by: courtesy of Dark Horse Comics, Ron Perlman, who plays the government-employed Hellboy, on the set of “Hellboy: The Golden Army,” with his signature filed horns but missing the “right hand of doom.”

Fans could be seeing a lot more of their favorite Dark Horse superheroes on the big screen in the coming years following a deal between the major comic book company and Universal Studios that was signed last week.

Dark Horse Comics is responsible for popular original titles like 'Hellboy' and Frank Miller's 'Hard Boiled' and 'Sin City,' as well as for continuing famous franchises such as Star Wars, Alien and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The companies signed a three-year deal giving Universal exclusive film rights to any of Dark Horse's characters and properties, and giving Dark Horse a partner with which to produce any films it wishes to create or or distribute.

The two have finished the second 'Hellboy' film, to be released July 11, and are working on an adaptation of 'the Spirit' by graphic novel legend Will Eisner.

They have also collaborated in the past to produce 'Aliens vs. Predator,' 'Son of the Mask' and the original Hellboy.

'Dark Horse is one of the most creative and innovative brands in the entertainment industry, as well as an incredibly supportive home for some of the most exciting storytellers working today,' said Marc Shmuger and David Linde, Chairman and Co-Chairman of Universal Pictures, in a joint statement. 'Their unique connection to youth culture is proven, and we are thrilled to be part of their expanding film production work.'

Mike Richardson, founder and president of Dark Horse, said the agreement fit his company's desires as well.

'We've worked with many studios and have had several great experiences, but we are particularly happy to be joining forces with Universal Pictures in this deal. We feel a real connection with their vision and the energy and creativity they bring to developing our properties. We are also excited by the option that we'll have to independently produce our own material and distribute it through Universal; their flexibility in this collaboration is what we were looking for, and we're glad we found it.'

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