Since Nobrow set up shop in the UK in 2008, it's pursued its original objective to supply an independent publishing platform for illustration and art comics in a big way, creating some of the most beautiful and tempting books on the market for art comics fans. But their original outlook, hoping to expand more fully into the international market, has been a priority of late, from gathering more US distributors a year ago to this decisive step in 2013 of officially opening a New York office. Prior to this, readers had a little bit of a struggle to get ahold of their highly desirable books without paying international shipping, and there was plenty of chatter and demand for a more direct way of acquiring the titles. This is the pay off in patience; we can now expect a more definite presence from Nobrow in the US market, one that is bound to impress their already clamoring readers in the US and expose new readers to their high quality products.
Books like the award-winning Hilda series and Everything We Miss by Luke Pearson, the also award-winning large Nobrow Anthology collections (now up to issue 8), wordless lavish accordion comics like Bicycle by Ugo Gattoni as well as new titles under development are now plugged more directly into the US Market via Nobrow New York. When Bleeding Cool spoke to newly appointed US Sales and Marketing Director Tucker Stone (who has always had a strong New York presence via Bergen Street Comics and helping out with the Steering Committee for MoCCA Fest via the Society of Illustrators), he provided some "fun facts" about their new office: "I have a clock with a grizzly bear sticker that is set to East Coast time, and Alex has a clock with a bulldog sticker that's set to London. On my first day I decided that I needed to go and buy new adult sweaters and so I did". Double clocks and adult sweaters should start Nobrow New York off on the right footing and now we're just wondering about Tucker's wardrobe choices. Now Nobrow art printed sweaters (just an idea, Tucker)—there could be a real market for that, and that's not even an exaggeration.
The Creative Director of Nobrow New York, Alex Spiro, has drafted an extensive discussion of where Nobrow has come from in terms of its aspirations, and where it's headed, and it's nothing if not ambitious and highly aware of the need to stake out a position for fine book printing in the digital age. He seems to argue that between digital and print, the decision between one and the other is moot. Sales confirm that the demand for beautiful books is still aggressive, suggesting that Spiro's perspective is nothing if not pragmatic. Here's his message for you, tablet, laptop, and smartphone addicts:
Johannes Guttenberg's true successors have completely changed the way we see and interact with the world and creativity, and they are not printers like he was or even print publishers, but developers, hardware and software engineers and game designers. And we have a true debt of gratitude to them for making our lives easier and more convenient, for connecting us in an ever-expanding network of minds, organisations and even 'things'.
And yet, the last five years has seen a vast resurgence of a quality, creativity and innovation in print publishing, comparable to the heyday of great illustrator-authors of the 60s and 80s, the Maurice Sendaks and Raymond Briggs, Posy Simmonds and Quentin Blakes; and the demand for beautiful books with care and craft poured into them seems to be insatiable. Publishers are rushing to form graphic novel lists, children's illustrated lists and graphic imprints to meet it. And we have thankfully enjoyed a particularly exciting period of growth and been able to expand our business abroad to Europe the wider world and for the last two years, the US.
Working closely with our distributors Consortium Book Sales and Distribution we have been able to access keen fans and followers across the US and Canada and to build strong relationships with the retailers and partners that have allowed us to be present in communities and cities throughout North America. Hopefully, in the process we have been making those people's lives more colourful, more joyful, whilst also connecting them with what we feel are some of the greatest writers and artists of a new generation of talent. One that, fundamentally, is a digital generation and correspondingly well informed, more mobile and bursting with aesthetic ingenuity, yet still thirsty for printed delights to represent their creative visions.
We are here because we want to work with more New World artists, build new relationships with exciting and challenging partners and to develop a unique voice in the native tongue. We are proud and privileged to announce our presence in the USA in our new office in New York, it's small, but every journey has to start somewhere…
Welcome to New York, Nobrow. Are your offices as beautiful as your books? Time to arrange some tours perhaps…
Hannah Means-Shannon is senior New York Correspondent at Bleeding Cool, writes and blogs about comics for TRIP CITY and Sequart.org, and is currently working on books about Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for Sequart. She is @hannahmenzies on Twitter and hannahmenziesblog on WordPress. Find her bio here.