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Fantagraphics Books

Fantagraphics Books
Founded 1976
Founder Gary Groth
Mike Catron
Country of origin United States
Headquarters location Seattle, Washington
Distribution W. W. Norton & Company
Key people Gary Groth
Kim Thompson
Eric Reynolds
Publication types Books, Comic books, Magazines
Imprints Eros Comix
Ignatz Series
Official website

Fantagraphics Books is an American publisher of alternative comics, classic comic strip anthologies, magazines, graphic novels, and the adult-oriented Eros Comix imprint. Many notable cartoonists publish their work through Fantagraphics, including Jessica Abel, Peter Bagge, Ivan Brunetti, Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes, Mary Fleener, Roberta Gregory, Joe Sacco, Chris Ware, and Gilbert Hernandez and Jaime Hernandez aka the Hernandez Brothers.



File:Fantagraphics booth.jpg
The Fantagraphics booth at the Stumptown Comics Fest 2006.

Fantagraphics was founded in 1976 by Gary Groth and Mike Catron in College Park, Maryland. The first act of the new company was the takeover of an adzine named The Nostalgia Journal, which was quickly renamed The Comics Journal.[1]

As comics journalist (and former Fantagraphics employee) Michael Dean writes, "the publisher has alternated between flourishing and nearly perishing over the years."[2] Kim Thompson joined the company in 1977, using his inheritance to keep the company afloat.[2] (He soon became a co-owner.)[3]

The company moved from Maryland to Stamford, Connecticut, and then Los Angeles.[4]

Beginning in 1981, and lasting until 1992, Fantagraphics published Amazing Heroes, a magazine which examined comics from a hobbyist's point of view.

Comics publisher

Beginning in 1982, Fantagraphics began publishing comics, starting with Los Bros Hernandez' Love and Rockets, and moving on to such critically acclaimed and award-winning series as Acme Novelty Library, Eightball, and Hate.

Catron acted as Fantagraphics' co-publisher until 1985 (also handling advertising and circulation for The Comics Journal from 1982–1985), when he left the company.[5]

The Kirby Award and the Harvey Award

From 1985–1987, 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.[citation needed] A compromise was reached, and starting in 1988, the Kirby Award was discontinued and two new awards were created:[6] the Eisner Award, managed by Olbrich; and the Fantagraphics-managed Harvey Award, named for cartoonist Harvey Kurtzman. Since their inception, the Harvey Awards have been presented at various fan conventions, such as the Chicago Comicon, the Dallas Fantasy Fair, WonderCon, the Pittsburgh Comicon, the MoCCA Festival, and their current venue, the Baltimore Comic-Con. The Harvey Awards are no longer affiliated with Fantagraphics.

Relocation to Seattle

In 1989, Fantagraphics relocated from Los Angeles to its current location in the Maple Leaf neighborhood of Seattle, Washington.[4]

In 1990, the publisher introduced Eros Comix, a lucrative line of erotic comics which again saved the company from bankruptcy.[2]

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.[7] Tom Spurgeon, now publisher of The Comics Reporter, was editor of The Comics Journal from 1994–1999.[8]

Financial ups and downs

In 1998, Fantagraphics was forced into a round of layoffs;[2] 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.[9] One employee quit during the subsequent downsizing while denouncing Fantagraphic's "disorganization and poor management."[2] Fantagraphics was saved by a restructuring and a successful appeal to comic book fandom that resulted in a huge number of orders.[2] After restructuring, the company has had greater success with such hardcover collections as The Complete Peanuts, distributed by W. W. Norton & Company.[4]

In 2009 Fantagraphics ceased publishing the print edition of The Comics Journal,[10] shifting from an eight-times a year publishing schedule to a larger, more elaborate, semi-annual format supported by a new website.[11][12]

European line

Starting in 2005, Fantagraphics began a European graphic novel line,[13] 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.[14]

New challenges

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

In early 2012, Michael Catron returned to Fantagraphics as editor with the company he had co-founded 36 years earlier.[15][16]

Co-publisher Kim Thompson left Fantagraphics due to illness in March 2013,[17] and died of lung cancer a few months later.[18] His absence left the company without a number of titles it had been counting on for the summer and fall of 2013;[13] and in November Fantagraphics was forced to start a Kickstarter campaign to raise $150,000.[13] An outpouring of support from readers enabled the company to reach and surpass its fundraising goal in just four days.[19]


Ignatz Series

The Ignatz Series is an international comic imprint. It is published by Fantagraphics Books (U.S.), Avant Verlag (Germany), Vertige (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, 2-color, saddlestitched, 8½" × 11", with jacket, priced at $7.95.

