U.S. Naval Institute to Publish Comics and Graphic Novels

Set to debut in the Fall of 2018, the Institute’s new imprint, Dead Reckoning*, promises a vibrant return to military-themed comics.


MOST READERS have probably never heard of the U.S. Naval Institute’s publishing house, The Naval Institute Press, despite the fact that thy have published several classic best-sellers, including Tom Clancy’s first novel, The Hunt for Red October, and Stephen Coontz’ Flight of the Intruder. I must confess that I had never heard of it. But that all changed recently when the Institute announced an upcoming line of graphic novels and classic comic collections designed to “expose a new audience to exceptional stories of service both past and present.”

The name of this new venture, Dead Reckoning*, is derived from a navigation term that suggests advancing from a known position. The idea is to take what readers have historically known and loved about military comics and advance it to the next level, drawing from real-life stories and perhaps even venturing into military-themed science fiction.

Here’s the full text of their press release. It raises some very exciting possibilities:

ANNAPOLIS, Md., Oct. 5, 2017 – Naval Institute Press, the vaunted publisher of military histories and classics like The Hunt for Red October and Flight of the Intruder, announced today that it is diving into the world of graphic novel publishing.

Launching in Fall 2018, Dead Reckoning* will publish full-length original graphic novels and collections of classic comics with a special focus on military and naval history, military and naval biography, general history, and stories of the high seas. With both fiction and nonfiction narratives, Dead Reckoning* will expose a new audience to exceptional stories of service both past and present. Whether bringing to life true stories of heroism or plunging into the real-life complexities of national security through the safe confines of fiction, Dead Reckoning* will bring a unique new voice to the established world of graphic novel publishing.

“The audience for comics and graphic novels has been growing for years. As that audience has expanded, there’s been a growing demand for a greater variety in terms of the books being published,” said Gary Thompson, lead editor at Dead Reckoning*. “From Harvey Kurtzman’s Frontline Combat to Doug Murray & Michael Golden’s The ‘Nam, war stories have represented some of the highest quality storytelling the medium has to offer. We feel now is the time to make military-themed comics a vibrant genre again and to introduce a whole new generation of graphic novel readers to the power of these stories.”

The U.S. Naval Institute, of which the Naval Institute Press is the book-publishing arm, has always had a mission to “provide an independent forum for those who dare to read, think, speak, and write to advance the professional, literary, and scientific understanding of sea power and other issues critical to global security.” With graphic novels, the Naval Institute can push forward its mission and achieve its objectives of enhancing the understanding of the contributions of the services and keeping alive the lessons of military history for current and future generations. This highly accessible format lets the Naval Institute Press reach a whole new audience for its mission.

“People have an intense interest in history,” said Thompson. “But even the most dedicated history enthusiasts can miss out on fascinating events because they can only be found in dense academic texts. With Dead Reckoning*, we aim to provide a wide array of entry points for historical events all over the world, using thrilling narratives that can put readers in the very shoes of the men and women who serve. Of course, we’ll also have a number of fiction titles that not only use these historical events as a backdrop but also convey the feeling and experiences of the men and women involved in these conflicts. I’m sure our readership will be a mix of people looking to learn more about particular events and people who are simply looking for entertaining stories in graphic novel form.”

Publishing consultant Sven Larsen believes the launch of Dead Reckoning* is a significant milestone in the emergence of graphic novels in the mainstream publishing world. “Graphic novels were once the ‘red-headed stepchild’ of the book publishing industry,” noted Larsen. “Now they’re the fastest growing part of the book business. Seeing a house as prestigious as the Naval Institute Press begin publishing in this medium confirms that the category is here to stay and reminds us that there remain a wide variety of stories still to be told. I’m sure future students of graphic novel history will look at the launch of Dead Reckoning* as one of those milestones that’s indicative of the medium ‘coming of age’ and tapping its full potential.”

The new imprint will launch with an initial list of five titles and then expand to 10-12 titles per year in 2019. Subject matter ranges from infamous settings like World War I and the Vietnam War to more recent conflicts like the war in Afghanistan as well as memoirs and biographies. Thompson notes that this is just the beginning for the imprint. “With all of history to draw from, readers will see a tremendous variety of subjects and settings for our books,” noted the editor. “We’re not even limited by events that actually happened. It wouldn’t surprise me if at some point we end up publishing a military-themed science fiction graphic novel or something equally innovative.”

“In navigation, a dead reckoning is a way to figure out where you are by taking a previously known position and then advancing it. That’s what we’re looking to do here—take what readers have previously known and enjoyed about war comics and use that to create what’s next for the genre.”



Stephen Vincent D'Emidio is the editor and publisher of Wonder Alliance. steve@wonderalliance.com

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