Archaia Founder Mark Smylie to Focus on Writing Career

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Cover of The BarrowMark Smylie, creator of the Eisner Award-nominated series Artesia, is transitioning away from the company he founded, Archaia, to focus on his burgeoning writing career along with other creative endeavors.

Last year saw Smylie’s debut as a novelist with The Barrow from publisher Pyr (an imprint of Prometheus Books). Set in the world of Artesia, the book garnered praise from John R. Fultz (author of Seven Sorcerers and the Books of the Shaper trilogy) who called it “completely fantastic,” and from Django Wexler (author of The Thousand Names) who said, “I love Mark Smylie’s world. Fans of deep, intricate settings and complex histories are in for a treat… ” Publisher’s Weekly praised the book saying, “Plot twists and character work are the highlights, with Smylie doing a great job of developing individual personalities within the large cast.”

“I’m excited by this next stage,” said Smylie. “I continue to love comics and publishing, and am thrilled to see titles we had worked on acquiring for Archaia hitting shelves this year, including Asaf Hanuka’s The Realist, the upcoming Freaks’ Squeele from the amazing French artist Florent Maudoux, and the hardcover collection of The Last Broadcast from André Sirangelo and Gabriel Iumazark, which former Archaia editor Rebecca Taylor had found and shepherded, beginning almost five years ago. But getting a chance to return to the setting and characters of Artesia in writing The Barrow was a welcome shift, and reminded me of why I had started all this to begin with.”

The Barrow’s success will see a sequel, Black Heart, scheduled this November from Pyr.

While at Archaia and during the past two years at BOOM!, Smylie has also been working as a producer, assembling a slate of lower-budgeted features around Archaia back-catalog titles such as Killing Pickman, Black Fire, Black Charity, Starkweather, The Grave Doug Freshley, and Mumbai Confidential, with those efforts now spun off in a separate company, Aegis & Gorgon.

“It’s been a labor of love helping these creators try to realize their work on-screen. They’re rich creative worlds and stories with what I think is great potential,” said Smylie. “We’ve always approached the comics-to-film market from a couple of perspectives, both the traditional option/studio-sale model and the indie-financing model, and the indie side was the part that interested me most. Thankfully, when BOOM! came in, [Founder and CEO] Ross [Richie] and the rest of the team continued to encourage my work on the internal development line. I’m excited to be able to dedicate more time to pursue these projects, and getting them past the development stage and into production—as challenging as I know that will be.”

Cover for Artesia Vol. 1“It all comes back down to that original San Diego Comic-Con 10 years ago when I set up a booth next to Mark’s newly launched Archaia publishing effort,” said BOOM! Studios Founder and CEO Ross Richie. “Smylie is so smart, so intensely creative. I have such a fondness for him given both of us have founded our own publishing companies and seen them grow into something more than ourselves. I’ll be doing nothing but cheering him on from here on out.”

Mark Smylie founded Archaia Studios Press in 2002 as a home for his previously published creator-owned series Artesia. In 2006, he announced he was venturing into publishing third-party material that he did not create, leading to the launch of the long-running Mouse Guard series from David Petersen and the English-language translations of French best-selling series The Killer by Matz and Luc Jacamon.

In 2008, Smylie sold the company and stayed on as an acting principal. In 2009, the publisher was relaunched simply as “Archaia,” going on to win Eisner Awards for the best-selling Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand and The Return of the Dapper Men.

In 2013, BOOM! bought Archaia and merged it into the comic book publisher as a wholly-owned imprint.

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