New York Review Books, the book publishing division of the New York Review of Books, is adding comics to its publishing program. New York Review Comics will launch in March, starting with Agony, a grim-but-funny graphic novel by Mark Beyer originally published in 1987.
New York Review Comics will feature comics across a broad range of categories. Some titles (though not all) will feature new introductions by literary admirers (Beyer’s Agony features a new introduction by novelist Colson Whitehead), some will be reprints and there will be new translations of foreign language works.
The new graphic novel line will be co-directed by Gabriel Winslow-Yost, assistant editor at the New York Review of Books, who has written on comics for the magazine, and by Lucas Adams, a former New York Review of Books intern and cartoonist.
Similar to NYRB Classics, a New York Review of Books imprint focused on bringing classic works back into print, Winslow-Yost said New York Review Comics will look for “stuff from everywhere. It’s not going to be just really literary comics.” He said NYRC will “bring some things back into print, we’ll do new translations, package uncollected comics and look to find a new audience for these books.”
The two pitched the possible comics line to the editors of NYRB Classics and the book publishing group about a year ago by creating “an elaborate fake catalog full of all the stuff we wanted to publish,” said Adams. Later, Wiinslow-Yost presented plans for the possible line to legendary New York Review of Books editor Robert Silvers, his editor at NYRB. “Silvers was excited about it. We know the NYRB is seen as stuffy, but a lot of editors here love comics,” said Winslow-Yost who will continue to write for the NYRB.
The line will release six books a year, “for the foreseeable future”, Winslow-Yost said, and print runs will be about 6,000 copies for most titles. Penguin Random House will distribute the books.
The co-editors are in talks now about digital editions for the line and they both emphasized that New York Review Comics will offer a wide variety of works. “We’ll do kids’ comics and there are even some manga possibilities. We don’t want to limit what we do,” Adams said.
Other works scheduled for 2016 publication include Peplum, a historical saga by French cartoonist Blutch (featuring a new English translation), and Almost Completely Baxter, a collection of new and selected works by humorist Glen Baxter.
Clarification: not every title will have a new introduction by a prominent author and the comics line was pitched to the editors of the NYRB book publishing group well before it was presented to Robert Silvers.