We meet with Tomas Mitkus of Mitkus studios, a creative venture dedicated to comics, design, research, and other media activities. Tomas works in animation and cinema as well as being a researcher in visual communication and nonverbal communication.
According to Tomas, the Lithuanian comics market is indeed very small. Not many publishers are dedicated to comics, as no more than seven publishers manage to publish more than one comic book per year. For Tomas, publishers do not invest in the production of comics and the vast majority of Lithuanian comics are produced directly by authors, supported by public funding. Not only comics publishers, however, but the general publishing industry relies heavily on governmental support in the Lithuanian book market.
As a matter of fact, as a form of publications, comics are seen as high-risk, low-rewards options in the country: the market does not have enough traction to be attractive at this stage.
A possible explanation for the situation is a lingering prejudice of the communist era, for which comics are seen as childish by the wider audiences. As we have found out, this issue is common among countries of the former eastern bloc. This creates the paradoxical situation for which the best Lithuanian audience for comics (15-25 years old) is that without means to access to the medium. As a matter of fact, according to one of Tomas’ research papers comic book culture is de facto part of Lithuanian youth culture. Consequently, he argued, a strong national comic book industry could be an important element to effectively fulfil strategic goals in national Culture and Education. As American comic books help create symbolic and cultural capital, Tomas argues, a similar effect could be repeated in Lithuania, provided the right conditions.