Best known as the publisher of David Petersen’s Mouse Guard, Archaia Studios Press is back in the publishing mix after being acquired by Kunoichi Inc., an American media and entertainment company, late last year. Founded in 2002 by publisher Mark Smylie to self-publish his own graphic novel Artesia, Archaia grew quickly into a small publisher with a big hit—Petersen’s Mouse Guard—and a series of impressive original and licensed Euro-comics released as serials and hardcovers.
Now called simply Archaia, the company is a division of Kunoichi Inc. and Smylie remains publisher. He’s joined by Stephen Christy, director of development, and Mel Caylo, who will handle sales and marketing. Smylie remains based in Kearny, N.J. while Christy and Caylo are based in Los Angeles.
In an interview during BookExpo America Smylie said Archaia plans to publish two standalone graphic novels a month starting in June for a total of of at least 12 hardcover books in 2009 and Caylo said that there is the possibility of more. In addition the company has entered into an agreement with Rodenberry Productions to produce a non-Star Trek comics series called Days Missing. Caylor described it as an “alternate-history sci-fi series that will be released as monthly” periodical series beginning in July at San Diego Comic-con. The series will be released as book collection in 2010.
Petersen will continue to publish his popular Mouse Guard series with Archaia with volume 2 of the hardcover collection out in July. Archaia will also release four or five periodical series a month for a total of about 25 series titles. Smylie said Archaia also plans to release games based on the company' titles. Diamond Book Distributors will handle distribution to the book trade.
Beginning around 2006, Archaia released a series of hardcover comics including Revere: Revelation in Silver by writer Ed Lavallee and artist Grant Bond; Robotika by Alex Sheikman; Lone and Level Sands by A. David Lewis, mpMann and Jennifer Rodgers; and Okko by Hub. In early 2008, Smylie’s co-publisher, Aki Liao, decided to leave the company for personal reasons and what followed was a series of reorganizations and rumors about the fate of the company.
At times the small house was rumored to be acquired by the Chicago-based indie comics publisher Devil’s Due, although Smylie told PWCW that that was never the case. “We did have conversations with them but it turned out that Kunoichi was the best fit for us,” he said.