Kim Thompson, co-publisher of Seattle-based Fantagraphics Books, has died from lung cancer at the age of 57.
A life-long comic fan, Thompson grew up in Europe, reading both European and American comics before coming to the U.S. in 1977. An active “fanzine” contributor, Thompson eventually found his way to The Comics Journal, then run by Gary Groth and Michael Catron. He took over as owner in 1978.
Thompson’s comic career only grew from there, adapting the first of many European graphic novels for American publication for The Comics Journal, and also assuming the role of editor for the bi-weekly magazine Amazing Heroes until 1992.
Among Thompson’s contributions to comics were Zero Zero, an alternative comics anthology that experienced a five-year run and featured work by Kim Deitch, Dave Cooper, Al Columbia and many others, as well as Critters, a funny animal anthology best known for acquainting the world with Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo. Most recently, Thompson was spearheading a line of European graphic novel translations from two of Europe’s most significant living artists—Jacques Tardi and Jason.
From a statement:
Throughout his career at Fantagraphics, Thompson was active in every aspect of the company, selecting books, working closely with authors, guiding books through the editorial and production process. “Kim leaves an enormous legacy behind him,” said Groth, “not just all the European graphic novels that would never have been published here if not or his devotion, knowledge, and skills, but for all the American cartoonists he edited, ranging from Stan Sakai to Joe Sacco to Chris Ware, and his too infrequent critical writing about the medium. His love and devotion to comics was unmatched. I can’t truly convey how crushing this is for all of us who’ve known and loved and worked with him over he years.”
Thompson was diagnosed with lung cancer in late February. He is survived by his wife, Lynn Emmert, his mother and father, Aase and John, and his brother Mark.