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Company Town : Comic Book Giant Marvel Buys Upstart Rival Malibu

November 04, 1994|L. D. STRAUB | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Marvel Entertainment Group, the behemoth publisher of comic books, said Thursday that it has acquired Malibu Comics Entertainment Inc., the innovative West Coast Wunderkind of the comic book industry, creating an entity that will control 40% of the market.

Details of the sale were not disclosed, though Malibu is to continue fully autonomous operations and remain in sole charge of its business ventures, including plans for feature movies, television cartoons and other merchandising.

Marvel Publisher Stan Lee, a longtime Los Angeles resident and renowned creator of such cartoon icons as Spider Man and the X-Men, gains a long-sought West Coast publishing base. One of the first Marvel projects to be launched from the newly acquired Malibu offices in Calabasas will be Excelsior Comics, a new universe of characters created by Lee.

Terry Stewart, president and chief operating officer at Marvel, characterized the acquisition as a step in Marvel's plan to continue aggressive expansion in the industry. Marvel, controlled by financier Ronald Perelman, has recently acquired several companies specializing in youth entertainment products, including sports cards, bubble gum, stickers and toys.

Marvel has long been the industry leader in comic book sales. Malibu ranks fourth. It has briefly ranked as high as No. 2, besting the other longtime industry giant, D.C. Comics.

Scott Rosenberg, founder and president of Malibu, will become a senior executive vice president at Marvel, while retaining his post at Malibu.

Malibu, which was founded in 1986, launched a "universe" of comic books known for sophisticated graphics generated by computerized coloring techniques.

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