Sophie Castille, international rights director and v-p licensing of Mediatoon, cofounder and director of Europe Comics, and a key figure in the growth of European graphic novels in North America, died unexpectedly July 11. She was 51.

Castille was born in Caen, Normandy. She studied in Italy before working in foreign rights for Dargaud in the mid-1990s. Castille is the cofounder Europe Comics, a consortium of 13 European comics publishers launched in 2015, that sells digital editions of a wide range of Eurocomics in English translation, in addition to offering rights to North American publishers. Her work at Europe Comics has been instrumental in the growth in popularity of European comics in English and the development of the U.S. graphic novel market.

Berlin-based graphic novel publisher Reproduckt posted a tribute to Castille on its blog: “Since the late nineties, Sophie has built bridges for the bandes dessinées and their authors, out of France and around the world. With funding from the European Commission, Sophie has developed the digital platform Europe Comics, a showcase of the diversity of European comics. On Europe Comics, Belgian, German, French, Italian, Polish, Serbian and Spanish publishers present their comics in English and can be read worldwide.

Sophie loved and lived the idea of a united Europe. She was at home in Milan, in Paris, on La Réunion and in Berlin. For more than 25 years of her professional life, she was a constant source of creativity, motivating publishers from all over the world and encouraging them to exchange ideas. Sophie died unexpectedly and much too early – we miss her radiant strength.”

A virtual memory wall has been created in tribute to Castille; and a memorial service will be held on October 19 at the Frankfurt Book Fair.