What is COPRA?
COPRA is a full color, serialized action comic written, drawn, lettered and colored by me, Michel Fiffe. It started out as a self-published series, was briefly published by Image Comics, and has returned to being a self-published series as Image continues to publish the collections of the issues.
· · · UPDATE · · ·
As a result of the main comic book distributor shutting its doors down and retailers closing/readjusting their business procedures due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, the release of COPRA issues and collections have been affected. COPRA Round Six, which was to collect the first five Image-released issues, was officially held back and will be re-solicited and released eventually. (All pre-orders for Round Six should’ve been fully refunded by now.)
As for the single issues, I started self-publishing those again! Copra Press opened its doors once again and I went over all the details in this interview. So far, I’ve released issues 38 – 41 (the legacy numbering has also returned) to double my usual orders and have already sold out. (If you missed it, peruse the LCS list further down and check if they still have copies). These new issues make up “The Ochizon Saga”, and you can catch spoiler-free glimpses of new pages over at my Patreon. I’ll update this very spot whenever I have news and updates to share. Faithful readers, thank you for your patience.
New readers, dive into the entire COPRA library and scroll through this page for any other questions you might have. If anything, feel free to reach out to me directly. -MF, 1/1/21
How do you pronounce it? Your last name, too.
COPRA: Rhymes with cobra. Fiffe: FEE-feh.
What’s COPRA about, anyway?
It’s about a group of mercenary misfits thrust into a macro-revenge mission. A pack of desperate weirdo fugitives who sometimes end up in other dimensions, other times in Tokyo, but they always get brutal no matter where they land.
When did COPRA start off?
The very first mention of COPRA was in the form of a video teaser that went live November 4th, 2012. A few days later, on Nov. 8th, I posted COPRA on my Etsy store and started selling it then with the promise of fulfilling a monthly 12 issue arc, each issue being 24 pages and ad-free. That weekend, COPRA made its public debut at the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival on Nov. 10th. I signed & numbered the 400 copies I had printed.
Only 400 copies?
That’s all I could afford to print. (Under my newly-formed Copra Press, where I first began self-publishing ZEGAS.) Plus, I estimated that I would only be able to sell about half of that, while the backlog stocked up. I went back to press a month later when orders kept coming in. That was for another 400 copies.
That’s still not a lot.
That’s more than enough for me to manage, pack, and ship off. I’m a one-man operation who can be found printing up postage whenever there’s not a page that needs to be inked. Every single copy of COPRA is directly overseen by me.
Is that why the older back issues are difficult to find?
That, and the readership has generally held on to them. That’s why Bergen Street Press was an incredible help in keeping these comics available. First with the 3-issue Compendiums, which served as an immediate solution, but especially with the “Rounds“. COPRA #1 has been well covered; here’s its entire history.
What’s the print run for the Copra Press-published issues?
The first two issues were 400 copies (their respective reprints were an additional 400). From issue 3 to 6, the print run was 600 and I was still signing & numbering them. From issue 7 to 12, it was 800. That was the first major arc, the first batch of comics I promised to complete. After a brief break to work on stuff), I returned to COPRA with 2000 copies of issues 13-16, 1000 copies of 17-25, and 900 copies of 26-28, with the mini-series Copra Versus locking in a steady 1000. This is all determined by sales and seasons and availability. As readers discovered and stuck with the title digitally or in collected forms, a steady rise in new readers was the reason the single issues held on strong.
What is COPRA VERSUS?
It’s a 5 issue mini series that focuses on various Copra villains that didn’t get the time to shine in the regular series. First issue covers DY DY and the second issue covers A.R.M. (the cyborg bounty hunters from issue #4). The remaining issues (featuring Los Asesinos from #19, the Ochizon horsemen from #s 11 & 12, and the Vitas crew from #1) were published simultaneously as Giant-Size Copra Versus, released fall 2018.
What is it with you and single issues?
I think the 24 page comic, as a unit, is the perfect delivery system for this kind of story: serialized cliffhanger adventures with a lot of characters. The limited page count and the space to tell the story in are interesting challenges that only a comic can excel at. It has to be swift but not too brief, it has to give you your money’s worth but not be a slog to get through, it has to entertain and compel. I don’t strictly “write for the trade” — I want every issue of COPRA to give you enough to want to come back for more. On a practical level, it’s about as much work as I can do to keep the story alive in the traditional system of American superhero comic books. I also like letter pages, pin-ups, profiles, and cool extras to round out the experience.
So COPRA is still at Image Comics?
