By Calvin Reid | Jun 20, 2013 | Pub­lish­er’s Week­ly | Sub­scribe
Photo: Lynn Emmert

Fan­ta­graph­ics cop­ub­lish­er Kim Thomp­son with Eis­ner Awards.

Kim Thomp­son, co-pub­lish­er of Fan­ta­graph­ics Books as well as a superla­tive edi­tor and trans­la­tor of comics, died June 19 of lung can­cer at his home in Seat­tle. He was 57.

Thomp­son was born in Den­mark in 1956 and grew up in the rich and var­ied pub­lish­ing world of Euro­pean comics. He arrived in the U.S. in the 1970s and imme­di­ate­ly joined with Gary Groth, founder of Fan­ta­graph­ics and the man who would become his close friend and cop­ub­lish­er for the next three decades. At the time Groth had launched The Comics Jour­nal, an ear­ly ver­sion of what would become the industry’s pre­em­i­nent pub­li­ca­tion for comics crit­i­cism, and Thomp­son began work­ing with TCJ help­ing pro­duce the news reports, inter­views, crit­i­cism and com­men­tary that would guide and out­line the growth of both main­stream comics and the inde­pen­dent comics pub­lish­ing move­ment going into the 1980s.

By the ear­ly 1980s Fan­ta­graph­ics began pub­lish­ing a list that includ­ed many of the most acclaimed comics and graph­ic nov­els of the era—among them the Her­nan­dez Broth­ers’ Love and Rock­ets and many others—and Thomp­son was instru­men­tal in their acqui­si­tion and pub­li­ca­tion. Thomp­son was also a key fig­ure in bring­ing the best of Euro­pean graph­ic nov­els to the U.S., acquir­ing and trans­lat­ing such works as Her­man Hup­pen’s The Sur­vivors: Talons of Blood and more recent­ly launch­ing a line of Euro-graph­ic nov­els that includes the works of Jacques Tar­di (It Was the War of the Trench­es) and Ulli Lust (Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life) and many others.

A pas­sion­ate comics fan, shrewd pub­lish­er, thought­ful comics crit­ic and con­sid­ered one of the industry’s finest trans­la­tors of French-lan­guage comics, Thomp­son was par­tic­u­lar­ly gra­cious to this reporter in the ear­ly 1990s when PW first began cov­er­ing the comics mar­ket­place and review­ing book-length comics on a reg­u­lar basis, a time when book-length graph­ic nov­els and graph­ic non­fic­tion were still con­sid­ered unusu­al in the tra­di­tion­al book mar­ket. A full obit­u­ary of Thomp­son has been pub­lished on the Fan­ta­graph­ics Blog.