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Kim Thompson (1956-2013)

Kim-eisnersToday, publisher Fantagraphics confirmed the very sad news that co-publisher, editor, and translator Kim Thompson passed away at the age of 56. In 1977, the influential Thompson first arrived in America, having long been a fan of comics when he lived in Denmark (on their blog, Fantagraphics notes that Marvel Comics published his teen fan mail in the 1970s). Soon, Thompson partnered with Gary Groth, Fantagraphics’ much more outspoken co-founder, to bring independent comics like Love & Rockets by Los Bros Hernandez to a fanbase who craved literary-leaning, sequential storytelling over capes and muscles.

Thompson never lost his love for uncovering international talent, seeking to recreate that first step onto American soil by spotlighting creative minds no matter the native language, including the European artist Jason, whose iconic, anthropomorphic comics reached US audiences thanks to Thompson’s personal devotion, acumen, and eye for prowess. Recently, Thompson sought to darken the doorways of indie comics fans by editing the King of the Flies trilogy by French storytellers Mezzo and Pirus. His efforts were not in vain, as Volumes 1 and 2 (where Thompson is also credited as translator) were both selected as Amazon’s Best of the Year in Comics in 2010 and 2011, respectively. (Volume 3 is forthcoming.) Juggling many hats at Fantagraphics wasn’t enough, however, as Thompson partnered with Dark Horse Comics to translate the Milo Manara Library, an as yet unfinished, multi-volume project that spans the vast career of one of the most versatile European artists in comics.

On a personal note, I had the all-too-brief opportunity to meet Kim Thompson at a Fanatgraphics event in Seattle, WA (where the publisher is based), three years ago, and I witnessed firsthand his intelligence and humility. His loss will long be felt by those that Thompson inspired, helped, and touched in the industry, but there’s comfort in a legacy that flourishes at every turn of an atypical, gorgeous comics page.

--Alex

Photo credit: Lynn Emmert via Fantagraphics

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