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Huck Magazine's profile of the D + Q crew

Updated May 2, 2013

"Drawn and Quarterly: Defenders of Print Part One"

D'Arcy Doran
Huck Magazine, 22 April 2013

Cartoons and comics will always have a home, thanks to a devoted shop and publishing house in the heart of Montreal.

Drawn & Quarterly was born between racing red lights and urgent deliveries. Chris Oliveros was an artist working as a bike courier when friends enlisted him to help them put together an indie magazine. Working on the mag lit a spark in Oliveros and he started dreaming of starting his own.

So he did. In 1989, Oliveros borrowed $2,000 from his father and started inviting cartoonists to contribute to the first edition of Drawn & Quarterly, a colourful anthology inspired by Raw, the 1980s underground comics bible created by Art Spiegelman – the Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of Maus - alongside his wife, Francoise Mouly, who is now art director of The New Yorker.

One of those early hand-written letters landed on the doorstep of Daniel Clowes, the cartoonist behind Ghost World, a comic-book tale of two awkward teen girls that saw him nominated for an Oscar when it was adapted for the screen in 2001. “At that time, there were a lot of people putting out magazines and trying to get in on this burgeoning field of alternative comics so I didn’t put much stock in it,” recalls Clowes. “I just thought he was another one of the many. Then the first couple of issues of his magazine were pretty good, but they just got better and better and more ambitious over time. Then he started publishing books by some of my favourite artists.”

Since then, Clowes has published a number of cult books with D&Q, including recent hits Wilson and The Death Ray - just some of the twenty books D&Q puts out a year. “I thought it was only going to be this magazine, right?” Oliveros recalls. “But as I started contacting these other artists, many of them had a lot of work and were looking for their own comic-book series. So it went very naturally from the magazine to these other series that we did.”

For a decade, Oliveros worked mostly alone from his spare bedroom, publishing memoirs, travelogues, reportage and fiction in comics form by some of the medium’s greatest emerging talents, including Seth (Gregory Gallant), Guy Delisle and Adrian Tomine. He couldn’t offer large advances but he built up a roster of artists by offering them higher royalties and working with them to make the most beautiful books possible.

Graphic novels had long been overlooked by mainstream publishers, but in 2000 when a series of books became best-sellers – including Clowes’ David Boring, Marjane Satrapi’s Iranian youth memoir Persepolis, and Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan, which won The Guardian first-book award – big New York publishers started eyeing D&Q’s roster in search of the next hit.

“Any time you design a book you really want it to be like you can’t take your eyes away from it.”

Knowing he needed to step things up, Oliveros e-mailed his friend Peggy Burns, then a publicist for DC Comics, to recommend someone to help him promote D&Q’s books. Burns responded with her own CV. “I was certain she was joking,” Oliveros says. But Burns left Manhattan for Montreal, determined to help D&Q succeed and compete against larger players. Her husband Tom Devlin, who ran a small comics publisher called Highwater Books, also eventually joined D&Q as creative director. “Chris and I both believed graphic novels were the artistic future of comics,” Devlin says. “A lot of people didn’t take a flimsy comic pamphlet seriously and that had held comics back for years.”

Devlin credits McSweeney’s with injecting new excitement into publishing by smashing the mould with magnetic spines, fold-out covers and and books that come in pieces in boxes, ready to be read in any order. “There is definitely a bit of a design revolution going on,” he says. “We definitely still think: ‘This needs a little extra,’ or ‘What’s going to make this special?’

“Any time you design a book you really want it to be like you can’t take your eyes away from it. It really just catches your eye and you’re like, ‘What is happening?’” Devlin says. “If you can just get someone to touch the book, you’ve won a battle.”

Five years ago, D&Q opened its own store in Montreal’s Mile End neighbourhood to showcase its own books, and those by publishers they admire. Hosting readings, gigs and workshops – Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Bookstore is a community space where people can share their love of the comics. “It’s a design thing, it’s a rhythm thing and it’s the writing and drawing,” says Devlin, “And when it’s all there together, it just works. It’s magic.”
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  The Ottawa Citizen recommends the Drawn & Quarterly Bookstore for your holiday shopping

Updated December 14, 2010

An insider's guide to buying gifts in Montreal

by Patricia Gajo

If you're holiday-shopping in Montreal, why head to the obvious big-chain retailers when you can scope out something a little bit off the beaten track, literally. In case there's someone you still haven't checked off on your Santa list, we've expertly hand-picked five extraordinary boutiques that will, hopefully, inspire you to pick out exciting and original presents. And, because shopping can sometimes be taxing, we've also included five great spots for taking a retail break.



Drawn & Quarterly

Neighbourhood: Mile End

Why go: Not your average bookstore, Drawn & Quarterly doubles as an indie publishing house, considered by many to be No. 1 for graphic novels. Founder and head honcho Chris Oliveros recently published Chicago-native Dan Clowes' newest book Wilson (you may recall his celebrated title Ghost World was made into a movie with Scarlett Johansson). Fox Searchlight just bought the rights, so expect a movie from this as well. Other than comics, D&Q also sell DVDs, posters, kids' books, and contemporary fiction -- according to Seydel, "the smarter side of popular lit."

Budget buy: "We try and keep things affordable," says store manager Rory Seydel. And how! You can buy a handmade zine by artist Pascal Girard for $1.

Big spender: Pick up an old copy of Raw magazine, an early experimental graphic novel by Art Spiegelman, $180.

Gift wrapping: Yes.

Holiday hours: Dec. 1 to 13, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Dec. 14 to 23, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Dec. 24, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Dec. 25, closed.

Address: 211 Bernard St. West

Contact: 1-514-279-2224 or www.drawnandquarterly.com

Take a break: Seydel gets his allonge at Le Zigoto (5731 Parc Ave). "Olimpico would be the obvious choice," he admits, but he prefers the "nice vibe" that owner Lawrence creates at this tiny, artsy cafe.
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Drawn & Quarterly featured in La Press's Puces POP tour guide

Updated October 5, 2010

Métiers d'art «sautés»

by Émilie Côté
La Presse
29 septembre 2010

Drawn & Quarterly

Les amateurs de bandes dessinées de Montréal connaissent bien cette librairie qui anime la rue Bernard, dans le Mile End. Drawn&Quarterly est avant tout une importante maison d'édition, dont les publications ont été citées dans The New York Times Book Review, Los Angeles Times et Rolling Stone.
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  Canadian Art studies the art of comics through the D+Q catalogue

Updated September 7, 2010

The Art of Compression: Comic Conversations

by Kenton Smith
in Canadian Art, September 2nd

Towards the end of Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s mammoth comics autobiography A Drifting Life, his artist hero experiences an epiphany: “There are still expressive methods left for gekiga [dramatic pictures] to explore.”

Such “dramatic pictures” go by various names—comics, graphic novels, graphic narratives—but the point remains. Like all media, comics enjoy a perpetual state of self-discovery and reconsideration: even as scholarship and critical theory continues to amass, contemporary artists continue to fracture established conventions. Bruce Grenville, co-curator of the Vancouver Art Gallery’s 2008 "KRAZY!" exhibition, says that comics is a medium that is by no means exhausted, and indeed “does not seem to lend itself to stability.”

Indeed, comics have perhaps never been as diverse, vibrant and exciting as now—for they are no longer possible to pigeonhole. Comics publisher Chris Oliveros, founder of the Montreal-based publisher Drawn & Quarterly, says “the work today is so diverse—everyone has a unique vision.” Insofar as comics can be considered a literary medium, there seems to be no category they’ve neglected, whether memoir (A Drifting Life), journalism (Joe Sacco’s Palestine) or fictional biography (Seth’s George Sprott). Chester Brown wanted to do Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography because, well, who else was doing history as comics? And besides, he explains, “comics’ visual dimension makes a story more engaging, and keeps history from being dull.”

But are comics simply a matter of providing pictures for the reader intimidated by text? According to Grenville, “the language of comics is neither that of prose or the visual. There are aspects of both, but one doesn’t read comics in the same way as either. Comics are a unique form of visual communication.” As Seth points out, one absorbs visual information completely differently from text; hence, says Jillian Tamaki, artist of the Governor General’s Award–nominated Skim, “people still need to learn how to ‘read’ comics.”

How unique are comics? Opinions vary among friends and fellows. “It’s a given,” says Seth, “that a medium always does something that others don’t.” On the other hand, argues Brown, “I think it’s more that comics are simply able to do certain things well.”

