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Charlie Brown saves Fantagraphics

I found this interesting story about Fantagraphics publishing company and how they almost went under back in 2003. The company focuses on publishing collections, comics and graphic novels and by most accounts their passion for the art has attracted some of the best writers and artists such as R. Crumb, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, Peter Bagge and Chris Ware.  But in 2003, they were coming up short and the prospect looked somewhat bleak until they finalized a deal with the Schulz estate to publish the complete Peanuts collection (25 books printed over 12 1/2 years). The first collection made the NY Times best-seller list.

Since then, Fantagraphics has started publishing Hank Ketcham’s Complete Dennis the Menace and will begin the complete works of Popeye, Pogo, and the complete works of Bill Mauldin.

“There’s a new generation of comic fans eager to explore the history of comics,” says Reynolds, explaining that publishers are seeing an increased interest in old-school comics.

This interest and the money spent on it has given Fantagraphics some much-needed breathing room. The financial stability that comes from publishing “Peanuts” and “Dennis the Menace” allows the editors to publish artists they admire even if these artists may not make the company any money.

“It gives us the financial latitude to experiment,” Groth says. “Our mandate is to publish the works of great cartoonists, and the works of most great cartoonists, based on a mass market, don’t sell very well.”

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