Les Humanoïdes Associés
This publisher was founded in 1974 by four idealistic (and very talented) creators: Moebius, Jean-Pierre Dionnet, Philippe Druillet and Bernard Farkas. From it's beginnings until the 90s, it revolutionized how science-fiction was done. With
Métal Hurlant magazine (which inspired
Heavy Metal) as a spearhead, many titles that saw print in that period are still considered highly influential today and inspired a generation of readers. To name a (very) few of these titles:
L'Incal by Moebius and Jodorowsky,
Exterminateur 17 by Bilal and Dionnet and
Lone Sloane by Druillet.
By the late 1980s things started to change business-wise. Creators are not administrators and the publisher, crumbling with debt, was bought back by its printer, who wished to convert the money owed to him into capital. This situation was only temporary since the label was sold again to Hachette who in turn sold it to a young and dynamic Swiss businessman Fabrice
Giger. With this new leadership and renewed vision,
new materials appeared and new creators joined the bandwagon. Bilal finished his famous "
Nikipol trilogy" while new series like "
Les Technopères" et "
La Caste des Méta-Barons" saw the day.
But by 2004 the publisher was again struggling with financial problems. This time around it was bought by movie producer Pierre Spengler. Spengler was the producer of the first three Superman movies and had ties both in Hollywood and in Europe. His motivation to buy the publisher was clear and simple: to own properties he could develop into feature films. Major changes followed the acquisition. New titles started to appear in markets traditionally not occupied by the publisher, such as youth, western and historical fiction. Les Humanoides Associés also started a manga imprint in 2007. But instead of merely translating comic books, they started creating their own. It's also important to mention that it was due to that change of ownership that Bilal left for Casterman with all his previous works. Details are still unclear if it was due to personal problems with the new direction or if its catalog was sold with his approbation.
More recently, the publisher continued to struggle with financial problems. In May 2008, it was put under state observation (a step before the equivalent of Act 11 in the US if I'm right) for a certain amount of time. The staff was also downsized in an attempt to reduce costs. In all this turmoil, a new publishing deal was signed with American comic book publisher Devil's Due Publishing for the translation and publication of more than 15 titles. Not a first since they already had signed such a deal with DC Comics a couple of years ago.
What the future holds for the publisher is uncertain but their release schedule does not seem to be disturbed by their precarious financial situation.