Independent graphic novel publisher Top Shelf has redesigned and relaunched its Web site ( and plans to publish limited edition hardcovers of its critically acclaimed titles for the first time.

Top Shelf has made its reputation with beautifully produced, uniquely formatted books. Its big-buzz title for 2003 is Craig Thompson's Blankets, a huge, autobiographical graphic novel that sold out of its initial 10,000-copy printing within five weeks; since then, it's received rave reviews in Publishers Weekly, Time, Entertainment Weekly, Spin and elsewhere. A second 10,000-copy printing shipped to Diamond Distribution last week, and 6,000 copies have already been sold.

Top Shelf cofounder Chris Staros notes that "the book trade has been enormously supportive of this book—most of its sales so far have been through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders and so forth. People keep telling us it's so natural to read for people outside of the comics world—and they can find out what the potential of the medium is all about." A $75 hardcover limited edition of Blankets, available directly from Top Shelf, has sold about 500 copies.

Three more major hardcover titles are due from Top Shelf over the winter. Two are by acclaimed comics writer Alan Moore, and neither of them are comics. Voice of the Fire is the first American edition of Moore's prose novel, which will feature an introduction by Neil Gaiman and 13 hand-tipped-in color plates by artist José Villarubia. Villarubia is also illustrating The Mirror of Love, a long poem by Moore about the history of gay culture. The house will also publish a hardcover edition of the graphic novel The Barefoot Serpent by Scott Morse.

Next year will see the debut of Moore's longest-gestating comics project, the sure-to-be-controversial Lost Girls, an X-rated, three-volume graphic novel drawn by Melinda Gebbie. Top Shelf is hoping it'll be out in August, but the title could be late. "We want to make sure we do it right," said Staros.