Papercutz, the children’s graphic novel publisher turns 10 years old this year and the company has a some special plans to mark the occasion.
Founded in February 2005 by industry veterans Terry Nantier and Jim Salicrup, the company was initially formed to take advantage of a vacuum in graphic novel publishing at the time.
“It may seem hard to believe now,” explained (Papercutz’s President) Nantier. “But in 2005 there was hardly any graphic novel material being created for kids. Comic stores had become largely inhospitable to younger readers and the larger trade houses had yet to see the potential in children’s graphic novel publishing. Jim and I discussed the state of the market and realized there was an opportunity to create accessible material for kids and distribute it to the trade bookstores and other retail outlets where kids hung out. We started with NANCY DREW and THE HARDY BOYS and haven’t looked back since!”
“I think that starting with those titles and then adding in time-tested brands like CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED, we sent a clear message to parents and educators that this really was “all-ages” material,” added Editor-In Chief Salicrup. “But we never talked down to younger readers or packaged anything in a “kiddie” manner. I think that you need to respect kids’ taste and intelligence if you really want to connect with them and that’s why so many of our series have succeeded with that audience.”
From an initial small stable of licensed properties the company has expanded to work with a who’s who of the entertainment industry including DISNEY, DREAMWORKS, SONY, FOX, SABAN and LEGO and noted creators like Sho Murase, Riff Rebs, Scott Lobdell, Emmanuel Guibert and Lewis Trondheim. The future looks equally bright with new series from the minds of Neil Gaiman and Stan Lee and a “first look” with NICKELODEON. Now Papercutz, is celebrating their legacy with a special anniversary print program that pays tribute to some of the franchises they’ve worked with over the past decade.
“With 2015 marking 10 years of publishing kids’ graphic novels, we wanted to share our excitement with our readers and fans by creating these special prints,” explained Papercutz VP of marketing Sven Larsen. “We’ve enlisted some of the top names in comics to help express what a special event this is for us and celebrate some of the wonderful properties we’ve been lucky enough to be involved with.”
The print program debuts at this year’s BookCon in New York City, where the publisher will debut a special print featuring NANCY DREW by acclaimed artist Stephanie Buscema. Hot on the heels of that debut will be a CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED print by Riff Rebs featuring the legendary Captain Nemo that will be offered for the first time at the American Library Association Conference in San Francisco. Plans call for four more posters in the series, debuting at special events throughout the rest of the year. Each print will be limited to 250 copies, numbered and marked to indicate the extent of the run. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the prints will go to help different charities including the Children’s Book Council, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and the Hero Initiative. Fans who are unable to attend one of the events where the prints are sold will also be given the chance to purchase the prints online or through their local retailer.
“We’re excited to debut these beautiful pieces of art”, enthused Papercutz publisher Terry Nantier. “And we can’t wait to celebrate our anniversary with our fans. In addition to this program we’ve got some special programming at ComicCon this year, some unique promotional items, and a lot more in the pipeline for this year. Best of all we’ve got some great books coming out in the summer and fall that will reflect the tradition of quality and diversity that’s a hallmark of Papercutz’s publishing program.”
“We’ll be announcing more artists in the poster series soon (as well as our big San Diego plans)”, promised Larsen. “So as Jim likes to say, ‘Watch out for Papercutz!’”
Whew! Excuse me while I catch my breath; it’s been a whirlwind world tour for Papercutz this year! Starting with the Bologna Book Fair way back in March, winding around the globe all summer, and ending up back at home for New York Comic Con, we’re planning to sleep until the Papercutz World Tour 2013 kicks off in a few months. But first, we owe our faithful followers a recap of this past weekend’s cavalcade of comics!
As some of you may have guessed by now, New York Comic Con is held in New York, which also happens to be the home of our secret underground lair, so the first thing we did was strap all of our boxes of books and convention magic to the back of Associate Editor Mike Petranek and laughed heartily as he walked everything over to the convention center to set up shop for us. After my more leisurely ride uptown, this is what I found waiting for me:
Nice job, Mike!
After a few grueling hours of work, we turned that sad-looking blank spot on the convention floor into this soon-to-be wonderland of comics for all of the Tri-State Area’s wide-eyed youngsters:
Mike seems surprisingly refreshed!
No sooner were we set up when Editor-In-Chief Jim Salicrup was kidnapped and trundled off to the ICv2 Conference on Comics & Digital by super librarian Scott Robins. Scott, for those few of you who don’t know, is an expert in children’s comics, so much so that he even wrote a book about it! Scott organized an all-star kids’ comics panel at the conference including Francoise Mouly from Toon Books (one of my favorite people), Ed Masessa of Scholastic Book Fairs (one of my favorite places to sell our graphic novels), and Jimmy Gownley, author of Amelia Rules (one of my favorite comics). This incredible assembly of knowledge was meant to enlighten us on every aspect of the kids‘ comics revolution — sales, marketing, publishing, and creative — in just one hour! What’s even more amazing is that Scott succeeded; you could feel the inspiration lifting everyone in the room as we all pondered the fantastic future currently being built by everyone working hard to bring comics to kids.
After accidentally leaving behind some of the booth signage I worked so hard to have ready for the show (I’m brilliant!) it was back to work getting ready for the Big Opening Day on Thursday . . .
. . . and what an opening day it was! In keeping with the library theme, Thursday brought a ton of librarians who love comics to New York Comic Con, so our booth was quite busy throughout the afternoon. Why is that? Well, let me pause for a moment to extoll the virtues of librarians and why we love them so at Papercutz. Librarians don’t just manage libraries; they defend books when they’re challenged by censors, champion authors and titles people may not otherwise know about, help kids develop a love of reading, and generally support the publishing industry every day by buying truckloads of books for their collections. Librarians were among the first wave of publishing industry insiders to accept comics as a real storytelling medium many years ago, and they have been supporting graphic novel publishers like Papercutz ever since. It seems that almost every children’s librarian I meet tells me, “Oh, I just order your whole catalog every season,” and to them I say, “I love you!” Or, if I’m feeling more professional I say, “Why, thank you very much.”
Our good friend Brigid Alverson stopped by in the middle of this biblio-tastic ruckus, which is always a good thing, and we talked about comics, libraries, and most importantly, our upcoming series launches this Fall: Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew and Annoying Orange. Brigid isn’t a librarian herself, but she keeps watch over a fantastic comics blog for libraries called Good Comics For Kids; go subscribe now! I unfortunately didn’t get to talk to Brigid about her globe-trotting adventures this past year, but that just means we’ll have something to talk about at Book Expo.
As we were winding down, Friend of Papercutz Bobby Timony stopped by to say hi and, sadly for him, he got roped into work! Bobby almost never escapes becoming a Papercutz Booth Grunt when we see him at conventions. Check him out here at Comic-Con International hand-lettering our signs:
Sorry, Bobby! You just always walk by when we need you.
We’ll come back to Bobby later. In the meantime, Thursday wound down nicely when Friend of Papercutz Maggie Paquet brought us a bag full of healthy McDonald’s dinner. Thanks, Maggie! We couldn’t have done it without you.
We didn’t get a shot of Maggie at NYCC, but here she is holding a birthday cat.
Friday, otherwise known as the first “real” day of New York Comic Con, dawned cold and quiet and our weary sleepless booth workers were met with the glorious sight of coffee and donuts from Krispy Kreme. (Actually, I should come out and say it right now: we did no work at New York Comic Con. All we did was eat junk food; you can now ignore the rest of this post.) Once set up and full of fatty carbohydrates, we were happy to greet Comics Champion Tony Shenton, New Jersey native and sales rep extraordinaire. Tony took over the book sales and rushed conversations with gusto and made many a visiting retailer happy with the extra discounts offered for the upcoming Papercutz Halloween Sale. (Make sure to call Tony today if your store hasn’t signed up yet!)
Other visiting dignitaries included Chip Mosher and Anshu Dua from comiXology, with whom I forgot I was supposed to meet and talk real business (I’m good at my job!). We’re working closely with these guys on some cool Papercutz additions to the ever-expanding digital comics stock over at comiXology — keep an eagle eye on those apps! I also got to hang out with Beth Kawasaki of Viz Media (my favorite manga editor), Jesse Blaze Snider (my favorite writer/musician/actor with the same name as me), Sean Howe (my favorite Brooklyn neighbor who also writes books about comics) and last but not least, my favorite comics artist Stan Goldberg and his lovely, gracious wife Pauline. I warned Stan that he would need to get some sleep for the crazy weekend full of work I had planned for him, but he didn’t seem to care. Stan is in much better shape than I am!
On to Saturday, or, as I preferred to call it, Power Rangers Day! I bet there aren’t too many of you who have met the brand new Megaforce Rangers team in person, so that just makes me even cooler than my cat thinks I am. Here they are trying to recruit Jim:
It didn’t work, though — Jim likes editing comics too much to switch jobs now! That didn’t stop Megaforce from proofreading our Power Rangers graphic novels, though:
Come on guys, we don’t tell you how to stomp on Nighlok, can’t you leave the comics publishing to us?
After that, everything went back to normal . . .
. . . until superstar Power Rangers author Stefan Petrucha showed up! Almost as soon as Stefan hung up his coat, the booth was stormed by kids and Rangers fans hoping to get his autograph.
