Humanoids, a French-owned, Los Angeles–based publisher of French graphic novels, is expanding its catalogue with three new lines: a character-driven imprint focused on personal memoir called Life Drawn, which launched in April; a children’s/YA line called Humanoids Kids, which launched in fall 2017; and another imprint to be announced in October at New York Comic Con. The new imprints bring variety to the Humanoids list, which is best known for epic science fiction, as the company looks to attract new readers while retaining its core audience.
Humanoids was founded in Paris in 1974 by comics artists Moebius (Jean Giraud) and Philippe Druillet and writer Jean-Pierre Dionnet. Swiss entrepreneur Fabrice Giger purchased the company in 1988, and under his stewardship, it established offices in the U.S. and Japan. The U.S. office became the company’s headquarters in 2013, and it has added a production division to work on developing its properties for other media.
The publisher’s core line includes multivolume sci-fi sagas such as Moebius and Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Incal and Jodorowsky and Juan Gimenez’s The Metabarons, as well as long list of popular crime, humor, and action/adventure stories. Humanoids is also known for its oversize hardcover volumes and high production values. In addition to graphic novels, Humanoids founded the legendary French comics anthology magazine Métal hurlant, which later became Heavy Metal after it was sold to American ownership.
The Life Drawn titles are a departure from the company’s previous books. “In what we call the Humanoids core line, the characters play their roles in a larger, epic tale,” Giger said. “In the Life Drawn books, the characters are the story; it’s all about them.”
Life Drawn launched in April with the first volume of Nicholas Wild’s Kabul Disco, a memoir of Wild’s time in Afghanistan; the second volume of the trilogy will be out in September. In May, Life Drawn will publish the first volume of Clement Baloup’s Vietnamese Memories, a collection of first-person stories of Vietnamese immigrants living in France. Following in June will be Carole Maurel’s Luisa, a young adult graphic novel with an LGBTQ twist about a 15-year-old girl who travels forward in time and meets her 33-year-old self. Humanoids brought in noted American writer Mariko Tamaki (This One Summer) to adapt Luisa for American readers.
The Life Drawn titles all come from another French publisher, La Boite à Bulles, with which Humanoids formed a partnership last year. Giger credits La Boite à Bulles founder Vincent Henry with building the line: “It’s a type of content that was not previously covered by Humanoids—not because we didn’t want to [cover it], but because it is highly complicated to build a coherent, and profitable, graphic novel catalogue in that field,” Giger said. “And that is precisely what Vincent has achieved in the past 15 years.”
Humanoids’ juvenile line launched in August 2017 with the first volume of Gregory and the Gargoyles by Denis-Pierre Filippi, J. Etienne, and Silvio Camboni. The three-volume series was a top seller for Humanoids in Europe, Giger said, and he hopes to replicate its success with English-language readers. The young readers catalogue also includes The Magical Twins, a children’s book by Jodorowsky—which, Giger points out, is a book that adult fans of Jodorowsky’s work can share with their children.
Humanoids director of sales and marketing Jud Meyers said the publisher will be at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference this month, as well as at the Thought Bubble comics convention in the U.K. in September.
Meyers said the publisher will be marketing the new material to bookstores and to the comic shop market. “The bookstore market has always been our bread and butter,” Meyers said. “The content we are coming out with is very much bookstore/library/school material, because it’s topical—there is social/political content, very emotional content. However, we all know the trend in the direct market has been toward graphic novels and away from periodicals. We are seeing with the orders for Kabul Disco, which are very healthy, that the direct market stores understand that they need to have more [graphic novels] because that’s what people want.”
Giger sees the new imprints as an addition that stays close to the company’s roots in terms of stories and production values. “I believe that this new imprint will appeal to many of our core readers, as they will find our usual Humanoids touch: well-curated books with a strikingly original tone,” he said. “But we also expect to capture a brand new readership: individuals of all ages and gender who have been moved by [graphic works of memoir and literary fiction] and consequently made a success of books such as Persepolis, Blankets, and Maus.”
Correction: Humanoids no longer publishes Métal hurlant.