With a catalogue that includes Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Quirk Books fits solidly in the nerd/pop culture niche. Expanding into graphic novels for kids and adults was a logical move, according to Quirk president and publisher Brett Cohen.
“We view our audience as the bookish subset of ComicCon,” says Cohen. “We attend a lot of ComicCons and sell books there. So we feel that audience is already part of our audience.”
Quirk began publishing graphic novels with the May release of Caitlin Major and Kelly Bastow’s Manfried the Man, about humanoid cats that keep little men as pets. “It’s a familiar story turned upside down,” says Cohen, who compares it to a reverse Garfield.
This fall the press will publish a second graphic novel for adults, Giraffes on Horseback Salad (Nov.), based on a screenplay by Salvador Dalí for a surrealist Marx Brothers movie. The script was rejected by MGM and disappeared until it was found among Dalí’s papers in 1996.
Screenwriter Josh Frank and Spanish artist Manuela Pertega adapted it into a graphic novel. “It’s this strangely beautiful surrealist yet comedic art project,” says Cohen. “While it’s very commercial and accessible and fun, it’s obviously a little bit more niche because it’s a historical artifact.”
Nor is Quirk neglecting children’s graphic novels, which Cohen sees as a natural extension of the press’s kids’ list. “Many of our books are tagged as great for reluctant readers, and this format feels like the same kind of thing,” he says.
In September, Quirk will publish Hocus & Pocus: The Legend of Grimm’s Woods and Knights Club: The Bands of Bravery. Both are French imports that allow the reader to make choices that guide the story. “Kids’ graphic novels are big, and video games and RPGs [role playing games] are big, and seeing that combination in that comic quest format excited me,” says Cohen.
Going forward, Cohen expects that Quirk’s graphic novels will be like the rest of the line, with some ideas generated in-house and others coming from outside. Next year Quirk will publish four graphic novels, although there could be even more since the press is still acquiring for 2019.
“The goal is for our list to be made up of approximately 25% graphic novels,” adds Nicole De Jackmo, v-p, director of publicity and marketing. “However, with a mission to publish 25 books a year, Quirk has never been a publisher that fills slots.”