Marvel and Lucasfilm (both properties of the Walt Disney Company) have announced that they will be collaborating on future Star Wars comics and graphic novels beginning in 2015.  Marvel has been granted the exclusive rights to commence publishing Star Wars comics at that time.

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This agreement is actually a homecoming for Star Wars comic books as Marvel Comics published the first Star Wars comic book in March 1977.  Marvel Comics continued to publish the Star Wars series for the subsequent nine years.  Dark Horse Comics took over the publishing license in 1991 and created well known titles such as Dark Empire and Star Wars: Legacy.  Last year, Dark Horse also began publishing The Star Wars, which is an adaptation of George Lucas’ original rough draft screenplay for the film.  Now that both Marvel and Lucasfilm are under the Disney umbrella, this agreement comes as no surprise as there has been continuing consolidation of properties since the Lucasfilm acquisition (see Lucasfilm/Disney obtaining the Indiana Jones rights).

Carol Roeder, director of Lucasfilm franchise publishing, Disney Publishing Worldwide, said of the agreement:

Dark Horse Comics published exceptional Star Wars comics for over 20 years, and we will always be grateful for their enormous contributions to the mythos, and the terrific partnership that we had.  In 2015, the cosmic adventures of Luke, Han, Leia and Chewbacca will make the lightspeed jump back to Marvel, to begin a new age of adventures within the Star Wars universe.

Marvel Worldwide Publisher and President, Dan Buckley stated:

We here at Marvel could not be more excited to continue the publication of Star Wars comic books and graphic novels.  The perennial brand of Star Wars is one of the most iconic in entertainment history and we are honored to have the opportunity to bring our creative talent pool to continue, and expand Star Wars into galaxies far, far away.

Andrew B. Sugerman, executive vice president of Disney Publishing Worldwide,  also stated:

We’re incredibly excited by this next chapter in the Star Wars saga.  Bringing together the iconic Lucasfilm and Marvel brands to tell new stories will allow us to continue to thrill lovers of the original Star Wars comic books and entertain generations to come.

Interestingly, 2015 also happens to be the year that Star Wars: Episode 7, directed by J.J. Abrams, is scheduled for theatrical release.  Disney/Lucasfilm/Marvel likely want complete control of the adaptation, future spin-off titles, and subsequent Star Wars movie adaptations.