Hello and welcome to this week’s monster edition of “British Showcase.” This installment is a huge one. I got to speak with Harry Markos from Markosia, the largest independent publisher of comics and graphic novels in the UK. Markosia has been in the business of publishing great titles since 2004, although the road to success has not been easy and simple. Like any great company, it’s the hard work, commitment and passion of the people behind them that make the difference. Harry Markos is one such individual and I was lucky enough to be able to interview him.
- Hello Harry, thanks for taking the time to talk to our readers here at ComicBooked.com. Can we start by you giving me some background about your company and how it all started?
Well, the company started in 2004 and became a limited company a year later. It all started as a result of a novel that I wrote (under a pseudonym) called “The Lexian Chronicles”, which we (coincidentally, I promise) have just released as a 300-page Omnibus edition comprising all 12 issues. That book was followed by several more which were initially started by a publishing company called APComics, run by Rich Emms. I ended up hiring Rich as our Editor in Chief and we ended up signing titles such as “Dark Mists”, “Midnight Kiss”, “Abiding Perdition” and “Scatterbrain.” We also signed several licenses including “Starship Troopers” and “Kong: King of Skull Island”.
Rich worked for us for about 18 months and we ended up having a major re-shuffle of our working practice as well as the company in general after an investor let us down very badly. We were also let down badly by an employee in the US, which was tough to recover from. It’s been a tough few years but we have managed to survive and consistently bring out a lot of very good books during a period when many publishers have gone under during the most brutal recession in living memory. We’ve been very lucky to have partnered with some incredible creators who have stuck through these tough times and I for one will be eternally grateful for their professionalism and loyalty to us. They understand how tough things are out there and see our partnership as a long term one, which is exactly how we wish it to be.
Last year we embarked on an ambitious campaign to release in most months two or sometimes 3 new graphic novels each month. As a result we have released 26 new graphic novels in 2012 alone. We have 60-odd books in development and recently announced that we would not be signing unsolicited submissions due to our full and hectic schedule. I’ll still be signing maybe 6 or so new books a year from known and trusted creators, but it will be a far cry from the 25 or 30 I was signing last year!
We have some very exciting new books coming, starting in November. We then look forward to 2013, starting in February with the best comic convention in the UK, which had a stunning inaugural launch in February 2012, including Stan Lee coming over! We have a very strong presence there and are launching two or maybe three exclusive hardcovers just for the show. We’ll probably have 12 or so creators signing at the booth during the weekend and will be very well represented.
- You have fought tooth and nail to keep pushing forward and bringing out quality books. How have you maintained your presence in such a competitive market?
That’s a tough question! We’ve had to change our business model completely in order to maintain a presence. We started doing things as we believed was the market norm at the time, but quickly realised that it didn’t work and that the market for Indy books was shrinking really fast. We’re lucky in that our partnerships are solid and that we have worked hard to maintain strong relationships with our printers. That has allowed us to survive with the lower orders that are pretty normal now for Indy publishers, by printing digitally and almost to order. That way our risks are almost nil and we can publish regularly and without concern. Without our great printer relationships and the support of the people that we work with, we would struggle.