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While it's true that Warp Graphics' Elfquest series helped legitimize Underground Comix, even helping to coin the term "Independant comics" it is also true that for the first few years Independant comics largely consisted of black and white stories by virtually unknown writers and artists.
In the early 1980s Dark Horse Comics helped change all that. Two things really led to the success of Dark Horse in the competative comic marketplace of the eighties:
First there was the Dark Horse policy of creator woned properties, which allowed Dark Horse to draw big name talent from Marvel and DC. When readers began to see stories and artwork by some of the most popular writers and artists from Marvel and DC who had always dominated the comic market they began to take notice. Stories like John Byrne's (Marvel's X-Men) Nextmen and Frank Miller's (Marvel's Daredevil: Man Without Fear, DC's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns) Sin City kept them coming back for more.
The second factor in Dark Horse's success was obtaining the licensing agreements to publish not only comic book adaptations, but also original stories in the worlds of Aliens, Predator and Terminator. With stories like Aliens VS. Predator: Deadliest Of The Species (written by Marvel's X-Men alumnus Chris Claremont) showing us meetings that the film companies could never seem to stop talking about, but seem even today to be unwilling to produce.
Yes, the 1980s was a good time to be a comic book collector, with Dark Horse coming out with compelling stories by some of the best talent in the business and breaking the stranglehold Marvel seemed to have on the comic book adaptation market Independant comics began to capture an increasing share of the reader's comic book budget. Warp Graphich might have birthed the Independant comic explosion, but it took a Dark Horse to make the comic industry and comic readers see that Independant comics had come of age.