Drawing From Below: An Interview with Copra and All New Ultimates Michel Fiffe

Cover-10-674x1024In November of 2012 Michel Fiffe was a talented comic’s creator who had done some work on a handful of small press alt comics and moonlighted in comics journalism with writing for the comics journal when he released the debut issue of Copra. Fast forward a little over a year and Fiffe has proven to be one of the most prolific creators in the medium releasing twelve issues of the comic that he wrote, drew, printed and distributed all on his own. Copra became a staple of year end critic polls and a fan favorite that transcended the alt comics readership and scored big with comic book lovers looking for new and exciting super hero stories. Fiffe has since been announced as a writer for Marvels All New Ultimates and plans on continuing with Copra in addition to releasing the first twelve issues in one large collection. I had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Fiffe about his start in the industry, how he was able to dedicate a year of his life to the comic, his influences and plans for All New Ultimates. Read more after the jump
Patrick Hess: Tell us a little bit about how you started as a comics journalist and how that led Copra.Together.Again_1to publishing your anthology Zegas and later Copra?
Michel Fiffe: I actually started out as a cartoonist who was looking around for information about specific cartoonists I really liked and couldn’t find any. I took it upon myself to seek them out personally and I discovered that I could retool my curiosity to fit the interview model. I’ve since interviewed a bunch of folks but I haven’t done so in years. It really was like a hobby at one point that took up a lot of time. Instead of juggling both, I decided to concentrate on putting out my own comics, starting with Zegas.
PH:How long were you thinking about starting Copra and what motivated you to start working on it?
MF: It took me about a month to think up Copra and another month to make the actual comic to see if I could physically do it. I was motivated by the impulse of creating under pressure.
PH: How were you able to dedicate a year of your life to focus solely on writing, drawing, publishing and distributing Copra?
MF: I had to stop taking any outside work and concentrate all of my artistic efforts to it. I had saved up enough money to print the first issue. After that, it was in the hands of the readers.
C3-674x1024PH:You’ve talked at length about how Suicide Squad was a huge influence on you. How did that inform Copra and what were some of the other other influences?
MF: That title is the direct inspiration for Copra, but I’m not reworking anything too specifically. My other main sources of inspiration were Walt Simonson, Frank Miller, and making rent on time every month.
PH:When I first started reading Copra I could definitely see the influence of silver age/bronze age and 80’s comics on the book but it didn’t feel derivative. How do you balance your sphere of influence with originality?
MF: I’m glad to hear that it doesn’t seem derivative because that possibly the one element that I’m unable to pinpoint with any critical accuracy. I just try to make the comics I want to read, which is something you must hear all the time.
PH: I know you’re planning on going back to Copra in the future. Do you think you will keep doing it DIY or would you be open to using a publisher for the remainder of the series? If I was Darkhorse or Image I feel like I would do everything in my power to reprint and publish the remaining issues.
MF: My self-publishing division, Copra Press exists for a reason. Why fix it if it isn’t broken?
PH:What brought you to the All New Ultimates and what are your plans for the portrait_uncannyseries?
MF: I was given the opportunity to tell stories within Ultimate Universe, a place that is currently in the middle of a major event. My plan is to take the characters of All-New Ultimates and thrown them into a gang war marked by crazy new villains and young lust.
You can find out more about Michel Fiffe at his website here

17 thoughts on “Drawing From Below: An Interview with Copra and All New Ultimates Michel Fiffe”

  1. A great interview, Patrick, with one of my favorite creators. (I owe you a lot for recommending that I buy COPRA; I love the third compendium that I bought, and I’m eager to get the whole collection). I can’t wait to see what he does with Marvel’s Ultimates characters.

    1. Thanks Reede I’m glad you liked it. I actually used the fact that I knew at least one of our readers bought a copy in my pitch to him so in a way you helped me get this.

  2. Nice work Patrick, good score on the interview.
    I’m stoked to hear Fiffe is releasing a collection of Copra, I will definitely be picking it up when I get the chance. I’m also excited by what I’ve read about his All-New Ultimates, it sounds like a Young Avengers/Teen Titans for the Ultimate universe.

    1. Yeah I was getting that vibe to. I wanted to ask a little bit more bout it but you know time and having to go through Marvel isn’t really that tough or anything (they were actually really cool about it) but it just adds an extra layer which is why the majority of my questions where about Copra.

  3. Nice Interview! This series sound awesome and i’ve been trying to find the issues with no luck. Glad to hear a collection is coming out soon. Also really excited for his Marvel work!

    1. Thanks Bryan. When I asked if he was going to keep DIY publishing Copra a part of me was hoping he would say he was going through a larger publisher so more people could read it but like he says it isn’t broke so why fix it. Once I see that new Copra compendiums are available online I’ll put it up on the site. I think he still has single issues at his Esty story but only for later issues in the series.

  4. Great interview Patrick. His take on the Young Ultimates sounds intriguing. Plus, I am a fan of Miles, so I’ll most likely be picking that title up once it starts.

    Having read the first compendium of Copra, I can say that it completely lives up its hype. An outstanding comic. Part of me wants to run all over town trying to track down the rest of the compendiums, the other thinks it best to wait for the 12 issue trade. Either way, looking forward to reading more.

    I do see those influences you mentioned Patrick, as well as a little Grant Morrison too, especially his Doom Patrol series . . .

    1. Year I could see the Doom Patrol comparison. But glad you liked it dude. I really can’t wait for more issues to come out

  5. Awesome interview, Pat. Ever since you started talking about Fiffe’s writing, I’ve been trying to get a hold of Copra. Hopefully these books will reprint one day.
    Really excited to check out the new Ultimates book. Truth be told, I do not know much about the characters, but I’m ready to learn.

    1. Yeah I mean it’s Ultimates versions so I don’t either outside of Miles and Pryde from when I was still reading Woods UXM run. I do love Cloak & Dagger and Black Widow so Fiffe doing an Ultimates take is promising.

  6. Very nicely done Pat. Copra has been on my radar ever since you recommended it but I have yet to get around to it. Having not read any Fiffe yet but solely based on your high praise I am extremely pumped for the new Marvel book. It actually sounds super awesome!

    1. “Gang war” & “teenage lust” with those characters sounds very promising. I have a feeling that the fact that everybody is talking about Copra without having it available is going to make ANU an event when it comes out.

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