The French comics house Les Humanoides Associes has returned to the U.S. graphic novel market and launched Humanoids Inc., its U.S. office in Los Angeles, with plans to release up to two books a month in the U.S. in hardcover and trade paperback. Humanoids plans to publish a list that includes French backlist classics like the epic Metabarons series as well as reprints of more recent books such as John Cassaday and Fabien Nury’s I Am Legion, which Humanoids published in September.
The new Humanoids office is the latest effort to establish the famous French science-fiction-oriented comics publisher, Les Humanoides Associes, in the U.S. Best known for publishing such acclaimed Euro-comics stars as Moebius, Alexandro Jodorowsky and Enki Bilal, Humanoids was first launched in the U.S. in 1998 by Humanoides publisher Fabrice Giger. But the house has also had short-lived co-ventures with DC Comics (2003) and Devils Due (2008). Now Humanoids is back with its usual lineup of high-profile Euro-comics artists including the works of some American creators like John Cassaday, Terry Dodson, Chuck Austen and others.
“Our approach has changed,” said Bob Silva, editor in chief of the new Humanoids U.S. Office, which began releasing new Humanoid books in August. “We’re set up to be more efficient. We’ve learned a lot from the previous experiences here.” The new L.A. office of Humanoids has a staff of four that includes Giger and Silva in addition to director Alex Donoghue and senior art director Jerry Frissen. “We outsource a lot of work, like translation and lettering, to free lancers and we work closely with the French office,” Silva said.
While the house has experimented with releasing some periodical comics, Silva said the focus will be on book format graphic novels including hardcover and trade paperbacks in full color. Print runs are about 1500 copies. Silva said the house will also release limited edition deluxe slipcased hardcover editions (750 copy limited editions, priced at $100) done in the original French trim size, with digitally reproduced color that Silva compared to DC Comics’ Absolute Editions. Most titles, however, will be released in the U.S. in editions at a new trim size, 10 x 7.5 inches, slightly wider than most U.S. trade paperback graphic novels, but smaller than the European album format. Regular trade paperbacks will be $20 and regular hardcovers will be $30. Distribution of Humanoids titles to the book trade is by DKE Toys and by Diamond Comics Distributors to the comics shop market.
Featured among forthcoming titles will be a new hardcover edition of Madwoman of the Sacred Heart by Jodorowski and Moebius, the first time the work has been released in the U.S. in its complete form in English. And while the publisher is best known for science fiction, Humanoids list also offers a variety of genres. Humanoids is publishing a hardcover edition of Jerry Frissen’s Lucha Libre anthology, The Tikitis, a comic adventure series about a group of men in East. L.A. who wear Mexican wrestling masks and fight supernatural foes. Also look for James Hudnall and Mark Vigrouroux’s Aftermath and Flywires by Chuck Austen and Matt Cossin. Humanoids will re-release many well-known works from a catalogue of more than 500 titles; works such as Jodorowski and Moebius’s The Incal, Yves Chalfand’s Freddy Lombard series, Philippe Thirault, Marc Riou and Mark Vigouroux’s Miss: Better Living through Crime and the Euro-manga crime thriller Negative Exposure by Thierry Smolderen, Enrico Marini and Georges Pop. The Humanoids website also offers a previews of many of the Humanoid series.
The house is publishing one black and white work, Pandora’s Eyes, an erotic crime thriller by Milo Manara and Vincenso Cerami. Silva said Pandora’s Eyes and other Manara books on the Humanoids list will be designed to complement the forthcoming multivolume reprinting of Manara’s work by Dark Horse. “A lot of Manara’s Humanoids work will not be a part of the Dark Horse series,” Silva said, emphasizing that Humanoids will design its Manara books to look like the Dark Horse titles, “to make sure fans can get books designed to the same standard.” At the same time, one of the Humanoids former star creators, Enki Bilal, creator of the acclaimed Nikopol Trilogy, will not be a part of the relaunch of Humanoids in the U.S. Silva said Bilal is no longer a part of the Humanoids publishing program after his backlist was been purchased by Casterman in France.
While the Humanoids program is focused on re-releasing its classic list of books, Silva said the house was also looking “to publish original projects from all around the world.” But for now the goal is to establish Humanoids in the U.S. market. Humanoid’s publisher Giger lives in the U.S. now, Silva said, “and he’s always wanted to get set up in the U.S. The U.S. comics market has evolved and really embraced the graphic novel, which is closer to what we do. We’re definitely out to establish ourselves here.”