Gary Groth

Gary Groth

Groth at the 2007 Alternative Press Expo
Born 1954 (age 6162)
Nationality American
Area(s) Editor, Publisher
Notable works
The Comics Journal
Fantagraphics Books

Gary Groth (born 1954) is an American comic book editor, publisher and critic. He is editor-in-chief of The Comics Journal and a co-founder of Fantagraphics Books.

Early life

Groth is the son of a U.S. Navy contractor and was raised in Springfield, Virginia,[1] in the Washington, D.C. area.[2] He read his first comic book in a pediatrician's office.[1]


Fanzines and Marvel Comics

Inspired by film critics like Andrew Sarris and Pauline Kael, and gonzo journalists like Hunter S. Thompson,[2] the teenage Groth published Fantastic Fanzine, a comics fanzine (whose name referenced the Marvel Comics title Fantastic Four). For two years, in 1970 and 1971, he organized Metro Con, a comics convention held in Washington, D.C.[1]

Later, after turning down an editorial assistant position at Marvel Comics in 1973,[3] Groth worked briefly as a production and layout assistant at the movie and comics magazine Mediascene, which was edited by Jim Steranko.[2]

After dropping out of his fourth college in 1974, Groth and his financial partner Michael Catron put on a rock and roll convention that ended in financial failure. Nonetheless, he and Catron dabbled in music publishing with the short-lived magazine Sounds Fine.[2]


In 1976 Groth founded Fantagraphics Books, Inc. with Catron, and took over an adzine named The Nostalgia Journal—quickly renaming it The Comics Journal.[4] Groth's Comics Journal applied rigorous critical standards to comic books. It disparaged formulaic superhero books and work for hire publishers and favored artists like R. Crumb and Art Spiegelman and creator ownership of copyrights. It featured lengthy, freewheeling interviews with comics professionals, often conducted by Groth himself.


Groth's first editorial in The Nostalgia Journal #27,[5] began a lengthy feud[6] with Alan Light, founder, and at that time, publisher of The Buyer's Guide for Comics Fandom.

Groth and Light were friends before Light published Groth's final issue of Fantastic Fanzine; Light's expedient business methods met with Groth's disapproval.[7] Fandom: Confidential, Ron Frantz's history of the WE Seal of approval program (WSA),[8] outlines Groth's confrontations with Light at conventions and via late night collect calls. Light in turn cashed a check for a Comics Journal advertisement that he refused to print. Groth acquired a copy of the WSA mailing list, and without authorization, used it to solicit subscriptions; Groth later apologized for what he claimed was a misunderstanding,[9] and soon after broke ties with WSA. In 1983 when Light sold TBG, a Groth editorial denounced Light.[10] Light's subsequent libel suit against Groth was eventually dismissed.[11]

Groth's 1991 Comics Journal editorial "Lies We Cherish: The Canonization of Carol Kalish",[12] which criticized the then-recently deceased former Marvel Comics Vice President of New Product Development for "selling cretinous junk to impressionable children",[13] caused controversy within the industry,[14] including outrage by Kalish's friend and colleague, writer Peter David.[15][16]



  1. 1 2 3 Jacobson, Aileen. "Serious Comics Fans," Washington Post (Aug 16, 1971), p. B2.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Matos, Michelangelo. "Saved by the Beagle," Seattle Arts (September 15, 2004).
  3. Meyer, Ken, Jr. "Ink Stains 3: Fantastic Fanzine 10," Comic Attack (October 12, 2009).
  4. Maheras, Russ. The Comics Journal Message Board :: View topic – The Comics Journal #32, Jan. 1977 (July 2, 2007): "... transforming it from an adzine into a magazine of news and criticism that just happened to carry advertisements."
  5. Groth, Gary. "Editorial,", The Nostalgia Journal #27 (July 1976).
  6. Maheras, Russ. "The Comics Journal #32, Jan. 1977", The Comics Journal Message Board (Feb. 9, 2007): "The earliest issues focused on a clash between Groth and Alan Light, publisher of competing adzine The Buyer’s Guide for Comic Fandom."
  7. Light had "[taken] over the publishing chores of Fantastic Fanzine Special II, the last issue of FF I edited" - Groth, ibid
  8. Frantz, Ron (2000). Fandom: Confidential. Mena, Arkansas: Midguard Publishing. pp. 128–173. ISBN 978-0-9678273-0-8.
  9. Frantz. p.149
  10. Groth, Gary. "Editorial," The Comics Journal #181 (May 1983): "[Light is] fandom's first real business predator. His career of hustling is a monument to selfish opportunism and spiritual squalor."
  11. Frantz, p.169, 171
  12. Groth, Gary. "Lies We Cherish: The Canonization of Carol Kalish," The Comics Journal #146 (November 1991).
  13. Deppey, Dirk. "Journalista! Lies We Still Cherish" Comics Journal website (December 14, 2002).
  14. Woods, Anthony. "All the Right-Thinking People," Comics Journal Message Board (June 3, 2008). Accessed October 3, 2009.
  15. David, Peter. "Snob Appeal"; "But I Digress..." collection; 1994; Krause Publications
  16. David, Peter "The Last Word", December 20, 2002


External links

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