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After learning about a comic-to-movie adaption not familiar to most, I spoke with Peter Simeti, the president of the Diamond-distributed Alterna Comics whose graphic novel The CHAIR was recently adapted into an indie film. I was curious about how a book from a smaller publisher gained the attention of filmmakers and was able to fund a full-length movie. Read the answers I received below to get a sense of the kind of conditions that can lead an indie comic book or graphic novel to a turn on the big screen.
Can you describe the graphic novel version of The CHAIR in your own words?
In terms of the plot, it’s a psychological horror/thriller that revolves around a man who believes he’s innocent of the crimes he’s been convicted of and his struggle to survive against a sadistic and psychotic prison warden and his guards. But the story itself has strong themes of isolation, the ethics of torture, morality, child abuse, domestic violence, fate and the demons of one’s past.
The CHAIR was released through Alterna Comics, where you’re the publisher. Can you describe its business model?
Alterna is a creator-owned company, similar to many other independent comic publishers. We’ve been around since 2006 (celebrating Year 10 very soon!) and in that time I’ve had the pleasure of working with over 100 talented individuals; it’s been an amazing experience.
What was the reception like to The CHAIR when it was first released?
Back in 2008 when the compiled graphic novel was released, I remember that it did fairly well. Nothing huge or record-breaking, but it did good for a small press indie book. The coolest part, to me, was that people really seemed to enjoy it and, more importantly, they understood it. It’s a bit of a heady, trippy, downer of a book, so I’m glad that people have taken a liking to it.
Who’s behind the movie adaption? What experience do they have in filmmaking?
Chad Ferrin is the director of the film and along with myself, Erin Kohut (who wrote the screenplay), Zebadiah DeVane (Executive Producer), and Kyle Hester (Producer) — we all helped to champion this story into being made into a film. I encourage everyone to visit The CHAIR’s IMDb page for information on our cast and crew.
How did they learn about the graphic novel, and what made it appealing to them to adapt for film?
Erin adapted the graphic novel for film (she edited the graphic novel, so of course she did a great job on the screenplay) and we pitched it to Chad Ferrin about 2 years ago. He liked the story, characters, and writing a lot – so we moved forward from that point. Chad’s previous films shared similar themes to the ones found in The CHAIR – psychological elements and stories that were ripe in metaphor.
The original Kickstarter wasn’t able to hit a funding goal of $300,000 to make The CHAIR. You successfully funded a second campaign with a $40,000 goal. How were you able to lower the budget so drastically?
Well, because of the original Kickstarter, we actually attracted many private investors that supplemented our budget. We figured out that we only needed about $140K in reality to get production going, so we worked around those numbers to hit our production goal.
Did you have a chance to visit the set while The CHAIR was being filmed?
No! Unfortunately I was snowed in, in Massachusetts during the two weeks of filming in Los Angeles. We had a historically horrible winter here; just my luck right? [Laughs]
What kinds of restrictions did a shoestring budget put on the production?
We had to be creative with a lot of things, especially our use of space. Luckily 75% of the film takes place on death row, so it was “easy” to keep location costs down. Producer Kyle Hester did a great job on bringing along some amazingly talented people on board; I can’t thank them enough for the terrific job they did bringing this film to life.
Can you describe how the rights were negotiated? What does a contract look like for a smaller budget independent film?
Well, I’m the majority rights holder of the film. It wasn’t sold or optioned, it’s as indie as it gets! We’ve got private investors and everyone gets a piece of the pie, but there’s no big studio involved here, even though there’s many well-known actors involved (all of which, are super nice people and incredibly talented as well).
How can a comic book creator who isn’t necessarily in the mainstream get the attention of filmmakers?
By asking and showing your work! I say this all the time – you can have the greatest story/song/piece of art ever made, but if no one knows about it, then it’ll stay that way until you put it out there. If you’re a creator, share your creations!
What’s next for The CHAIR?
