If cartooning has achieved the status of high art in recent years, much of the credit goes to Fantagraphics Books, the Seattle-based publisher that's done more than anyone to elevate comics to a level of respectability. Not only has Fantagraphics spent the last 27 years publishing work by such acknowledged cartooning geniuses as Robert Crumb, Peter Bagge, Bill Griffith, Tony Millionaire and Chris Ware, the company also publishes the immensely influential Comics Journal.
Unfortunately, Fantagraphics has seen better days. Suffering from hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, the publisher recently announced that it was teetering on the brink of disaster. In late May, the publisher sent out a mass e-mail to comic book fanatics and other supporters saying it needed some quick cash if it was going to stay in business. Fantagraphics asked loyal customers to buy a few books to help give the company the boost it needed.
Losing Fantagraphics would be a massive blow to the comics world because it publishes the very best, most creative work in the medium. Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, which I reviewed in the Alibi just a couple weeks ago, is considered one of the greatest comics ever composed. It's an example of the kind of brilliant, innovative work being published by Fantagraphics.
Thankfully, comic lovers responded to the call and Fantagraphics, at least for now, seems to have weathered its current crisis. But the company isn't completely out of the woods yet. You can do your part in preserving this comics institution by ordering from Fantagraphics by logging onto www.fantagraphics.com or calling (800) 657-1100. ec