A definitive aspect of comics, according to Seth, it’s that it’s a narrative art form. This consequently determines its characteristics in numerous ways. For one thing, it means the image cannot be divorced from its narrative context—every panel has to be well composed, but can’t necessarily be isolated. “If the image is gorgeous but doesn’t communicate the story, it’s not good comic art,” declares Tamaki.

Furthermore, Seth continues, excessive visual detail distracts in a narrative context; the best comic art reduces the images on the page to a minimalist essence (although there remains an aesthetic beauty to the overall page design). It’s the reductive choices an artist makes, he says, that define the artist’s style.

At a deeper level, the very form of comics is suited to particular narrative techniques. Seth favours presentation of disparate elements, letting viewers make connections as they will. His recent George Sprott is a perfect example: the titular character’s life is related in episodic, fractured fashion through the memories of various characters. Carefully planted within the juxtaposed words and pictures are recurring motifs—such as a painting of an Inuit girl—that initially seem inconsequential but acquire later significance. As celebrated Watchmen writer Alan Moore has repeatedly pointed out (as in a 1988 interview from Strange Things Are Happening) the reader can flip between pages to unpack at his or her own pace the dense information contained in both image and text. Comics, says Seth, are about compression.

This characteristic makes comics a highly individual reading experience. “They really can’t be shared,” Seth declares. “You could say that about a novel, but even novels lend themselves to readings before an audience.” For the same reason, Tamaki “feels funny” about situating comics in a gallery.

If comics are intimate for the reader, Seth and Brown do agree upon this: comics are also extremely conducive to personal expression. “Comic artists spend a lot of time working alone,” Seth confides. “And isolation is conducive to introspection and interior reverie. For me, comics and self-expression go hand in glove.” How interesting, he continues, when one considers that comic characters have in fact been mostly extroverted throughout history—most prominently in the superhero genre.

That one story comes from a single artist means one can tell stories of a more personal nature, declares Brown: “For artists who want to tell such stories, comics are perfect.” As per Seth, D&Q has the most clear-cut catalogue of the former approach. His own work in Palookaville exemplifies this, as does that of Brown (I Never Liked You), Lynda Barry (What It Is) and Adrian Tomine (Shortcomings).

Yet, according to Seth, the younger generation of artists hasn’t always embraced these aims; what’s coming back is more visually oriented work. The D&Q catalogue is becoming increasingly characterized by such work as well: examples include titles from the Petit Livres imprint, such as Montreal-based artist Matthew Forsythe’s Ojingogo, nominated twice for an Eisner Award and winner of a 2009 Doug Wright Award for Best Experimental Comic. An almost completely wordless picture narrative, Ojingogo also dispenses with other established conventions, such as panels. Likewise, “The Tapemines,” included in Tamaki’s first book Gilded Lilies, is an 80-page textless comic that often resembles a picture scroll.

“Comics are really just sequential art,” says Tamaki. “They don’t even have to be panels on a page.”

So words aren’t necessarily so important. For that matter, are comics even really all about the narrative? Take the “Gustun” comic included in London, Ontario-born artist Marc Bell’s Hot Potatoe. Bell sees it as falling somewhere between comics and stand-alone drawing—a “quasi” or “open” narrative that nonetheless more resembles a diagram. For that matter, he says even his “ahtwerks” sometimes contain extremely loose narrative threads (albeit highly esoteric and perhaps impenetrable ones). Such play on form is reminiscent of the cubists’ visual “games,” in which the line between two- and three-dimensional was straddled as much as possible.

But what is Bell’s angle, exactly? He says his M.O. is to deconstruct and make novel use of “comics language” for his drawings, collages and mixed media works. Whether it’s the drawing style, the inclusion of text or use of grid forms, the influence of comics is fundamental and pervasive. “I see comics and drawing as all the same thing, anyway,” Bell says. Yet he insists he’s no Warhol or Lichtenstein: “I’m a cartoonist creating art, not the other way around.”

What all this means, according to Oliveros, is this: “The whole medium is growing. There’s more experimentation now—many artists don’t seem to feel as constrained.” As a trained illustrator and designer, Tamaki remains unconditioned to thinking that comics necessitate a certain style; for that matter, she cites non-comic influences like impressionism and expressionism in addition to Japanese manga. After all, Tamaki argues, comics aren’t a style, they’re a medium—and for that matter, a medium in transition. “I’m still figuring out my own approach to comics,” she concludes.

Perhaps the last word belongs to Seth: “There’s a lot of changes that are taking place in the comics medium that no one could have anticipated. And this will probably continue to be the case.”
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Chester Brown
Drawn & Quarterly


D+Q in The Globe and Mail

Updated May 28, 2009

A comic book hero for the grownups


Special to The Globe and Mail, Thursday, May. 07, 2009 02:47AM EDT

A Canadian publisher that does 75 per cent of its business in the United States is distinguished enough. On its 20th anniversary, however, the cultural influence of the Montreal-based Drawn & Quarterly may be recognized as even more pervasive.

"It's part of a group of publishers that changed comics," says cartoonist Seth, whose award-winning Palookaville was one of the first series published by D&Q after its founding in 1989. And according to Françoise Mouly, art editor of The New Yorker, "The impact from its beginning until now is central to North American comics publishing."

It was in the late 1960s that artists like R. Crumb broke new ground with the likes of Zap Comix. Then in 1980, Mouly and husband Art Spiegelman first edited and published RAW magazine, a comics anthology that ran until 1991. It was in RAW that Spiegelman's Pulitzer Prize-winning comic Maus first appeared.

"D&Q picked up, in a way, where RAW left off - and did so very, very well," declares Mouly.

The person who continued the tradition was D&Q founder Chris Oliveros, who discovered the mature, personal, and even political nature of so-called "alternative" comics as a teenager. By the millennium, such comics had, in his words, "reached a threshold" - and the media were noticing.

Montreal cartoonist Chester Brown's Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography, published by D&Q, made Time magazine's list of Best Comix of 2003.

In short, says Lynn Bennett, co-founder of the Transatlantic Literary Agency, "D&Q has taken a genre of publishing and made it mainstream."

"For a long time, there was an impenetrable mindset in North America that comics were genre-based junk for children," says Adrian Tomine, whose D&Q-published Shortcomings was selected as a 2007 New York Times Notable Book. "D&Q did a lot to change that."

D&Q was, as per its name, originally a quarterly. Looking for contributors, Oliveros wrote to artists and placed ads in publications like The Village Voice.

"It was surprising - my strategy worked," says Oliveros with characteristically understated humour.

It was the arrival of publicist Peggy Burns, now D&Q's associate publisher, which altered the company's direction. Burns secured Farrar, Straus & Giroux as a U.S. distributor, which gave D&Q a higher profile by getting its products into bookstores.

Burns also spearheaded D&Q's signing with Transatlantic, which represents the company's foreign-language rights, and has sold its books across the globe.

While hard-core comic fans remain D&Q's primary audience, Burns says it has equally targeted a literary audience: D&Q regularly advertises in Harper's and The New Yorker. For that matter, D&Q publications are regularly reviewed in the latter.

"People who read books like our books," she says.

One reason may be the uncompromising nature of the work. After 2002's graphic novel One Hundred Demons, Lynda Barry couldn't find a publisher for the book that became the experimental What It Is.

"It wouldn't have been published without D&Q," Barry claims. To date, What It Is is D&Q's fastest- and best-selling title ever.

Oliveros describes his editorial approach as very hands-off: "When we establish a relationship with an artist, it's because we like their work in the first place. We don't interfere with the actual story."

According to Seth, the approach might actually be a little too hands-off.

"Chris never gives any feedback," he laughs. "It's a shared joke among the various D&Q artists, although he's apparently getting better."

D&Q has also been instrumental in launching artists' careers. "I wouldn't have one without D&Q," claims Tomine. In fact, he says that being published by the company was a long-held ambition.

It is D&Q's small-is-beautiful business model that facilitates more personal relationships with the artists, Oliveros explains. More importantly, perhaps, it allows for strong branding through a select list.

Another major reason for the esteem Oliveros has earned is the premium he and his partners put on the design of their books. While RAW may have opened the door to this trend, Seth credits D&Q with having been a major factor in setting a standard for comics to be treated as "beautifully crafted objects."

"Because Chris Oliveros is an artist himself, he wants the books to look great," says Brown.

While unusual to be an English-language publisher based in Montreal, Oliveros always planned to stay put. Notably, D&Q also publishes English translations of francophone Québécois artists such as Pascal Blanchet and Pascal Girard; hence, D&Q has become a leader in a whole other dimension of the comics business.