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

Eros Comix

Eros Comix is an adult-oriented imprint of Fantagraphics Books, established in 1990 to publish pornographic comic books. Eros Comix sells anime videos, DVDs, adult comic books, and books of erotic art and photography. The 2006 Eros Comix print catalog sells over 470 items, mostly adult comic books.

The late writer-artist Tom Sutton contributed work under the pseudonym "Dementia".


Comic book series

Ignatz Series

To be released:

  • IGNATZ XX: Babel #3 by David B.
  • IGNATZ XX: Baobab #4 by Igort [Italy]
  • IGNATZ XX: Calvario Hills #2 by Marti
  • IGNATZ XX: The End #2 by Anders Nilsen
  • IGNATZ XX: Wish You Were Here #3 by Gipi [Italy]

Eros Comix Titles

MangErotica Titles


  • Anything Goes!
  • Snake Eyes
  • Pictopia
  • Graphic Story Monthly
  • Hotwire Comix & Capers
  • BLAB!
  • MOME
  • Blood Orange
  • Zero Zero


Graphic novels

Classic comics compilations



  1. ^ ". . . transforming it from an adzine into a magazine of news and criticism that just happened to carry advertisements." The Comics Journal Message Board :: View topic – The Comics Journal #32 (January 1977).
  2. ^ a b c d e f Dean, Michael. "Comics Community Comes to Fantagraphics' Rescue,", The Comics Journal, Posted July 11, 2003.
  3. ^ Spurgeon, Tom and Jacob Covey. Comics As Art: We Told You So. Seattle, WA : Fantagraphics. (forthcoming) ISBN 1-56097-738-8
  4. ^ a b c Matos, Michelangelo. "Saved by the Beagle," Seattle Arts (September 15, 2004).
  5. ^ Who's Who of American Comic Books, 1928–1999.
  6. ^ "Newswatch: Kirby Awards End In Controversy," The Comics Journal #122 (June 1988), pp. 19–20.
  7. ^ Spurgeon, Tom (January 4, 2008). "CR Holiday Interview #9: Eric Reynolds". The Comics Reporter. Retrieved 2011-06-03. 
  8. ^ "Comics Reporter Blog Reaches Anniversary". Editor & Publisher. October 10, 2007. 
  9. ^ Dean, Michael. "Seven Hills Follows LPC into Limbo, Marvel Abandons Diamond for CDS," The Comics Journal, Posted August 30, 2002.
  10. ^ The 300th and final magazine-sized issue of the Comics Journal The Comics Journal No. 300 free and online
  11. ^ Phegley, Kiel. "Rethinking 'The Comics Journal'", Comic Book Resources, October 30, 2009
  12. ^ Spurgeon, Tom. "TCJ Moves More Dramatically On-Line; Print Version To Come Out Two Times A Year", The Comics Reporter, October 27, 2009
  13. ^ a b c Kozinn, Allan. "Fantagraphics Seeks Support With a Kickstarter Campaign," New York Times (November 6, 2013)
  14. ^ Spurgeon, Tom (March 9, 2009). "CR Newsmaker: Kim Thompson On Fantagraphics Publishing Jacques Tardi". The Comics Reporter. Retrieved March 15, 2010. 
  15. ^ Spurgeon, Tom. "CR Newsmaker Interview: Mike Catron" The Comics Reporter (Fefruary 5, 2012).
  16. ^ Baehr, Mike. "Welcome back Mike Catron & Preston White!" The Comics Journal Blog (Fefruary 6, 2012).
  17. ^ Ulin, David L. "Jacket Copy: Fantagraphics' co-publisher Kim Thompson has lung cancer," Los Angeles Times (March 7, 2013).
  18. ^ [1]
  19. ^ Melrose, Kevin. "Fantagraphics surpasses its $150,000 Kickstarter goal," Robot6 (November 12, 2013).
  20. ^ Karate Girl at Comic Vine
  21. ^ Fantagraphics Looses the Beasts Again, Comic Book Resources, November 13, 2008
  22. ^ Review of I Killed Adolf Hitler, Comics Bulletin


External links

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