We’ll be having another crowdfunding campaign, this time on Indiegogo for post-production funds (editing, sound design, music, color correct), in late April. For details on that, I recommend everyone stay tuned on Twitter by following @theCHAIRhorror, @alternacomics, and @petersimeti.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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Seems like everyone had the same great idea at the same time: with comic-cons proliferating, and nerdlebrities making a circuit out of it, wouldn’t this be fine fodder for a realityish TV show/webisode of some kind? And wouldn’t actors who had starred in TV shows that had insanely fanatic fanbases but who didn’t get much airtime outside of that be the perfect people to do it?
It seems both Firefly’s Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion and Supernatural’s Rob Benedict and Richard Speight, Jr had the same idea. And both have turned to Indiegogo to bring these ideas to fruition.
The Tudyk/Fillion effort launched first. It’s called Con Man and it’s already a go, with $2,386,241 raised, a bit more than the $425,000 they were going for. This is a scripted adventure about nerdlebrities who go to cons starring…nerdlebrities who go to cons.
Wray Nerely (Alan Tudyk-Me!) was a co-star on Spectrum, a sci-fi series which was canceled -Too Soon- yet became a cult classic. Wray’s good friend, Jack Moore (Nathan Fillion) starred in the series and has gone on to become a major movie star. While Jack enjoys the life of an A-lister, Wray tours the sci-fi circuit as a guest of conventions, comic book stores, and lots of pop culture events. The show will feature all the weird and crazy things that happen to Wray along the way to these events.
Galaxy Quest without the galaxy, then. Okay maybe a little Galaxy.
In an interview with EW, the pair expanded on the idea::
Fillion and Tudyk are hoping to raise $425,000 to finance the show’s first three 10 minute-long episodes. But Tudyk says that he has written 10 scripts in all so far and that at least one later show will indeed see both actors back on a spaceship. “There’s a lost episode of Spectrum that gets released within the show,” he says. “That’s done in a funny way—but there are actual scenes of me flying a spaceship and Nathan captaining.”
Guest stars will include more Firefly alumni, Sean Maher and Gina Torres, and othr nerdlebirty royalty including Amy Acker , Seth Green, Felicia Day, and director James Gunn. Easy to see why this has raised so much money. The initial budget was for three 10-minute shorts, but I guess there will be more than that.
Meanwhile, the Supernatural effort is more of a “reality-based” show set within the world of Supernatural fandom. It too was once called “Con Man” but now it’s called Kings of Con and here’s the pitch:
$100,000 will cover production costs for the first three to five episodes, and Benedict says 10 have already been “roughly written and mapped out,” with a 10-minute teaser/pilot previously filmed. According to Benedict, “Our idea is that every episode will be a new city that we’re in — or rather, the suburb outside of that city where our hotel is! We’ve shot in our actual conventions too, so you’ll get a POV of the view from the stage during karaoke, and a bird’s-eye view of the merchandise room, the lines, the crowds, the energy… in a utopian world, we want to continue to capture all that in each episode.”
This effort has already raised $57,000 of the $100,000 requested..in fact it raised about $7k while I was writing this post, so I think this will hit its target as well. It only launched yesterday and they are aware of the rival show:
While Benedict and Speight acknowledge that the concept sounds similar to another crowdfunded comedy series inspired by two genre actors’ convention experiences (Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion’s “Con Man”), their series has been in development for over a year, and is wholly inspired by their “real life exploits within this ‘Supernatural’ convention world — with our own creative, fictional spin,” Benedict tells Variety. “While it is nowhere near reality TV, it will be shot naturalistic and play on our relationship with each other and others through scripted and semi-scripted dialogue. Rich and I have developed quite a rapport over these few years, and quite a unique, combustable and comical relationship. We’ve been to the front lines, so to speak, and have been in the thick of it, all around the world, together. Really, this show is about Rob and Rich, and the conventions will serve as a unique backdrop for that quirky relationship.”
These are not the first efforts in the “nerdlebrity goes to a con” genre. The trailblazer in this regard is Mark Hamill’s Comic Book: The Movie in which he portrays Donald Swan, a documentary filmmaker who goes to Comic-Con and meets a lot of weird people. Made in 2004, this features the state of the art autograph circuit of the day, such as Stan Lee, Chase Masterson, Bruce Campbell and Kevin Smith in cameos.