Our entire stock of Power Rangers books sold out within minutes and Stefan was left to sign our NYCC-exclusive Power Rangers prints instead! There are only 100 of these in existence, but we saved a couple for our best fans out there.
INSTA-CONTEST! The fifth person to Tweet this blog post with the hashtag #PapercutzPowerRangers will be the lucky winner of a Stefan-signed print! Get to Tweetin’!
Later that afternoon, Stefan was nice enough to bring along his amazingly talented wife Sarah Kinney, who also happens to be the writer of our ongoing Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew series. Sarah and Stan both signed books for Nancy Drew fans who happened to wander by:
Sunday morning was an achingly early one for me, but totally worth it as soon as I sat down for coffee and eggs with the shockingly talented triple-threat of James Silvani, Amy Mebberson, and Aaron Sparrow! These three are true kids’ comics superheroes, having worked on comics starring Darkwing Duck, Richie Rich, Strawberry Shortcake, Muppets, Toy Story, and, gosh, the list goes on and on. After we hatched a secret plot to take over the world and make it safe for early ‘90s TV animation again, I sprinted over to the convention center to kick off Kids Day in style: with the world-famous Papercutz Sketch-A-Thon!
For anyone who has managed to miss these so far, the Sketch-A-Thon is our way of saying thanks to all the kids and parents who make it out to comics conventions around the country all year. How does it work? Artists hang out at the Papercutz booth all day and draw free sketches for everyone. That’s it! Simple and spectacular.
First order of business was to set up Stan Goldberg with a huge pile of paper and gummy erasers as we knew he would have a long, snaky line, and boy were we right about that. Stan loves to tell stories about his many years working with famous superheroes like Spider-Man and Millie the Model and famous celebrities like Stan Lee and Mike Petranek, so hanging out with him while he draws you a picture of Nancy Drew or Moe, Larry, and Curly is a real treat.
Stan muscled through an extra hour to get through the throngs of fans and by the time he was finished, all our Clue Crew and Three Stooges books were out the door!
Afterwards, I convinced Stefan to come back and sign more books for us by enticing him with a turkey sandwich. What’s that you say? Stefan’s Power Rangers books were sold out? Wow, you ARE paying attention! Well, lucky for us, Stefan also invented and wrote our entire Papercutz Slices parody series, so he sat down to chat with eager fans of such classics as Harry Potty and the Deathly Boring, Breaking Down, and The Hunger Pains. I bet you’re expecting me to say that we sold out of these, too, but unfortunately we didn’t; I accidentally left a hidden stack under the table, thereby completing my trifecta of boneheaded mistakes. (Note to my boss: I’m a much better employee than this blog post is making it seem!)
Hey, do you remember good old Bobby Timony? Here’s where he comes back to the story: Sketch-A-Thon Round Two! Bobby was a real prince, dashing out sketches of just about everything under the sun, including characters from our best-selling LEGO Ninjago series that he had never drawn before. I really hope we haven’t scared Bobby off forever and that he ventures past our booth again at future conventions!
Come back, Bobby!
Capping off our NYCC experience and our entire year of convention appearances was something we’re especially proud of: the “Nancy Drew, Comics Detective” panel!
From left to right: Jennifer Fisher, Scott Robins, Todd Latoski, Jim Salicrup, Stan Goldberg, Sarah Kinney, and Stefan Petrucha
We were really glad NYCC and ReedPOP gave us the chance to talk about Nancy Drew comics to a room full of eager super sleuths. Jenn Fisher of the fantastic Nancy Drew Sleuths fan network led the discussion AND gave out incredibly cute Nancy Drew magnets as a surprise gift to the lucky audience. Jenn knows everything there is to know about Nancy Drew and she comes with a winning smile and TV-ready voice, so I knew the panel was in great hands.
The Papercutz Nancy Drew creative team (editor Jim Salicrup, artist Stan Goldberg, and writers Stefan Petrucha and Sarah Kinney) talked about their process, how they work together, and what makes a good Nancy Drew mystery. (Fun Fact: This was also the first time they’ve ever been in the same room together!) Scott Robins was kind enough to give us his perspective on Nancy Drew graphic novels in libraries (answer: Nancy Drew graphic novels are a MUST-have for libraries!) and Todd Latoski dropped some serious knowledge bombs about Nancy’s long history in comics going all the way back to the ‘70s. I would give it all away but that’s another blog post!
Superstar Jenn Fisher of Nancy Drew Sleuths hanging with Drew-tastic cartoonist Stan Goldberg after the panel.
After one final Nancy Drew party/book signing at the booth, NYCC was closed for business, and we all collapsed in an exhausted heap on the sticky soda-stained floor of the Javits Center. Thanks, New York Comic Con! See you next year!