Today, Seth observes a different approach from the younger generation of D&Q artists: more "visually-oriented, psychedelic work" reminiscent of the original Sixties underground comics. It's confirmation the company Oliveros started remains at the forefront of the comics medium.

On Friday, graphic artists Adrian Tomine, Yoshihiro Tatsumi and Seth read at Harbourfront in Toronto (http://www.readings.org). Drawn & Quarterly will also be celebrating its 20th anniversary at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival Friday through Sunday (http://www.torontocomics.com/tcaf).

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  D+Q to lead Graphic Novel Workshop in Montreal!

Updated March 15, 2006


Saturday, March 25, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Led by Tom Devlin, designer and production manager at Drawn & Quarterly;
professor at the Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont; wrote and edited for
The Comics Journal; reviewed for The Believer; former publisher of Highwater
Books; designed jackets and books for other independent comics publishers and
Harvard University Press.

Workshops take place at the QWF office, Suite 3, Atwater Library unless
otherwise indicated. You must contact the office to register (514.933-0878).
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GLOBE & MAIL'S Martin Levin on COMICS

Updated November 7, 2005

Not so comic

Saturday, November 5, 2005 Page D25

When I was a child, all my friends collected comic books: Donald Duck, Little Lulu, Batman, Roy Rogers, Tarzan, Vault of Horror, even Archie. Grownups had no doubt they were fodder for us alone. Questionable fodder, at that. A censorious psychiatrist named Frederick Wertham wrote an influential book, The Seduction of the Innocent, in which he demonized comic books as the cause of everything from mental retardation to cultural apocalypse. Strange, though, how a generation weaned on comics is so reluctant to give up the form, instead relishing, into our thirties, forties and beyond, its increasing complexity and sophistication.

The difficulty until recently has been getting mainstream attention for comics -- or comix, as many now call them. Originally, the word referred to independent, underground, sometimes scandalous comics such as those of Robert Crumb and Gilbert Shelton, but now it's also a means of distinguishing them from older, simpler sources of childhood pleasures.

Crumb and his co-freaks were artistic outlaws, the vanguard of a satiric samizdat. Not respectable. But a trio of New Yorkers began a revolution in how comics are perceived. Art Spiegelman's Maus was an inspired, profoundly moving account of the Holocaust and its aftermath, particularly its effect on the relationship between the artist and his father. Ben Katchor's Julius Knipl books created a stunningly evocative alternative New York as seen through the darkly naive eyes of a lonely real-estate photographer.

The third member of the troika was the late Will Eisner (1917-2005), who may plausibly be regarded as the father of the graphic novel. Eisner is probably best known as creator of the comic-book superhero The Spirit, but his more lasting legacy should be The Contract with God trilogy. First appearing in 1978, it is a highly detailed account of growing up in a tenement during the Depression, as Eisner did. And, as in all the best graphic novels, the marriage of word and image is central to the effect. It is no small claim to say, as The Economist did, that his work is worthy of comparison with that of Bernard Malamud or Isaac Singer, or as I do, that the trilogy can stand with a great novel that mines a similar vein, Henry Roth's Call It Sleep. Lucky us! For the original three volumes --The Contract with God, Life Force, Life on Dropsie Avenue -- are being reissued by Norton in a single volume, The Contract with God: Life on Dropsie Avenue, late this month: a great Christmas present, an even better one for Chanukah.

The gate once open, a horde of barbarians streamed through. In fact, entire publishing houses are devoted to the form. In the United States, Fantagraphics, which produces both alternative comics and collections of old mainstream strips such as Krazy Kat and Peanuts, was a pioneer. Canada has the highly regarded Drawn & Quarterly of Montreal, which has published innovative comix and developed their creators -- Seth (whose Wimbledon Green is reviewed today), Chester Brown, Julie Doucet, Ho Che Anderson and David Collier among them. D&Q also produces some superb international figures such as the innovative Chris Ware and cartoonist cum war correspondent Joe Sacco.

But mainstream publishers have also caught on, particularly Pantheon, which published Marjane Satrapi's potent Persopolis series, which caught the predicament of a secular Iranian girl after the Khomeini Revolution. It also publishes the harsh-tender works of Daniel Clowes (Ghost World, Ice Haven), David B.'s opus, Epileptic, and has just issued a hardcover version of Charles Burns's astonishing 12-comic-book tale, Black Hole (unpaginated but plenty big, $34.95).

Burns, who began his career with Spiegelman's avant-garde comics magazine RAW, has mastered various comic-book tropes -- teenage love, vulnerable wise-ass kids, EC Comics-style horror, the underground comics obsession with sex and drugs -- and shapes them to his own subversive ends. His dark, highly contrasted art is a perfect foil for this story of teen angst. A plague has broken out among randy high-schoolers in Washington State in the 1970s. Spread by sexual contact -- shades of AIDS! -- it takes unpredictable forms. Some of its sufferers become physically grotesque and seek collective refuge in the woods. Others develop stigmata: One grows a tail, another a mouth in his neck, another pulls mystical scrolls from holes in her feet. And it's incurable.

Burns gives us a trio of protagonists: Keith Pearson, Chris Rhodes and Eliza. The prosaic nature of their names is belied by the horrific nature of their adultless predicament, and shunts back and forth in time, space and narrative consciousness, not to mention fantasy and what passes for reality, as well as sexual affiliation. This tense, atmospheric, sometimes hallucinatory work is one of the best evocations of the terrors of teenhood I've ever seen, further proof, if such were needed, of the novelistic capacities of the graphic form.
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  D+Q Newsletter Volume 2004 #2

Updated September 24, 2004

D+Q Newsletter Volume 2004 #2

You'll be thrown into a time warp as D+Q is publishing five actual comic books to debut at the Fall conventions! That brings our grand total of comics in 2004 to eight comic books, the most in at least ten years! We have it all: reprints, serials and new comics from a range of cartoonists. This Fall, you can read OR ELSE #1 by Kevin Huizenga, DOGS & WATER by Anders Nilsen, BABEL #1 by David B., PALOOKAVILLE 17 by Seth, and ABOVE & BELOW by James Sturm. And closer to the holidays, you can read BERLIN #11 by Jason Lutes! The comics range in all shapes and size from the oversized slip-covered sequel to Epileptic but standalone story BABEL to the 88-page DOGS & WATER.

And we have a new Collier graphic novel!! THE FRANK RITZA PAPERS is the biggest and best Collier book to date, with half of it devoted to sketches of his travels.

We are pleased to announce that this Winter we will debut a new art book series that is, yes, limited edition, but also affordable! PETITS LIVRES will be a small, inexpensive art book series with the debut volumes being LADY PEP by Julie Doucet, THE CHRONICLES OF LUCKY ELLO by Peter Thompson and THE STACKS by Marc Bell. They will only be available from us and better comic shops across North America this December! And just what is this affordable price for an inside peek at the minds of the world's best cartoonists and artists...$9.95 US!

D+Q congratulates James Sturm on the upcoming Fall 05 opening of the CCS, Center for Cartoon Studies. We would also like to thank James for making the D+Q submission process easier as we'll tell aspiring cartoonists everywhere to attend CCS in White River Junction, VT! And why not? James not only found a physical space in the idyllic setting of White River Junction, but he has raised enough money to open the doors in Fall 05. Not content with stopping there, he has confirmed lectures for the students by Art Spiegelman, Craig Thompson, Scott McCloud, Craig Thompson, Chris Ware and Ivan Brunetti and that's just the first year! CCS will offer a "two-year full-time course of study that centers on the study, creation, and dissemination of comics, graphic novels and other manifestations of the visual narrative. CCS will also offer workshops and lectures to the general public, art educators, and high school students." Making it the only school in the nation solely devoted to the study of the comics medium as an art form. More information: www.cartoonstudies.org. James will be on the road for CCS, see below!

D+Q congratulates Seth on his New Yorker cover! A long-time contributor to the the magazine's interior pages, Seth had his first New Yorker cover this past August which charmingly portrayed a hot summer in the city. The cover can be viewed here:


D+Q, Tomine, Seth, Brown, Collier, Nilsen, Huizenga, Sikoryak, Panter, Ware, Crumb and Sturm on the road Fall 2004: Toronto, NYC, Bethesda, Portland, Boston and Austin.

