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Fantagraphics
Founded1976
FounderGary Groth
Michael Catron
Country of originUnited States
Headquarters locationSeattle, Washington
DistributionW. W. Norton & Company (United States)
Diamond Book Distributors (Canada)[1]
Turnaround Publisher Services (United Kingdom)[2]
Key peopleGary Groth
Kim Thompson
Eric Reynolds
Publication typesBooks, comic books, magazines
ImprintsEros Comix
Ignatz Series
Redbeard Inc.
Official websitefantagraphics.com

Fantagraphics (previously Fantagraphics Books) is an American publisher of alternative comics, classic comic strip anthologies, manga, magazines, graphic novels, and (formerly) the erotic Eros Comix imprint.

History

Founding

The Fantagraphics booth at the Stumptown Comics Fest 2006

Fantagraphics was founded in 1976 by Gary Groth and Michael Catron in College Park, Maryland. The company took over an adzine named The Nostalgia Journal, which it renamed The Comics Journal.[3][dead link]

As comics journalist (and former Fantagraphics employee) Michael Dean writes, "the publisher has alternated between flourishing and nearly perishing over the years."[4] Kim Thompson joined the company in 1977, using his inheritance to keep the company afloat.[4] (He soon became a co-owner.)[5]

The company moved from Washington, D.C., to Stamford, Connecticut, to Los Angeles over its early years, before settling in Seattle in 1989.[6]

Beginning in 1981 Fantagraphics (under its Redbeard Inc. imprint)[7] published Amazing Heroes, a magazine which examined comics from a hobbyist's point of view,[8] as another income stream to supplement The Comics Journal.[9] Amazing Heroes ran for 204 issues (plus a number of specials and annuals), folding with its July 1992 issue.[10]

Comics publisher

Beginning in 1979, Fantagraphics began publishing comics, starting with Jay Disbrow's The Flames of Gyro.[11] They gained wider recognition in 1982 by publishing the Hernandez brothers' Love and Rockets,[12] and moved on to such critically acclaimed and award-winning series as Acme Novelty Library, Eightball, and Hate.

The company moved operations to Greater Los Angeles in 1984.[6]

Catron acted as Fantagraphics' co-publisher until 1985 (also handling advertising and circulation for The Comics Journal from 1982 to 1985), when he left the company.[13]

The Kirby Award and the Harvey Award

From 1985 to 1987, Fantagraphics coordinated and presented (through their magazine Amazing Heroes) The Jack Kirby Award for achievement in comic books, voted on by comic-book professionals. The Kirby Award was managed by Dave Olbrich, a Fantagraphics employee (and later publisher of Malibu Comics). In 1987, a dispute arose when Olbrich and Fantagraphics each claimed ownership of the awards.[14] A compromise was reached, and, starting in 1988, the Kirby Award was discontinued and two new awards were created:[15] the Eisner Award, managed by Olbrich; and the Fantagraphics-managed Harvey Award, named for cartoonist Harvey Kurtzman.

Relocation to Seattle

In 1989, Fantagraphics relocated from Los Angeles to its current location in the Maple Leaf neighborhood of Seattle, Washington.[6]

In 1990, the publisher introduced Eros Comix, a lucrative line of erotic comics that provided a replacement revenue stream for Amazing Heroes and which helped the company again avoid bankruptcy.[4]

Longtime employee Eric Reynolds joined Fantagraphics in 1993, first as news editor for The Comics Journal from 1993, before moving to marketing and promotion in 1996.[16] Groth and Thompson acknowledged Reynolds was key to the company's rise to profitability.[17]

Tom Spurgeon, later known as the publisher of The Comics Reporter, was editor of The Comics Journal from 1994 to 1999.[18]

Financial ups and downs

In 1998, Fantagraphics was forced into a round of layoffs;[4] and in 2003 the company almost went out of business, losing over $60,000 in the wake of the 2002 bankruptcy of debtor and book trade distributor Seven Hills Distribution.[19] One employee quit during the subsequent downsizing while denouncing Fantagraphics' "disorganization and poor management."[4] Fantagraphics was saved by a restructuring and a successful appeal to comic book fandom that resulted in a huge number of orders.[4] After restructuring, the company has had greater success with such hardcover collections as The Complete Peanuts, distributed by W. W. Norton & Company.[6]

In 2009, Fantagraphics ceased publishing the print edition of The Comics Journal,[20] shifting from an eight-times a year publishing schedule to a larger, more elaborate, semi-annual format supported by a new website.[21][22]

European line

Starting in 2005, Fantagraphics began a European graphic novel line,[23] starting with the co-publication of the Ignatz Series, edited and produced by the Italian artist Igort. The publisher announced a deal with Jacques Tardi in March 2009 that would see co-publisher Thompson translate a large number of his books.[24]

New challenges

Larry Reid (left), manager and curator of the Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery with Martin Imbach, part owner of Georgetown Records, which shares the same storefront, in 2016

In 2006, Fantagraphics opened its own retail store, Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, in Seattle's Georgetown neighborhood.

