Community Spotlight Series: Fantagraphics Books
June 15th, 2020
Fantagraphics Bookstore in Seattle's Georgetown neighborhood (Photo by Ariel Van Cleave/KNKX)
Kicking off our Community Spotlight Series, this week will feature Fantagraphics Books.
Fantagraphics Books is a Seattle-based publisher of contemporary comics and graphic novels by regional, national, and international cartoonists. Fantagraphics has persisted for over 40 years because of its strong customer base and willingness to innovate. The publisher has received consistent praise with NPR describing their contributions to comics as a “revolutionary transformation” and with The New York Times recognizing the publisher for fighting “to establish comic books as a form of high art.” Locally, Fantagraphics Books is deeply committed to the artistic community through mentoring opportunities, educational and cultural initiatives, and economic activity that benefits countless artists. Globally, Fantagraphics Books maintains reciprocal arrangements with foreign publishers to translate works into multiple languages and contracts with offshore vendors in all aspects of their operations.
Over the years, Fantagraphics Books has partnered with the World Affairs Council to host political cartoonists, journalists, graphic novelists, and other professionals from Indonesia, Russia, North Africa, and the Middle East. Their meeting in 2016 with a group of Russian artists and publishers was particularly meaningful. Larry Reid, curator at Fantagraphics Books, commented that their visit “came at a time of heightened tensions between our countries. We discovered there was more that united than divided us. As a result of that encounter, we entered into foreign licensing agreements and subsequently featured an exhibition and book signing with emerging Russian artists at our retail showroom.” Larry stated that these exchanges provide an invaluable opportunity for Fantagraphics Books to gain an international perspective on cultural and sociopolitical developments while facilitating new business opportunities and the growth of their global footprint. The most recent group of visitors, political cartoonists from the Middle East, met with Fantagraphics Books back in September 2019. You can read our blog post about the visitors and their time in Seattle. To learn more about the impact that this exchange program had on these visitors and their work in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, you can read this blog post by our national partner, Meridian International Center.
Visitors from North Africa and the Middle East pose with Larry Reid, curator at Fantagraphics Books. Their International Visitor Leadership Program, Social Media: Creatively Connecting Communities, came to Seattle in May 2017. (Photo courtesy of Larry Reid)
As the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program recognizes its 80th anniversary, it is clear that the global connections this program creates have real impacts in our community and abroad. The World Affairs Council aims to create productive dialogues on a global scale, but this can only be achieved with help from our community partners like Fantagraphics Books. As Fantagraphics Books makes waves around the world, we look forward to continuing our partnership!
Stay tuned for next week’s post as we continue to recognize community partners and how they connect with our international visitors to build lasting relationships and create positive change in the world. If you would like to learn more about Fantagraphics Books, please visit the Fantagraphics website.
By Austin Surber, International Visitor Program Intern & Sean Bowman, Senior Program Officer