I can't help but feel frustrated
I'm slightly confused by this as a starting position, as the fact that there is an English book version of any of these colourizations is something to celebrate, surely? ;-)
the colourised version of Soviets would attract more interest from English-speaking readers
I'm sort of with you on that - I do think it should be available as a book, yes; however, the fact is that America
sells more copies than Soviets
worldwide, and does so apparently comfortably enough to warrant giving this book a hard-copy. It's disappointing to us fans, yes, but if the truth is that the numbers don't add up, then it's unlikely to happen.
Does anyone have any insight into their strategy?
There's no way of telling at the moment, but as you suggest, rights issues appear to be at the heart of it, yes.
The colour Soviets
was made as a co-production of Casterman and Moulinsart.
The colour Congo
was not released as a book, but instead came as boxed set of prints, which - not being a book, per se, might be seen as away of Moulinsart's having avoided involving Casterman, but could also be that Casterman did not want
to be involved.
Now that there are the English and French editions of the America
re-vamp, we see the problem of any speculation at all: there does not appear to be a bar on Moulinsart publishing books without Casterman, if this one is to be taken at face value, so the "prints are not a book" theory is harder to sustain for Congo
. The availability of it in English seems to suggest that there isn't an obstacle to Moulinsart releasing it without Egmont. We should also remember that Soviets
was initially a Sundancer property, not part of the Methuen line, and Last Gasp was involved in other facsimiles of the black and white books, so there are other examples of non-Egmont/ Methuen books which make for works in various hands; it is also possible that since the current standard edition of Congo
in English is by Casterman, rather than Egmont, because Egmont didn't want to continue with it, that even more wrinkles appeared in who can do what, for whom, and where).
Anyway, the parties involved seem to be remaining silent on the procedures and protocols involved, so we may never know what the full story is.
The positives to take away from this are, as I see them, that the appearance of the colourized America
in English is a good thing, and that, if successful, it might lead to colourized Soviets
making an appearance in the future, with other titles to follow.
It could some day lead to the strange anomaly of colourized editions of things like the B&W Broken Ear
coming out in English before
the original versions!