Last year I wrote about the publisher NoBrow (see here) who ended up the recipient of the Daves Comics Publisher of the Year Award for 2010 for some beautiful and challenging art books and graphic novellas (there was a gold statue and everything but I think it got waylayed in second class post).
This year SelfMadeHero is pushing hard for the coveted top spot. As with NoBrow there is strong consistency of product strengthening their profile not only in terms of quality but also in format (all books are of similar size and price point). They begun in 2007 focusing on literary adaptations, expertly picking on novels in the tough-going classics category such as works by Edgar Allen Poe and Franz Kafka as well as the Manga Shakespeare line which relocated the plays to settings more accessible to teen readers.
Adaptations, whether they be from a movie or a novel have historically been of a variable quality at best usually because they are side projects for publishers. But with the company focusing solely on this genre the books were receiving good word and by 2010, having added the Sherlock Holmes adaptations to their cannon, they moved into another rather maligned genre: Biography. Procuring the rights to Johnny Cash: I See Darkness, it was critical success and - once again carefully choosing its subjects - has been followed by Gonzo: A Graphic Biography of Hunter S. Thompson, Kiki De Montparnasse and Baby's In Black (regarding Stuart Sutcliffe).
Throw into the mix beautiful Dance By The Light Of The Moon - based on a true story - and we're only just getting to their first fictional graphic novel soon-to-be-released Hair Shirt by the talented Canadian artist Patrick McEown.