Pow Pow Press is a Montreal-based publisher run by Luc Bossé – he’s running a Kickstarter to help translate a selection of the press’ collection into English in time for TCAF 2015. I got in touch with Luc to ask a few questions about the project and Pow Pow Press.
Interviews aren’t something I do often, and I’m hoping to expand to doing them more often as able. I’ve been really review focused over the past few months, but I’m hoping to branch back out and talk more about what I’m reading, what I’m thinking about, and who I’m talking to.
Alex (Sequential State): For the English-speaking comics community that may not have heard about Pow Pow Press, could you explain a bit about Pow Pow and what your focus is?
Luc Bossé: We’re a Montreal-based publisher and we’ve been doing comics in French for the last four years. So far, we’ve focused on local creators – people from Montreal and Quebec City. Our catalogue focuses on graphic novels. Overall, I’d say it’s pretty varied… some of these books are quite funny, others are more dramatic… I tend to publish the kind of books I’d like, as a reader. If I find a story interesting, if it grabs me in the first few pages, if I find the drawing serves the narrative well… As an editor, that’s what matters to me.
SS: You were publishing your own comics for a few years before starting Pow Pow Press. What made you decide to start publishing other artists’ work? What do you get out of that collaboration as an artist?
BB: Well… It’s funny because I’d say this whole “publisher” thing just sort of happened almost by accident. Zviane had a book she wanted to publish, called Apnea; we sort of joked around that I might want to publish it and it ended up happening. I guess that’s how most of these things happen… I know that might sound cheesy, but Pow Pow really has grown to become a kind of family. They’ve become my friends, they’ve inspired me, and it’s just a lot of fun to work with them. Now, as an artist… I have to say that once you become a publisher, you have less time to work on your own books. I’ve been trying to finish the sequel to my last book, Yves, le roi de la cruise, for the last four years! So let’s just say I’ve ended up working on other people’s books much more than on my own.
SS: From what I can see on your website, you have a wide variety of comics in different genres; humor, science fiction, and fantasy. But it seems that much of the work you publish has a slice of life or autobiographic quality. Is this true? If so, what draws you to these comics?
LB: It’s not necessarily a conscious choice. As a publisher, I tend to trust the authors I work with. I kind of go with the flow. But you’re right, we do have a lot of strange, alternative genre comics that don’t really feel like genre comics. It’s always interesting to see unique, personal takes on these very codified styles. Our books aren’t always autobiographical, but most of them are very much character-based. I think, as a whole, the Québec comics scene has been deeply influenced by autobiography as a genre. But Vampire Cousins, for example, is more of an homage to old school horror films from the sixties and seventies. I sure hope it isn’t based on any personal experiences!
SS: You are looking to translate and print three books with the funds from your Kickstarter, with more to come if you exceed your funding goal. Out of the 20+ books you have published so far, why pick these three?
LB: I chose books which were representative of the diversity of our catalogue. Vile and Miserable is super funny and slightly deranged. Samuel Cantin’s sense of humor sort of reminds me of british sitcoms. If you love Ricky Gervais, you’re gonna love it. That book is totally over-the-top. On the other hand, For As Long As It Rains is much more low-key. It’s focuses on mood. Zviane’s work on lights and atmospheres is simply amazing. She recently won the Joe Shuster Award for best cartoonist, so I knew some people in Canada would want to read it. I honestly think it needs to be translated. It’s a must-read. Mile End is our best-selling book, but it’s also a book about Montreal – which is something we wanted to put forward. We like the idea that this entire translation project is very much linked to the idea that Montreal is a bilingual city. Plus, it’s an accessible comic : it’s got this nice, laid-back, casual vibe to it.
SS: You’ve been publishing comics for a while now – what made you decide that the Toronto Comics Arts Festival 2015 was the time to get into the English-speaking market?
LB: I went to TCAF a few years ago, and I loved the atmosphere right away. It’s a very cool festival. I met lots of fun people… It simply felt like the right place for these books to meet a possible audience. Sometimes you have to trust your guts. In fact, I mostly trust my guts.
SS: Besides the Kickstarter, what are you working on at Pow Pow?
2014 was our most busy year so far. We’ve launched five new titles in the last few months. We’ve been touring nonstop for the last three weeks to promote these books. It’s pretty crazy right now, with the Kickstarter happening and everything. We’ve got a few exciting projects for 2015. We’re gonna co-publish a book by Lewis Trondheim with L’Association. I’ve always been a fan of both Trondheim’s work and the work that L’Association has done as a publisher. So for me to be able to actually work with them is an honor.
Thanks again to Luc for his time – please take a look at the project, and if you have the means and want to see some interesting Canadian comics translated into English, check out the Kickstarter page for more info.
You can find out more about Pow Pow Press at their website.