Marvel to Reprint European Comics From Soleil

Press release excerpt follows.

Marvel, in collaboration with acclaimed French comic publisher Soleil, is proud to announce that they will be publishing some of Europe’s most popular comics in English for the first time! Producers of cutting edge science-fiction and fantasy comics loved across the world, Soleil’s an industry leader in bringing fresh voices to the comic medium with their diverse offerings. Now American audiences can discover why talent from all over the world line-up to produce to high-quality graphic novels with Soleil!

Some of Soleil’s most popular releases, such as Sky Doll, Universal War One, Samurai, and Le Fleau Des Dieux, make their English language debuts beginning this May. The first release will be Sky Doll #1 (of 3), a timely socio-political thriller in which a young android must decide her destiny by challenging the very government–and faith–that has controlled her life.

Some questions:

What makes Marvel think they will succeed with this? DC previously tried something similar from 2004-2005 with Humanoids, another French publisher. It doesn’t seem like a great match for Marvel. Frankly, it seems like it came from left field.

If Soleil is known for publishing graphic novels (paragraph 1), why are they publishing Sky Doll in three separate parts? And what format will it be, in American terms?

There’s already a website for the collaboration, although not much specific is there yet.

20 Responses to “Marvel to Reprint European Comics From Soleil”

  1. Nat Gertler Says:

    Sky Doll was a series of short graphic novels, so the volume 1 of 3 makes sense.

    One publisher has often succeeded in a general realm where another failed… and in this case, the terms may be very different. Marvel may have gotten a much cheaper deal, Marvel may be a publisher-for-hire in this, Marvel may be getting film rights out of this, etc.

  2. Johanna Says:

    Thanks for doing that research, Nat. It looks like each French volume was about 50 pages, based on that info, so that maps roughly to the American Prestige format size.

    I guess I was asking the wrong question — I don’t understand what motivates Marvel to do this.

  3. Nat Gertler Says:

    Oh, and let me note that the claim that Sky Doll is making her English language debut in this is false… but if you want to read them all more cheaply:

  4. Johanna Says:

    Marvel exaggerate for the press? Perish the thought!

    And, seeing the character, ick. Near-naked angel girl with stiletto boots? Well, that answers my question of what’s motivating Marvel.

  5. James Schee Says:

    Hmm odd choice for Marvel, but they have seemed to have tried several times over the years to do something other than superheroes. (like DC has with Vertigo) It’ll be interesting to see if they do better with this than they have with their past efforts.

    There were some preview pages at a link on the bottom of the website you linked to at Marvel.

    Sky Doll was visually sort of interesting, with the sort of “animation camera” angle approach to the pages.

    Universal War One looked like the little of Battle Star Galactica I’ve seen.

    Samurai looked like.. I don’t know Disney’s Mulan for adult audiences??

    I’ll wait until I read more about them, to see if they are something I’d be interested in. That was the problem with DC’s Humanoids, I didn’t know what they were and DC didn’t seem to know how to give enough info on them.

  6. Nat Gertler Says:

    Ummm, no, that’s just the Heavy Metal cover. That’s the way Heavy Metal covers are. (If my eyes don’t deceive me, that’s Kevin Eastman’s wife Julie Strain being depicted there.) You can see a picture of the Sky Doll character on the book cover linked above.

  7. Tony Says:

    Of the 4 titles announced, Sky Doll is not the only one already published in HEAVY METAL: “Le Fleau Des Dieux” (THE SCOURGE OF THE GODS) saw its first 2 volumes (of 6) reprinted in the Fall 2002 and Spring 2004 issues. In fact, Soleil is one of the most featured French publishers in Heavy Metal:

    Yiu 1-In Hell”
    Yiu 2: My Promise To You”
    Jerry Mail 1: Protection Guaranteed
    “The Fires Of Askell: The Wondrous Balm”
    “The Insurgents Of Edaleth 1: Canticles”
    The Insurgents Of Edaleth 2: Crusade

    And in April 2008, according to February Previews:

    This issue features the 58-page graphic novel “The Rage” by Tackian and Mook.
    That is, another Soleil book.

    by Pat Mills & Olivier Ledroit
    In Medieval France, a young witch named Lara is tortured and burned at the stake. As she dies, she vows vengence on her persecutors. A thousand years later, in a futuristic city, the mysterious Sha sets off on her trail of vengeance, tracking down and killing their reincarnations! (C: 0-1-2)
    SC, 144pgs, FC SRP: $19.95

    A collection of another Soleil series that ran in the pages of HM between 1999 and 2001, the first Pat Mills for the French market before Requiem.

