We’ve written about Annie Koyama before: about the playful and innovative comics she publishes at Koyama Press, about her unusual entrance into the world of publishing, even about her quirky bookshelf. But we just can’t get enough. Her story is so inspiring that notable music magazine the FADER branched out from its usual subject matter to interview Koyama on April 29.
The article opens with the accurate claim that Koyama Press’s origin story “could easily be the plot of one of the poignant autobiographical comics it publishes”: Annie Koyama, whose background is in film production, started the press on a whim after undergoing major brain surgery for a terminal aneurysm in 2007. The life-saving surgery spurred Koyama to delve into something she felt truly passionate about, so she began funding Toronto artists’ comics, publishing them, and taking none of the profits in return. Her generous spirit allowed little-known cartoonists, who were frequently snubbed by larger publishers, the validation and exposure she felt they deserved. As the FADER puts it, “her commitment to taking risks on emerging artists reflected an ongoing paradigm shift affecting the way alternative comics are produced and consumed,” and as a result, Koyama Press has become “one of the most important forces in independent comics” around today.
Even though Koyama is currently living with a second, inoperable brain aneurysm, she continues to push forward with Koyama Press and remains committed to diversity. As she told the FADER, “we live in a multicultural society and we need more artists telling their stories well—from every background.” She laments that finding a vast audience for alternative comics is still “an uphill battle,” but some of the attention Koyama Press has gotten lately should help. The A.V. Club provided an exclusive preview of upcoming Koyama titles Gorgeous and What Is Obscenity?. Check out the previews here and here, respectively. Both books come out on May 10, and they’re just a few of the many wonderful things we know are in store for Annie Koyama and her press in the future.