Byron Preiss

Byron Preiss (April 11, 1953 – July 9, 2005)[1] was an American writer, editor, and publisher. He founded and served as president of Byron Preiss Visual Publications, and later of ibooks Inc.

Byron C. Preiss
BornApril 11, 1953
Brooklyn, New York City
DiedJuly 9, 2005 (aged 52)
East Hampton, New York
OccupationAuthor, editor, publisher
Alma materUniversity of Pennsylvania, Stanford University
GenreFantasy, illustrated novels, audiobooks, digital publishing
Notable worksThe Words of Gandhi
SpouseSandi Mendelson


Early life and career

A native of Brooklyn, New York City, Byron Preiss graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 1972,[2] and earned a master's degree in communications from Stanford University.[2]

In 1971, while Preiss was teaching at a Philadelphia elementary school, he conceived, and with Jim Steranko, produced an anti-drug comic book, The Block, designed for low-level reading skills. Published by Steranko's company, Supergraphics, it was distributed to schools nationwide.[3]

He founded Byron Preiss Visual Publications in 1974 to publish original works, including Weird Heroes (1975). His 1976 Fiction Illustrated series of illustrated novels began with Schlomo Raven: Public Detective, a Preiss collaboration with Tom Sutton, followed by Starfawn, illustrated by Stephen Fabian, Steranko's Chandler: Red Tide and the 1977 Son of Sherlock Holmes, illustrated by Ralph Reese. Other publications included a 1978 adaptation of Alfred Bester's The Stars My Destination as a two-volume graphic novel, illustrated by Howard Chaykin.

Publishing career

As a book packager, he developed titles for such publishers as HarperCollins and Random House. One such project, created in conjunction with the Bank Street College of Education, resulted in a series of educational comic books adapting well-known genre authors: The Bank Street Book of Creepy Tales, The Bank Street Book of Fantasy, The Bank Street Book of Mystery and The Bank Street Book of Science Fiction.[4]

He published children's books by celebrities, including Billy Crystal, Jane Goodall, Jay Leno, LeAnn Rimes and Jerry Seinfeld, and worked closely with such established illustrators as Ralph Reese, William Stout and Tom Sutton.

Preiss was co-author, with Michael Reaves, of the children's novel Dragonworld (Doubleday, 1979), with 80 illustrations by Joseph Zucker. Dragonworld was originally planned to be the fifth "Fiction Illustrated" title.

In 1982, Preiss published The Secret, a puzzle book that combined 12 short verses and 12 elaborate fantasy paintings by John Jude Palencar. Readers were expected to pair each painting with a verse in a way that would provide clues to finding one of 12 plexiglass boxes buried in various parks around North America. Each box contained a ceramic key that could be redeemed for a jewel worth $1,000. The book was inspired by the success of Masquerade, written and illustrated by Kit Williams and published in England in August 1979, but The Secret never led to the same level of treasure hunting frenzy. One of the ceramic boxes was found in Chicago in 1983. Another was found in Cleveland in 2004. The remaining 10 boxes have never been found.[5]

Beyond traditional printed books, Preiss frequently embraced emerging technologies, and was among the first to publish in such electronic forms as CD-ROM books and ebooks. The Words of Gandhi, an audiobook he produced, won a Grammy Award in 1985.

Both Byron Preiss Visual Publications and ibooks Inc. filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy on February 22, 2006, after his death.[6]

Later life and death

Preiss was married to Sandi Mendelson, with whom he had daughters Karah and Blaire.[7] On July 9, 2005, he died in a traffic accident at East Hampton, New York, on Long Island, while driving to his synagogue.[2]

