It’s tough to top a headline like ‘Fantagraphics’ Groth Discusses the State of Comics’
…so I’m not even going to try. Instead I’m just going to link you to Alex Dueben’s thusly titled interview with Fantagraphics Co-Publisher and The Comics Journal Editor Gary Groth over on the CBR mothership, in which the trailblazing alternative-comics publisher and critic tackles a wide variety of the biz’s big topics. Here are a few choice nuggets:
On Fantagraphics shifting to digital:
To one degree or another, all of our books can be read on a screen.
We’re cognizant of that and we’re certainly moving in that direction. I think what the future is going to hold is that books are going to be on multiple platforms, in digital and in print. I don’t think one is going to necessarily overshadow the other. They can be available in various formats. We’ve been literally working on the digital formats for the last year, just working out all the bugs and talking to the various platforms. I’m sure by this time next year, a lot of our books, if not the majority of them, are going to be available digitally.
On the Borders bankruptcy and its affect on graphic novel sales:
I don’t think it’s affected us. I think whenever something happens like when Borders closes, something comes and fills that gap, even if that something is only Amazon. Borders didn’t affect us at all, because Borders didn’t buy many of our books. As you probably know, the book buyer at Borders was apparently obsessed with manga and bought almost exclusively manga. Of course it would have been nice to have been sold in Borders for all those years, but we weren’t. Trying to be sold in Borders was like beating our heads against a brick wall, so when they went under, we didn’t suffer at all. Barnes and Noble is still strong. We’re strong with independents. There are a number of chain stores in the South that we sell pretty well to, like Books-A-Million. Amazon is either the first or second largest seller of our books.
On whether he has any advice for DC regarding their line-wide relaunch:
[Laughs] I don’t think I do. Good fucking luck.
I’m not even sure what that’s supposed to accomplish. It seems like a pitiful attempt to con more people into buying the same old shit. I probably shouldn’t be so cynical. I’m sure that some brilliant talent could breathe some life into this stuff. Like I said, I’m not one to talk. I haven’t read this stuff, but it just seems so completely uninteresting to me, and in a way, it’s idiomatically alien to me. We get a box of comics from DC every so often and I’ll look through it. Stylistically, the work kind of repels me. It’s too frenetic and manga-influenced. I’m way too old for that stuff. I wish I could be a more cogent commentator on that stuff, but then I’d have to devote time to actually looking at it.
On why Disney is publishing its complete Floyd Gottfredson/Mickey Mouse and Carl Barks/Donald Duck/Uncle Scrooge comics through Fantagraphics instead of its subsidiary, Marvel:
I haven’t the slightest idea. It was never brought up. I’ve literally never asked them, “Why would you want us to publish them rather than Marvel,” so anything I give you would be an inference. When I was negotiating with them, to tell you the truth, I hadn’t even thought about it.
There’s much more where that came from, including discussions of the death of the alternative comic book, the Kirby and Siegel/Shuster lawsuits, Disney’s role in extending copyright, the Fantagraphics brick-and-mortar store, the Golden Age of Reprints, the relaunch of The Comics Journal, and the great undiscovered cartoonists. Read the whole thing.