Okay, let’s get Random House out of the way… Random House is one of the biggest English publishers on the planet, part of the German media conglomerate Bertelsmann. RH has numerous imprints, with most of them actually competing against each other. This means that while Pantheon publishes the most visible graphic novels such as Maus, other divisions will have the occasional graphic novel as well (Knopf publishes Persepolis, Doubleday publishes manga, Crown has how-to).
As if that wasn’t enough to keep me busy, Random House also has a division called “Random House Publisher Services”, where they offer distribution for smaller independent publishers. Among the long list are the following graphic novel publishers:
- Archie Comics
- Blue Apple Books
- Candlewick Press
- DC Comics
- Kodansha USA
- Quirk Books
- Titan Books
- Vertical, Inc.
- Wizards of the Coast
And the other presses sometimes include a graphic novel or related book on the list.
So to keep your eyes from glazing over (or your scroll wheel from turning), I will split this report into two posts. The first will deal with Random House proper; the second with the independent publishers. As always, I usually avoid featuring continuing series. If you’d like to scan everything Random House offers, click here.
So, Random House (or, if being clever, Random Haus) has had a presence in bookstores ever since the first graphic novel boom of the mid-1980s. Titles such as Maus and Life in Hell kept the backlist vibrant during the doldrums which followed the boom, until Chip Kidd revived Pantheon in the mid-1990s. Once the manga boom revived the category, other divisions in Random House began experimenting with the occasion graphic novel.
So, let’s do this by publisher, and see what caught my eye.
Pantheon… Most people think of their titles when they think of Random House or titles which end up in book review magazines.
Their big title this season is Meta Maus, an art history book of Art Spiegelman’s groundbreaking work, Maus. Included in the book is a DVD-ROM containing the complete work, as well as sketches, audio and video files of Vladek and Art Spiegelman, and other rarities. I’ve tested the DVD-ROM, and the layout for the actual graphic novel is one of the best uses yet for digital comics! Thumbnails for the entire page can be seen, as well as sketches for most panels. The disc is easy to navigate, and if that’s not enough by itself, the book has over 300 pages of further information! $35.00 in hardcover, with a DVD-ROM, it’s a bargain for an art book! (No pun intended, Mr. Spiegelman!)
Now, most comics fans would be sated by something as amazing as MetaMaus. But Pantheon has a reputation for producing highly anticipated works. A few years ago, everyone was eager to read “Asterios Polyp”. This year, advance copies of Craig Thompson’s Habibi were highly coveted, as this was his first graphic novel since 2003, when he surprised almost everyone with his masterful “Blankets”. I myself have not yet read the book, hoping to find a day when I can immerse myself completely in the complex storytelling of this title.
Too serious? Too many words? Well, perhaps you’ll enjoy what Random House Children’s Books is publishing!
He’s baa-ack! It’s a brand new school year for everyone’s favorite AMOEBA! Will Squish finally get to sit with the cool kids at lunch? Will Pod stop the giant asteroid from destroying the world? Will the LEECHES be the end of Super Amoeba? And what makes cafeteria nachos so delicious anyway? Find out the answers to these questions and more in Squish’s second electrifying, action-packed adventure!
Brave New Pond (Squish Series #2) From the creators of Babymouse!
And there’s a new Babymouse book! Babymouse #15: A Very Babymouse Christmas!
‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except for . . . Babymouse. The holidays are here and everyone’s enjoying their favorite traditions—eating latkes, decorating for Kwanza, singing holiday songs, and most of all, being with family. Well, everyone except Babymouse. Babymouse only has one thing on her mind—PRESENTS!!! And whether she has to face down the ghosts of mean girls past or outsmart Santa himself, she’ll do whatever it takes to make sure she gets the present she wants. Will Babymouse find a whiz-bang under the tree? Will she learn the true meaning of the holidays? And what do you get for a narrator, anyway? Find out in the 15th graphic novel in the hilarious, award-winning Babymouse series!
Random House also has a series of books known as “8 by 8s” in the trade. These are simple easy-to-read books, usually with some sort of media tie-in. So it’s not surprising to find Green Lantern vs. the Meteor Monster! (Hmmm… that’s a Grimm-looking cover…) $3.99 for 24 pages!
Lunch Lady and the Breakfast Bunch are on a school field trip to a famous art museum. But while Lunch Lady is busy taking in all the culture, the kids have caught onto something strange—some of the artwork looks suspiciously fake! Now Dee, Hector, and Terrence are determined to get to the bottom of this conspiracy, but Lunch Lady is too awed to catch on. Will she snap out of it and come to the rescue? Or will the Breakfast Bunch have to handle this operation alone?
Find out in Lunch Lady and the Field Trip Fiasco!
The Crown Publishing Group, which doesn’t publish many graphic novels, does include Watson-Guptill, which is known for their impressive catalog of how-to titles, and the occasional comics-related book.
So, what’s exciting this season? How about Stan Lee’s How to Write Comics? How about this book in hardcover, paperback, and E-BOOK?! Or maybe you’d rather draw comics? Zombies, vampires, and other supernatural creepy crawlies are popular now, so How to Draw Chiller Monsters, Werewolves, Vampires, and Zombies will help you ride the bandwagon (or hearse) to fame and riches!
Okay, that’s the interesting stuff from Random House! What caught your eye? What did I miss? Tell me below!
I’ve been writing for The Beat since July of 2010.
I’ve been reading comics since 1974, collecting since 1984, and spreading the graphic novel gospel since 1994.
I’m a bookseller, a librarian, an amateur scholar, a cool uncle, and a comics evangelist.
Ask me anything!