In 2019, I moved the entire publishing leg of COPRA over to Image so I can concentrate on writing & drawing & fully producing the actual comic book. I go over the decision for the move in detail in the 7th and final Copra HOW TO installment. (Scroll all the way to the bottom of this post.) As of 2020 (noted in the Update at the top the the page) I returned to self-publishing the single issues of COPRA while Image continues to publish the collections and the digital issues, except for the digital Copra Versus mini-series; that’s still under Copra Press.
Say I wanted single issues, where do I get them?
If you want the newest, up-to-date COPRA issues (or any of the collections), contact your local comic book retail outlets and they’ll be able to get it for you no matter what state or country you’re in.
What about digitally?
All of the older issues, the new issues, and the collections can be read digitally under Image Comics banner over at comiXology.
What was that about collections?
The COPRA Rounds were initially published by Bergen Street Press, each collecting 6 issues of the original series. Image Comics announced on February 22nd, 2019 that they would be releasing those first five COPRA Rounds starting May 2019, with Round Six coming down the pipeline, release date TBD.
If your store exclusively orders through Diamond, the books are listed in the Previews catalogue. Here are a couple of order forms you can print up, fill out, and take to your store to make it easier on the both of you.
Originally, I used to offer subscriptions, which guaranteed readers the latest story arc (plus perks; scroll a little further down for examples). This was the surest way to have a copy before it sold out. As for comic shops, the following is a master list of all the stores that carried the self-published COPRA single issues. (Old school supporters!)
Mysterious Time Machine (NYC)
Forbidden Planet (NYC)
JHU Comic Books (NYC)
Anyone Comics (Brooklyn, NY)
Desert Island (Brooklyn, NY)
Escape Pod Comics (Huntington, NY)
Comics N More (Easthampton, MA)
Phantom of the Attic (Pittsburgh, PA)
Vault of Midnight (Ann Arbor, MI)
Chicago Comics (Chicago, IL)
Comix Revolution (Evanston, IL)
Paradox Comics-N-Cards (Fargo, ND)
Floating World (Portland, OR)
Cosmic Monkey (Portland, OR)
Bridge City Comics (Portland, OR)
Destiny City Comics (Tacoma, WA)
Danger Room Comics (Olympia, WA)
Mission: Comics & Art (San Francisco, CA)
Fantastic Comics (Berkley, CA)
Big Planet Comics (Washington, DC)
Third Eye Comics (Annapolis, MD)
Collectors Corner (Baltimore, MD)
Velocity Comics (Richmond, VA)
Wakeup Comics (Nashville, TN)
Twisted Heroes (St. Augustine, FL)
Bamf! Comics & Coffee Comics (Maitland, FL)
Beguiling Books & Art (Toronto, Ontario, CAN)
Strange Adventures (Halifax, Nova Scotia , CAN)
Variant Edition (Edmonton, Alberta, CAN)
Radar Comics (Madrid, SPAIN)
Any plans on a larger, hardcover collection?
Oh, yes. Many plans!
Do you sell original art?
No, but I do like to take naps on it sometimes. (RIP Clover)
Please get those pages off the floor.
Sometimes I do sell original comics art, but generally no COPRA-related pages or covers. I might need them for production purposes. Plus, I’m super attached.
Do you at least sell merch?
Occasionally. I’ve recently had a couple of packs of vinyl stickers…
…and a high quality tote bag…
… but due to the nature of these small press, boutique item-type of mostly handcrafted stuff, mass production is not part of the process. Therefore, I’ve sold out of all the merchandise I’ve developed. I want to bring it all back into circulation, but time and resources will tell. Here are a few items of note:
Split Print with Chuck Forsman
White Copra Skull T-Shirt
Black Copra Group T-Shirt
Hand-stamped VITAS Prints (subscriber exclusive)
That’s what I meant by perks when I first mentioned subscribers. Even though I keep shipping costs as low as they can possibly go, I like to give every subscription cycle a little extra. At first it was color sketches, then it was the Vitas print shown above, then there was the fold-out poster inside bagged copies of #13.
In the 2017 subscription cycle, I enclosed copies of the ‘zine Baxter Stock, basically the print version of the DC in the 80s blog. I drew the cover for its debut issue.
Any variant covers?
I’ve only done one. It was for the #25 Anniversary issue. I had 35 copies printed of the same cover sans logo. I signed and numbered this super select batch of copies, fully equipped with a certificate of authenticity.
Real quick: have you ever been interviewed?
Sure, a few times. Take a look:
What about in-depth articles?
Funny you should ask:
What about process posts?
Over on Patreon, I’ve written detailed overviews of every step of the creation of COPRA under the “Copra HOW TO” essay banner. From conception to seeing it in print, here’s the breakdown: