In spring 2015, Dover Publications, which is best known for paperback reprints of classics and out-of-print titles, is launching Dover Graphic Novel, a new line of graphic novels and nonfiction comics. The Mineola, N.Y.–based house plans to release 12 titles per year via the line. All the titles will have new forewords and introductions by well-known contemporary comics artists and writers, and some will have new cover art and will contain previously unpublished material.
Dover Graphic’s first title, which is slated for April, is A Sailor’s Story by Sam Glanzman, originally published by Marvel Comics in two volumes in 1987 and 1988. The new single-volume edition will be released as a hardcover (it’s the only title that the line plans to publish in that format) and will include a foreword by World War Z author Max Brooks and an introduction by comics writer Larry Hama, the book’s original editor. It will also feature a previously unpublished 10-page story by Glanzman. The once-popular comics artist, who turns 90 in December, served aboard the U.S.S. Stevens, a destroyer in the South Pacific, from 1943–1945. The stories collected in the book recount his experiences at sea and describe the life of sailors serving in wartime. A Sailor’s Story was an unusual book for Marvel, a superhero comics publisher, and it quickly went out of print, but it has since become something of cult classic.
Dover Graphic Novels will publish six titles in spring and another six in August to finish out 2015. Other titles slated for spring include The Puma Blues by Steven Murphy and Michael Zulli, a 400-page collection with a foreword by iconoclastic comics creator Dave Sim and an afterword by Stephen Bissette; The Bozz Chronicles, the story of a Sherlock Holmes–like alien in Victorian England, by David Michelinie and Bret Blevins, with a foreword and pinup art by Brandon Graham; Mercy by J.M. DeMatteis and Paul Johnson; Blackjack, an African-American adventure series set in the 1930s by Alex Simmons and Joe Bennett; and Civil War Adventure by Chuck Dixon and Gary Kwapisz.
Dover acquisitions editor Drew Ford will oversee the line. “Dover management has seen the growing popularity of graphic novels and they want to be part of it,” he said. Ford, who has edited art books, comics, and minicomics for Matt Feazell and others and has written comics for DC and Caliber Press, said he joined Dover less than a year ago. “I found a lot of like-minded people at Dover who are very interested in comics,” he noted. Ford organized the group of interested staff and got knowledgeable suggestions about what to publish. He said Dixon’s Civil War Adventure—serious fiction (“not for kids”) set during major Civil War battles—was a no-brainer for the list, since the Civil War is a high-demand category for Dover. “It’s important to do books that target the typical Dover reader.”
To ensure that the graphic novels are “relatable to readers in 2014,” Ford commissioned forewords and introductions from artists who had previously expressed admiration for the titles. He approached Brooks, for example, after he found out that A Sailor’s Story had inspired him to become a writer.
Pricing is still being determined, but, Ford said, “like all Dover books, we want to keep things affordable.” He noted that he has gotten “great feedback” from retailers, and that all the titles will have digital editions (“We’re in talks with digital vendors now,” he said). He also emphasized that the line “will be pushed through all the outlets Dover usually sells through,” and that the publisher plans to sell to the direct market, adding, “the local comics shop is dear to my heart.”
“I’m just grateful for the opportunity to put all of my experience publishing comics to use,” Ford said. “Dover can have an impact on the medium I love and do something for these creators.”