In recent months we’ve talked to a fair few people in the comics industry, a few of which have been based in the UK and write for UK Independent publishers, but we haven’t really talked to many publishers. At least not until now.
Recently I addressed this by talking to Harry Markos the owner of Markosia Publishing, which for some time has been amongst the more exciting UK based comics publishing companies out there, especially when to comes to creator owned comics.
Of late Markosia have been generating a lot of buzz with the pending release of Tony Lees From The Pages Of Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ Harker, which arrives on book shelves next month.
SciFiPulse: How did you get into comics and what was it that got you interested in publishing?
Harry Markos: I was a prolific reader of comics as a youngster, and carried on reading them until the age of sixteen or seventeen before the hormones kicked in and girls came along and ruined my life! Many years later I met a friend of mine who was publishing comics here in the UK and I quickly got back into reading them again. Later on an opportunity arose where I managed to get some contacts within the book market and thought that there was a gap for novels to be adapted in graphic novels. I approached my friend and managed to recruit him to produce and oversee the process, and before I knew it the company was up and running. At the time I thought that there were opportunities for success, and I still do, although it isn’t as easy as many people think!
SciFiPulse: As far I’m aware Markosia has been going for a few years now and have released a fair few original titles such as Midnight Kiss, which is a title have been following via Comixology. What sort of ideas does Markosia look for in terms of comic book stories.
Harry Markos: One thing that we are proud of is the variety of titles that we have released over the years, and more so the titles that we have in production. We’ve covered pretty much every genre so far with the exception of romance, which we will probably stay clear of for a while! We look for titles that are interesting both visually and in terms of the story being told, and encourage variety in art styles as well as stories. We also look for titles that could be attractive in other media also in the event that there is interest in it at a later stage.
SciFiPulse: In recent years Markosia has attracted much talent from the likes of Tony Lee and Cy Dethan who did the Starship Troopers titles. What sort of submission guidelines do Markosia have for writers that may like to pitch, and do they need to have an artist attached or can you find them one.
Harry Markos: At this time we are only producing creator-owned titles. I usually ask for a short synopsis and a minimum of six pages of completed artwork. If I find the title interesting I then ask for a more thorough breakdown and go from there. Occasionally we team up artists with writers that we have a good relationship with and who we’d like to continue working with, people like Tony, Cy and Chris Lynch. It is rare for us to accept written submissions only unless we have knowledge of the writer through other contacts or recommendations but it does happen.
SciFiPulse: You’ve had a number of big trade paperbacks come out this year, and next month we have Harker coming out, which is officially endorsed by a descendant of Bram Stoker as well as the trade paper back version of Kong. What other titles can we look ahead to in the coming months.
Harry Markos: The next batch of books is due in March, primarily because we wanted to wait and see how the last batch would do. In March we have at least one graphic novel lined up, possible two. I am waiting on word from the creative teams on schedules before I commit to it though as I don’t want them to struggle with the deadlines. One of them is called ‘The Dark’, a sci-fi title akin to Matrix that we have received amazing feedback about. Chris Lynch wrote it and the art and colors are by Rick Lundeen, and they make a great team. The second one is likely to be a Sherlock Holmes graphic novel that I am very excited about.
SciFiPulse: I’ve heard recently that Markosia is shifting much of its attention toward digital platforms for comics, and from what have seen a few titles are already available via comixology. What other titles our on the horizon and what else from your back catalogue can we expect to see arrive on comixology.
Harry Markos: We are in the process of finalizing the line-up for Comixology, but you will certainly see many more of our titles appearing there over the next couple of months. It may be that most of them will end up there! We have published some 30 graphic novels/trade paperbacks over the years and more than 200 comics, so our catalog is pretty decent. We also have in excess of 20 new titles in production for the coming years, many of which will end up on Comixology & the likes of ComicWorks.
SciFiPulse: You’ve had a fair bit of trouble with Diamond USA in recent years. What from your point of view has caused this and has it yet been resolved.
Harry Markos: It isn’t a personal thing. You have to remember that we have a slight disadvantage in that we are based in the UK, which makes it very difficult to promote and market our titles effectively in the US, which is our main market. Additionally it presents a further hurdle in terms of shipping times and discounts allocated (as Diamond UK and Diamond US act as independent companies, albeit linked). We have a good working relationship with Diamond, our brand managers are great, but the shift in the company’s policies has affected all Independent publishers so it has been difficult. That is why we wanted to see how the last batch of books did before we commit to more; we have to see how effective our new promotion and marketing strategy has been as well as other factors which impact on our business model. The fact of the matter is that the industry is changing significantly and we have to adapt and evolve in order to succeed. For us it means that we don’t rely just on the Direct Market and Diamond.
