Random House Children’s Books announced plans to launch Random House Graphic, a dedicated graphic novel imprint under the direction of Gina Gagliano, who will join the new imprint as its publishing director. Random House Graphic will release its first books in fall 2019. We spoke with Gagliano about her plans for the new imprint.
Gagliano will report to Judith Haut, senior v-p, associate publisher of Random House Children’s Books. Haut said, “It is a truly exciting and important time of growth for comics and graphic novels within the kids' market, and we see a distinct opportunity to reach even more readers. We are thrilled to have Gina, with her creativity, expertise and passion for the medium, at the helm of our new venture.”
Gagliano is a longtime member of the staff of First Second Books, which is the graphic novel imprint of Macmillan Publishing. She is well known throughout the comics publishing community, and has designed programming for many comics festivals. Gagliano was most recently associate director, marketing and publicity at First Second and was among the imprint's original employees, joining the house in 2005 at its launch.
Random House Graphic will specialize in titles for children and young adults with a list focused on both commercial and literary graphic works. The new imprint will assemble its own dedicated staff to produce and market the imprint’s titles.
The new Random House Graphic publishing program will look to extend a growing list of graphic works already being published by Random House Children’s Books, including such popular works as Babymouse by Jennifer L. Holm and Matt Holm, Rickety Stitch and the Gelantinous Goo by Ben Costa and James Parks, and 5 Worlds by Mark Siegel and Alexis Siegel, with art by Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, and Boya Sun.
Haut told PW, “The time was right for us to launch a graphic imprint. We’ve had success in the category and it’s time for us to have people who are here thinking about how to publish graphic novels every day.”
Asked about the relationship between Random House Graphic and the RHCB graphic novel backlist, Haut said, “There’s still a lot to figure out. But no changes are planned right away. Backlist graphic novels will remain with their current editors. We have a number of editors at RHCB who are passionate about graphic novels and we want them to continue. We want to encourage collaboration and Gina is looking forward to working with all the editors at RHCB.”
Random House also publishes kids' and YA licenses such as the DC Superhero Girls line of graphic novels and chapter books. Haut said those titles are handled separately by the Random House licensing division, “and those titles and arrangements will continue.”
In a phone conversation with PW, Gagliano called it “too early” to specify the ultimate size of the list or the size of the staff she will assemble. But she emphasized that the imprint will hire "editors, designers, and publicists," and will focus on “all genres and all age categories. Kids need to grow up with graphic novels and publishers need to provide a complete reading experience. We need to add to the breadth of the comics medium in order to transform the U.S graphic novel market.”
Gagliano will attend TCAF, the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, a highly regarded indie comics festival to be held this weekend, May 12-13. She said the new imprint will begin “ramping up our show presence at book, indie, small press and pop culture conventions and festivals. These shows let you reach readers, so you’ll see us on all fronts at these shows.”
Gagliano is also known for designing programming for comics festivals and library events, not to mention working behind the scenes on numerous comics initiatives. She said she will continue with “all the stuff I’ve been working on,” including Graphic Novel TK, a new podcast (with cohost Alison Wilgus) that educates the public about the publishing process for graphic novels and books in general. She also organizes events for New York City’s Women in Comics collective in addition to her work on the graphic novel programming committee of the Brooklyn Book Festival and as a co-organizer of graphic novel panels for BookExpo.
She said she’s “super excited” about the RHCB graphic novel backlist (including working with her now-former boss, First Second editorial director Mark Siegel, who is a noted cartoonist and RHCB graphic novel author). And Gagliano will also acquire books for the new imprint.
“We’re excited to be acquiring new authors and developing talent in the category," she said. "There’s an explosion of books and new authors around the U.S. There are so many new artists who deserve to be published. We’re happy to be able to bring this diverse group of creators to Random House Graphic.”
Update: new comments from interviews with Haut and Gagliano have been added to this story.