Sunday, 9/26-DAVID COLLIER & CHESTER BROWN at Word on the Street in TORONTO: D+Q at Toronto's WORD ON THE STREET festival Note the location has changed, it is now in Queen's Park. David Collier will be on hand to sign his brand new graphic novel THE FRANK RITZA PAPERS and fellow cartoonist Chester Brown with his third printing of Louis Riel. Look for us, we'll be right next to the Beguiling booth! And we will have DOGS & WATER and OR ELSE#1! More information: http://thewordonthestreet.ca/

Friday, 10/1-3-KEVIN HUIZENGA, ANDERS NILSEN & R. SIKORYAK at SPX in BETHESDA: SPX has expanded to three whole days and we couldn't be happier. Come check out and meet Kevin Huizenga and Anders Nilsen who will be debuting their new D+Q comics Or Else #1 and Dogs & Water and R. Sikoryak who is a special guest of ICAF! He will be presenting a slide show at ICAF & SPX on Saturday at 3:15-4:15 LIT INTO COMICS I: "Masterpiece Comics." More information: www.spxpo.com

Saturday, 10/2, 8 PM-CHRIS WARE at DARTMOUTH in HANOVER: At the Hopkins Center at Dartmouth Chris Ware and This American Life radio host Ira Glass will be presenting a lecture entitled: Visible & Invisible Drawings: An Evening with Ira Glass & Chris Ware. More info: http://www.hop.dartmouth.edu/archive/04-05/04-fall-events/06-glass-ware.html.

Saturday, 10/2, 9:30 PM-R. CRUMB at THE NEW YORKER FEST in NYC: R. Crumb & Aline Kominsky-Crumb will talk with New Yorker cover-art editor Francois Mouley at the Knitting Factory. More information: http://festival.newyorker.com/det_1002_night_crumb.cfm

Saturday, 10/2-3-DAVID COLLIER & ADRIAN TOMINE at New York Is Book Country in NYC: Yes, D+Q is in two places at once! Please note that the location has changed this year, NYIBC is now on the NYU campus. D+Q is booth #xxx, right next to the Jim Hanley's Universe booth. Adrian Tomine will be by on Saturday at 12:00 PM to sign SCRAPBOOK. And straight from Toronto David Collier will be there on Saturday and Sunday to sign the Frank Ritza Papers. More information: http://www.nyisbookcountry.com/

Monday, 10/4, 6 PM-JAMES STURM at the Cervantes Institute in NYC: A round table discussion "Nuevas perspectivas del comic en España y América Miguelanxo Prado and James Sturm" More information: http://nyork.cervantes.es/PortalNewYork.asp?CodCentro=27&CodIdioma=2

Thursday, October 14, 7 PM - CHESTER BROWN at McMaster University in Hamilton, ON Chester Brown will be presenting his LOUIS RIEL slide show for students and the public at McMaster University, Togo Salmon Building #201.

Friday, 10/22 8pm & 10/23 1-4 PM-JAMES STURM & CCS in PORTLAND, ME: James Sturm produced two bold, remarkable short novellas set in different periods on the American frontier. Both stories, The Revival and Hundreds of Feet Below Daylight, are collected together for the first time in Above and Below, which James will be signing along with THE GOLEM'S MIGHTY SWING at Casco bay Books. The next day James will be reviewing portfolios for CCS at the Map Room which will exhibit a week-long traveling CCS art show with art by Chris Ware, Craig Thompson and Seth for one week. More information: www.cascobaybooks.com & www.cartoonstudies.org

Friday, 10/22, 8pm-SETH at the International Festival of Authors (IFOA) in TORONTO: Seth has been invited to interview Art Spiegelman onstage at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto for Art's new book In The Shadow of No Towers from Pantheon. More Information: http://www.readings.org/2004_IFOA/authorCard.php?id=spiegelman_art

Tuesday, 10/28, 7PM - DAVID COLLIER at McMaster University in Hamilton, ON: Joe David Collier as he presents a talk on his work in conjunction with his new THE FRANK RITZA PAPERS at McMaster University, Togo Salmon Building #201.

Friday, 11/12-ADRIAN TOMINE, GARY PANTER & SETH at the New Yorker College Tour in AUSTIN, TX: The New Yorker is visiting colleges across the country and is featuring its contributors to the public at large in a series of events over three days. Adrian Tomine, Gary Panter and Seth will join the tour in November at the University of Texas at Austin for a panel discussion about graphic novels. The tour is based upon on the successful New Yorker Festival and will combine teaching, interviews, fiction readings, talks, music, and film into programs for students and local readers. All proceeds benefit GRants for Active Student Participants (GRASP). More Information: www.newyorkercollegetour.com

Tuesday, 11/16 5 PM & Wednesday, 11/17- JAMES STURM in BOSTON, MA: James will be a feature guest and will be presenting his slide show at an arts festival themed to the Golem in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts on 5:00pm at Congregation Mishkan Tefila, 300 Hammond Pond Parkway, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467. The following day, James will be in Boston at the Kenmore Square comics emporium Comicopia to review portfolios for CCS and sign copies of his new comic. Time TBA.

Just this past week, Adrian Tomine was a guest at Toronto's Harbourfront Reading Series and packed in over 250 people to see his new slide show. He garnered feature stories in the Toronto Star, Globe & Mail, National Post and Eye Weekly. He should appear next week on Canada's national entertainment show E! Talk Daily. His latest release, SCRAPBOOK has been featured and/or reviewed in the following venues: Bust Magazine, Utne Magazine, Dazed & Confused Magazine, Giant Robot Magazine, LA Weekly, Publishers Weekly, New York Newsday, Booklist, Westchester Journal News, The Onion, Chicago New City, Chicago Reader, Eastbay Express, Resonance, Daily Californian, Austin Chronicle, The Austin American Statesmen as well as other fine publications. Adrian also went on a coast to coast book tour in June, pictures from his Los Angeles art opening and signing at the Giant Robot gallery can be found here:

This past Spring, Seth had two major releases BANNOCK BEANS & BLACK TEA and CLYDE FANS BOOK ONE. Seth also went on an book tour of both Canada and the US. He made headlines across Canada in the Globe & Mail, Vancouver Sun, Calgary Herald, Montreal Gazette, Halifax Chronicle Herald and National Post as well as appearances on CBC: The Arts Today and Richardson's Roundup. In the US, Seth was reviewed and/or featured in the Washington Post, Chicago Sun, New York Press, Publishers Weekly, The Onion, not to mention a review in the New York Times Book Review and a full page excerpt from CLYDE FANS in the New York Times Magazine.

D+Q and our cartoonists received a major profile this past summer. In June, Andrew Arnold profiled the company with a spotlights on Chester Brown in the Canadian edition of Time Magazine. And in July, D+Q was featured in an extensive article on literary graphic novels by Charles McGrath in the New York Times Magazine.

All press can be found on our website, www.drawnandquarterly.com

A number of D+Q titles and cartoonists were nominated for a variety of comic awards in the industry. In June at the MoCCA fest, we brought home a record FIVE HARVEY AWARDS: Chester Brown for "Best Graphic Novel Reprint"& "Best Writer," Chris Ware for "Best Coloring" and "Special Award for Excellence in Presentation" and Chris Oliveros for the anthology DRAWN & QUARTERLY 5.

Congratulations to James Sturm for his "Best Limited Series" EISNER Award for his Marvel Comics Fantastic Four story UnStable Molecules. D+Q was "happy just to be nominated" at the Eisners where several D+Q titles, cartoonists and stories were up for a number of awards including "Best Short Story," 'Best Anthology," "Best Graphic Album-New," " Best Graphic Album-Reprint," "Best Comics Related Book" and "Best Publication Design."

On Sunday night, October 3rd we will happily be in attendance at the IGNATZ AWARDS at SPX , where we have the following nominations: Chester Brown for "Outstanding Artist," THE FIXER and LOUIS RIEL for "Outstanding Graphic Novel," Kevin Huizenga's GLENN GANGES story from D+Q SHOWCASE 1 and Michel Rabagliati's PAUL IN THE METRO story from D+Q 5 are both up for "Outstanding Story," and for "Outstanding Debut" we have David B's BABEL #1, Kevin Huizenga's OR ELSE #1 and Anders Nilsen's DOGS & WATER.

We are pleased to announce that as of January 2005, we will be a client publisher of the renowned publishing house Farrar, Straus & Giroux, the publisher of our favorite authors including Jonathan Lethem, Jeffrey Eugenides, Susan Sontag, Tove Jansson and William Steig! In other words, FSG will be our US distributor in the book market.

Here's our Spring 05 list, though our website will not have previews until late Fall: Michel Rabagliati's PAUL MOVES OUT, Joe Sacco's WAR'S END: PROFILES FROM BOSNIA 1995-96, Frank King's WALT & SKEEZIX, Gary Panter's SATIRO-PLASTIC and the DRAWN & QUARTERLY SHOWCASE #3 with Genevieve Castree, Sammy Harkam, and Matt Broersma.

