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Europe Comics to shut down consumer-facing operations

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Digital-exclusive publisher Europe Comics today announced that it will be ceasing “consumer-facing activities”. While it doesn’t say it will outright stop releasing new books (at least for now), this move is definitely a point of concern – especially in the wake of French digital comics storefront Izneo‘s decision to downscale its international operations.

In a post released on their website and social media today Europe Comics said:

“Dear FRIENDS,

“As of January 2023, we’re ending all our consumer-facing activities (website, social media, newsletters, events). But the adventure isn’t over! We’ll continue to release several books every month, so you’ll still be able to find new Europe Comics titles through your preferred online retailer. Our heartfelt thanks for your lasting enthusiasm that has kept us going for the past seven years. Keep reading and spreading the love of European comics!

“The EUROPE COMICS Team”

Europe Comics is formed of a partnership between thirteen European (mostly French and Belgian) comics publishing houses with the aim to translate and release digital-exclusive editions of work otherwise unavailable in English with a view to selling the international publishing rights. It is owned by the foreign-rights agency of the Média-Participations group, which itself possesses three of the oldest comics publishers in European comics in its portfolio – Dargaud, Dupuis and Le Lombard (and also English-language publisher Abrams). In terms of revenue, Média-Participations is the fourth largest publishing company in France.

Europe Comics has been a huge boon in introducing Anglophone readers to the sprawling world of bande dessinée – from its digital-exclusive book releases to its comprehensive website articles on European comics history. The past seven years of Europe Comics significantly contributed to the ever-growing audience of European work around the world and its loss cannot be understated. 

 

The three goals of Europe Comics according to their website:

“First, the creation of a collective digital imprint, replicating European comics’ variety, richness and originality, in English and digital format. The Europe Comics catalog is meant for both the final reader and foreign publishers interested in licensing in English or other languages, and our titles are available around the world through an extensive network of e-tailers, book outlets, and libraries. Second, our initiative strives for greater international exposure of European authors, through author tours and events across Europe and the USA. And last but not least, we aim to create a comprehensive European comics online directory, providing readers and professionals with wide-ranging information such as the history of European comics, a global calendar of comics events, academic studies, market overviews and more.”

Since its formation in 2015, it has proved moderately successful in its mission – a number of books that were first published in English by Europe Comics have been picked up by US and British publishers. Some examples include Roxanne Moreil and Cyril Pedrosa’s The Golden Age (now with First Second); Aimée de Jongh’s Days of Sand (with SelfMadeHero); Raule and Roger’s Jazz Maynard (with Magnetic Press); Wilfrid Lupano and Paul Cauuet’s The Old Geezers (with Ablaze);  and Kid Toussaint and Aveline Stokart’s Elle(s) (also with Ablaze).

De Jongh’s ‘Days of Sand’ was published in two parts by Europe Comics before it was picked up by SelfMadeHero

This change of direction for the company, formed in 2015, and the declaration that it is to come into effect this month also tracks with another operation also part-owned by Média-Participations and a partnership of European publishers – the digital comics storefront Izneo, which announced late last year that it was to close all storefronts except its French component at the end of January 2023.

Izneo’s message said:

“We regret to inform you that izneo will be closing the store and membership as of January 31st. As we are restructuring to provide you with an even better reading experience, you will no longer have access to the English store.”

In the case of Europe Comics, the downscaling of its operations may in part be attributed to the unexpected death of its cofounder and director Sophie Castille in July 2022. Calvin Reid at Publisher’s Weekly described how important a figure she was:

“Her work at Europe Comics has been instrumental in the growth in popularity of European comics in English and the development of the U.S. graphic novel market.”

Without its guiding light and biggest proponent within Média-Participations, the wider company may be seeking to cut its losses and downsize the more costly aspects of the international rights arm – of which Europe Comics probably took up a significant number of resources. We can’t say for sure on that score, however.

 

 

 

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