Last year, the North American comic book industry grew nearly 60%, thanks in large part to the insatiable appetite for graphic novels aimed at young readers. Even publishers whose business caters directly to mainstream older comic book fans have taken notice, with Marvel striking a deal with Scholastic, the 800-pound gorilla of enlightened mainstream children’s prose publishers flooding the zone with Raina clones. Telgemeier, and smaller publishers trying to spin imprints to publish child-friendly tariffs.
Today, an unexpected player took a big step forward, as Florida-based publisher Mad Cave Studios announced that it had acquired Papercutz, one of the first and most successful companies specializing in the media market. children. The terms of the contract are not disclosed.
Papercutz was founded by Terry Nantier, who also runs international comic book and graphic novel publisher NBM, and publisher Jim Salicrup, who developed Marvel’s first early-reader title. Spidey’s Great Stories in the 1970s. It’s been around since 2005, long before the kids’ comic book boom was on anyone’s radar. The company has a particular focus on using comics to get kids interested in reading from an early age, and a long editorial experience in understanding what works and what doesn’t, which has given it a huge head start in branding and craftsmanship over almost everyone else on the market.
Papercutz, which bills itself as the premier children’s graphic novel publisher, is best known for developing original literary children’s comics, licensed comics for The Smurfs, The Hardy Boys, Loud House, Geronimo Stilton, Casagrandes, and other kid-oriented properties. The imprint typically releases 40-50 titles a year and has a list of several hundred. The company’s greatest hits have sold millions of copies, and Nantier says Papercutz’s market growth is in line with the huge uptick the rest of the comics market has seen since 2020.
Papercutz has also entered the cornucopia of European comics, releasing editions of works by Lewis Trondheim, Peyo and the classic Asterix by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo. International markets represent almost a quarter of their activity. Papercutz has commercial distribution through Macmillan and comic book store distribution through Diamond, but most importantly, the company has a long history of showcasing its bestselling titles at Scholastic book fairs, which is the deciding factor in driving sales and the readership of comics aimed at this audience. These distribution agreements will continue after the merger.
For Mad Cave Studios, a relatively new addition to the comic book publishing landscape that has just begun making inroads into the direct market with fantasy adventure titles like Nottingham, Heart of a wolf and stargazer, Acquiring a known and trusted brand was a clever way to gain instant credibility in the space. It also more than doubled the size of the company and added significantly to Mad Cave’s catalog of titles.
“Papercutz’s dedicated fan base and well-established licensing make it the perfect complement to Mad Cave’s current vision,” said Mark London, Founder and CEO of Mad Cave Studios. “With the addition of Papercutz, readers should know that Mad Cave will be the best place to discover new content for different age groups. This is the next step in building a leading publisher, a commitment that we have towards our talent, the fans and the comic community.
Last year, Mad Cave launched its new Maverick imprint as its first foray into the YA space. The acquisition of Papercutz gives them access to the young reader and middle class categories, which have been the hot heart of the booming children’s market. And rather than trying to build that brand from scratch, Mad Cave can now build on the reputation Papercutz has built with teachers, librarians, and reading advocates.
“This acquisition of Papercutz is the perfect complement to the Mad Cave Publishing Group,” said Mad Cave Vice President of Business Development Mark Irwin. “We couldn’t be happier to welcome the expertise, talent and content of Papercutz to our amazing team at Mad Cave, and to watch the two continue to grow.”
“I’m impressed with what Mad Cave is doing with Maverick and the positive messages in these books,” Nantier said. “It was part of my decision to place Papercutz in a company bringing new material and a new approach to these markets.”
Salicrup and Nantier will continue to work with the combined company during the transition, but going forward, longtime writer/editor Rex E. Ogle will be Papercutz’s new editorial manager. “Papercutz has been publishing amazing graphic novels for kids for 17 years, and Mad Cave already has an incredible readership in both the adult and young adult sectors, so it’s exciting to add our mid-level line to the overall list,” Ogle said.
Acquiring Papercutz isn’t just an opportunistic way to enter the arena of children’s comics; it’s also strategic for Mad Cave as it tries to expand its footprint with older readers in a highly competitive market for non-superhero genre stories that includes Image Comics, Boom! Studios, IDW Publishing, Vault Comics and others. That’s because young readers eventually become older readers – something DC and Marvel have only just recognized over the past few years. Irwin says Mad Cave is bolstering its marketing and editorial capabilities to help make the most of the merger.
“By providing licensed books, original stories and creator-owned projects, we’ll create new stories for every reader and create an entry point to the rest of our lineup,” Ogle said. “As young readers grow and their tastes change, we will be able to offer new content. Whether a child is a reluctant reader or reads long before their peers, Papercutz can provide action, adventure, fantasy, mystery, scary stories and, of course, some of the most popular characters. more recognizable by the media.
“We have already acquired more content to be published under the Papercutz imprint,” Irwin said. “We couldn’t be more excited about this. We want to be a leader, we want to matter to the children.