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Statix Press Q&A

Titan Comics Present: Statix Press

Recently announced, Statix Press is Titan Comics’ new umbrella name for their international comics translations.  From the looks of it, a heavy percentage of the line will be Franco-Belgian comics, so it’s of particular interest to me.

The titles they’ve announced so far aren’t necessarily in my wheelhouse. You might have noticed from my reviews on this site that I’m in the Marcinelle School fan camp. I enjoy a lot of the more humorous, adventurous, and “slice of life” kinds of material.

Statix looks like a lot more male power fantasy stuff: science fiction, gods, horror, superhero, etc.  There’s nothing wrong with that, and I enjoy some of that stuff, too.  But after nearly 30 years of reading superhero comics, I tend to move in other directions.

James Stokoe cover for Under

Here’s one of the early Statix Press comics. You can never go wrong with a James Stokoe cover…

But I will keep an open mind, because Statix is bringing more international material to the English language.  That’s a worthy goal in and of itself. The more, the merrier.  The more there is, the better the chances that they’ll get to stuff I’m already interested in.

 

Why An Imprint Matters

One of the biggest problems this material has is discovery.  A book here and there doesn’t make an impact on readers.  A whole lineup, though, might catch their attention when they’re just browsing.

Lots of publishers have European translations these days. Few devote a full imprint to it, or just market it very hard.

IDW has a line of European comics whose name I’ve forgotten, but good luck finding it on their website. (Brian Hibbs is right — IDW’s identity is a confused mess.)

Dark Horse has Moebius reprints once every year or so.  If there’s more, their website doesn’t spotlight it.

Other publishers do a book here and there, but don’t bother with a full imprint.

I’m happy that those books exist, but I worry that they get buried under the avalanche of everything else their own publishers

The mere declaration of an imprint from Titan is a big victory for fans of the material.  Titan has a jumpstart, of course, in that they’ve always published European comics, so there’s an instant inventory behind this label.  Now they just need to add a Statix section to their website as the books roll out officially.

The Interview: Formatting and Timing

I had the chance to ask Chris Thompson — a fellow lapsed podcaster and now the comics brand manager at Titan — a few questions about Statix Press. Long time readers of Pipeline might notice that I bang a few of my usual drums hard here. They’re questions the initial press release didn’t answer directly, so of course I had to ask…

PIPELINE COMICS: Are you serializing albums here?  Will these books be released as mini-series, followed by “collected editions” that are the actual albums?  Or combinations of albums?  I’m curious of the use of the word “issue.”  Does that mean 32 pages stapled, or is that just the more marketable term for English readers of “volume” or “book”?
CHRIS THOMPSON:  I guess you could say we’re playing with the format a little to make the experience more palatable to US/UK audiences who are used to consuming their comics in the traditional single issue/trade paperback format, but it can vary from title to title.
For example, “Hercules: Wrath of the Heavens” came out as three albums in France, but for our purposes we’re releasing it as five single issues then complete in one trade paperback. “The Death of Stalin,” on the other hand, came out as one volume in France and we’re releasing it as one volume in English as well.
The Death of Stalin cover
Essentially we’re trying to find the best approach for both the material and the marketplace on a case-by-case basis. You’ll find most of our titles appearing as single issues first though.
PC: Will they be printed at full size (height and width), or something closer to the standard North American comic book format size?
CT: On the whole they’ll be appearing in the North American comic book format size that US/UK readers are familiar with, though some of the volumes may be slightly different or oversized.
Lone Sloane Delirius Cover from Titan Comics
Our “Lone Sloane” albums, for example, are more like the original French editions and will continue to be going forward.
There isn’t one set format, so we’re trying to be sensitive to both the audience and the source material itself. We’re just trying to find the best way to reach the right audience in a way that is most applicable to them.
PC: Why now?  What makes this the right time to start a new line of comics from mainland Europe?
CT: In reality we’ve been doing this for a long time (and Titan has a rich history of translating European comics that goes back several decades), but the time had come to bring it all under one umbrella and find a cohesive way to present it.
Part of that was out of necessity (it’s so much easier to package and promote these things as a line) and part of it was just down to having the right people and resources in place. I’ve long had a passion for Franco-Belgian comics (going back to when I discovered “Heavy Metal” as a kid), so my arrival at Titan was well-timed in terms of becoming ‘the face’ for a dedicated line of translated comics.
It also comes on the heels of the fact I’ve been attending the Angouleme Festival for the last several years and have made various contacts during that time, so I guess you could say the stars just aligned. Going forward I hope that Statix Press comes to represent a sign of quality and curation, and that people will find it easier to discover the kind of content they’re looking for.

Only the Beginning…

I’m a little disappointed that Titan is going down the single issues route.  I still think these books work best as albums, even if they can break into two even ‘standard’ issues.

I get it, though:  This market is tough. Breaking too many of the rules just limits your chances at reaching the tiny portion of the tiny audience you need to get.  Retailers can’t afford to take chances these days.  These half steps might be necessary.

Eventually, Titan will collect them into trades, you’ll get something closer to that album experience, and all will be good.

Best of all, it’s more translated material published than we had before, with an easier way to find it.  Let’s give the imprint some time to shake out and establish its identity and we’ll see where they go.  I’m always happy to have more review material…

3 Comments

  • "Beautiful Death" #1 - Pipeline Comics September 29, 2017 at 10:36 am

    […] guess you can call this one the launch title for Statix Press, which was only announced a couple weeks […]

    Reply
  • Chris Marshall September 29, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    Augie, very timely! I mentioned this in my podcast this week (CCL #458) and mentioned your name and curious as to what your thoughts would be about this.

    Reply
  • JC LEBOURDAIS September 29, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    This is interesting. I’m curious to know how Lone Sloane would be received today, as the innovative and groundbreaking masterpiece it was 40 years ago, or fall victim of the Valerian effect, i.e. overshadowed by later works which pushed the envelope further.

    Reply

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