Celebrated literary scholar and comics specialist Hillary Chute and novelist and former Penguin Press executive editor Ed Park, have been named regular columnists for comics and graphic novels at the New York Times Book Review. The NYT’s new comics and graphic novel column will begin in April
The appointment comes in the wake of the New York Times shutting down its graphic novel bestseller list more than a year ago, as well as a recent appeal by literary agent Charlie Olsen to the Times to restore the graphic novel list.
In a joint prepared statement, NYTBR editor Pamela Paul, NYTBR deputy editor David Kelley and editor Gal Beckerman, said that they were “thrilled to announce a new monthly column devoted to the world of graphic novels and comics.”
The two columnists will write on both children’s and adult graphic novels and their columns will alternate on a monthly basis.
“Both Hillary Chute and Ed Park have the authority, critical and curatorial eye, and a true love of the material to write about everything from Black Panther to Raina Telgemeier to Chris Ware," the group said in its statement.
Currently professor of English, art and design at Northeastern University, Chute is a recognized academic star who has built a reputation writing about comics in her books (among them Why Comics: From Underground to Everywhere and Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comic); and articles in BookForum, and The New York Review Daily. Park is a former executive editor of Penguin Press, author of the novel Personal Days, cofounder of the literary journal The Believer, a former judge of the graphic novel category for the L.A. Times Book Awards, and has written for the New Yorker, BookForum and other publications.
Although the NYT never responded directly to the recent appeal to restore the graphic novel bestseller list, Olsen, reached at the Bologna Book Fair, said he was “delighted to hear that they’re actually increasing their coverage.” He said: “I would love to see them reinstate the bestseller list, but hiring two dedicated comics staff is a step in the right direction.”
Terry Nantier, publisher of NBM, and kids graphic novel publisher PaperCutz, said “I look forward to better coverage.”
Abrams ComicArts editorial director Charles Kochman said, “This is great news, not just for the continued acceptance of comics but also for the New York Times. I can’t think of two more qualified individuals who come at the medium with more diverse backgrounds. I hope that it is indeed a sign that the Times is expanding their coverage of comics.”
Viz Media director of sales and marketing Kevin Hamric also called the appointments “a step in the right direction.” He said Chute and Park are “two very well known and recognizable names in the industry,” and noted that they “will give comics, graphic novels, and manga the attention and recognition they deserve.”