  8. Nat Gertler Says:

    Whoops, my error, I see now that she does actually indeed wear stilettos in some interior shots.

  9. Johanna Says:

    Nat: I’d expect no less. :) Thanks for correcting my mistake about the cover.

    Tony: Wow! On the bright side, maybe this will help address James’ concern about publishers who don’t do enough publicity about acquired titles.

  10. Collected Comics Library Podcast and Blog; News and Reviews on all sorts of Comic Book Collected Editions; Don't be fooled by imitators! Says:

    […] Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading, blogs about Marvel to Reprint European Comics From Solei. I’ve never heard of any of […]

  11. Sebastian Says:

    Well, as to “why did they do it?”, I would not be surprised if the whole thing was initiated by Soleil and not by Marvel. Soleil sometimes works with american creators these days, so I’d guess they’d like to open up the american market wider for their titles as well. If they were able to sell Marvel on the idea, why not?

    Soleil has a lot of interesting titles, mostly focusing on fantasy and science fiction settings. I wonder why their top seller Lanfeust (et al.) isn’t in the line-up, instead they’re using series that were already translated by Heavy Metal. Cheaper license fees to test the waters?

    Also, Sky Doll isn’t even an original Soleil title, AFAIK, but a licensed translation of the Italian original. Maybe they bought the foreign rights or just played license broker?

    BTW, Johanna, Sky Doll is certainly better than your first impression, IMHO. I haven’t read the books in a while (since volume 3 came out), but the character design makes sense for the story and the art is great enough (at least to me) to justify buying it all on its own. I’d recommend sampling it once it comes out from Marvel (the HM edition may be hard to find and the samples I’ve seen had really bland lettering, IIRC).

  12. Johanna Says:

    Wow, some interesting speculation there! I hadn’t thought about Soleil seeking out Marvel, especially if they could pitch the deal as low-cost to them (if the material had already been translated by someone else who bore those expenses).

    I should probably read more European comics, but my tastes run much more to Monsieur Jean than Heavy Metal. :) I’ve seen some of the lovely-looking SF stuff from Humanoids, and the lack of emphasis on story meant I wound up wandering away from it as other things caught my interest.

  13. Gene Ha Says:

    My big concern would be whether they publish it in a large European page size or the smaller US format. European art tends to be hard to follow when shrunken down.

    Course, larger books drive comic shops crazy. Perhaps Marvel isn’t too worried about them. This is an attempt to attract non-superhero readers.

  14. James Schee Says:

    I saw some speculation elsewhere about whether these would be unedited or not as well.

  15. Tony Says:

    A couple of things:
    Sky Doll is a Soleil original title, written and colored by a a woman, Barbara Canepa, btw.

    In this thread, Marvel’s CB Cebulski gives a bit of information about the Soleil deal:

  16. Sebastian Says:


    Are you sure? The authors Barbara Canepa and Alessandro Barbucci are both Italian. The French editions of Sky Doll contain translation credits, so they probably weren’t written in French originally. Also, the Italian editions of Sky Doll were always published about the same time as the French editions. On the other hand, the French editions note “all foreign rights reserved”. But I’m still not sure if it should be called a Soleil original or rather a Vittorio Pavesio original.

  17. Tony Says:

    Well, now you’re making me doubt too, but I’d still contend that it’s internationally considered as one of Soleil flagship titles, as this Marvel deal exemplifies. It’s true that the French and Italian editions are simultaneous, but that happens also with other titles from Pavesio, that are released by its own French branch at the same time. Sky Doll is the exception to that rule, for a reason, I suppose. Also, there are a lot of original BD books in the French market written by foreign writers that are translated to French for its release in France.

