In something of a surprise, Dan Nadel, publisher of the much-lauded art and literary comics house PictureBox Inc., is ending the company’s frontlist publishing operations effective December 31, 2013. Nadel plans to join the staff of PictureBox’s distributor, D.A.P., which will continue to make the PictureBox backlist available to retailers.
Although Nadel told PW that PictureBox continued to be a viable publishing company, he said he was shutting down frontlist publishing “for personal reasons.” Nadel, an acclaimed small press publisher, described a business situation familiar to most small and undercapitalized publishers. He was PictureBox’s only full-time employee. “I could blame it on a hard business environment but it wasn’t that,” he told PW during a phone interview, “I couldn’t really grow the company in any significant way and I couldn’t shrink it either. I’d really done all I could do.”
However, Nadel is joining art book distributor D.A.P., which also distributed PictureBox titles, as key accounts director. “I’m excited to join D.A.P., I love the company and it was time to do something else.” Nadel emphasized that PictureBox backlist titles will remain available, “I’m not shutting PictureBox down, I’m just not going to publish new titles.” To make his point, he coupled the announcement ending the PictureBox publishing program with the announcement of a 50% sale off the prices of all PictureBox titles on the website.
In a note posted on the PictureBox website, Nadel said: “As of December 31, 2013, PictureBox will no longer release any new titles. This was not an easy decision, but the company is no longer feasible for me as a thoroughgoing venture. Change is, as the cliché goes, a good thing, and I am proud of PictureBox the idea and the company, and grateful to the many artists I’ve worked with over the years.”
Nadel was also cofounder of the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival, an acclaimed curated indie comics festival that ran for four years before transitioning to new management and organizers. A highly regarded comics historian, author, teacher and critic in addition to being an acclaimed small press publisher (I’ve probably left something from his resume out), Nadel began publishing in 2000 with The Ganzfeld, a wide ranging anthology covering contemporary art, criticism, comics, design, pop culture and much more.
In 2004 he launched PictureBox, publishing a list of highly regarded art comix, prose works and, most recently, classic manga; including works from the U.S. and abroad. Among the 20 books published by PictureBox are works by Gary Panter, Gengoroh Tagame, Frank Santoro, Sammy Harkham, Mattew Thurber, Brian Chippendale, Renee French, Blutch, Lauren Weintein, Jonny Negron, Paper Rad and more—a murderer’s row of innovative, wildly unconventional, iconoclastic cartoonists. Indeed the PictureBox list always served as a guide to the state of imaginative contemporary comics.
PictureBox is also the publisher of Sammy Harkham’s Everything Together: Collected Stories, which won the 2012 L.A. Times Book Prize for Graphic Novels. In addition PictureBox titles were nominated for multiple Eisner Awards.