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Dark Horse founder offers advice

Mike Richardson will discuss founding of successful business


Aspiring artists pay attention: Mike Richardson, the founder and president of Dark Horse Comics, is expected to offer advice on how to get into the business when he speaks Thursday, April 4, at Milwaukie’s Ledding Library Cultural Forum.

“Many people think comics are aimed at kids, but comics have grown up; the average reader is more likely to be 25 to 35 years old, rather than 12,” Richardson says.

“There has been a maturing of the industry and comics are now taking their place alongside other forms of literature. Comics have had a profound effect on culture.”

A new “Star Wars” project is in the works for Dark Horse, in addition to the re-launching of 1940s and 1950s super hero Captain Midnight, Richardson says.

Richardson founded the award-winning international publishing house in 1986, starting with a building on Northeast Sandy Boulevard in Portland. But Milwaukie, where he grew up, still held a special place in Richardson's heart, so in 1988 he moved into the building on Main Street that formerly housed the Milwaukie Pharmacy.

“That is where I bought my first comics when I was a kid; they had the best comics rack,” Richardson says.

He notes that Louis Cereghino, his athletic coach, loaned him the money for his business ventures.

The business has since expanded into several other spaces in downtown Milwaukie, including the pop-culture retail chain Things From Another World that Richardson also owns.

Richardson is the president of Dark Horse Entertainment, for which he has produced numerous projects for film and television, including “Hellboy II: The Golden Army,” “My Name Is Bruce” and “The Mystery Men.”

He has produced films based on several of his own creations, including “The Mask.”

Recent ventures include Dark Horse Digital; book publishing imprint, M Press; a toy division, Dark Horse Deluxe; and an award-winning website, tfaw.com.

At a recent luncheon for a youth group, Richardson says he dabbled in other occupations, but I wanted "to choose a profession that I loved" and that working a 9-to-5 job "no matter how much money was involved, it wasn't for me."

He told the young people that success was often tough to reach, but that someone with passion, vision, "a reasonable amount of intelligence" and a strong work ethic could succeed.

"I'm living proof," he says.

The Ledding Library of Milwaukie presents the Ledding Cultural Forum, featuring Richardson, from 7 to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 4, at the library’s Pond House, 2215 S.E. Harrison St.

The forum is free, and is set up to celebrate the literary arts with public talks by local or regional writers.

Next up for the library series: Laura Foster, author of “Portland Hill Walks” and other works, will speak on May 2.

For more information about the forum, contact Robert Lanxon, reference librarian, 503-786-7546, or visit ci.milwaukie.or.us./library/ledding-cultural-forum.

To find out more about Dark Horse Comics, including a history of the company, visit darkhorse.com.