Graphic novel publisher Dark Horse has launched M Press and DH Press, two imprints that will publish their first books this fall. M Press will publish prose works and represents an entirely new direction for the company: fiction and nonfiction without pictures. DH Press will specialize in pop-culture art books.

"Dark Horse has really prided ourselves on telling good stories over the last 18 years," said Michael Martens, Dark Horse v-p of business development, who said M Press is an opportunity to exploit the prose rights of graphic novel or movie properties. "Writers pitch us story ideas all the time," he said, "and we also have Dark Horse Entertainment in Hollywood. Or when you're negotiating with a Japanese publisher for manga rights, the novelization of that manga exists, or the possibility of creating it is attractive."

The catalyst for creating M Press was Ursula Bacon's Shanghai Diary—a memoir by a Jewish girl who escaped from Nazi Germany to China and spent the war years in Shanghai. Already optioned as a movie, it will be published in hardcover by M Press in September.

Dark Horse has been publishing art books for a while including such titles as The Art of Hellboy and Electric Frankenstein. Nevertheless, Martens said, "we've had a little trouble getting into the appropriate section of the bookstores. We're known as a graphic novel publisher, and that means the graphic novel buyer buys them."

The first three DH Press titles will appear in October and November: veteran animator Don Bluth's The Art of Storyboard; an oversized illustrated hardcover called Kong, King of Skull Mountain; and Jim Silk's Pin-Up: The Illegitimate Art.

Dark Horse publisher Mike Richardson will oversee both imprints but the house hasn't determined the long-term publishing schedules of either imprint.

Both DH Press and M Press will be distributed by PGW. Dark Horse graphic novels continue to be distributed by Diamond.