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Comic publisher in budget crisis

May 30, 2003|Geoff Boucher

Fantagraphics Books, the Seattle publishing house that for nearly three decades has been the most stirring and cerebral force in graphic novels and cartooning, announced Thursday that it may soon be forced to close.

Citing a distribution deal that soured badly and an overstocked warehouse, the company, owned by Gary Groth and Kim Thompson, posted a plea for fans to buy its books over the next month to avert a debt deadline that will shutter the doors.

The Fantagraphics imprint has been on works by many of the most acclaimed comics storytellers in recent decades, among them Dan Clowes ("Ghost World"), the Hernandez Brothers ("Love & Rockets"), Joe Sacco ("Palestine") and Chris Ware ("Jimmy Corrigan").

The company also publishes Comics Journal, and specializes in lovingly reproduced and annotated collections of illustrated storytelling, be it the work of underground hero R. Crumb, the erudite cartoons of Jules Feiffer or vintage "Prince Valiant" comic strips.

"We are proud of our long-term commitment to comics as an art form and our dogged determination to push excellence down everybody's throats," the company statement said. "This is all very well and good but it doesn't mean much in the face of brute economics -- and it's the wall of brute economics that we've just hit, hard."

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