European graphic novels have had spotty success in the U.S., but that's not stopping a small British publisher of European comic books and graphic novels from making its BEA debut this year. Cinebook has grown from 10 titles in 2005 to 36 new titles this year, and is banking on English-speaking readers to go beyond popular Franco-Belgian comics characters like Tintin and Asterix to seek out Lucky Luke, Iznogoud, Blake & Mortimer and Thorgal—who have sold more than 300 million graphic novels worldwide.
Cinebook, run by Frenchman Olivier Cadic, has been purchasing rights to publish top-selling Franco-Belgian authors and series in English since 2005. Cadic, who had previously owned electronics-related companies in France and England, started Cinebook following a lifelong passion for comics. The house will present three of its newest titles—all published in English for the first time—at BEA: Lucky Luke: Tortillas for the Daltons by René Goscinny and Morris, Largo Winch: The Heir by Jean Van Hamme and Philippe Francq and IR$: Taxing Trail by Stephen Desberg and Bernard Vrancken. The books are paperback and distributed in the U.S. by NBN.
Cinebook joins a burgeoning list of publishers who are importing European comics. Some—like Drawn & Quarterly, Pantheon, NBM and First Second—have had success licensing and translating French language comics. But others—DC Comics's ill-fated 2004 venture with French publisher Humanoids comes to mind—have had less success. Yet Marvel just announced a deal to license new translations of French language graphic novels, and Tokyopop is also bringing some original French-language manga titles to the U.S.
Many of Cinebook's series are set largely in North America, and it is those series that it's pushing especially hard in the U.S. market. They include Yakari (about a young Sioux boy in the mid-19th century), IR$ (which will be released every April 15) and, of course, Lucky Luke, which incorporates into its stories such American West icons as Calamity Jane. Cinebook, which is based in Canterbury, England, selects series and individual titles based on geographic settings, protagonists' age and gender, historic themes and genres.