LJ Talks to the Editors of Gallery 13 | Eye on Publishing

In 2007, for the first time ever, all the major book publishers exhibited at the decades-old San Diego Comic-Con International, marking a memorable turning point for both comics and mainstream publishing. “I’ll never forget it,” recalls Ed Schlesinger (pictured left), who was there representing Simon & ­Schuster (S&S) as an editor of genre fiction and, with the house, had participated in cons previously. “That year, all the book people were there. We were speaking directly with fans, promoting and hand-selling books that attendees were genuinely excited about reading,” he says.

That face-to-face interaction and the chance to point people toward new literary discoveries invigorated Schlesinger, laying the groundwork for a vision he would develop in-depth with S&S coworker Adam Wilson nearly a decade later—a vision for how to get more great books, specifically comic books, into the hands of hungry readers.

Both lifelong comics devotees, ­Wilson and Schlesinger grew up on the superhero stories of Marvel and DC. ­Wilson, who worked at Harlequin for nearly ten years before joining S&S in late 2011, reveals that from an early age, he’d always wanted more from the medium, presciently recognizing its awesome potential as a vehicle for diverse storytelling. And while aware of the burgeoning underground comics movement of the 1970s–80s, he notes that he had little exposure to the more avant-garde works themselves.

Wilson worked with Schlesinger at various comic cons promoting fantasy, sf, horror, and media tie-ins, and they often ruminated over the possibilities of what they might one day do in comics. So when they collectively hatched the idea for an S&S comics label in ­February 2016, there was no hesitation.

In 2017, the editors launched ­Gallery 13, S&S’s first-ever graphic novels imprint, ­and quickly saw their well-laid plans succeed wildly. Captivated by the quality of the stories—“sure to be embraced by all readers,” read an LJ review referencing Christophe ­Chabouté’s AloneLJ caught up with the editors at their midtown Manhattan offices at the iconic Rockefeller Center. ­Currently ­publishing six books a year, two a season, ­Gallery 13 offers a title list that already boasts an ­Eisner Award nominee (Chabouté as Best Writer/Artist for 2017’s Alone and Park Bench with Gallery 13, and Moby-Dick with Dark Horse Comics). In addition, Iasmin Omar Ata’s debut, ­­Mis(h)adra, praised for its manga-inspired innovative visuals and singular perspective depicting a young man’s struggles with epilepsy, was an LJ Editor’s Pick in 2017.

The imprint focuses on full-length graphic novels, walking the line between literary and upmarket yet accessible—there’s definitely a commercial vibe—and the titles are geared exclusively toward adult audiences. However, one of its earliest releases, Jeff Lemire’s Roughneck, was honored with a 2018 Alex Award from the Young Adult Library Services Association, proving there’s strong YA crossover appeal in the stories Schlesinger and Wilson are choosing to acquire.

Another upcoming Chabouté title, an adaptation of a classic Jack London short story, To Build a Fire (Oct.), is sure to draw in readers who might have first encountered the work in a high school or college course. Using classic literature as a bridge to reach those who might not pick up a graphic novel on their own is an idea that appeals to both ­editors. Wilson, who hopes to see more readers give graphic novels a try, has an eye toward books that could be used for course adoption, including more adaptations of classics as well as works in translation. Stories invested in a ­variety of voices will guide the future of Gallery 13.


All the Answers: A Graphic Memoir by Michael Kupperman (May 2018)
Bad Girls by Alex de Campi & Victor Santos (Jul. 2018)
Other People by Joff Winterhart (Sept. 2018)
To Build a Fire by Jack London & Christophe Chabouté (Oct. 2018)

Upholding the vision of the creators is a key tenet of the Gallery 13 mission. Michael Kupperman’s All the Answers (starred review, LJ 6/1/18), which chronicles the author’s relationship with his father and his father’s silence about his life as a child prodigy is a “powerful and decidedly serious” memoir, and writer Alex de Campi gets all the details right in the ambitious historical noir thriller she created with artist ­Victor Santos. Bad Girls (Jul.), de Campi and Santos’s breakthrough first-time collaboration, transports readers to 1958 New Year’s Eve, in ­Havana, Cuba, the night before the country’s fall to Fidel Castro’s Communist rule and the mad dash to close all of the city’s mob-­controlled casinos.

As evidenced by the steady increase in sales across the library and bookstore markets, graphic novels are gaining in popularity, and Gallery 13 titles are a part of that growth. Entertaining, educational, and relatable, they show that quality storytelling through this medium is on the rise. Clearly, readers should trust the people making that happen—editors such as Schlesinger and Wilson—because doing what they love, they’re doing everything ­absolutely right.—­Annalisa Pešek

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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Annalisa Pesek About Annalisa Pesek

Annalisa Pesek (apesek@mediasourceinc.com) is Assistant Managing Editor, LJ Book Review
[photograph by John Sarsgard]

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