Mucha Comics is one of the most distinguished publishers on the Polish comic market. Outhouse, having been active for over a decade now, provides us with the cult superhero titles, as well as the stories not so well known, but more ambitious. Thanks to the Mucha Comisc publishers, Polish users have an access to the portfolio of the publishers such as DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Image or BOOM! Studios. In my interview with Christine Meyer – the foundress and publisher in Mucha Comics – we talk about the publishing itself, the previous year and the plans for the following year.
Nie Tylko Gry: Hello, Christine. First of all, could you tell us something about yourself? What is Mucha Comics?
Christine Meyer – Mucha Comics: I am a forty-something year old woman, who by accident got a job in comics in 1992 and never left the industry… 😉 I had worked for many years as an agent, representing primarily US comic book publishers in regards to the licensing of their rights. For the last 10 years my focus has shifted more and more from licensing to publishing, primarily in Poland and Portugal.
Even after 10 years I still see Mucha Comics as this crazy, little publishing house with a vast variety of titles! 😉 We strive to publish comics of high quality for the reasonable price.
NTG: The last year was exceptional due to the tenth anniversary of Mucha Comics’ activity. 2017 was also a year in which you’ve published your 100th comic book. How can you summarize last 10 years and all the comics you’ve worked on?
MC: Let’s just say, it has been a very interesting and quite bumpy ride…
NTG: Speaking of a summary, do you consider the previous year to be succesful to you? Which project are you the most proud of?
MC: Yes, I would say it was a success. Our unit sales increased almost by 50%, as well as the number of our publications (we went from 16 publications in 2016 to 24 in 2017) of which I’m quite happy. Not to mention the extremely high number of release of comic books in Poland last year.
I don’t know if there’s anything that I’m especially proud of… I am really happy that we have such a rich offer of various titles for our readers.
NTG: In recent years, the comics market in Poland has grown significantly. We get dozens of new titles, which are released every month. More and more conventions appear. How do you perceive these changes as an experienced publisher? What are your thoughts on the constantly growing competition on the market?
MC: As for the growing market, as well as number of conventions, I of course find this development fantastic. Since more and more of our sales take place online, I think the conventions are very important as they are the few ‘windows’ we have as the publishers, where people can browse through a physical copy of a title before actually deciding whether to buy it, or not. As a matter of fact, I’m planning for Mucha to have a very active Fall this year. We will be exhibiting at several book fairs/conventions in Poland. Normally we only participate in MFKiG.
As for the constantly growing number of titles being published, I am a little worried what is going to happen. I don’t think we are going to see a major crash, but I do expect that unit sales for individual titles in general will drop. By how much and when this will happen is yet to be seen.
NTG: Your offer is very wide and basically every reader will find something for themselves. In addition, Mucha Comics deals with the translation of The Official Marvel Graphic Novel Collection. Does such a wide range of topics cause many problems and work?
MC: Well, it is a lot of work primarily, because we are a relatively small group of people working on Mucha’s books. The wide range of topics/genres is not a problem, quite the contrary actually.
NTG: Many of your older comics, which are no longer available at stores, are reaching horrific prices on the secondary market. What can you tell us about re-releasing of such titles? What stands in your way? Issues of license, profitability or other obstacles?
MC: DC is off limits for us due to Egmont’s exclusive deal with them. Otherwise, it only boils down to a question of profitability.
NTG: Where did the idea for the name of the publishing company come from – Mucha Comics?
MC: I’m afraid this will have to remain a well-guarded secret! 😉
NTG: What are your main plans and objectives for the current year?
MC: We will continue with all our ongoing series and be adding some additional titles during the 2nd half of the year. I think we’ll end up publishing 30-35 titles in total in 2018 unless the market suddenly crashes!
NTG: What are the biggest problems that occur in the work of the publisher? How do you handle them?
MC: Mucha’s publishing activities are a bit unique, because more than 90% of our Polish books are co-printed with our Portuguese edition of the same title. This means that if our Portuguese production is running late, the Polish edition of the same title will also be late. And vice versa. Due to this the biggest problem/challenge for me is to keep the production in both countries on schedule!
NTG: Do you have your favorite comics creators? What are your favorite heroes?
MC: Well, there are so many that I like that it’s really hard to pick just a few favorite ones… But I very much like Brian K. Vaughan and Brian Wood, and David Lapham, and Terry Moore, and Esad Ribic, and Alex Ross… and countless of others! 😉 I don’t think I have a favorite hero nowadays; as a kid I grew up on Asterix, Tintin, the Smurfs, Lucky Luke, Linda & Valentin and Blueberry (just to mention a few!), but my adult life has mostly been dominated by North American comics. I used to love DC’s Vertigo line of comics; I guess nowadays it’s foremost titles from Image Comics I would choose to read if I had any spare time. 😉
NTG: Comics released by Mucha are always of high quality, with a hard cover, often enlarged format. Many people ask why you’ve decided to avoid the soft covers. Can you tell us what this decision was caused by?
MC: Publishing books in hardcover has always worked well for Mucha, so I haven’t really had any reason to change this. I am aware that some readers due to lack of shelf space now would prefer that we start publishing in softcover format… However, instead of changing cover format we are more likely to change our hardcover books to contain more US volumes in one Polish edition (like our UNCANNY X-FORCE publications for instance). This will be good for the readers as they will be getting more material at a lower price.
NTG: Are there any licenses that are extremely difficult to obtain?
MC: Apart from DC who have decided only to license to Egmont Polska, and Marvel titles that are relevant for Egmont’s vast ongoing Marvel program (mainly titles from the Marvel NOW series // the editor added), it primarily boils down to money. In other words, if you are willing to go high enough when making an offer, you will in most cases be able to obtain a given license. 😉
NTG: What determines whether a given series or title will be released by you? How does the process of market research and forecasting the potential interest in a given title look like?
MC: By now I have a pretty good idea of which titles will sell for us, based on past sales. Of course, once in a while you will have a title that diverts from your sales expectations and surprises positively or negatively.
NTG: Due to the nature of your work, you know the Portuguese comics market well. How would you compare it to Polish?
MC: The Portuguese market is quite different. First of all, it’s not growing as the Polish market is; it has reached its peak and remains stabile. The Portuguese market is heavily dominated by French comics, much more so than the Polish market. If I were to point out a difference in genres, I would say that the Portuguese readers are more into fantasy and sci-fi whereas the Polish readers are more into action and dark/grim/brutal stories than the Portuguese. This is of course a very simple generalization.
NTG: If there is something you would like to say to nerdheim.pl readers on behalf of your publishing house or magazine – I leave the place to do it at the end.
MC: Thanks for your support and please keep reading our comics!