Fantagraphics Books has been a leading proponent of comics as a legitimate form of art and literature since it began publishing the critical trade magazine The Comics Journal in 1976. By the early 1980s, Fantagraphics found itself at the forefront of the burgeoning movement to establish comics as a medium as eloquent and expressive as the more established popular arts of film, literature, poetry, et al. Fantagraphics quickly established a reputation as an advocacy publisher that specialized in seeking out and publishing the kind of innovative work that traditional comics corporations who dealt almost exclusively in super-heroes and fantasy either didn’t know existed or wouldn’t touch: serious, dramatic, historical, journalistic, political, and satirical work by a new generation of alternative cartoonists as well as many artists who gained prominence as part of the seminal underground comix movement of the '60s. Fantagraphics has since gained an international reputation for its literate and audacious editorial standards and its exacting production values.
The work of artists such as R. Crumb, Peter Bagge, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez,Dan Clowes, Joe Sacco, Chris Ware, Carol Tyler and others has continued to gain commercial momentum and critical recognition over the last three decades by combining the social relevance of the previous generation of underground comix artists, attention to personal and psychological veracity, and formal experimentation and innovation.
Fantagraphics’ authors have garnered more favorable press attention than any publisher’s in the history of the medium. Recent books alone have received significant, positive coverage in TIME, Newsweek, Entertainment Weekly, Spin, theNew York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, The Nation, and others. Fantagraphics was ranked among the top five most influential publishers in the history of comics in a recent poll by an industry trade newspaper; it was the only independent publisher on the list, and the only contemporary publisher named alongside corporate behemoths Marvel and DC.