    Anyway, what I totally agree with is your impression that Soleil offered the deal to Marvel and not viceversa. Also, I don’t expect this to fare much better than DC/Humanoids deal, although I’d be glad to be proven wrong eventually.

  18. Gene Ha Says:

    I wouldn’t see the DC/Humanoides deal as a precedent for how this deal will go. DC didn’t do much more than reprint stuff that was already available in the US, and then Humanoides went kablooey! Apparently they had a financial crisis in Europe, closed their US offices, and they are still in questionable shape.

    There was one more big problem: sales were pretty low. I don’t know if that’s a matter of bad marketing, or perhaps Humanoides’ very serious tone. Soleil has a reputation for more edgy and youthful books.

    If properly managed Marvel should be able to get some decently selling books for a low initial cost. Hopefully one of them will become a breakout hit. I feel like the US and European comics industries will have to work hard not to be overwhelmed by Japanese reprints.

  19. Sebastian Says:

    @Tony: Oh well, I guess the only way to be really sure would be to check one of the Italian editions for a mention of Soleil or to ask the publishers / authors in question. I agree with you, though, on Sky Doll being one of Soleil’s better known and well selling titles. BTW, I just remembered that there’s also a German edition. I should just go and check that one if it was licensed from Soleil or someone else.

    On a tangent / Re: Gene Ha
    That business week article seems actually quite well researched. There are a couple of mistakes, but not many, as far as I can see. For example, there are currently (in fact, I think, not ever) no Archie comics reprinted here in Germany. Also I don’t know if a mainstream bookstore like Hugendubel would have the Panini reprints of Supergirl and if any young female reader would look for it even if Manga didn’t exist… ^^;

    The main (but minor) problem I have with that article is that none of the facts and developments described there are actually new. Most go back 7-10 years (like the mainstream publication of manga in France since the early-to-mid 90s and the publication of homegrown German mangas since 2001). Only the foreign licensing of German mangas and the further growth of the number of small/medium French manga publishers happened over the last year or two, IMHO.

    BTW, I’d say there is no European comic industry. There’s France/Belgium. Then there’s a bit of local stuff in Britain, Spain and Italy. The rest of Europe mainly imports stuff (probably above 90% of all their comics) from elsewhere.

    And while some of the French comics creators may have overlooked the decade-long upswing of mangas until recently, all of the big French BD publishers have had their hands in the manga pie for years, so they can’t complain about lost business. And while BDs may lose a bit of ground ATM, sales-wise, it doesn’t look like they’re in any real danger, at least not from manga competition alone. The increased national competition does probably make the foreign markets look more attractive, though (to finally get back to the Soleil deal).

  20. Ben Says:

    Not surprised that marvel would want to tap into the highly lucrative and quite frankly far more versatile scope of the european market. It makes a lot of sense. This is a company that has seen sales decline over recent years in an industry dominated and crippled to a large degree by the repetitive nature of superhero titles.
    I grew up on a wonderful diet of marvel and dc books but the restrictive quality of the industry in the states does not allow for new genres or ideas to really flourish. I think many people there and here in the uk realise that our industries need shaking up. Why not take a leaf out of the very successful French model.
    Alongside the japanese they have no equal. To make a rough comparison, the average decent selling books in the US sell approx 50 000 : in France its approx 250 000 with sales of very popular books consistently in the millions! In france 1 in 10 books sold is a comic book. Having said that though, the attitude is completely different and I am not sure how you change a whole nations perspective. In the uk we tend to see comics as the stuff of childhood only. In france and other european countries it is accepted as a serious and highly versatile medium. Go into any french family home and all members of the family will often have comic books, children and parents. In this respect it is comparable to Japan.
    I for one hope this union bears fruit.
    One other thing to note is that the French industry despite its success does tend towards its own very french style of comics (Bandes Dessinee) and Soleil is trying to liven up what it perceives as slightly stagnant creative remit. I just came back from Angouleme where I was lucky enough to meet a few editors at major companies including Soleil.




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