Thierry (Terry) Nantier’s ’79 passion for comics ignited in France, where he spent many summers as a child and eventually attended high school. Book-length comics were very popular in Europe at the time but almost unheard of in the United States. When Nantier came to Syracuse University—which he picked because of the reputation of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications —he was already determined to publish graphic novels in the United States.
In his second year at Syracuse, with his Lawrinson Hall dorm room as headquarters, Nantier started his first publishing company. An art history course inspired the name Flying Buttress Publications (tagline: “In support of a new medium”), and he put his education directly into practice. “Marketing and design courses, and what I learned in my business minor, provided concepts and structure that really helped me launch the company,” he says.
At the time, “The cultural view on comics in the United States was not positive. I was definitely going against trend,” Nantier says. The early years were difficult. But four decades later, Nantier has the satisfaction of seeing his vision vindicated. Literary comics have mainstream acceptance and comics are recognized as a medium, not a genre. NBM, the company that evolved from Flying Buttress, is respected as a premier publisher of literary comics. The company is known for graphic novels and groundbreaking nonfiction for late-teen and adult audiences. “It is very gratifying to see comics have a full seat at the table,” Nantier says.
In 2005 Nantier launched Papercutz, which produces graphic books for younger readers. One of the most rewarding developments, he says, is that librarians and educators have embraced comics for their literary value. “They see how this medium can really get kids excited about reading,” he says.
Still, Nantier’s success does not mean he’s resting on his laurels. “It’s a constant challenge to keep up with changing tastes,” he says. He is motivated by an unflagging passion for comics and what they can be, and the opportunity to support the artists and authors. “Graphic novels require a huge amount of work to create,” he explains. “You can see when someone has really poured their soul into it. That’s important, and that’s the spark I love to be part of.”