Over the past 15 years, Jacq Cohen’s name became almost as synonymous with the Seattle-based indie graphic novel publisher Fantagraphics as that of its cofounder, Gary Groth. Which is why when Cohen announced last month that she would leave her position as executive director of marketing, communications, and publicity at the press for an unknown new position, practically the entire comics business turned their heads.

They are likely to continue turning with the news that Cohen has joined Tapas Entertainment as director of PR and marketing, where she has been charged with bolstering the growth of Korean webcomics in the U.S. market—and with the subsequent news that Tucker Stone, most recently coeditor of the Comics Journal and executive editor at TOON Books, has been tapped to succeed her as executive director of communications and marketing at Fantagraphics.

From Indie Comics to Webcomics

Calling the move “an exciting new chapter in my career,” Cohen said that she was “honored to be on the front line of the K-Comics movement and to have the opportunity to contribute to the growth and evolution of the comics medium” at Tapas, which, she added, “has already established itself as a pioneering platform.”

The change, Cohen acknowledged, is a major one. Prior to her tenure at Fantagraphics, she had served stints at fellow indie comics stalwarts Dark Horse Comics and Top Shelf Productions. Her move to Tapas takes a revered veteran of the indie comics world from a small press that PW once called “one of the foremost publishers of comics, graphic novels, and related works in the world” to a digital publishing platform acquired in 2021 for over half a billion dollars by the South Korean entertainment, media, and publishing giant Kakao Entertainment.

“We are thrilled to have Jacq Cohen join our team,” said Jayden Kang, VP of global story business at Kakao. “Her expertise and passion will be crucial in bringing Tapas content to the forefront of the U.S. comics market. We are confident that her leadership will drive significant growth.”

Cohen said that she was excited for the challenge, noting that there was much traditional graphic novel publishers could learn from the webcomics world, which continues to expand both online and into print. In the end, she added, the two businesses are not so different when it comes down to the root of the work.

“Publishing is publishing, whether you're publishing in print form or publishing on a digital platform,” she said. “There's deadlines that are coming—and are missed. There are creators who have big visions and big feelings.”

Tapas was founded in 2012 as a webcomics app, and merged with serialized fiction reading app Radish—also acquired by Kakao in 2021—in 2022. Since then, it has become a major player in Kakao’s battle for dominance in the ever-expanding webtoon industry against such rivals as Webtoon, the webcomics platform that just announced its plans to become a publicly traded company—and whose parent company, fellow South Korean giant Naver, is Kakao’s principal rival in the space.

Something of a Homecoming

News that Stone had left the Comics Journal—where he won a 2018 Eisner Award for his editorial work—hit the business in May. And it's natural, in a way, that he would succeed Cohen at Fantagraphics, which has published the Comics Journal since it launched in 1977.

“The dirty little secret of comics is that if you lack the skill to make comic books, there is no greater job than being the person who gets to tell the world about them,” Stone said in a release. “I have spent the entirety of my adult life as a devoted reader of the cartoonists that Fantagraphics publishes, and to have the opportunity to join that team and be a part of the greatest comics publishing company in the medium’s history is the most exciting career change I could imagine.”

Stone joins Fantagraphics not just from the Journal, but Françoise Mouly’s Astra Publishing House imprint TOON Books, where he was executive editor. Stone officially left TOON last week, and will finish editing the books he acquired there on a freelance basis. Prior to TOON, Stone put in time at indie comics publishing mainstays as Nobrow and Flying Eye Books, U.K.–based children’s book publisher Usborne, and Ingram Publisher Services’ Consortium Book Sales & Distribution subsidiary.

Stone is also a past president of USBBY, the U.S. chapter of the International Board for Books for Young People, and is the sole U.S. member currently nominated for that organization’s executive committee, per the release. He started his career in the book business as managing partner for the storied, but now shuttered, Bergen Street Comics in New York.

“Tucker’s belief in our mandate—making the world safe for art comics—here at Fantagraphics, not to mention his ferocious competence and clear-eyed professionalism, will make him an important addition to our staff, and I welcome him to our quixotic mission,” said Groth, in a statement. Fantagraphics VP Eric Reynolds added: “I’ve watched him carve a career in comics that not only covers virtually every facet of the industry—retailing, publishing, distribution, editorial, marketing, etc.—but also do so with integrity and a sincere love for the medium and desire to make comics better. He is going to be a tremendous asset and I’m absolutely thrilled to have him on board.”

This story has been updated with further information.