SciFiPulse: Many people seem to have a negative view of UK comics. Saying that the industry is dead. Yet we have independent companies such as Markosia and of course Insomnia who continue doing their own thing. What do you have to say to these detractors and do you think their is room to grow our unique brand of comics in the UK? As in our own answer to DC or Marvel comics.
Harry Markos: See this is where there is a huge misconception about the UK market. The best selling comic in the US, a market that is ten times larger than the UK’s, is around 100,000? The best selling comic in the UK sells 180,000! And it’s the Simpsons! Dr Who sells 150,000 a week! These numbers are incredible when you compare them to the US, and it is down to one thing only – distribution. UK comics are still available in newsstand. I dread to think how much larger the industry would be if that was still the case in the US. There are only around 150 comic stores in the UK so it is most definitely a niche market. Those shops still do well with regular comic books and have compared favorably to US stores despite the recession. As I said our titles are primarily sold in the US due to the size of the market but we are working very hard to have a better presence in the book market which is where I believe the future lies for us.
SciFiPulse: I read in one of your press releases that you have a movie deal in place for Kong: King Of Skull Island, which is a title that’s piqued my interest. What can you tell us about this and how far is it along?
Harry Markos: The movie rights were signed by Spirit Pictures and it was announced at the Ray Bradbury panel in San Diego in July. I believe the movie is due in 2012, although we are not privy to the full details at this stage.
SciFiPulse: In regards to movie rights. Who handles that end for Markosia, and is the company open to offers from independent film makers or are you only really gunning for the big studios.
Harry Markos: We have a US manager in New York as well as a rep in L.A and we are open to offers from small and large alike! We also have a Literary Agent here in the UK, who also represents our interests in Europe. Obviously first point of call in any discussions is always ourselves and we are open to listening to any film makers who may express an interest.
SciFiPulse: We’re coming off of 2009 now and I’m wondering what Markosia has planned in terms of new titles and books for 2010.
Harry Markos: Well, as I mentioned earlier we have more than 20 projects in development. I am confident that we’ll probably release ten or so graphic novels in 2010. I am very excited about next year and am looking forward to the success that I believe will be coming. With a new website in design and a number of other exiting platforms including the mobile and portable gaming arena, 2010 looks like it will be full of excitement for us.
Editors Note: When it comes to Kong: King Of Skull Island Harry and his team provided the following synopsis and ordering information for those that express an interest in the book.
Synopsis: The story begins in 1957, twenty five years after King Kong’s fall from atop New York City’s Empire State Building. Following Kong’s death, both Carl Denham and the body of Kong quickly vanished before any investigation could be launched, leaving rumor and speculation in their wake. Carl’s son, Vincent, was left behind. He is now a paleontologist facing a spiritual dilemma, which has its seeds in the disappearance of his father. Upon a chance finding of the hidden Skull Island map, Vincent contacts Jack Driscoll, one of Kong’s original captors. They piece together a plan and go to Skull Island in search of Carl Denham, King Kong, and an answer to questions spanning a quarter century.
During a disastrous landing attempt, Vincent is almost killed and Driscoll sets out to find his stricken friend. Upon waking in a dark cavern, Vincent finds himself being cared for by an enigmatic island elder and her young, exotically beautiful but ominous assistant, Kara. The ancient woman, who asks to be called “Storyteller,” seems to possess extraordinary knowledge about Vincent and his father. She relates a story from a century earlier that Vincent half-hears and half-dreams through the haze of narcotic herbs kept burning to aid his recovery. Her tale hints at the true origin of the island’s culture and the mystery behind questions such as: Who built the Wall and how? If the Wall was built to keep Kong out, why are its doors big enough to let him in? How could such an island and its monstrous creatures still exist? The answers to those questions and more are all revealed.
Or are they?
This prequel story to King Kong was released originally as a mini series and can be ordered as a trade paper back by using the following information.
You can order the Graphic Novel through any UK bookstores if you provide them the ISBN 9781905692347.
Individuals can approach any Comic Shop worldwide and place an order using the code AUG09 0603 through Diamond Distributors or alternatively it is available for sale worldwide direct from our web site www.markosia.com
A 22 page preview is available to view online http://www.myebook.com/index.php?option=ebook&id=13590
Graphic novel adaptation by Andy Briggs and Chuck Saterlee, art by Dan O’ Connor and Scott Larson, colors by Kris Johnson and Richard Counsell. Published by AAM/Markosia October 2009.
To learn more about Markosia and their range of books go to: www.markosia.com