In 2009 Jacq Cohen started as the publicist for Fantagraphics.[25]

Co-publisher Kim Thompson left Fantagraphics due to illness in March 2013,[26] and died of lung cancer a few months later.[27] His absence left the company without a number of titles it had been counting on for the summer and fall of 2013;[23] and, in November, Fantagraphics started a Kickstarter campaign to raise $150,000, which it surpassed in four days.[23][28]

In August 2020 the company rebranded, from Fantagraphics Books to just Fantagraphics. At the same time it introduced a more compact logo featuring a stylized ink pen nib and a torch.[29]

Imprints

Ignatz Series

The Ignatz Series is an international comic imprint. It is published by Fantagraphics (U.S.), Avant Verlag (Germany), Vertige Graphic (France), Oog & Blik (Holland), Coconino Press (Italy), and Sinsentido (Spain). It is named for Ignatz Mouse, a character in the comic strip Krazy Kat.

The books in the Ignatz Series are designed midway between standard North American comic book pamphlet-size and graphic novel-size. Each title is 32 pages, two-color, saddle stitched, 812″ × 11″, with jacket, priced at $7.95.

The Ignatz collection is edited and produced by Italian artist Igort. Fantagraphics editor Kim Thompson frequently provided translations.

Eros Comix

Eros Comix was an adult-oriented imprint of Fantagraphics,[30] established in 1990 to publish pornographic comic books like Gilbert Hernandez' Birdland and reprints of work by Wally Wood and Frank Thorne.[31][32] Eventually, Eros added to its catalogue dozens of comics titles, over 40 collected editions, anime videos, DVDs, and books of erotic art and photography. The 2006 Eros Comix print catalog sold over 470 items, including adult comic books and humorous cheesecake-style comics often featuring pin-up girls like Bettie Page. The Eros Comix imprint was popular enough that it is credited with making Fantagraphics financially solvent.[33]

Notable Eros titles include Bill Willingham's Ironwood, SS Crompton's Demi the Demoness, Howard Chaykin's Black Kiss, Domino Lady; and the Italian series Djustine, Ramba, and Adult Frankenstein.

Writer-artist Tom Sutton contributed work to Eros titles under the pseudonym "Dementia".[34] Other contributors to Eros titles included Eric Stanton, Mary Fleener, Mikael Oskarsson, Bill Pearson, Malachy Coney, Richard Bassford, Gary Dumm, Frank Stack, Bob Fingerman, Molly Kiely, Yanick Paquette, Robert Peters, John Workman, Colleen Coover,[35] Marc Andreyko, Raulo Cáceres, Larry Fuller, Dennis Eichhorn, Dennis Cramer/Justine Mara Andersen,[36] Jon Macy, John Blackburn, and Greg Budgett.

Eros' MangErotica line featured translated hentai manga[37] by the likes of Isutoshi, Oh! great, Toshiki Yui, Teruo Kakuta, and Benkyo Tamaoki; and titles like Bondage Fairies, Hatsuinu, Hot Tails, A Strange Kind of Woman, Slut Girl, and Super Taboo.

In the beginning, there was some controversy over Eros titles featuring back cover ads with phone sex numbers.[38] In 1994, Eros editor Tom Verre was replaced by Jeremy Pinkham.[39]

By the late 1990s, the imprint was no longer profitable, and the publication of new material diminished rapidly.[40] The Eros Comix website was no longer being maintained by 2017; its titles no longer appear on the Fantagraphics website under that label.

