisher Fred Pierce noted that, “Valiant has always been about creating stories that will stand the test of time 25 years from now, not reflecting on the successes of 25 years ago. As a member of the Valiant team across more than two decades, I can say that our 25th anniversary is an incredibly exciting turning point for us as one of the premier storytelling companies in comics. All summer long, we’ll be revealing glimpses of where Valiant is headed next with special initiatives in print, digital, and licensing for one of our largest and most coordinated efforts to date.”
In the same release, Valiant CEO & Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani shared his thoughts on Valiant’s place in the industry and the significance of the company’s silver anniversary. “Even after two decades, many of the innovations Valiant brought to the industry shortly after its arrival in 1990 continue to be felt today. For the 25th anniversary, we’re celebrating that spirit of creative freedom that made Valiant such an influential force in the first place, and honoring those that made it possible for us to continue the mission of making the best superhero comics in the industry.”
With the strides made in 2015, the future looks bright for the publisher. For all involved in the company’s rebirth, the next 25 years will be another exciting chapter in the company’s history, especially considering that Valiant’s silver anniversary is turning into pure gold.