List of Byron Preiss publications

Published by Preiss, or packaged by Preiss for other publishers

  • The Electric Company Joke Book (1973) ISBN 0-307-64824-9
  • The Silent e's from Outer Space (Western Pub., 1973; Goldencraft, 1974 ISBN 0-307-64821-4)
  • One Year Affair (1976) ISBN 0-911104-86-0
  • Weird Heroes (Pyramid Books, 1975–77)
Vol. 1 (ISBN 0-515-03746-X) to Vol. 8 (ISBN 0-515-04257-9); collections of illustrated, pulp-inspired stories
  • Fiction Illustrated #1 – Schlomo Raven: Public Detective (Pyramid Books, 1976; by Preiss and Tom Sutton)
  • Fiction Illustrated #2 – Starfawn (Pyramid Books, 1976; by Preiss and Stephen Fabian)
  • Fiction Illustrated #3 – Chandler: Red Tide (Pyramid Books, 1976 ISBN 0-515-04241-2; Dark Horse, 2001 ISBN 1-56971-438-X)
  • Fiction Illustrated #4 – Son of Sherlock Holmes (Pyramid Books, 1977; by Preiss and Ralph Reese)
  • Empire (1978) by Samuel R. Delany, illustrated by Howard Chaykin. ISBN 0-425-03900-5
  • The Illustrated Roger Zelazny (Ace Books, 1979), illustrated by Gray Morrow ISBN 978-0441365258
  • The Beach Boys (1979; revised ed. 1983 ISBN 0-312-07026-8)
  • The Art of Leo and Diane Dillon (1981) ISBN 0-345-28449-6
  • The Dinosaurs (1981; revised 2000 as The New Dinosaurs)
  • The Secret (1982) ISBN 0-553-01408-0 – illustrated by John Jude Palencar
  • The First Crazy Word Book: Verbs (1982) ISBN 0-531-04500-5
  • The Little Blue Brontosaurus (1983) ISBN 0-89845-165-5
  • Not the Webster's Dictionary (1983) ISBN 0-671-47418-9
  • The Bat Family (1984) ISBN 0-89845-237-6
  • Time Machine 1 — Secret of the Knights (Bantam Books, 1984; by Jim Gasperini, illustrated by Richard Hescox) ISBN 0-553-23601-6
  • Nuts! (1985) ISBN 0-553-24725-5
  • The Planets (1985) ISBN 0-553-05109-1
  • The Universe (1987) ISBN 0-553-05227-6
  • Time Machine 19 — The Death Mask of Pancho Villa (Bantam Books, 1987; by Carol Gaskin and George Guthridge, illustrated by Kenneth Huey, cover by Jim Steranko) ISBN 0-553-26674-8
  • Dragonsword, 1st edition (1988) ISBN 1-55802-003-9
  • The Microverse (1989) ISBN 0-553-05705-7
  • First Contact: The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (1990) ISBN 0-7472-3508-2
  • Tales from the One-Eyed Crow: The Vulgmaster by Dennis L. McKiernan and Alex Nino (1991) ISBN 9780451450883
  • The Ultimate Dracula (1991) ISBN 0-7472-0552-3
  • The Ultimate Frankenstein (1991) ISBN 0-440-50352-3
  • The Ultimate Werewolf (1991 reissue ISBN 0-440-50354-X)
  • The Ultimate Dinosaur: Past, Present, and Future (1992) ISBN 0-553-07676-0
  • The Vampire State Building (1992) ISBN 0-553-15998-4
  • The Ultimate Zombie (1993) ISBN 0-440-50534-8
  • The Ultimate Witch (1993) ISBN 0-440-50531-3
  • The Ultimate Dragon (1995) ISBN 0-440-50630-1
  • The Ultimate Alien (1995) ISBN 0-440-50631-X
  • The Best Children's Books in the World (1996) ISBN 0-8109-1246-5
  • The Rhino History of Rock 'n' Roll: The '70s (1997) ISBN 0-671-01175-8
  • Are We Alone in the Cosmos? The Search for Alien Contact in the New Millennium (1999) ISBN 0-671-03892-3
  • The New Dinosaurs (2000) ISBN 0-7434-0724-5
  • The Roadkill of Middle Earth (2001) by John Carnell, illustrated by Tom Sutton, cover by Steve Fastner and Rich Larson. ISBN 0-7434-3467-6
  • Dying Inside (2002) ISBN 0-7434-3508-7
  • The Ultimate Dragon (2003) ISBN 0-7434-5868-0
  • The Best Bizarre But True Stories Ever! (2003) ISBN 978-0-7434-4557-3
  • Exploring The Matrix: Visions of the Cyber Present (2004) ISBN 0-312-31359-4
  • Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe (2005) ISBN 1-59687-847-9
  • Year's Best Graphic Novels, Comics & Manga (2005) ISBN 0-312-34326-4


This illustrated children's novel by Byron Preiss and Michael Reaves was published in several editions from 1979 to 2005:


  1. ^ Byron Preiss at the Social Security Death Index via Retrieved on May 20, 2014. Archived from the original on May 20, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c "Byron Preiss, 52, Digital Publishing Pioneer, Dies". The New York Times. July 11, 2005. Archived from the original on February 21, 2011.
  3. ^ Steranko, Jim (July 10, 2005). "Comics Loses One of its Major Visionaries: Byron Preiss". Archived from the original on June 20, 2011. Additional , June 20, 2011.
  4. ^ "Babylon Gardens to Battlestar Galactica: Armageddon". The Locus Index to Science Fiction: 1984–1998. Archived from the original on May 20, 2014. Retrieved 2014-05-20.
  5. ^ "The Secret". Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  6. ^ "ibooks & Byron Preiss Visual Publications File Chapter 7; Creditors Confab Set for Apr. 4". February 24, 2006. Archived from the original on June 11, 2011.
  7. ^ "Preiss Was Influential Publishing Figure". Publishers Weekly. July 11, 2005. Archived from the original on January 5, 2006.

External links

Adrift Just Off the Islets of Langerhans

"Adrift Just Off the Islets of Langerhans: Latitude 38° 54' N, Longitude 77° 00' 13" W" is an award-winning 1974 science fiction novelette by Harlan Ellison. It was originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in October 1974, and subsequently republished in Ellison's 1975 anthology Deathbird Stories, in the 1991 Byron Preiss-edited anthology The Ultimate Werewolf, and in Ellison's 2006 anthology "The Essential Ellison: A 50 Year Retrospective".

Aren't You Glad

"Aren't You Glad" is a song written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love for American rock band the Beach Boys. The two also share lead vocal. It was released in 1967 as the second track on their studio album Wild Honey.

In its 1968 review of the LP, Rolling Stone called it a "Lovin' Spoonful type song with the Beach Boys touch". That same year, Rolling Stone editor Gene Sculatti said "['Aren't You Glad'] achieves a Miracles style smoothness via a Bobby Goldsboro-type song". In 1979, Byron Preiss wrote that the song "epitomized the simple energy of the album".An alternate live version was released on the album Live in London (1970).

Be an Interplanetary Spy

Be An Interplanetary Spy is a series of twelve interactive children's science fiction books designed by Byron Preiss Visual Publications and first published by Bantam Books from 1983 to 1985.

Brynne Chandler

Brynne Chandler (born 1958) is a writer best known for her work on animated television series such as Gargoyles, Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Batman: The Animated Series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, amongst many others. She was nominated for an Emmy award for her work on Batman, and was at one point the highest-paid female animation writer working in Hollywood. She also has extensive credits in writing/adapting graphic novels (including an adaptation of Anne McCaffrey's Dragonflight), as well as editing and adapting manga.

At the beginning of her career (circa 1983), she was billed as J. Brynne Stephens, then simply as Brynne Stephens. As Brynne Stephens, she published a handful of short stories and a 1986 novel called The Dream Palace, all while continuing to write numerous animated television scripts. She also wrote the text of the 1984 videogame Dragonworld (video game), based on the novel by Byron Preiss and Michael Reaves.She was married for a time to Reaves, and at that time was billed as Brynne Chandler Reaves. She is the mother of noted manga adapter and novelist Mallory Reaves.


Dragonsword is a novel written by Gael Baudino and published in 1988. It is the first in the Dragonsword Trilogy. The other novels are Duel of Dragons (1989) and Dragon Death (1992). According to the author, after completing an unfinished manuscript and fleshing it out to roughly double its length, she sold it to Byron Preiss Books, a "book packaging company" looking for a "series of sword and sorcery novels including dragons and a super-magical sword", who sold it to Lynx Omeiga Books. After Lynx Omeiga went out of business, Roc Books acquired rights to the whole trilogy and reprinted Dragonsword in 1991. While reviewing Roc's galley proofs for Dragonsword, Baudino made several minor wording changes in the narrative and corrected one large error which she declines to elaborate on. Thus, the first and second editions of Dragonsword are not identical in content.

Dragonworld (video game)

Dragonworld is an interactive fiction computer game with graphics. The game was published by Telarium (formerly known as Trillium), a subsidiary of Spinnaker Software, in the year 1984. The game was based on the novel written in 1979 by Byron Preiss and Michael Reaves; text for the game was written by J. Brynne Stephens.

