Are you ready for a 600 page oral history of Fantagraphics?

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That was rhetorical — of COURSE you are. At long last, after over a decade in the works, We Told You So: Comics As Art the oral history of Fantagraphics begun by Tom Spurgeon and finished by Michael Dean will be coming out this summer, just in time to celebrate the (gasp!) 40th anniversary of the house that Gary and Kim  built. This shocks and astounds me because it means that I’ve been reading comics for 40 years.

Fantagraphics was founded in 1976 by Gary Groth and Mike Catron; they were soon joined by the late Kim Thompson, with aspirations no more ambitious than publishing a fanzine that would knock the industry on its ear. 40 years later, they’ve published some 5,000 comic books and graphic novels, among them some of the greatest masterpieces of the form.

The history, as you might guess from the title, is described as “irreverent” and will include interviews with all the figures, shadowy and world renowned, in the company’s history (Maybe including yours truly if I made the cut) and photos, comics and other rarities from the flat file of history. Based on the sample pages, it will also include a copious history of glamour shots of Gary Groth through the ages.

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Seriously, excited to see who is unearthed from the great attic chest of comics memories in these pages; just a history of people who held the title of Comics Journal editor alone would fill a 400 page book from Scott Nybakken to Greg Baisden to Eric Reynolds to (gasp!) Carole Sobecinski.

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This is going to be fun.

The 40th anniversary gala will be celebrated from coast to coast, at Comic-Con International in San Diego, the Small Press Expo (SPX) in Bethesda, MD and the Columbus Crossroads Festival (CXC). The festivities will close out with a gala hometown bash on December 10th.

I’m guessing that staying humble will not be a major part of these celebrations, but that would not really be in keeping with the proud  Fantagraphics tradition.

Forty years ago, comic books were seen as little more than mindless, adolescent escapism, shunned by literate adults and ignored by the wider culture. Changing the perception —and the fact— has been hard fought, and, 40 years strong, Fantagraphics remains committed to the belief that comics is art, and continues to elevate the form by publishing the most encompassing range of contemporary, cutting-edge cartooning, collections of the seminal underground artists, classic and gag cartoonists, international cartoonists in translation, and library-quality editions of classic newspaper strips and comic books that showcase the form as an artistically sophisticated medium of expression.

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