Titles

Comics anthology magazines

Magazines

Comic book series

# series

0: Babel #1 by David B. [France]
  1. Baobab #1 by Igort [Italy]
  2. Insomnia #1 by Matt Broersma [U.K./U.S.A.]
  3. Wish You Were Here #1: The Innocents by Gipi [Italy]
  4. Interiorae #1 by Gabriella Giandelli [Italy]
  5. Ganges #1 by Kevin Huizenga [U.S.A.]
  6. Chimera #1 by Lorenzo Mattotti [Italy]
  7. Insomnia #2 by Matt Broersma [U.K./U.S.A.]
  8. Babel #2 by David B. [France]
  9. Wish You Were Here #2: They Found the Car by Gipi [Italy]
  10. Reflections #1 by Marco Corona [Italy]
  11. Baobab #2 by Igort [Italy]
  12. Niger #1 by Leila Marzocchi [Italy]
  13. Delphine #1 by Richard Sala [U.S.]
  14. New Tales of Old Palomar #1 by Gilbert Hernandez [U.S.]
  15. Interiorae #2 by Gabriella Giandelli [Italy]
  16. Calvario Hills #1 by Marti [Spain]
  17. The End #1 by Anders Nilsen [U.S.]
  18. Reflections #2 by Marco Corona [Italy]
  19. New Tales of Old Palomar #2 by Gilbert Hernandez [U.S.]
  20. Delphine #2 by Richard Sala [U.S.]
  21. Sammy the Mouse #1 by Zak Sally [U.S.]
  22. Grotesque #1 by Sergio Ponchione [Italy]
  23. Niger #2 by Leila Marzocchi [Italy]
  24. Reflections #3 by Marco Corona [Italy]
  25. Insomnia #3 by Matt Broersma [U.K./U.S.A.]
  26. New Tales of Old Palomar #3 by Gilbert Hernandez [U.S.]
  27. Ganges #2 by Kevin Huizenga [U.S.]
  28. Baobab #3 by Igort [Italy]
  29. Delphine #3 by Richard Sala [U.S.]
  30. Grotesque #2 by Sergio Ponchione [Italy]
  31. Interiorae #3 by Gabriella Giandelli [Italy]
  32. Sammy the Mouse #2 by Zak Sally [U.S.]
  33. Grotesque #3 by Sergio Ponchione [Italy]
  34. Delphine #4 by Richard Sala [U.S.]
  35. Ganges #3 by Kevin Huizenga [U.S.]
  36. Niger #3 by Leila Marzocchi [Italy]
  37. Grotesque #4 by Sergio Ponchione [Italy]
  38. Interiorae #4 by Gabriella Giandelli [Italy]
  39. Sammy the Mouse #3 by Zak Sally [U.S.]
  40. Ganges #4 by Kevin Huizenga [U.S.]
To be released
[when?]
  1. XX: Babel #3 by David B.
  2. XX: Baobab #4 by Igort [Italy]
  3. XX: Calvario Hills #2 by Marti
  4. XX: The End #2 by Anders Nilsen
  5. XX: Wish You Were Here #3 by Gipi [Italy]

Graphic novels

Classic comics compilations

Books

Eros Comix titles

MangErotica titles

Recognition

Kirby Awards

1986

Note: In 1988, the Kirby Awards was disbanded and replaced by the Harvey and the Eisner Awards.

Eisner Awards

List of won Eisner Awards:[45][46][47][48]

Harvey Awards

List of won Harvey Awards:[49]