Fiction Illustrated

Fiction Illustrated is a short-lived series of early illustrated fiction, similar to graphic novels, produced and packaged by Byron Preiss Visual Productions in the 1970s and published by Pyramid/Jove/HBJ. Four were produced, with a fifth was planned. All but one were written by Byron Preiss. The first three were published digest size, the fourth was published in larger format.

Forbes Corporate Warrior

Forbes Corporate Warrior is a 3D first-person shooter thinly guised as an investment game. The game was released in August 1997 by Byron Preiss Multimedia and developed by Brooklyn Multimedia. It was developed to operate on the Windows 95 platform.

Corporate Warrior was hailed by Crain's New York Business Magazine as, "Doom meets Wharton School of Business."

Gettin' Hungry

"Gettin' Hungry" is a song written and performed by Brian Wilson and Mike Love, released as a single in August 1967, the second and last released on the original Brother Records label. It was later placed on the Beach Boys' album Smiley Smile one month later. It is one of the few songs on Smiley Smile not explicitly taken from the aborted Smile project, along with "Little Pad".Author Byron Preiss characterized it as "an odd combination of energetic chorus, electric bass, and bluesy meandering". According to Wilson, he "just thought it would be a good single". Billboard reviewed it as an "unusual piece of material — as off-beat as their current 'Heroes and Villains' smash. Should prove to be an important chart item." Biographer Mark Dillon noted the song as a "flop single".

John Gregory Betancourt

John Gregory Betancourt (born October 25, 1963) is an American writer of science fiction, fantasy and mystery novels, as well as short stories. He is also known as the founder and publisher, with his wife Kim Betancourt, of Wildside Press in 1989. Nearly a decade later, they entered the print on demand (PoD) market and greatly expanded their production. In addition to publishing new novels and short stories, they have undertaken projects to publish new editions of collections of stories that appeared in historic magazines.

Prior to establishing the new business, Betancourt worked as an assistant editor at Amazing Stories and editor of Horror: The Newsmagazine of the Horror Field, the revived Weird Tales magazine, the first issue of H. P. Lovecraft's Magazine of Horror (which he subsequently hired Marvin Kaye to edit), Cat Tales magazine (which he subsequently hired George H. Scithers to edit), and Adventure Tales magazine. He worked as a Senior Editor for Byron Preiss Visual Publications (1989–1996) and iBooks.

Betancourt wrote four Star Trek novels and the new Chronicles of Amber prequel series, as well as a dozen original novels. His essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in such diverse publications as Writer's Digest, The Washington Post, and Amazing Stories.

Painter (comics)

Wilhelm van Vile, better known as The Painter, is a fictional supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character was created by plotter Stan Lee, writer Robert Bernstein and artist Jack Kirby. He first appeared in Strange Tales #108 (1963).


Preiss is a Germanic surname, and may refer to:

Ferdinand Preiss (1882–1943), German sculptor

Balthazar Preiss (1765-1850), Austrian naturalist

Ludwig Preiss (1811–1883), German naturalist

Wolfgang Preiss (1910–2002), German actor

Byron Preiss (1953–2005), U.S. publisher

Henry Preiss, U.S. airplane designer

Jeff Preiss, U.S. film-maker

Ralph Reese

Ralph Reese (born May 19, 1949) is an American artist who has illustrated for books, magazines, trading cards, comic books and comic strips, including a year drawing the Flash Gordon strip for King Features. Prolific from the 1960s to the 1990s, he is best known for his collaboration with Byron Preiss on the continuing feature "One Year Affair", serialized in the satiric magazine National Lampoon from 1973 to 1975 and then collected into a 1976 book.

Reese early in his career worked in the studio of Wally Wood, assisting on both mainstream and alternative-press comics and on trading cards. He went on to do mainly fantasy and horror illustrations for science-fiction magazines and black-and-white horror-comics magazines. He drew a large number of fantasy, horror and science-fiction stories for Marvel Comics, DC Comics and Valiant Comics.

Robot City (video game)

Robot City is a graphic adventure game developed by Brooklyn Multimedia and published by Byron Preiss Multimedia. It was released on December 31, 1995 for Macintosh and Windows 95. It is a point-and-click mystery game in which the player controls Derec, the main character in Isaac Asimov's Robot City.