All of our Spring books are in stores as well as this Summer's long awaited release of Archer Prewitt's SOF BOY #3, so be sure to check out Adrian Tomine's SCRAPBOOK, Seth's CLYDE FANS BK ONE, DRAWN & QUARTERLYSHOWCASE #2 with Penti Otsamo, Jeffrey Brown and Erik DeGraaf, Harry Mayerovitch's WAY TO GO and John Gallant's, with his son Seth, memoir BANNOCK, BEANS & BLACK TEA.

XI. Albert Chartier (1912-2004) and Harry Mayerovitch (1910-2004)
This past Spring unfortunately marked the deaths of two D+Q cartoonists, both from Quebec. Albert Chartier was a pioneering Quebecois cartoonist who, sadly, was unknown outside of the province his whole life. He was known for his covers for Le Samedi and Weekend Magazine and his strips Onesime, Les Canadiens and Suzette. A retrospective of his work can be found in DRAWN & QUARTERLY 5. Harry Mayerovitch passed away on the morning of his 94th birthday, two weeks after the launch for his book WAY TO GO at the Blue Met Bleu Festival where over 300 people showed up to wish him well. Mayerovitch was one of Montreal's most revered citizens as in addition to being a cartoonist, he was an architect, town planner, sculptor, painter, professor, accordion player, and avid garage sale shopper. His artwork can be found in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, The Musee de Quebec, The Montreal Musuem of Fine Arts and the National Portrait Gallery of Canada and in the pages of DRAWN & QUARTERLY 4 & 5.

XII. Contact Information

Peggy Burns
Drawn & Quarterly
Marketing & Publicity Director
PO Box 48056
Montreal, QC H2V 4S8
514 279 0691

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Quill & Quire Reviews D+Q 5!

Updated September 16, 2004

The self-titled anthology Drawn and Quarterly now on its fifth volume, is an impressive, full-colour tome that introduces North America to some of the world's best new comic book talent, as well as providing generous retrospectives of past masters. In this edition, rural Quebec comics grandfather Albert Chartier is given 80 pages of his long running strip Onesime. These chronicle not only Chartier's talent, but the rich culture of rural Quebec through the 1950s and 60s. Another highlight is a translation of a 1970 story by Japanese master Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Rutu Modan, a new comics artist from Israel, is another wonderful find. Modan uses a visceral range of colour to draw the reader into the story.

Once Drawn and Quarterly's flagship publication, the anthology has long been eclipsed by the company's extensive booklist. But in many ways the evolution of the anthology over the years mirrors the evolution of the company, and editor and publisher Chris Oliveros's definition of comics. First designed and distributed as a traditional magazine that tolerated sillier pieces, the anthology changed over to heavier stock and more colour pages to match increasingly serious work. Now an oversized, perfect-bound book, the Drawn and Quarterly anthology is a sizeable weight on the bookshelf befitting its status as one of the world's pre-eminent venues for short graphic fiction.

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  PW Reports on FSG & DQ Deal.

Updated July 20, 2004

FSG Draws In Unlikely Distribution Client

It's the season of new distribution clients--and this one's a doozy. FSG will start distributing graphic-novels. That's not a misprint. The house has agreed to take over the U.S. distribution of Montreal-based graphic-novel publisher Drawn & Quarterly in a move that's in fact fairly intuitive, as it brings together a venerable New York literary publishing house and an acclaimed publisher of literary comics.

Spenser Lee, senior v-p and director of sales at FSG, acknowledged that this is new ground for his company, but said the two houses share "similar publishing values. I think we both focus on individual books and authors." He added, "I think we can sell their books like we would any regular FSG title." The new arrangement brings to mind Norton's distribution agreement with literary comics publisher Fantagraphics Books.

The house's books are currently distributed in the U.S. by Chronicle. Though the SF-based house originally provided exposure for the company in the U.S.--and there was compatibility in how both published artful, well-designed books--Chronicle's focus on more novelty and concept title didn't always jibe with Drawn & Quarterly's emphasis on literary narrative.

The deal goes into effect January, when the Holtzbrinck sales group will begin selling the books to indies and regional accounts, just as it does for FSG titles, and in-house sales reps will sell to national accounts and selected New York City independents. Drawn & Quarterly will continue to be distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books and in the U.K. by Turnaround Publishing.--Calvin Reid

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FSG signs D+Q as a client publisher for US book market.

Updated July 19, 2004


Montreal, QC, July 19, 2004 – Leading North American literary graphic novel publisher Drawn & Quarterly announced today that the company has entered into a distribution deal to become a client publisher of the renowned publishing house, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, for distribution in the U.S. book store market, effective January 1, 2005.

"We are extremely pleased that a company as venerable as FSG recognizes the literary merit of our titles and the potential in representing our graphic novels to the US book trade," said Chris Oliveros, President and Publisher of Drawn & Quarterly. "As we publish the best in literary graphic novels and FSG publishes the best of literary fiction, nonfiction, poetry and children’s books, retailers as well readers will benefit from the alliance."

"I have tremendous admiration for the Drawn & Quarterly publishing program. The two houses share many similar values and philosophies," said Spenser Lee, Senior Vice President and Director of Sales, Farrar, Straus & Giroux. "I look forward to working with the D+Q team in the expanding graphic novel market."

FSG will begin taking orders in December 2004 and will ship in February 2005.

Raincoast Books and Turnaround Publishing will continue to distribute Drawn & Quarterly to the book markets in Canada and the UK, respectively. Chronicle Books will distribute Drawn & Quarterly to the US book market through the end of the 2004.

Acclaimed around the world, Montreal-based Drawn & Quarterly is the leading publisher of literary graphic novels in North America, attracting fans and critical acclaim from around the world. The company's cartoonists -Chester Brown, R. Crumb, Julie Doucet, Debbie Drechsler, Joe Matt, Michel Rabagliati, Joe Sacco, Seth, James Sturm, Adrian Tomine, Chris Ware and others – are among the best in graphic novel literature.

# # #

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  D+Q Wins 5 Harvey Awards

Updated June 29, 2004

Drawn & Quarterly's whirlwind visit to the Big Apple last week was capped with five Harvey wins at the MoCCA Arts Festival at the Puck Building Saturday evening, the most of any nominated publisher and the most wins the company has ever received at one time. Chester Brown, who was in attendance to accept his awards, won for "Best Writer" and "Best Graphic Album-Previously Published Work" for his critically acclaimed, bestselling graphic novel of the Canadian Folk Hero LOUIS RIEL; A COMIC STRIP BIOGRAPHY. Chris Ware also received "Special Award for Excellence in Presentation" and "Best Colorist" for his sketchbook THE ACME NOVELTY DATEBOOK. Publisher & Editor Chris Oliveros took home "Best Anthology" for the latest edition of the company's flagship series, DRAWN & QUARTERLY 5. The Harveys are named for Harvey Kurtzman, the co-founder of the seminal humor and pop culture magazine MAD Magazine, and they recognize excellence in the comic book industry. All nominations and winners are voted by the creative members of the comic book medium.

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Updated June 21, 2004

TIME Magazine Canada profiles Chris Oliveros and how he "created the most elegant comics publisher in North America" in a two-page spread with photos as well as a sidebar article on Chester Brown and LOUIS RIEL. Journalist Andrew Arnold notes that Oliveros is "blessed with a sharp eye, a strong sense of what he likes and a commitment to making beautiful if unconventional, books."
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Booklist reviews D+Q 5

Updated June 6, 2004

Drawn & Quarterly 5
Flagg, Gordon
246 words
1 May 2004
Volume 100; Issue 17; ISSN: 00067385
Copyright (c) 2004 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.

Drawn & Quarterly 5. Ed. by Chris Oliveros. 2004. 192p. illus. Drawn & Quarterly; dist. by Chronicle, paper, $29.95 (1-896597-61-0). 741.5.

In its flagship title, an elegantly designed coffee-table anthology, Canadian graphic-novel publisher Drawn & Quarterly spotlights an impressive array of international talent, most, if not all, of whom are probably unfamiliar to even the most well-versed American comics fans. Drawing heavily on the Francophone world, this edition features the Parisian team of Dupuy and Berberian, whose signature character, Monsieur Jean, confronts the travails of urban life in a universally recognizable manner; Quebec-based Michel Rabagliati's nostalgic account of adolescents on the loose in Montreal in the 1970s; and a 75-page retrospective of the work of Quebecois cartoonist Albert Chartier. Other contributors include Japanese master Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Israeli newcomer Rutu Modan, and the token American, R. Sikoryak, whose "The Crypt of Bronte" retells Wuthering Heights in the style of 1950s EC horror comics. Casting the net so widely pays off handsomely; unlike in most comics anthologies, there isn't a dud in the bunch here. And the exquisite volume shows once again that Drawn & Quarterly best understands the importance of top-level production and design. -Gordon Flagg

Drawn & Quarterly 5. Ed. by Chris Oliveros. 2004. 192p. illus. Drawn & Quarterly; dist. by Chronicle, paper, $29.95 (1-896597-61-0). 741.5.

