Michel Fiffe and the fun of independence

On Lo Spazio Bianco we already wrote about Miche Fiffe and his super-villain Copra. In USA between 2012 and 2013 Copra has been a small editorial case. Fiffe made it integrally, he draws, publishes and sells the comics, and Copra was considered by a lot of critics as one of the best super-hero comics of the last years. The first season finished after 12 issues and in April 2014 the second season just started. On Etsy (the platform that Michel Fiffe uses to sell his comics) most of the issues are out of stock. Fiffe produced two books that collected the first 6 issues but they are  aout of stock too (a new collection should be available in summer). In the meantime Fiffe started to work for Marvel Comics writing the new series All New Ultimates. Michel Fiffe’s work schedules are very tough, to write, draw, print and ship his comics every month, he has very tight and regular schedules. Nevertheless he was so kind to answer some questions we send him.

Zero-Cover1-e1409579881692Hi Michel, your comics are not yet published in Italy, so can you please introduce yourself to Italian readers? What was your experience in the comics business before Copra?
I’ve been making comics for decades -since I was a little kid – but professionally I’ve had a few stories published here and there, nothing worth hunting down. You know, short stories, web comics, fill in issues. I did edit a line of back up stories for Savage Dragon a few years ago. That was fun, if only to teach me how deep the levels of miscommunication can run with publishers. I would put my ZEGAS comics as my real beginning. Everything before was basically practice.

You started Copra in 2012. It is a comic that you write, draw and produce by yourself. It took you one year to finish the first season and you said several times that your life in this year was completely occupied by Copra. Why did you decide to start this adventure? And, if it was so complex, why did you decide to do a second season in the same way?
I had this insane urge to make a comic series 100% the way I saw fit, without waiting for anybody’s permission, and I had all the resources to make it happen. It was tough, it was maddening and I loved every second of it. Still do! Even the “boring” parts like management and shipping, I overlook every single detail. I needed to bring this thing to life, and I’ve been very fortunate to build a readership that think it’s worth their time as well.

Copra is a sort of homage to superhero comic books of the 80s. Compared to curre   nt comic books, why those books were different? Are you just nostalgic of that period or those comics were better than current ones?
I think the main difference is that most modern comics try really hard to be great, they try to be iconic and immortal. They’re mostly flat and pompous. Older comics were direct results of getting adolescent literature out on a crushing deadline. Plus they had better art! Call it nostalgia, I say it’s a fact. So even though Copra doesn’t look like any comic from the 80s, I’m certainly inspired by its attitude on a very broad level.

01.COVER_.16-e1409580048293Looking at your comics it’s obvious that your models are Frank Miller and Klaus Janson. Any other artists influenced you?
Walt Simonson, Jaime Hernandez, Tony Salmons, Steve Ditko, Jorge Zaffino, Kyle Baker, Kevin Nowlan. These artist bring tears to my eyes.

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In the US market there is a new wave of artists and characters that are reinventing the superhero comics as your work, the Image series and a lot of new other stuff. Can you suggest some current American comic books that an Italian reader must read?
Absolutely. Whatever you do, pick up the work of Benjamin Marra. Anything you can find, grab it immediately. I feel the same about Dieter VDO. Oh, and Rich Tommaso has some great genre comic he’s releasing. All come highly recommended. Please seek these out. The creators are putting out this work themselves – that’s independence!

Now you are working also for Marvel on All-New Ultimates. How was to move from a comic that you completely control to write a series for a big company like Marvel? Did you ever miss your freedom?
I think my cartooning is best when I do it all, honestly. Collaboration can be beneficial and it helps me work out the individual muscles, but it’s very, very different. So writing for Marvel hasn’t been restrictive at all, it’s just different. I’ve also recently JUST drawn a sequence in Joe Casey’s upcoming Captain Victory comic, and that was fun, too. But getting to do it all myself — well, nothing beats that.

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