References

Notes

  1. ^ "diamondbookdistributors.com - Publishers". diamondbookdistributors.com. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  2. ^ "Publishers Representatives | Publishers Distributors". Turnaround Publisher Services. Archived from the original on July 1, 2017. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
  3. ^ "The Comics Journal #32 (January 1977)". The Comics Journal Message Board. ...transforming it from an adzine into a magazine of news and criticism that just happened to carry advertisements
  4. ^ a b c d e f Dean, Michael (July 11, 2003). "Comics Community Comes to Fantagraphics' Rescue". The Comics Journal.
  5. ^ Spurgeon, Tom; Covey, Jacob (2016). Comics As Art: We Told You So. Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics. ISBN 978-1606999332.
  6. ^ a b c d Matos, Michelangelo (September 15, 2004). "Saved by the Beagle". Seattle Arts.
  7. ^ "Indicia". Amazing Heroes. No. 7. December 1981. p. 5.
  8. ^ Spurgeon and Dean, "'Everything was in Season.'" Kim Thompson: "We decided to do a magazine that would cover the mainstream in a more fannish manner."
  9. ^ Spurgeon and Dean, "'Everything was in Season.'" Kim Thompson: "If you want to look at it cynically, we set out to steal The Comic Reader's cheese. Which we did."
  10. ^ "Amazing Heroes Folding". Newswatch. The Comics Journal. No. 149. March 1992. p. 22.
  11. ^ "GCD :: Issue :: The Flames of Gyro". Retrieved February 6, 2016.
  12. ^ Schmidt, Joseph (January 18, 2017). "6 Alternative Comics Publishers You Need to Know — And Read". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
  13. ^ "Mike Catron". Who's Who of American Comic Books, 1928–1999. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  14. ^ Olbrich, Dave (December 17, 2008). "The End of the Jack Kirby Comics Industry Awards: A Lesson in Honesty". Funny Book Fanatic (Dave Olbrich official blog). Archived from the original on June 24, 2013. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
  15. ^ "Newswatch: Kirby Awards End In Controversy," The Comics Journal #122 (June 1988), pp. 19–20.
  16. ^ Spurgeon, Tom (January 4, 2008). "CR Holiday Interview #9: Eric Reynolds". The Comics Reporter. Retrieved June 3, 2011.
  17. ^ Collins, Sean T. (March 2003). "Armed and Dangerous" (PDF). Wizard. No. 138. p. 43. Kim Thompson: 'By any standard, Eric's the stabilizing third wheel on the erratic Groth-Thompson bicycle.'
  18. ^ "Comics Reporter Blog Reaches Anniversary". Editor & Publisher. October 10, 2007.
  19. ^ Dean, Michael (August 30, 2002). "Seven Hills Follows LPC into Limbo, Marvel Abandons Diamond for CDS". The Comics Journal.
  20. ^ "The 300th and final magazine-sized issue of the Comics Journal". The Comics Journal. No. 300. Archived from the original on April 30, 2012.
  21. ^ Phegley, Kiel (October 30, 2009). "Rethinking 'The Comics Journal'". Comic Book Resources.
  22. ^ Spurgeon, Tom (October 27, 2009). "TCJ Moves More Dramatically On-Line; Print Version To Come Out Two Times A Year". The Comics Reporter.
  23. ^ a b c Kozinn, Allan. "Fantagraphics Seeks Support With a Kickstarter Campaign," New York Times (November 6, 2013)
  24. ^ Spurgeon, Tom (March 9, 2009). "CR Newsmaker: Kim Thompson On Fantagraphics Publishing Jacques Tardi". The Comics Reporter. Retrieved March 15, 2010.
  25. ^ "The Comics Reporter". www.comicsreporter.com. Retrieved September 21, 2023.
  26. ^ Ulin, David L. "Jacket Copy: Fantagraphics' co-publisher Kim Thompson has lung cancer," Los Angeles Times (March 7, 2013).
  27. ^ "Obituary: Kim Thompson, 1956-2013". PublishersWeekly.com. Retrieved August 23, 2015.
  28. ^ Melrose, Kevin. "Fantagraphics surpasses its $150,000 Kickstarter goal," Archived November 24, 2014, at the Wayback Machine Robot6 (November 12, 2013).
  29. ^ "Fantagraphic Books Rebrands With a New Logo and Shortened Name". CBR. August 18, 2020. Archived from the original on October 13, 2021. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  30. ^ Wong, Alex (December 13, 2016). "40 Years Later, Fantagraphics Is Still the Most Progressive Force in Comics: Shut out from the DC & Marvel Universe, alternative comics find a home at Fantagraphics". Complex.
  31. ^ "Newsline". Amazing Heroes. No. 180. Fantagraphics Books. June 1990.
  32. ^ Groth, Gary (April 1991). "Confessions of a Smut Peddler: On the Creation of Eros Comix". The Comics Journal. No. 143. pp. 5–7.
  33. ^ Booker, M. Keith, ed. (2014). Comics through Time: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-0313397516.
  34. ^ "An Odd Man Out: Tom Sutton". The Comics Journal. No. 230. Interviewed by Gary Groth. Seattle, Washington: Fantagraphics Books. February 2001. Archived from the original on November 26, 2012.
  35. ^ JOHNSON, CHELSEY (February 2002). "From the Vaults: A Toon Temptress in a Male Dominated Comics World: Chelsey Johnson talks with Colleen Coover about her lesbian porn comic Small Favors". Out.
  36. ^ "Mara Pitches In to Help CBLDF". Newswatch. The Comics Journal. No. 185. March 1996. p. 26.
  37. ^ Hennum, Shea (February 24, 2015). "Big in Japan: How Fantagraphics Started Publishing Manga and What It Means". Paste.
  38. ^ "1-900-Condemn". Newswatch. The Comics Journal. No. 149. March 1992. p. 26.
  39. ^ "New Eros Comics Editor". The Comics Journal. No. 168. May 1994. p. 39.
  40. ^ Dallas, Keith; Sacks, Jason (December 5, 2018). American Comic Book Chronicles: The 1990s. TwoMorrows Publishing. ISBN 978-1-60549-084-7.
  41. ^ The Eye of Mongombo at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on June 26, 2016.
  42. ^ Fantagraphics Looses the Beasts Again, Comic Book Resources, November 13, 2008
  43. ^ Jason Brice. "I Killed Adolf Hitler Review - Line of Fire Reviews - Comics Bulletin". comicsbulletin.com. Archived from the original on September 9, 2015. Retrieved August 23, 2015.
  44. ^ "Karate Girl (Volume) - Comic Vine". comicvine.com. Retrieved August 23, 2015.
  45. ^ a b "1980s Recipients". Comic-Con International: San Diego. December 2, 2012. Archived from the original on July 4, 2013. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  46. ^ "1990s Recipients". Comic-Con International: San Diego. December 2, 2012. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  47. ^ "2000s". Comic-Con International: San Diego. December 2, 2012. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  48. ^ "2010-Present". Comic-Con International: San Diego. December 2, 2012.[permanent dead link]
  49. ^ "Previous Winners". Harvey Awards. October 5, 2018. Archived from the original on November 29, 2018. Retrieved February 28, 2019.

Sources

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