Beginning next year, Marvel Comics will lose the license to Conan the Barbarian, a character they have published intermittently for decades, and Titan Comics will launch a new universe of characters and comics based on the character. Rejoining Marvel in 2018 after a long absence, Conan will head to Titan in May 2023, where the character will get a new, monthly ongoing comic book. The UK-based publisher also has plans in place for supporting characters, who will get their own miniseries and one-shots, setting up a shared universe for Conan which presumably appeals strongly to rightsholders who want to get another movie off the ground eventually.
The character had his own series at Marvel for a while, and has appeared in numerous Marvel Universe storylines. Most recently, he was added to Savage Avengers, a comic that also features Wolverine.
"We had a wonderful run with Marvel Comics but ultimately they have decided not to extend their license beyond this year," Heroic Signatures CEO Fred Malmberg recently told ComicBook.com. "Conan has more than 50 years of comic book publishing. We took the decision to pick up the baton ourselves, not only for Conan but all the other wonderful characters and IP that we control. The publishing program will commence next year but exact details are not final yet."
At the time of Marvel's most recent deal for Conan, the character had been absent from Marvel's roster since 2000. In the 18-year absence, Conan spent time with both Dynamite and Dark Horse Comics.
The Conan property belongs to Conan Properties International, an entity owned and operated by Heroic Signatures, a company dealing exclusively in licensing intellectual properties. In addition to Conan, Heroic also holds the rights to Robert E. Howard's Bran Mak Morn stories, Kull the Conqueror, and Solomon Kane, all of which seem to be included in Titan's license.
Titan, who also create prose books including some "behind-the-scenes" content for movies and TV, got the comics rights after having already inked a deal for novels and other prose. The first of those projects is the novel Conan: Blood of the Serpent, which will be in stores on October 18, followed Conan the Barbarian: The Official Story of the Film, a behind-the-scenes hardback retrospective book due out November 2.
"We have been working with Titan for a year on the prose side and established a good foundation for expanding our business together," Malmberg told The Hollywood Reporter. "When it became clear that Heroic Signatures would publish our own comics, it was natural to partner with a team that we have known for decades. Their expertise in publishing is stellar, and we couldn't be more excited to launch a barbarian horde of titles like Conan, Solomon Kane, Dark Agnes, and many more together."