So you saw a sci-fi or fantasy movie, and it featured some off-the-wall characters, and maybe you thought it was entertaining, and it got some hype, but you didn’t realize until later that it was a comic book movie. There’s a good chance that it was produced by Mike Richardson, the president of the world’s third largest comic book publisher, Dark Horse Comics. Since 1986, Dark Horse has been a beacon for restless artists and writers fleeing the ranks of Marvel and DC wishing to make a name for themselves with their own “creator owned” comics.
In 1994, Richardson served as executive producer of two films made through Dark Horse subsidiary Dark Horse Entertainment. One was The Mask (with co-executive producer #22 Michael De Luca), based on Richardson’s own comic of the same name, created in the late 1980’s/ early ‘90s. The film earned several awards and nominations and was instrumental in propelling Jim Carrey’s comedic career forward. The Mask was followed by the three season long “The Mask” animated television series, which ran from 1995 to 1997, and by the Razzie Award winning Son of the Mask in 2005 (also executive produced by Richardson). The other film for which Richardson was an executive producer in 1994 was Timecop, made with producer #11 Sam Raimi and #17 Lawrence Gordon‘s production company Largo Entertainment. It was again based on Richardson’s eponymous comic, published by Dark Horse. This film was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film and was particularly lauded for Jean Claude Van-Damme’s surprisingly competent dramatic performance in the starring role. The film was followed up by the 1997 television series “Timecop” (which he co-executive produced with Gordon) and the 2003 direct-to-video sequel Timecop: The Berlin Decision. In the latter half of the 1990s he produced two films; 1996’s Barb Wire, another Razzie Award nominee starring Pamela Anderson as the eponymous character published by the Dark Horse imprint Comics Greatest World, and the 1999 comedy Mystery Men (with producer Lawrence Gordon), loosely based on characters appearing in Bob Burden’s Flaming Carrot Comics, published by Dark Horse in the late 1980s/early 1990s. Richardson was also the executive producer of the 1999 movie Virus (producer #21 Gale Anne Hurd‘s first comic book film) based on the Dark Horse comic of the same name. Once again, this film was almost universally panned.
By the end of the ‘90s, Mike Richardson was making movies, but was in a slump with the critics. Not to be dissuaded, Richardson regrouped, and 5 years later he came back with his production of Dark Horse’s flagship property, Hellboy. With the all-star team of producer Lawrence Gordon, producer/designer/writer/creator #13 Mike Mignola, and visionary director #10 Guillermo del Toro, Richardson had made a box office and critical success that reinvigorated his company and the independent comic book industry all at once. Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms won him a 2007 Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program, followed by Hellboy Animated: Blood and Iron a year later. He was executive producer of both and again worked with the invaluable talents of Del Toro and Mignola. He is currently working on his production of Hellboy II: The Golden Army, starring Ron Perlman and Selma Blair. He has brought Gordon, Mignola, and Del Toro back together again for the sequel which is set for release on July 11, 2008. Other Mike Richardson projects include 2004’s AVP: Alien vs. Predator, based in part on the Dark Horse comic series, and 2007’s 30 Days of Night, produced by Sam Raimi and based on the limited series published by IDW. Richardson served as executive producer on both films.
Future projects for Mike Richardson include feature length productions of Dark Horse comic series R.I.P.D., Damn Nation, Criminal Macabre (based on Dark Horse/IDW character Cal McDonald), Concrete, and Black Cross. He is slated to work as producer on all of these films. Release dates have yet to be announced.
Influence Meter: ++++++++