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McGill Daily visits D+Q And lives to write about us!

Updated March 10, 2004

La belle ville de comics

Drawn and Quarterly is publishing world-class comics and putting Montreal on the graphic novel map

By Nicholas Hune-Brown, The McGill Daily

Montreal is known for a lot of things – poutine, stripclubs, no right-turns on red lights – but not necessarily comic books. Nevertheless, over the last decade or so, the city has quietly become one of the world centres for graphic novels, in large part due to the output of Montreal comic publishing house Drawn and Quarterly.

Drawn and Quarterly was founded in 1990 by Chris Oliveros, then a bike messenger and sometimes cartoonist, who wanted to publish an occasional anthology of comics he liked. “I never figured that I’d be publishing books other than the anthology,” says Oliveros. “But while I was searching, I found other artists who were doing work I loved and I slowly started putting out individual books.”

In the 14 years since then, the publishing house has become one of the most successful publishers of comics in the world, putting out literary graphic novels and comic books that push the boundaries of the form, telling strong stories with beautiful images.

Comics at home and overseas

Drawn and Quarterly’s Mile End office doesn’t look like the point of reception for many of the world’s best graphic novels. Unmarked from the outside, the two rooms that make up cartoon headquarters are cluttered with piled comic books and posters for Chester Brown and Joe Sacco. The only people who work there are founder Chris Oliveros and publicist Peggy Burns.

But existing in this office, and in this city, is a large reason Drawn and Quarterly’s been as successful as it has been. Being in a city that has a vibrant comic scene, both in English and French, has certainly helped Drawn and Quarterly, just as having a world-class publishing house in the city has helped the scene grow.

According to Burns, part of the strength of the scene comes from the fact that Quebec is so willing to assist its artists. “Montreal really supports the medium. Lots of other cities are cutthroat to live in, but Montreal supports artists more than other cities.”

And though the publishing house is definitely a part of the city’s comic book scene, Drawn and Quarterly looks well beyond the St Lawrence river confines of our island for material.

Drawn and Quarterly’s roster of artists reads like a who’s who of serious international cartoonists. Joe Sacco, Chester Brown, Jason Lutes, Seth, Adrian Tomine, even the granddaddy of alternative comics, Robert Crumb, have all had work published by Drawn and Quarterly.

According to Oliveros, the wealth of talent his publishing house has been able to attract is partially due to the fact Drawn and Quarterly has filled a waiting niche, and partially due to the fact that, in comics as elsewhere, quality attracts quality.

“Part of it’s being known as a company that publishes good work,” says Oliveros. “I give the artists complete freedom, and when you have a good track record you can get people who’ll want to work with you.”

The high quality of the stories and art are reflected in their high production value. Drawn and Quarterly books just look good. Like slick Dave Eggers literary mags, they’ve got the combination of smooth design and beautiful cover art that, simply put, make them look cool.

Comics for comics’ sake

Much of the work published by the Montreal publishing house transcends the limitations of the comic book. Stories by artists like graphic-novel “prodigy” Adrian Tomine and comix-journalist Joe Sacco aren’t just great comic-book stories, they’re great stories period.

In Tomine’s Optic Nerve series and in his short story collections you’ll see depictions of modern life as piercing or as insightful as those in any contemporary fiction or film. Imagine Raymond Carver drawing comics, revealing the quiet pathos of ordinary modern existence frame by frame.

And the art within books like Chris Ware’s The Acme Novelty Date Book isn’t just great comic-book art, it’s some of the best graphic art out there. This is another side of the graphic novel Drawn and Quarterly has recently been expanding into – comics as art in their own right – recently publishing “sketchbooks” by Ware and Crumb.

The Drawn and Quarterly Showcase, a new series featuring undiscovered graphic artists, is another new venture for the publishing house. According to Peggy Burns, the impetus for the series came from the wish to expose readers to the work of underground artists.

“Here in Montreal and across the world, there’s a large mini comic and DIY scene,” says Burns. “A few years ago Chris was interested in what he saw and wanted to expose people who read D and Q’s graphic novels to these new cartoonists who were doing great stuff just making their own comics on photocopiers.”

Book one in the series features Kevin Huizenga’s minimalist comics about life in the suburbs, and the surreal work of Nicolas Robel.

The Comics Canon

By now it’s old news that comics aren’t just for kids and pimple-speckled Star Trek fans – and the most cursory glance through any of D and Q’s recent publications will reveal a world far removed from battling mutants or Betty and Veronica.

But despite their present day popularity, you don’t have to look back more than a few years to find a time when comics were completely disregarded as an art form. Since his entrance to the comic industry in 1990, Oliveros has had the chance to see the dramatic shift in the way graphic novels are treated first-hand.

“I remember doing interviews with people years ago and always having to explain to them – ‘OK comics don’t have to just be for kids, you can do comics for adults,’” says Oliveros. “People would just look at me like I was crazy. Or when I’d say ‘comics for adults’ people would think I was doing pornography or something.”

A lot has changed in the last 15 years. Now it seems that graphic novels have officially entered the mainstream. This past year a number of Drawn and Quarterly titles have made it onto literary critics best -of lists and Louis Riel became the first Drawn and Quarterly publication to become a bestseller. Julie Doucet’s My New York Diary is even on a McGill English Literature syllabus – as sure a sign as any that literary graphic novels have been fully accepted by the literary establishment.
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  Dupuy & Berberian and Michel Rabagliati In Montreal

Updated November 7, 2003

Paris' Dupuy & Berberian and Montreal's Michel Rabagliati will be signing at the Fichtre! booth at the French book festival Salon Du Livre.

Saturday, 11/15 at Hall d’exposition, Place Bonaventure:

11 AM Dupuy & Berberian
1 PM Michel Rabagliati

Please note that they will be signing their D+Q (english) books.
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Toronto Star on D+Q: "one of Canada's most internationally successful publishing enterprises."

Updated July 14, 2003

One of Canada's largest circulation daily newspapers, The Toronto Star, ran an article on the changing state of graphic novels.
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  Dupuy-Berberian: A double-barrelled partnership

Updated April 29, 2003

From Comics International 158

Dupuy-Berberian: A double-barrelled partnership
by Paul Gravett

In a variation on Samuel Johnson's oft-quoted comment about London, I
propose: 'When a man [or woman] is tired of comics, he is tired of life'.
The main reasons why most people give up reading comics are because they
grow out of them and/or grow bored with them. I've seen it happen to
friends of mine, when they plug that final gap in a superhero run or wind up
buying the latest issues only to double-bag them without even opening them.
As the years go by, it's also not always easy explaining your expensive
hobby to parents or partners. Ask Nicholas Cage, or anyone who's Mum got
rid of their prized collection.

In that respect, I've been lucky. Back in the mid-Seventies, when the
Marvel and DC duopoly of American comics, and my interest in them, were at
one of their lowest ebbs, along came 2000AD, Heavy Metal and the birth of
independent U.S. comics to offer me fresh ideas and visions, comics I could
continue to grow up with and it's never stopped. These days, there's so
much more choice out there, I believe that if you keep your eyes and mind
open, you'll find the comics to speak to you your whole life through.

Sometimes creators face these crises too. After closely collaborating for a
decade, two Parisian bande dessinée auteurs Philippe Dupuy and Charles
Berberian (www.dupuy-berberian.com) were also asking themselves why they
carried on producing their albums. Now that they were thirty-something,
husbands and fathers, they wondered whether the medium, so associated with
their childhood and adolescence, could accommodate the themes they wanted to
develop next. As adults, wasn't it time to put away such childish things?
Wouldn't a film or a novel be more suitable?

To face up to these questions, they each agreed to keep a solo 'secret
diary' in comic form, recording their feelings and experiences while
crafting the third of their colour Monsieur Jean albums. The result is
Journal d'un Album, one of the most honest and engaging autobiographical
graphic novels in the genre and a fascinating 'behind-the-scenes' glimpse
into the creative process, out this summer in English from Highwater Books

Some 120 pages of funny and touching revelations confront how and why,
despite all the obstacles, they continue to pour so much effort into making
comics. It certainly isn't for the money. Their stylish, attractive
illustrations are highly in demand (you might have noticed their campaigns
for the Nicolas wine shops) and bring in 90% of their income, allowing them
to devote 90% of their time to their much poorer-paying B.D. passion.

