Looking to expand the reach of the French graphic novel into the U.S. comics marketplace, France’s Delcourt Group has announced ambitious plans to release more than 151 English-language titles digitally via Comixology.
Beginning today, Delcourt will release some titles as monthly series and some as complete graphic novels. Among the releases is the graphic novel Come Prima by the single-named Alfred, an homage to Italian cinema the and winner of the 2014 Angoulême International Comics Festival Award. All titles will be digital releases, and Delcourt plans to evaluate their reception for possible release in print.
The launch will also include five monthly serials (which will eventually be collected), among them The Curse of the Wendigo by Mathieu Missoffe and Charlie Adlard, a paranormal war comic, Iron Squad by Jean-Luc Sala, which details what might happen if Germany had won WWII, and Josephine by Pénélope Bagieu (author the recent Exquisite Corpse from First Second), a comic series on professional relationships gone awry.
Comixology CEO David Steinberger called French comics “the most diverse in the world,” and emphasized that because “the English language audience is more diverse than ever" Delcourt’s content will appeal to Comixology's users.
While French comics publishers have offered French-language comics via Comixology in the past, Delcourt is the first French publisher to release English translations of its titles via the digital distribution platform. The deal also marks the initial steps of a marketing campaign that is being called “the French invasion,” a concerted effort announced in May (during a French comics symposium in New York) to raise the profile of French comics in North America.
Graphic novels are a major part of the French publishing industry. Comics represent about 12.5% of all the books published in France, compared to about 3% in the U.S., according to Livres Hebdo (the main trade about publishing in France). While a number of U.S. publishers (among them NBM, Archaia, First Second and Dark Horse) specialize in licensing French graphic novels—subject matter is very broad and quite literary—the material has faced hurdles finding a mass audience in the superhero dominated U.S. market. French publishers are banking that the growing diversity among U.S. comics readers, coupled with a growing demand for genres beyond superhero comics, will change that.
Delcourt publisher and founder, Guy Delcourt, said that digital releases in the U.S. is a key strategy. Genres will include science fiction, thrillers, supernatural, comedy and more. In print, French graphic novels are released in a much larger format and can “look foreign to Americans. We needed to get beyond that,” Delcourt said. “The market for digital comics is small in France, but we do not want to be passive. We want to expand. We want our books to be more widely read. It’s the right time. There’s more openness and diversity in the U.S. market,” he said.
And, unlike some French publishers wary of Comixology, an Amazon subsidiary, Delcourt praised the digital comics vendor for its “vision and energy." Delcourt said: "We couldn’t do this without Comixology’s support. It’s a partnership and a grand publishing adventure.”