While the first set of graphic novels were available only to Kickstarter backers, one of them, Zombicide: Day One, is being published as single-issue comics by Source Point Press, making it available to comics retailers.
ICv2 spoke to CMON Global Marketing Director Renato Franchi about CMON’s comics program and plans for the future.
Tell me about the CMON Comics program. Are these comics by Italian creators?
A part of them are. The first batch we did was entirely produced in Italy, but [for] the second volume we have right now on our website, we also got a lot of incredible talents coming from all over the world. We got Dan Abnett writingTwilight Imperium, for example. We got Adrian Smith with the definitive edition of HATE. So it's a mix.
Who's the editor? Who's managing this process of comics creation?
If you're talking about Zombicide, then the deus ex machina is Stefano Vietti, who's a long‑time Italian writer. He wrote a lot of famous series in Italy, especially for Bonelli. He also created a very famous fantasy series that's called Dragonero [co-created with Luca Enoch] that's maybe the most iconic fantasy series we have in Italy. He worked with a lot of different genres, but of course, he's got a very strong background in fantasy, sci‑fi… Also, he's coordinating with all these various talents we have on Zombicide.
Yeah. The first one was composed of what we call the classic Zombicide setup [Zombicide: Day One], Zombicide: Invader, and Chthulhu: Death May Die. It was those three volumes. In the second volume [the preorder campaign] that's coming out right now, we got the second volume of Cthulhu: Death May Die, Zombicide, and Zombicide: Invader, plus an edition of Zombicide: Black Plague, which is the fantasy set expansion of Zombicide. We are also having a Kickstarter with the new installment from this world later in April. Plus we got, as I was mentioning, HATE by Adrian Smith, Twilight Imperium written by Dan Abnett, the comic based on Dust, and also the one based on Android,the other Fantasy Flight game we work with (see “‘Twilight Imperium’ and ‘Android Universe’ Licensed by CMON for Graphic Novels”).
We have expanded the line. The idea is to give deep transmedia expansion to all our properties, and also properties coming from other publishers. That's the idea behind CMON Comics.
Why did you decide to do comics from other properties outside of CMON?
I wasn't there at the time, but I think the idea here is to take other games that belong to other publishers that can be deepened, can be explored. We picked two games, Android and Twilight Imperium, that have a lot of potential lore that can be developed.
That's why we called Dan Abnett, who was a long‑time sci‑fi veteran both with his work on Guardians of the Galaxybut also with his work on The Horus Heresy (see “New Range of Horus Heresy Graphic Novels”). The idea here was, "Let's develop a little bit of lore and see if fans want to know more about these kinds of worlds." That was the idea behind it.
Are they being produced in multiple languages?
The second batch, right now, is only in English. The first one was in French and also in English.
This time, it's only English for the time, and they're being published in Italy [and Spain]. The first batch has been published by Bonelli. Right now, a little bit of the Zombicide material is being published in the US by Source Point Press.
We are also looking to find other international publishers that may be interested in publishing our comics. We are having a very nice success with our preorders that we did with our Kickstarter last time. The idea is to bring them in as many languages as we can. That's the idea.
The first volume was sold by CMON only to consumers through Kickstarter. Do you also sell direct‑to‑consumer off your website?
No, we sold the first volume only via Kickstarter. That's the idea with also, of course, the exclusive game components that's always coming whenever you have something coming from us. [laughs]
Right now, yes. We just started, because Source Point started in January. We want to see how's the reception of these volumes and then, we'll also try to bring more to the retailers, because we are seeing a lot of interest also with this second installment. We are pretty pleased with the results.
It sounds like Source Point has not licensed all the titles, just the Zombicide titles.
Right now, I'd say, for sure, they want to do the Zombicide titles. We are talking with them [about whether] they are interested in doing also the first volume of Zombicide: Invader and Cthulhu: Death May Die.
They're breaking them up, and printing them as individual comic periodicals, at least first. I assume they're going to collect them later. Do you know why they did it that way rather than releasing the graphic novels here?
I think that they want to test the water to see if there was some interest from the comic readers. I come from a mixed background, as you notice, so for a comic reader, first comes the floppy and then comes the hardcover or softcover version that collects them all. I think they tried to test the water to see if there was the opportunity to do the floppies and then the softcover, hardcover. We still have to verify with them the results, but the last time we heard from them, they were pretty pleased, so I think there is a niche that wants to also have the floppy.
Actually, all our comic books were structured in order to have the rhythm of the American comics, so that every 20 to 24 pages, you would have cliffhangers. They were built from the beginning with this kind of flavor, this kind of idea in mind. It's not like the typical, let's say, Italian or French comics that has 64 or 96 pages and if you try to split them, it sounds like you're not doing justice to the work of the artist and the writer. In our case, those were designed to be like that, so I feel like they are pleasant reading even with the different cliffhangers.
Yeah. The first volume, they are all received, and also the game material.
When does the second volume ship?
We still don't have an update for the end of this preorder. [Note: Franchi let us know that they now expect these comics to ship by the end of 2023., ed.]
Why weren't there retailer levels on the Kickstarters?
Again, I wasn't there at the moment, so I don't have all the history. It was much more of a test, because of course, we are very famous for our games, but the comics were something completely new. It was like a test to see if there was interest by the players. I think that that was the main reason.
Are you planning a volume three?
Let's say it's highly, highly feasible that we'll do a CMON Comics Volume 3. The results, so far, have been really good, and the preorders are still open. We also want to see where they end.
As I was telling you before, for us it's important to adapt to our properties, and to have the ability to tell more about the Zombicide world, the Cthulhu: Death May Die world. It's something that's enriching both from our point of view and also from the point of view of the gamers. If we have the possibility, for sure, we'll do it.