The Comic Reader

The Comic Reader (TCR) was a comics news-fanzine published from 1961 to 1984. Debuting in the pre-direct market era (before the proliferation of comics retailers), TCR was the first regularly published comics industry news fanzine, and was able to secure many contacts from within the ranks of the larger publishers. As TCR increased in popularity and influence, it was able to attract professional artist to illustrate the covers. TCR also proved to be a launching pad for aspiring comic book creators, many of whom published work in the fanzine as amateurs. Contributors from the world of fandom included founding editor Jerry Bails, key editor Paul Levitz, Paul Kupperberg, Tony Isabella, Byron Preiss, Neal Pozner, Don Rosa, Carl Gafford, and Doug Hazlewood.

The fanzine was founded in 1961 as On the Drawing Board by Jerry Bails, the "Father of Comics Fandom;" changing its name to The Comic Reader in 1962 and being named the official bulletin of the Academy of Comic-Book Fans and Collectors (ACBFC). During its run, TCR won a number of industry awards, including the Alley Award and the Goethe Award/Comic Fan Art Award. In its last incarnation, published by Street Enterprises, it was more professional magazine than fanzine, and was known colloquially as "the TV Guide of the comics industry."

The Martian Chronicles (video game)

The Martian Chronicles is a 1996 video game developed by Byron Preiss Multimedia Company, released for Windows and Mac OS.

The Ultimate Haunted House

Gahan Wilson's The Ultimate Haunted House is a computer adventure game developed by Byron Preiss Multimedia/Brooklyn Multimedia, published and distributed by Microsoft Home, and directed by Judson Rosebush. The game is designed by Walt Freitag and Barbara Lanza and published in 1993 and 1994. The game places the player in the middle of a bizarrely humorous and eerie haunted house populated by Wilson's wacky characters. The player must explore 13 rooms and find 13 hidden keys before 13 hours on the mystery clock run out. The game runs on Mac OS 7 and Microsoft Windows 3.1.

Time Machine (novel series)

Time Machine is a series of children's novels published in the United States by Bantam Books from 1984 to 1989, similar to their more successful Choose Your Own Adventure line of "interactive" novels. Each book was written in the second person, with the reader choosing how the story should progress. They were designed by Byron Preiss Visual Publications.

The main difference between the Choose Your Own Adventure series and the Time Machine series was that Time Machine books featured only one ending, forcing the reader to try many different choices until they discovered it. Also, the series taught children basic history about many diverse subjects, from dinosaurs to World War II. Only the sixth book in the series, The Rings of Saturn, departed from actual history; it is set in the future, and features educational content about the solar system. Some books gave the reader their choice from a small list of equipment at the beginning, and this choice would affect events later in the book (e.g. "If you brought the pen knife, turn to page 52, if not turn to page 45."). Another main difference between the Time Machine novels and the Choose Your Own Adventure counterparts was hints offered at certain junctures, where the reader was advised to look at hints at the back of the book. An example was in Mission to World War II about the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, where the reader was given the choice of starting the mission in the Jewish ghetto or the Aryan part of Warsaw, in which the hint read "Hitler may have had Jewish family members", suggesting the reader should begin in the Jewish section of the city, but not ordering it, or it was possible for the hint to be missed.

The line spawned a brief spin-off series for younger readers, the Time Traveler novels.

Weird Heroes

Weird Heroes, subtitled "New American Pulp", was an American series of novels and anthologies produced by Byron Preiss in the 1970s that dealt with new heroic characters inspired by pulp magazine characters.

The series was 'packaged' by Byron Preiss Visual Productions and was published by Pyramid/Jove/HBJ. Four of the books are anthologies, four are novels. During the same time, Preiss also produced the Fiction Illustrated series with the same publisher.

Unfortunately, most of the characters were never seen after the demise of Weird Heroes. Preiss did write one novel about his character Guts, and planned a second. This was published by Ace Books, maybe as part of a 'revival' of the concept as single novels. Tor Books reprinted Philip José Farmer's Greatheart Silver stories in a single volume with new art and Reaves's character Kamus appeared in two books by other publishers. Ron Goulart's "Quest of the Gypsy" was meant to be a series of novels but only two have been published.

The first volume was reprinted by iBooks, but no word if further books will be reprinted as iBooks went gone bankrupt following Preiss's death.

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