Michel Fiffe, the creator of the critically acclaimed comic Copra, dropped a bombshell out of the blue on fans last month when he announced that the series would be leaving Image Comics effective immediately to return to the world of self-publishing. People were shocked and had many questions.
Thankfully, Michel sat down with The Beat to discuss the reasoning behind the decision, and what the future holds for Copra.
Billy Henehan: First things first, let’s talk about what’s on the forefront of people’s minds. Why did you leave Image Comics? Were you unhappy there?
Michel Fiffe: The Toddfather [Image Comics co-founder Todd McFarlane] himself called me up and advised me to reconsider, telling me that I was the glue holding Image Comics together. I simply thought it would be better if I went back to self-publishing the single issues, while Image continues to publish the collections. That was the deal I had with my previous publisher, Bergen Street Comics, and it’s a set-up that allows me the freedom and immediacy to get COPRA into readers’ hands the way I envision it. Look, I wanted to plug into the Wednesday LCS ecosystem and I‘m glad I got to see how it worked up close, but — with 31+ self-published issues under my belt — it was time to take the reins.
Henehan: How does it feel to be doing everything yourself again, down to mailing out copies of the comic to fans from your Etsy shop? I remember when the move to Image was happening, you were looking forward to taking a step back from the physical mass production and distribution side of the process.
Fiffe: It feels great to be back and you know what — the reason I stopped was because I needed a break from doing the menial side of self-publishing. It was taking time away from actually making comics! That coincided with me taking a 2 year detour in work-for-hire projects, so when it was time to get back to COPRA, I felt like I couldn’t waste a single minute more on the non-creative matters… invoicing, shipping, etc. So with Image taking over the collections, their handling the series was a no-brainer. Thing is, being in charge of the single issues is part of the experience — for me, for the readers, for the retailers — it’s a small detail that goes a long way.
Henehan: Copra #38 is the start of The Ochizon Saga! If a new reader was jumping on Copra with #38, what would they need to know to get up to speed?
Fiffe: It’s the culmination of several story elements that have been bubbling for years, world-scale conflict mixed with personal, character-defining moments. All written, drawn, colored, and now published by me. Old school readers will have huge payoffs while new readers will get a taste of how the series looks and feels. I make every issue as reader friendly as possible so nobody should be lost. Everything you need in order to get what COPRA is about is front and center.
Henehan: When can fans expect a trade of Round Six, the Image Comics issues?
Fiffe: Tough to tell. These things have to be planned way in advance and so far, there still isn’t a release date. Because of these delays, Round Six will most likely collect ten issues instead of the initial five. I’ll beat the drum when the time comes.
Henehan: Is a Copra Vs trade in the works?
Fiffe: That, too, was in the planning stages but I wanted to have the first five Copra Image-published collections taken care of first. Copra Versus is never far from my mind.
Henehan: Speaking of reprints, this month saw the release of a gorgeous hardcover collection of Copra Round One in Italy by Italian publisher Panini. Panini handles foreign reprints across Europe. Are there plans for collections of Rounds in countries like Spain and France?
Fiffe: It looked sharp, huh? I was pretty impressed. A few editions are lined up, France and Brazil for sure. There was a Spanish edition ages ago, so I’m looking forward to revisiting new possibilities with them. My very first comics were from Spain, so it would be a thrill to get COPRA back in there.
Henehan: One of the most distinctive things about Copra is its paper stock. Your self-published issues had a very thick paper stock that I think many long time Copra-heads missed when Image published the series on standard paper. What influenced the change back to the thick paper?
Fiffe: Couple of things. When Image took over and began to release new single issues, I thought it made sense to start with a fresh Number One, when really it was the 32nd issue in the series. With my return to self-publishing, it was only natural that I fall back into the original model, which includes legacy numbering and the thicker paper stock. The reason I didn’t use that paper stock with Image was because it simply wasn’t viable, not at the quantity and frequency of long-term monthly publication. We landed on something I was happy with for those six Image issues, but now that I’m back on my own, I wanted to be consistent with what I initially established. Still ain’t cheap, but it’s a bit more manageable. The cover price per issue remains competitive, and the quality is undeniable.
Henehan: And finally, you’re a mainstay each year at HeroesCon. How did it feel having to miss it this year due to the show’s cancellation?
Fiffe: It didn’t hit me until the week of the show… and it was profoundly weird, definitely sad. I tried to stay offline that entire weekend to avoid getting depressed, so say we all. HeroesCon is THE biggest show for me, professionally, financially, socially, so it was definitely a blow. I look forward to everybody’s safe return, maybe signing books behind plastic cubicles or something. That sounds like my office fetish manifesting itself, actually. I think I just uncovered the real reason I returned to self-publishing.
Copra Rounds One through Five can be ordered through Image Comics from your local comic book shop. Copra #38 and 39, the first post-Image Comics issues, are available to order from Michel Fiffe right now.