Graphic novel pioneer Byron Preiss died Saturday of injuries suffered in a car accident on Long Island, according to an obituary by Jim Steranko published on Comicon's Pulse. He was 52. Preiss was currently active as the publisher of Ibooks, which was publishing everything from Casper (see 'iBooks Does Harvey') to Blacksad (see 'DC and Fantagraphics Dominate Harveys') to Stan Lee's Alexa (see 'Stan Lee's Alexa').
Preiss was a visionary throughout his publishing career, which spanned 35 years. He published Steranko's groundbreaking Chandler graphic novel in the 70s, which experimented with a word-balloon-less format. More recently he was fascinated with the intersection of electronic publishing and graphic novels, publishing graphic novels on CD-ROM in the 90s, and simultaneously publishing his most recent titles both as e-books and paper books. His ongoing collaboration with Komikwerks took Webcomics to the printed form.
Preiss was uniformly ahead of the market, stretching the boundaries of the comics medium in new ways. But more importantly, he had a nearly unfailing eye for quality material regardless of where it came from. He will be missed as a publisher, and as one of the genuinely nice guys in the business.