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7. Fantagraphics Kim Thompson Passes Amidst A Changing Alt Comics Landscape
Comics lost one of its most beloved figures and an irreplaceable talent this year when Fantagraphics co-publisher Kim Thompson lost his battle to cancer in June. The emotional impact on the alternative comics community and the industry in general was felt immediately, with an outpouring of tributes, remembrances and reappraisals of Thompson's decades of work discovering new comics talent and translating some of the cornerstone works from Europe and beyond to English for the first time.
But beyond the incalculable creative hole which now exists in the alt comics landscape, Thompson's passing ultimately served to highlight the precarious position that the more literary end of the comics business now stands on. By the year's end, Fantagraphics announced a massive (and successful) Kickstarter campaign to cover losses which piled up in the wake of Thompson's death, and just last month, Picturebox, Inc. publisher Dan Nadel shocked readers by announcing he was folding the company for personal reasons.
These two stories are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how alt comics makers will navigate the future ahead of them. That business is now years past a day when talented cartoonists could expect big payouts from major book publishers or even long-standing publishers could necessarily remain financially solvent thanks to crossover projects or classic comic strip reprints. At a basic level, those willing to pursue their creative goals in comics at all costs have to worry about making ends meet over the long term more than they might have imagined a decade ago. The legacy of Thompson, for all its amazing artistic achievement, leaves questions as to who will step up and carry this vital segment of the artform for another 30 years and beyond.