|Area(s)||Writer, Editor, Publisher|
Chris Staros (born c. 1961) is the publisher of the graphic novel publisher Top Shelf Productions, as well as the former president of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF). He is also the author of Yearbook Stories, 1976–1978, published by Top Shelf.
Staros never read comics as a kid, thinking that books with pictures were for children. Later, he learned guitar and spent years playing in rock bands. As an adult, Staros spent a decade in the high-tech software industry. One day in 1990, Staros stepped inside a Marietta, Georgia, comic book store. Uninterested in superhero comics, Staros was directed to Alan Moore and David Lloyd's V for Vendetta. That chance encounter led to Staros making comics his career.
The Staros Report
Staros spent the next four years studying all forms of comics, from the Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics to contemporary alternative titles. He officially entered the comics field in 1994 with The Staros Report, an annual fanzine dedicated to promoting "the most intelligent and innovative" graphic novels in the business. In addition to ranked reviews, each issue of The Staros Report featured interviews, comics, bibliographies, character guides, letters, and more. He published four editions of The Staros Report, during which time he also became the American art and distribution agent for cartoonists Eddie Campbell and Gary Spencer Millidge.
Top Shelf Productions
At the 1997 Small Press Expo, Staros joined forces with Brett Warnock as publisher of Top Shelf. Staros and Warnock have aimed to give their imprint a style "that is quite hip, but also quite endearing", and Staros regularly signs correspondence with the tagline "Your friend thru comics." Staros & Warnock envisioned Top Shelf — together with Fantagraphics Books, Drawn and Quarterly and the now defunct Highwater Books — as an attempt to "change the public perception and face of comics altogether".
In 2000 Staros delivered the keynote speech at the Ignatz Awards, arguing that the industry must focus more on content, and that more works of the merit of Moore and Campbell's From Hell and Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan would help the public re-evaluate their perceptions of the medium. By all accounts, Top Shelf has succeeded, as it currently publishes a diverse catalog of graphic novels for adult readers with literary tastes as well as all-ages books.
Yearbook Stories: 1976-1978 (published in 2007) features two autobiographical tales from Staros's formative years: "The Willful Death of a Stereotype," illustrated by Bo Hampton, and "The Worst Gig I Ever Had," illustrated by Rich Tommaso. "The Willful Death of a Stereotype" originally appeared in the 2001 Small Press Expo Anthology and was nominated for the 2002 Eisner Award for Best Short Story of the Year. "The Worst Gig I Ever Had" (which originally appeared in the 1999 Small Press Expo Anthology) tells the story of Staros's very first hard rock band, and one of its more memorable gigs.
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
In the fall of 2002, Staros joined the board of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a non-profit organization founded in 1986 whose charter is to protect the First Amendment rights of the comics community. He became president of the CBLDF in 2004.
Chris Staros lives in Marietta, Georgia, USA with his wife Nita.
- Holman, Curt. "Speakeasy with Chris Staros: Marietta's Top Shelf comic-book publisher," Creative Loafing (June 20, 2007). Accessed December 2, 2008.
- Waterhouse, Jon. "Top Shelf Works to Upgrade — and Defend — the Comic Genre," Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Nov. 23, 2008). Accessed December 2, 2008.
- "Chris Staros Joins CBLDF Board of Directors" (Sept. 17, 2002). Accessed December 2, 2008.
- Contino, Jennifer M. "Take It From The Top," Sequential Tart vol. 5, issue 2 (Feb. 2002). Accessed December 2, 2008.
- Clough, Robert (October 5, 2000). "Interview: Chris Staros". Savant Issue 21. Savant. Archived from the original on 2006-10-20. Retrieved 2007-02-09.
- Spurgeon, Tom (September 30, 2000). "News: Ignatz Awards 2000". The Comics Reporter. Tom Spurgeon. Retrieved 2007-02-09.
- "Changing of the Guard at CBLDF," Comic Book Legal Defense Fund press release (August 04, 2004). Accessed December 3, 2008.
- Contino, Jennifer M. "Take It From The Top," Sequential Tart vol. 5, issue 2 (Feb. 2002).
- Douresseau, L.J. "Interview with Chris Staros," Comic Book Bin (Nov. 1, 2003).
- Weiland, Jonah. "Gauging Lost Girls Reaction with Chris Staros", Comic Book Resources (September 15, 2006).
- Comic Book Club (June 19, 2007).
- Holman, Curt. "Speakeasy with Chris Staros: Marietta's Top Shelf comic-book publisher," Creative Loafing (June 20, 2007).
- Express Night Out video interview (Oct. 2007).
- St-Louis, Hervé. "Interview With Chris Staros of Top Shelf Comix," Comic Book Bin (Jan. 6, 2008).
- Waterhouse, Jon. "Top Shelf Works to Upgrade — and Defend — the Comic Genre," Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Nov. 23, 2008).
- Staros' guide to "The Top 192 Best Comics in the Industry"