Best known as the publisher of such global comics hits as the Doctor Who series and gritty bestsellers from its Hard Case Crime imprint, Titan Entertainment Group is a sprawling, multifaceted family-owned media company focused on pop culture. It has 250 employees and is headquartered in London, with staff in stores and warehouses in the U.K. and publicity staff in the U.S.
Titan Entertainment Group was formed in 1993 by husband and wife Nick Landau and Vivian Cheung, and is made up of two subsidiaries: the Titan Publishing Group and the Forbidden Planet retail unit, the company’s U.K.-based ten-store chain (including the online store) of comics and pop culture merchandise stores. Originally founded in 1981 as Titan Books, the Titan Publishing Group of today publishes more than 1,000 books and magazines annually.
Through five divisions, the Titan Publishing Group, which is celebrating the 35th anniversary of Titan Books, releases original graphic novels and periodical comics; licensed comics from DC, Marvel, IDW, and European houses; and original fiction and tie-ins of all kinds, including illustrated books and merchandise based on blockbuster Hollywood films and TV show and gaming properties.
Of the titles Titan releases each year, about 400 are prose and art books, 200 are graphic novels, and more than 250 are comics periodicals. The company also publishes about 150 magazines. Titan’s books are distributed to the U.S. book trade by Penguin Random House Publisher Services.
The Titan Publishing Group is made up of Titan Books, which publishes original fiction, SF, fantasy, horror, and crime, and includes the Hard Case Crime imprint, as well as the Titan Magazines and Titan Comics divisions. In addition, the Titan Merchandise Group (also a part of TPG) produces licensed apparel, gifts, and collectibles that are sold through a variety of pop culture retail channels.
Nick Landau described the Titan Comics division as a “top-10 U.S. comic book publisher.” He added, “Our major market is the U.S., and we are a U.S. publisher headquartered in London, though one with a global marketplace.” Comics are “at the core of the business,” according to Titan Comics publishing director Chris Teather. And book-format comics are “the means by which our comics reach out beyond the [comics shop market] and into bookstores, direct sales channels, supermarkets, and beyond.”
Long dominated by superhero comics, the U.S. comics market has more variety these days. Teather said Titan’s comics “have never been particularly superhero driven in the U.S.” Titan Comics, he said, emphasizes a variety of genres: horror (Penny Dreadful and the Dark Souls series), science fiction (the Doctor Who, Torchwood, and Deus Ex series), historical graphic fiction (the Mycroft, Sherlock, and Dishonored series), and more, including a large line of translated European graphic novels. Licensed comics media properties such as the Doctor Who comics bring in “casual readers and get them hooked, with a satisfying chunk of story all in one volume,” Teather said.
Titan has been the publishing partner of Hard Case Crime (which publishes Stephen King and Lawrence Block, among others) since 2011 and recently launched Hard Case Crime Comics, a new line based on the hard-boiled crime fiction the imprint is known for. The line will launch in the fall with two titles: Triggerman by Walter Hill and artist Matz, a Prohibition-era epic, and Peepland, a gritty 1980s New York tale by Gary Phillips and Andrea Camerini.
Charles Ardai, founder of Hard Case Crime and a longtime comics fan, said: “There’s no distinction between literature and comics. Both have the potential to be art.” A Shamus Award– and Edgar Award–winning author himself, Ardai is also writing one of the HCC comics. “It’s a great opportunity to get in touch with my roots,” he added.
Titan’s array of talented authors includes fiction writers (King and George R.R. Martin among them), lauded comics creators (Garth Ennis, Matt Groening, and John Romita Jr.) and such renowned movie makers as Joss Whedon and Guillermo del Toro.
Landau pointed to a slate of tie-ins surrounding the June release of the movie sequel Independence Day: Resurgence as a perfect project for Titan. “The Independence Day project is a great example how we approach publishing across all our divisions; it’s simply looking for the best way to tell each story,” Landau said. Among the six print tie-ins to Resurgence are a movie novelization (Independence Day: Resurgence), a prequel (Independence Day: Crucible), and a compilation volume made up of three earlier novels (The Complete Independence Day Omnibus). In addition, in June Titan released The Art and Making of Independence Day: Resurgence, as well as two graphic novels based on the franchise.
In another example of how the different units of Titan work together, Landau pointed to Titan’s experience with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the basketball legend turned author, cultural critic, and Sherlock Holmes expert. In 2015, Titan published Mycroft Holmes, the first adult novel by Abdul-Jabbar, a book that focused on Sherlock Holmes’s older brother. Landau said: “This resulted in his new graphic novel, Mycroft Holmes and the Apocalypse Handbook [March 2017], which is actually a steampunk story featuring the character he had written in prose the year before. This was a unique approach and one that utilizes each medium to its fullest extent.”
Forthcoming tie-in graphic novels include Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cyberman, a hardcover collection based on the popular TV show, coming in 2017 and tied to the annual Doctor Who Comics Day, an event supported by thousands of U.S. bookstores and comics shops. Forthcoming Titan prose fiction includes Suicide Squad by veteran comics writer Marv Wolfman (Aug.), a novelization of the blockbuster superhero film, and Sinner Man, Block’s first crime novel, lost for 50 years, which is to be published in hardcover and paperback.
Ardai described Titan as the perfect publishing home for his publishing imprint. “Titan is a sprawling pop culture empire, but it’s also a family business run by a couple who are hardcore pop culture fans,” he said. “I can sit with them for hours looking at sketches, talking about the plots of outrageous crime novels, and it’s like sitting with friends. They’re not just publishing words, they have a profound visual sense, and for Hard Case Crime, the visual is just as important as the prose.”
Correction: Forbidden planet has ten stores, which includes the website; and Titan Merchandise is part of the Titan Publishing Group.