One answer lies in their partnership of nearly twenty years, surely one of
the most unusual in comics. We're used to long-term close collaborations
between a writer and an artist in this business, but it's almost unique for
two complete writer-artists to contribute both to the story and the art and
work together so reciprocally and harmoniously, that they can't tell who did
what. Their freeform working method mystified their readers so much, they
made fun of it by exhibiting mock-elaborate miniature mechanisms, for
example showing mannequins of them both operating a single giant pencil
(www.beeldbeeld.org). Some people have mistaken Dupuy-Berberian as one
person with a distinguished hyphenated surname; actually since 1984 it's
become a sort of third person, a fusion of the two of them, a sum greater
than the parts, almost another 'entity'.

Since 1989, their principal character has been Monsieur Jean, starting out
like them as a big-nosed, big-hearted bachelor boy in his twenties. He
becomes a modestly successful novelist, and, as their Journal discloses, a
combined alter ego through which a lot of their personal experiences are

Two of his early short stories were translated in Drawn & Quarterly Volume
2, Numbers 4 and 6 (www.drawnandquarterly.com). In the first, Jean bumps
into a former lover, now married and pregnant, with her overprotective hubby
in tow. Chance remarks transport Jean back to their relationship and what
might have been, like a wistful coda to his years of dating and staying
single. The second opens on Jean's 30th birthday and mixes a promotional
shindig to Lisbon with his losing the book of poetry given by his
grandfather which first inspired him to write. Kept safe inside it is a
letter he wrote when he was still a teenager to his future self, aged

The first full-length Monsieur Jean album, all 54 pages, appeared in English
in Drawn & Quarterly Volume 3. The skill with which Dupuy and Berberian
interweave the various storylines and recurring metaphors, from a Japanese
legend to the tragic fate of a painter, appears effortless. The sheer
flexibility of comics allows them to jump from the mundane to the surreal,
mirroring the way we all make leaps of thought. The story marks a turning
point as Jean finally decides to make a commitment and follow his girlfriend
Cathy to New York. The next instalment appears this year in D&Q Volume 5,
as Jean, now a papa, makes a family visit to Paris with their baby. He
becomes embroiled in his impossible flatmate's problems raising on his own
the son from a previous relationship of his former girlfriend.

It's a far cry from that earlier prolonged post-adolescence, both of Jean
and of Dupuy and Berberian. They once admitted, 'It seemed important to us
to use the character of Monsieur Jean to try to move forward in our own
lives. We adapt what we and our friends are living through to find stories
for this poor guy, who serves us as an outlet for our day-to-day troubles.'
Jean looks set to grow older and grow up in tandem with his co-creators, and
with his readers. To me, that's the appeal of their comics - they are
putting their own lives into them, by living their stories before they tell
them to us.

copyright 2003 Paul Gravett

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San Francisco Chronicle, August 14, 1999

Updated March 19, 2003

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  Graphic novels aren’t literature

Updated March 17, 2003

by Tom Babin (Fast Forward Calgary, February 6 2003)

The alternative comics world was in a bit of a tizzy recently – like it always is when it gets some favourable mainstream press coverage – thanks to a cover story in the New York Times Book Review dedicated to 2002's best graphic novels.

The reviews were written by noted music critic and novelist Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, About a Boy). Hornby had some positive words for the graphic novels he looked at, most notably Lynda Barry’s One Hundred Demons, but he stumbled across a problem that faces many book reviewers when they examine graphic novels, and one that many feel is holding the medium back from true mainstream acceptance – book critics don’t know how to review comics.

Hornby was wise enough to own up to his shortfall when he reviewed Eric Drooker’s Blood Song: A Silent Ballad, a beautiful but wordless political story about a woman driven from her home by war. Hornby said he didn’t know what to make of the graphic novel because he couldn’t read it like a typical novel or judge it esthetically like art. "Maybe we need lessons in how to read books like this," he wrote.

Copyright ©2003 FFWD. All rights reserved.

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PW: D&Q Heads BISAC, Bookseller Efforts

Updated March 17, 2003

Publishers Weekly, 12/23/2002 by Calvin Reid

Despite the steady sales of growth of graphic novels and book-format comics, many book retailers remain ignorant of the category, mistakenly treating it as a single genre, or are confused about where to shelve the books. Indeed, many retailers continue to believe erroneously that comics are either primarily about superheroes or are intended only for children.

Looking to address the problem, a group of publishers led by Chris Oliveros, publisher of Drawn & Quarterly, a Toronto-based graphic novel publisher, have sent an open letter to Ed Ramsey, head of the BISAC committee of the Book Industry Study Group, asking the group to establish a Graphic Novel subject heading with appropriate sub-headings that will "accurately reflect the diversity of the comics medium." BISAC categories assist retailers in categorizing and shelving books and, according Oliveros, Bowker and Barnes & Noble are pushing for BISAC codes to become an industry standard.

The publishers calling for the new subject heading include Pantheon, W.W. Norton, Fantagraphics, Dark Horse Comics, Top Shelf and D&Q's new distributor, Chronicle Books. Oliveros told PW that the current BISAC categories simply are inadequate.

Oliveros is also out to help retailers who need guidance on selling book format comics. He's published a small pamphlet called "Selling Graphic Novels in the Book Trade," handsomely illustrated by D&Q artist Jan Van Der Veken.

The booklet is written by three booksellers who have had great success selling book-format comics and graphic novels. The retailers are Carson Hall of Virgin Megastores in New York, Paul Constant of Seattle's Elliot Bay Book Co. and Jaz Williams at the Borders Bookstore in Bloomington, Minn.

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  PW Daily for Booksellers: Graphic Novels

Updated March 17, 2003

PW Daily for Booksellers, January 16 2003
A Graphic Manifesto: D&Q Explains How to Sell the Hip New Novels
by Channing Joseph

The graphic novel has long been a puzzle to many booksellers, in part because many people believe that graphic novels are superhero comics that appeal only to children and geeky men. The result is that bookstores have often relegated this emerging format to the humor sections, where the books have little chance to sell.

Some graphic novel publishers have been frustrated that their books are not getting the attention they say they deserve. In response, Drawn and Quarterly, a Canadian graphic novel publisher, has released a new illustrated pamphlet entitled "A Drawn and Quarterly Manifesto," which aims to help confused booksellers.

Chris Oliveros, the "Manifesto"'s designer, said that the company created the new booklet in part because it just signed a distribution agreement with Chronicle Books and was confronted with the problem of how to sell the books once they were distributed. "Of course, one of the big hurdles is that most bookstores in North America don't have a proper graphic novels section," Oliveros said. "We wanted to try to address that problem" by showing booksellers that there are more graphic novels than just Art Spiegelman's Maus (Random, $14) and Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan (Pantheon, $29.95)."

The "Manifesto" itself lists several graphic novels that fall outside of the common superhero stereotype, including Joe Sacco's Palestine (Fantagraphics, $24.95), an illustrated journalistic account of life in the war-stricken region, and Ben Katchor's sorrowfully poetic Beauty Supply District (Pantheon, $22).

Oliveros is convinced that graphic novels are suitable for all bookstores, saying, "I used to think that the target centers would be in large urban centers. But lots of stores in smaller cities actually have success as well."

The reason the format has become "hip," Oliveros stated, is because so much high-quality material is being created. "When we started in 1990," he said, "there was a lot of interesting stuff going on, but it was just the beginning."

Oliveros said he is very optimistic about the future of the graphic novel. "This is the tip of the iceberg," he said. "In the next two or three years, it's really going to grow a lot." He did add one caveat, saying that although a lot of stores have caught onto the graphic novel format, they will have "a little bit of a learning curve."

One contributor to the "Manifesto," Paul Constant of Seattle's Elliott Bay Book Co., has already traversed that curve. He told PW Daily that creating a graphic novels section in the store, "probably tripled the sales" compared to having them "ghettoized in sci-fi." Constant predicted that the format "is just going to get more mainstream... as people lose their biases."

"In 10 years," he said, "there will be a graphic novel section in every bookstore of every size."

Booksellers can obtain a free copy of the new Drawn and Quarterly Manifesto at BookExpo America in Los Angeles or by calling Chronicle Books at 1-800-722-6657.

