Fantagraphics Books - History


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 publisher announced a deal with Jacques Tardi in March 2009, that would see Thompson translate a large number of his books.

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