What was once a self-published dynamo; since coming to Image Comics, Michel Fiffe‘s COPRA has become one of the must-read adventure comics on the stands month in and month out. I mean, even before that, it made the Beat’s Best Comics of the Year list multiple times (2015, 2016, and 2019), even notching a spot in our 100 Best Comics of the Decade! So you don’t need to really get the hard press here, it rules, you should read it and with the latest collection of the new Image volume of Fiffe’s action-packed revenge squad about to hit stores in a little over a month, you’ve come on at just the right time! Cyborg roommates! Multi-armed ninja assassins! A super cute chihuahua! Good ass art! What doesn’t this book have?
All that said, some changes are on the way for you COPRA faithful and those looking to hop aboard. The Beat can exclusively announce that COPRA will be moving to a miniseries format beginning in June. That’s right! Starting with COPRA: The Ochizon Saga (the cover of which you can see above), Fiffe will be moving his team of mercenaries into the format popularized by Mike Mignola’s Hellboy and Frank Miller’s Sin City. With such a big move, we just had to have another chat with the man himself about it all:
Dang! Going the miniseries route! What prompted this decision?
Fiffe: Big decision! Lots to consider, but it made the most sense. I should say that when I took COPRA to Image, I was in the unique position of being able to continue my 31+ issue series while simultaneously presenting it to a new audience. That was a great challenge. Making a cliffhanger into a compelling entry point was tricky, but it worked — I reached a lot more readers than if I had remained a self-publisher. I want to now take it further by changing the format, and not wait until issue 50 to act on my impulses.
I know you’re a big Sin City guy, and obviously Hellboy and Beasts of Burden are other recent noted examples of this miniseries format. It’s kind of a Dark Horse model I guess! With those comics in mind, what kind of freedom does that format change open up for a creator like yourself?
Fiffe: I can go deep in certain corners of the established universe or a specific member’s life or introduce an entire new cast. The freedom to expand was a big part of the appeal. Plus, it’ll keep me engaged and keep my storytelling chops sharp. But yeah, you’re right, I love Sin City. That model spans many publishers throughout many eras. The focus it demands is really appealing to me.
At the same time, you’re a deep issue number guy too. Matter of fact, it’s through our friendship that I rekindled my love for back issues that are hundreds of issues deep. I have to assume the Legacy number will stay in place for that reason?
Fiffe: That’s the thing, I value those high numbers, so I’ll keep the legacy numbers for my own sake. But it started to hold less weight for me in the bigger picture, it started to feel restrictive. I mean, it was a total privilege to work it out of my system. C’mon, over thirty serialized COPRA issues that remained exclusively in print for a stretch, I even operated a subscription service, directly communicating with readers… those were all benchmarks I wanted to hit at least once in my career. By going to Image, I checked off even more goals, primarily to be plugged into the Diamond/Wednesday ecosystem. My goals evolve, and this new move is a natural progression of that.
The first of these kicks off with The Ochizon Saga. Surely the biggest story you’ve told in Copra yet (and the one you’ve been building to the entire run of the series thus far), tell us a little of what we can expect in this new event miniseries.
Fiffe: The promise of this arc is what anchored me through the very earliest issues. I kept it all loose and flexible, but having this Ochizon story in the back of my mind helped me stay alert. It works as a perfect opportunity to tell the ultimate COPRA story, too. Think Kirby by way of Hellraiser.
I noted that your Patreon-backed mini comic Negativeland is going to be reprinted in the upcoming Prelude issue. Any chance that wacky bunch is going to play a role in the battle?
Fiffe: Not to give too much away, but I included that Negativeland back-up with the long play in mind, not just as arm candy. It all has a purpose.
After this huge storyline is completed, what comes next? Do you have the next mini already in mind? Is a greater escalation on the horizon or will the surviving members (if any) get a chance to breathe?
Fiffe: There’s so much more story to tell, but I’m taking it step by step. I want to make sure I time it all perfectly and in a satisfying order.
There’s probably some freedom having a book that isn’t just called Copra, which carries the weight of needing to feature much of not all of the team. Is there a strong likelihood of solo adventures for a 5 issue stretch? I would surely read “Copra: The Unbearable Weight of Being Rax”.
Fiffe: Oh, yeah — this opens up a world of possibilities. Whether it be character spotlights or genre expansion, it’s all on the table. I can’t stress how freeing this is.
On that note, is each upcoming mini locked into a specific count of issues? Or could you see a three comic storyline as a possibility or even a twofer?
Fiffe: You know I’m good for a solid 3-parter, Kyle. The only thing locked in will be me at my studio getting those pages done. From now on, the story will determine the presentation.
Is monthly still the plan going forward? Do you anticipate any breaks between minis at this point?
Fiffe: COPRA and all related titles will come out as frequently as possible. I might have to hire a staff to handle the output.
Anything to add that I missed?
Fiffe: The world of COPRA continues to grow and I want everyone to be a part of it. You can’t find singular action comics like this anywhere else!
COPRA: The Ochizon Saga goes on sale in June (and will be available in the newest issue of Previews,#379), but in the meantime the final issue of the current volume, COPRA #6 – The Ochizon Saga Prelude – will hit shelves on April 1st. Don’t be an April Fool and miss out!