by Robyn Chap­man |Sep 11, 2013 | Pub­lish­ers Weekly
Escapo by Paul Pope

Escapo by Paul Pope

After pub­lish­ing Har­vey Pekar’s Cleve­land in 2012, Zip Comics pub­lish­er Josh Frankel is renam­ing and relaunch­ing his pub­lish­ing com­pa­ny. The com­pa­ny will now be called Z2 Comics and will launch in April 2014 with new and revised edi­tions of Paul Pope’s Escapo, orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished in 1999, and Dean Haspiel’s Fear My Dear: A Bil­ly Dog­ma Book, the first print col­lec­tion of the Bil­ly Dog­ma webcomic.

Some­thing of a young pub­lish­ing phe­nom, Frankel launched Zip Comics in 2010 with his own com­ic, The Schiz­o­phrenic, while he was a col­lege senior at Drew Uni­ver­si­ty. He sub­se­quent­ly pub­lished Har­vey Pekar’s Cleve­land in 2012 in part­ner­ship with Top Shelf and with the approval and over­sight of Joyce Brab­n­er, Pekar’s wid­ow. Har­vey Pekar’s Cleve­land sold out its 10,000 copy print­ing (includ­ing about 1000 dig­i­tal sales) and gained two Eis­ner Award nom­i­na­tions for artist Joseph Remnant.

Z2 Comics

Z2 Comics

Frankel told PW he want­ed “a new start” and decid­ed to rename and rebrand the com­pa­ny. “Our focus will be eclec­tic,” Frankel said, “We want to pub­lish books that make mon­ey but also pub­lish genre works that fea­ture fine sto­ry­telling and great hard­cov­er pro­duc­tion.” Frankel said that he’s a fan of books by pub­lish­ers like Fan­ta­graph­ics, Top Shelf, Image, and Drawn & Quar­ter­ly, “and while I like some super­heroes, I like indie-focused books and those pub­lish­ers are my inspiration.”

Z2 graph­ic nov­els will be dis­trib­uted by Dia­mond Book Dis­trib­u­tors to the gen­er­al book trade and to the direct mar­ket by Dia­mond Comics Dis­trib­u­tors. The com­pa­ny is based in New York City and cur­rent­ly con­sists of Frankel and a finan­cial backer, while the rest of Z2’s staffing is done by inde­pen­dent con­trac­tors as they are need­ed. Frankel said he plans to pub­lish “4 to 5 books in 2014 and by 2015 we hope have 10 books and some real­ly big name authors.” Z2 will focus on graph­ic nov­els, book for­mat comics. “All of our books are graph­ic nov­els. We are not pub­lish­ing peri­od­i­cals at this time,” Frankel said.

To kick off the company’s relaunch, Frankel has acquired works by two high­ly regard­ed artists. Paul Popeis bring­ing his Escapo graph­ic nov­el, orig­i­nal­ly self-pub­lished in black and white by Pope’s own Horse Press in 1999, back into print, this time in full col­or and with new mate­r­i­al added. (Pope’sBat­tling Boy, his long await­ed kids graph­ic nov­el, is out this month from First Sec­ond.) Frankel said it’s “the first time [Escapo] has been in print since 1999 and it is in full col­or for the first time with around 40 pages of addi­tion­al con­tent includ­ing a new 10 page sto­ry by Paul.” Col­or is being done by the cre­ative team of Chris Hunt and Shay Plummer.

Fear My Dear: A Billy Dogma Book by Dean Haspiel

Fear My Dear: A Bil­ly Dog­ma Book by Dean Haspiel

Haspiel’s Fear My Dear: A Bil­ly Dog­ma Book col­lects his Bil­ly Dog­ma online strips from the ACT-I-Vate web­site in their first print edi­tion, Frankel said, and the strips have also been recol­ored. Ini­tial print­ings are like­ly to be 25,000 to 30,000 for Escapo and 5,000 to 10,000 for Fear My Dear, Frankel said though not­ing “we are not 100% sure” on final print num­bers. Frankel said he is in dis­cus­sion with dig­i­tal ven­dors, “we intend to release dig­i­tal edi­tions of both books.”

While Frankel said mar­ket­ing plans are just begin­ning to be for­mal­ized, he plans a “full PR blitz and we will have PR assis­tance on retain­er,” in addi­tion to plan­ning a mar­ket­ing cam­paign to comics shops when the books are adver­tised in Pre­views, Dia­mond’s month­ly order­ing cat­a­log. “Last­ly we are talk­ing to Dia­mond about options for mar­ket­ing to the gen­er­al book trade,” Frankel said.

Frankel also said he’s open to sub­mis­sions from artists, “no guar­an­tees but we’re inter­est­ed in look­ing.” Frankel described the graph­ic nov­el mar­ket as “grow­ing, maybe not expo­nen­tial­ly but its grow­ing steadi­ly and dig­i­tal will open up oppor­tu­ni­ties for everyone.”

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