|Country of origin||United States|
|Headquarters location||Seattle, Washington|
|Distribution||W. W. Norton & Company|
|Publication types||Books, Comic books, magazines|
|Official website||Fantagraphics Books|
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, Roberta Gregory, Joe Sacco, and Chris Ware.
Fantagraphics was founded in 1976 by Gary Groth and Mike Catron at College Park, Maryland. Kim Thompson joined the company in 1977, and soon became a co-owner with Groth. 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.
Fantagraphics moved from Maryland to Stamford, Connecticut, then Los Angeles, and finally in 1989 to the Maple Leaf neighborhood of Seattle, Washington.
Fantagraphics publishes The Comics Journal (TCJ), a magazine that covers comics as an art form from a critical perspective. From 1981 to 1992, Fantagraphics also published Amazing Heroes, which examined comics from a hobbyist's point of view.
Since 1982, Fantagraphics has also published critically acclaimed and award-winning series and graphic novels such as Acme Novelty Library, Eightball, Ghost World, Hate, and Love and Rockets. In 1990, the publisher introduced Eros Comix, a lucrative line of erotic comics. Since 2005, Fantagraphics has been co-publishing the Ignatz Series, edited and produced by the Italian artist Igort.
In 2003, comics journalist (and Fantagraphics employee) Michael Dean summed up the economic history of the company this way:
The publisher has alternated between flourishing and nearly perishing over the years. It would have been out of business as long ago as 1978 if Kim Thompson hadn't poured his inheritance into the company's survival. In 1991, Fantagraphics was saved from closing its doors by the launching of its relatively lucrative erotic comics line. As recently as 1998, the company was forced into a round of layoffs.
In 2003 Fantagraphics 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. One employee quit during the subsequent downsizing while denouncing Fantagraphic's "disorganization and poor management." Fantagraphics was saved by a restructuring and a successful appeal to comic book Fandom that resulted in a huge number of orders. After restructuring, the company has had greater success with such hardcover collections as The Complete Peanuts, distributed by W. W. Norton & Company.
In 2006, Fantagraphics opened its own retail store in Seattle's Georgetown neighborhood.
The Kirby Award and the Harvey Award
From 1985–1987, Fantagraphics coordinated and presented (through 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. A compromise was reached, and starting in 1988, the Kirby Award was discontinued and two new awards were created: 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, and the MoCCA Festival. In 2006 the awards' presentation was moved to the Baltimore Comic-Con, where it has been held ever since.
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.
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.
- Spurgeon, Tom and Jacob Covey. Comics As Art: We Told You So. Seattle, WA : Fantagraphics. (forthcoming) ISBN 1-56097-738-8
- Who's Who of American Comic Books, 1928–1999.
- Matos, Michelangelo. "Saved by the Beagle," Seattle Arts (September 15, 2004).
- Comics Community Comes to Fantagraphics' Rescue. By Michael Dean, The Comics Journal, Posted July 11th, 2003.
- Seven Hills Follows LPC into Limbo, Marvel Abandons Diamond for CDS. By Michael Dean, The Comics Journal, Posted August 30th, 2002.
- Spurgeon, Tom (March 9, 2009). "CR Newsmaker: Kim Thompson On Fantagraphics Publishing Jacques Tardi". The Comics Reporter. http://www.comicsreporter.com/index.php/cr_newsmaker_kim_thompson_on_fantagraphics_publishing_jacques_tardi/. Retrieved March 15, 2010.
- "Newswatch: Kirby Awards End In Controversy," The Comics Journal #122 (June 1988), pp. 19-20.
- Official website
- Fantagraphics Books at the Grand Comics Database
- Fantagraphics Books at the Comic Book DB
- Fantagraphics Books at the Big Comic Book Database
- Fantagraphics Books at the INDUCKS
- Ignatz Series
- Coconino Press