Welcome to our Ask a Publisher! After the success of our Ask a Bookseller series, we’ve been reaching out to a bunch of our publishers with some questions about what they do. Up next is Nicolas Rossert from publisher of UK and continental graphic novels Sloth Comics.
Tell us about your publishing house in a few sentences.
We specialise in adventure, action, fantasy and comedy comic books and graphic novels. We try to give a voice to female creators with series involving strong female protagonists. We also translate French comics into English to bring a European flavour to the UK.
What is your role and how long have you worked there?
I’m the director and editor and sole employee of Sloth Publishing Limited/Sloth Comics. I founded it in 2011 but our first publication wasn’t until 2012 with Booyah! by Loran.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
I’ve been asked this before and there isn’t really a typical day. As I do almost everything on the publishing side of things. On some days I will be working on the actual books doing design, layouts, lettering or translation and on others I will work on marketing and promotion. I also spend time taking care of our stock, organising events and signings and going to comic cons to sell our titles or acquire foreign rights to translate. I also occasionally write scripts and even draw short comics mainly about sloths.
What are you reading right now?
Right now, I’m re-reading Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson, but I’m also catching up on some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles spin-offs, and on public transport I’m reading some French detective novels by San Antonio I found in my father’s bookshelves. I’ve also been reading small press comics I’ve collected at comic cons last year but haven’t got around to yet. It all depends on what’s closest to me at the time.
That’s a hard question as there are a quite a few, most of them French comics I would like to translate and might still be able to publish! I really wish I had published I Hate Fairyland by Scotty Young. It would fit in great with the rest of our titles and I have a penchant for gory, fantasy comedies, like our current title Goblins.
What do you look for in a book? What makes a book amazing?
I look for something that really transports me to another world and makes me forget about reality. I really like titles with strong female protagonists or marginalised characters that go beyond unrealistic stereotypes. I think what makes a voice amazing is the passion of creators and all the little details surrounding the main plot. The background details, secondary characters and antagonists are what really make a world come to life and a title unique. Of course, artwork matters a lot in the world of comics books and details in the artwork are what really makes a comic take on a life of its own.
There have been a few. I’m very proud of having published Moebius and Jodorowsky’s Madwoman of the Sacred Heart. I really felt I brought an important part of French culture to the UK. I’m also very proud of Goblins. I was reading that comic when it was just a monthly one-page gag in a comics magazine in France when I was a teenager, and now I’ve translated, lettered and published it in English! Truly a dream come true.
What are your favourite publishers and what do you love about them?
My favourite publisher is actually a French one: Delcourt. I’ve been reading their titles since I was a child and I’m now extremely happy to work with them by adapting some of their titles for the UK. If I could, I’d own their entire catalogue, but I don’t think I have the room, they have been around for a very long time now.
What would you like to see more of in publishing, and what have you seen enough of?
I would really like to see more absurd comedy titles. I can never get enough of it, and there’s never enough for my liking. To be honest, I’d just like to see more comics which aren’t superhero titles. I’m sick and tired of the overwhelming amount of superhero comics flooding the comic book world. They’re so dominant that it seems a lot of readers, bookstores and comic shops associate all comics with superheroes. Imagine going into most bookstores to find they only stock detective novels. It seems absurd, but somehow graphic novels and comic sections are absolutely drowned in superhero comics.
And finally…. name three of your absolute favourite authors.
That’s actually an easy one: Enki Bilal, Christophe Arleston, and Ange. They all were huge influences in my life and I don’t think I would be doing what I do without them. I was lucky enough to have met Christophe Arleston a few times and talk about writing and publishing with him, as he is a writer and an editor.
If you want three book writers, it’s easy too: San Antonio, Robert Silverberg and Jean-Paul Sartre. I like French slang, classic sci-fi and existential nihilism a lot.
Thank you, Nicolas!