DC Comics has announced an agreement with the Humanoids Group that calls for the publication of 36 books per year from Les Humanoides Associes and Humanoids Publishing as part of the DC Comics catalog. DC will retain worldwide English language rights to Humanoids titles it publishes. Humanoids Publishing, the American arm of the Humanoids group, will help prepare the Humanoids titles for DC. The Humanoids catalog contains works by some of Europe's top artists including Moebius, Bilal, Jodorowsky, Beltran, Gimenez, Schuitten, and Marini. The first DC/Humanoids titles should be available in July. Diamond will distribute the books in the direct market, while Time Warner will handle the bookstore and mass-market distribution. The actual format of the books, which were primarily published in the large European album size, has not yet been determined.
Although European graphic novels have never attained the popularity that manga has achieved in U.S. bookstores, publishers such as NBM have been selling and distributing high quality European material to U.S. bookstores for years. For DC the agreement means access to a large pool of high quality graphic novel material, while Humanoids will gain unprecedented access to the U.S. market through up-front placement of solicitation material in Diamond Previews, and the backing of a powerful distribution arm in the bookstore market. Thirty-six volumes per year is a very aggressive approach, but in the past year DC has become increasingly aggressive, and judging from comments DC President and CEO Paul Levitz made to ICv2, it's quite probable that DC will also be publishing manga in the near future along with its homegrown graphic novels and three dozen Euro books a year -- all of which taken together will comprise a very broad line with a strong potential appeal to bookstores. Last September (see 'Interview With DC's Paul Levitz, Part 2') Levitz told ICv2, 'Very clearly, manga's become a significant portion of the reading habits for comics, defined broadly, in America, so I'd be really sad if we weren't able come up with a way to be a significant force in that business....[B]y about a year from now, we'll start being in that business in a meaningful way.'