Jacques Glénat started his comicsfanzine Schtroumpf (the French, original, title of The Smurfs) in 1969, when he was still a student. In 1972, only twenty years old, he established his own publishing house, Glénat. The first two books were by Claude Serre and by Claire Bretécher. Two years later, he already received the award for best publisher at the Angoulême International Comics Festival. To support the rapid growth, the company opened warehouses in Orly near Paris, and a flagship store in Paris.
A new comics magazine, Circus, first appeared in 1975 and existed until 1989. But the next few years saw Glénat move more away from the traditional juvenile Franco-Belgian comics and more towards the graphic novel, with an emphasis on their successful historical series by François Bourgeon and André Juillard. A second magazine, Vécu, dedicated to historical comics, was created in 1985 and survived until 2004.
From 1980 on, Glénat also published non-fiction books related to mountain climbing and to the sea. They also bought the publisher Vents d'Ouest and from 1991 on started publishing manga. But the biggest success of all came with Titeuf by Zep, which soon was one of the bestselling French comic series, with its own magazine Tchô and animated series.
As of 2009, the company gets 50% of its turnover from comics, 20% from manga, and 15% from books, with the last 15% divided over smaller products.
The book division has a catalogue of over 4,000 titles, publishing some 400 new books and 12 million volumes a year. Bestselling series include Titeuf, with 16 million copies, and Dragonball, with 17 million copies. It is the second largest comics publishing group in France, behind Média-Participations, with some 20% of the market.
The company has three international subsidiaries, Glénat Benelux, Glénat Espagne (Spain), and Glénat Suisse (Switzerland). The company is also very active in Canada and collaborates with other publishers in other countries. Apart from translating and distributing the original Glénat productions, these regional companies also produce their own content and specializations. Glénat Espagne controls 40% of the manga market in Spain, and Glénat Benelux has 13% of the market of Belgian comic shops.
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