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Graphic Novels Hit The Mainstream

Updated March 17, 2003

The Independent, Durham, January 29, 2003
High Art, Hit Movies and Manifestos
A sharp new generation of graphic novelists spearhead a push into the mainstream.
Happy moments don't come around often in the world of comic books. Years of bias, terrible distribution and a general lack of interest from serious booksellers have combined to prevent smart works of comics literature (or graphic novels) from getting the shelf space they deserve in mainstream bookstores. And those rare moments of critical attention that were given to comics, turned out to be momentary blips on the cultural radar with no lasting effect. Neither Art Spiegelman's 1992 Pulitzer Prize for the Holocaust narrative Maus, nor the stir caused in international journalism circles in 2000 by Joe Sacco's gripping comic strip account of the war in Bosnia, Safe Area Gorazde, resulted in significant change in the way publishers and bookstore owners thought about the medium.

January 29, 2003

All that is about to change. A combination of art, luck and activism is combining to fundamentally alter the way works of graphic novels are sold in the United States. Companies like the Montreal-based Drawn & Quarterly and Seattle-based Fantagraphics Books--who are no longer satisfied to see this sharp new work relegated to the status of humor or genre fiction--are producing a growing number of graphic works that compare favorably with the very best contemporary fiction, history and journalism being published today.
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  The Pulse: New Codes for Graphic Novels

Updated March 17, 2003

While everyone knows that there's a revolution going on with graphic novels in the bookstore, every revolution has its battles. Proponents of graphic novels believe that this category is on its way to becoming a recognized section, just like science fiction and romance, but it's not that simple. Bookstores have guidelines and categories for shelving books, and until now graphic novels have fallen through a lot of cracks. This has led to the familiar dog-eared racks where potential readers find everything from A CONTRACT WITH GOD to LOVE HINA to THE GREATEST SUPERMAN STORIES EVER TOLD shoved together between Roger Zelazny and a shelf of D&D modules.

However, in a step that observers hailed as a major breakthrough, Graphic Novels as their own section in the bookstore got a major boost when Art Spiegelman, Chris Oliveros and others met on January 16th at the monthly BISAC meeting in New York City. It was agreed to create a major category for Graphic Novels/Comics, with sub-headings for fiction, non-fiction, anthologies, and comics technique, among others.

Wait a minute, what's BISAC? To quote their website: "The BISAC Subject Headings were developed by the Book Industry Systems Advisory Committee of the Book Industry Study Group, Inc., to standardize book categories. With approximately 3,000 categories, the BISAC Subject Headings strike a balance between granularity and ease of use. What they describe is content."

In other words, you know how on the back most paperbacks you buy, somewhere it says "Biography" or "Science/Biology" or "Humor/Cartooning"? These categories are not randomly chosen by publishers. BISAC creates a huge list of strictly defined categories to help books store clerks (who can't be expected to know what every book is about) know where to shelve books. The categories have also become very important for online booksellers to help them categorize their wares.

So what about graphic novels?

Currently, they were rather awkwardly shoehorned into a handful of existing categories, including Fiction/Graphic Novels and Humor/Cartooning.

The effort to get BISAC to consider creating a whole new major category for graphic novels (the equivalent of Fiction or Poetry) was spearheaded by Drawn & Quarterly's Oliveros, who felt that having his own more literary comics shelved almost indiscriminately with superhero and manga books made them harder to find their intended audience. Oliveros contacted Fantagraphic's Eric Reynolds, and DC's Peggy Burns and a plot was hatched.

"It was entirely Chris's idea," says Reynolds. "He contacted Peggy and me to run it by us, and we both thought it was ingenious. I had just come to learn of BISAC's existence a week or two before, weirdly enough, through Norton, because a large database in the book biz was moving over to the BISAC standard and it was going to affect graphic novels, because there was no way to properly list them. It was the same old problem of 'humor' or 'fantasy'? But in some ways even worse, because in the past you could at least slap a legitimate category on the back of a book like LOVE & ROCKETS and hope for the best before it got racked in 'Sci-fi'. But now these limited choices were becoming standardized and you were limited to them."

Oliveros came up with the idea of drafting a letter from various publishers who were having success in the book trade. Pantheon, Dark Horse, Top Shelf, W.W. Norton and Fantagraphics all signed on, and BISAC agreed to listen to their proposal at their monthly meeting.

Oliveros came down from Montreal to attend the meeting, and Burns and Rich Johnston came from DC. (Johnston heads DC's book division.) Also in attendance were NBM's Terry Nantier and Spiegelman. Of course, having a Pulitzer Prize winning author to plead the case was a major coup, and at the meeting, Spiegelman proved an eloquent and persuasive speaker.

While sitting around and arguing about book categories sounds about as exciting as a Dewey Decimal System convention, a lot of the classic issues of selling comics were brought up.

"It isn't a genre, it's a form," observed Ingram's Wendell Lotz, the head of the committee. Ignorant of the form by his own admission, he was unknowingly echoing the "It's a medium, not a genre!" rallying cry that has echoed for the past 20 years.

Spiegelman amused the audience with an anecdote about his own MAUS, which is probably one of the most uncategorizeable best-sellers ever. He told how his local bookseller had MAUS in the front of the store on the New Books table for 10 years. Finally Spiegelman introduced himself to the owner and thanked him for supporting the book with the prominent placement. "Oh, I could never figure out where to put it, so it's a new book," explained the owner.

Johnston pointed out the current difficulty of having POWERPUFF GIRLS and PREACHER racked together, which everyone seemed to agree was a very bad idea. While some of the BISAC members thought that the current categories were good enough, after a while it became clear that the diversity of the comics being published called for nothing less than its own category. It was decided to move juvenile graphic novels to the children's section, a welcome move which could have a very beneficial impact on sales. It's even possible that some publishers may put more resources into their children's lines with an established place to sell them.

A lot of anecdotal evidence was provided that when, say, PALESTINE was shelved in the "Middle East" section it didn't sell as well as when it was shelved in the graphic novel section. Clearly, people who like comics are more likely to seek out more of the same kind of material than people who see comics as a novelty and find one item they like.

One of the most puzzling aspects for the BISAC committee was how a graphic "novel" could be non-fiction. Wasn't that a contradiction in terms? (Spiegelman's presence surely helped clarify this one.)

After much discussion, however, it was decided to create an entire "Graphic Novels/Comics" heading, with subdivisions for Humor, Anthologies, History & Criticism, and Fiction, among others. The last will be broken down into more familiar genres: General, Science Fiction, Manga, Superhero, Horror and so on. (The categories are still preliminary.)

Perhaps the most revolutionary (for some) idea was to move "Humor/Cartooning" from its familiar place in the Humor section into the new Graphic Novels section. Does that mean that DILBERT and PEANUTS collections will now share the same space as DORK! and BIZARRO? (While the ever-opinionated Oliveros and Spiegelman were happy to put Tin-tin in the big happy comics family, they weren't as happy adding CATHYâ€|but them's the breaks.) Bookstores may be slower to embrace this new shelving scheme, but it could have major repercussions for the graphic novel section if it ever happens.

The categories still need to be fine-tuned, but it's a huge step in legitimizing graphic novels in the bookstore. "There's still some kinks to be worked out, probably," observes Reynolds. "One could quibble about categories forever, but the problem is BISAC couldn't possibly accommodate every category we'd ideally like. But limiting ourselves poses problems, as well. 'Graphic Novel' doesn't really apply to something like PALESTINE, because booksellers connote 'graphic novel' with 'novel,' which means fiction. It's a sort of a fundamental problem with this weird term we've saddled ourselves with. But I think what Chris has shepherded through here is a big step towards institutionalizing the graphic novel within the larger culture of the North American book publishing industry."

Indeed, the entire process is reminiscent over the arguments that once raged over genre racking in comics shops. While proponents of the comics shop as pop culture store pointed out that every other kind of entertainment store â€" book stores, record shops, video stores â€" used genre racking, comics stuck with racking all comics alphabetically or, even more bizarrely, by publisher. (The BISAC committee, all of whom come from the book publishing world, seemed particularly baffled when they heard this.)

It seems that if comics are ever to solidify their hold as a legitimate part of mainstream culture, racking by genre (and watching those categories grow) is going to play a large part of that. Although it sounds pretty dull, this BISAC meeting may end up being a key event in the history of comics. (The Pulse, January 2002)

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New Comics Magazine: Comic Art

Updated March 14, 2003

A glossy quality mag that takes its comics seriously. Features a long interview with Chris Oliveros, D&Q publisher, about the artists of D&Q, upcoming projects, and the future of comics in bookstores.
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