Then there was Morgan Spurlock’s Comic-Con IV: A Fan’s Hope, the 2012 actual documentary about people who go to Comic-Con. Actually, I think Bruce Campbell also made a short film about fans and fandom, but no one has ever seen it.
Huh well whaddaya know.
I have my own idea for a movie set at a comic-con, but it’s so explosive that I can’t even talk about it here. I’ll just give you the elevator pitch: Clue + Comic-Con. Interested parties can contact my agent.
After backing the campaign last June, I was extremely pleased to receive a shipment in December containing my reward from the Kickstarter
for Lady Sabre
, a webcomic created by Greg Rucka, Rick Burchett and Eric Newsom. It took twelve months longer than anticipated to get my copy, but the creative team delivered a very special edition that perfectly suits its source material. Not only that, Kickstarter stretch goals also unlocked a Pocket Guide written by Rucka about the world where Lady Sabre takes place, a process book that illuminates how Greg and Rick work together and other extras. Below is my review of that package.
Lady Sabre & the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether Book 1: The Map begins with a prose story called “The Affair of the Mickten Clockwork” that sets up the relationship between Lady Seneca Sabre and Captain Hans von Kater. Rucka is a well-seasoned writer of novels, with a library that includes the Attius Kodiak and Jad Bell series as well as two Queen & Country books. More people should be reading Greg Rucka’s prose, and this short story and the worldbuilding material in the back of the volume will likely convince them to do exactly that. At the same time, Rucka should be writing more prose like this. It’s easily among my favorite I’ve read.
Book 1 of the Lady Sabre series is very much the start of a longer story, but it’s an impressive introduction to what I presume is the main cast. Chapter 1 dives straight into one of Sabre’s escapades, which includes a grand theft and duel with Hans. There isn’t a ton of story in the first chapter, necessarily, but you get a lot of atmosphere out of those pages, especially if you read “The Affair of the Mickten Clockwork” beforehand.
Chapters 2 and 4 introduce us to Marshall Miles Drake and Tracket Keyton Drum, also through elaborate action sequences. While giving Burchett more chances to shine, Rucka also shows his writing chops with clever back-and-forths and a demonstration of the pair’s bold heroism. Chapter 3 sets up the larger storyline with the very convenient but appropriate appearance of a prophet, who predicts some of the danger lying ahead.
Chapter 5 is the first time Drake and Sabre get to interact. The tension between a man of law and a woman of lawlessness is a fun dynamic, and the rapport we get between them is one of the highlights of the volume. Their acquisitions from previous chapters reveal the instrument for the larger story. I’m also intrigued to see that move forward, but it’s a testament to Rucka’s writing and Burchett’s illustrations that I’m most excited for the palpably tense relationship between Sabre and Drake to continue.
Part of me wants to complain that Lady Sabre is decompressed, especially given all of its action sequences, but I think the only reason I feel that way is that I want more of it sooner. The story is not text-heavy and each page has a relatively low panel count, but, in spite of that, though, every page feels significant. I may believe that in part because I’m aware of the original 2-pages-a-week format, but it’s clear that Rucka and Burchett went out of their way to make sure every one of their updates mattered. I’m hoping that future volumes of Lady Sabre also contain prose stories so readers can get more background and plot a little faster, but it’s hard to complain about the pacing of the comic itself. I don’t know how long Rucka and Burchett intend Lady Sabre to go so this volume could either be the first step of the hero’s journey or the entire first act. Either way, I know I’m on board until the ship lands.
Rick Burchett’s art isn’t flashy, which might be why he and Rucka couldn’t initially find a publisher for a project. Flashiness, though, is overrated. Burchett’s art is high quality in every panel; he never fails to deliver the goods. His solid storytelling skills are something the flashier artists should take note of.
I read that Burchett said that he was nervous about working with Rucka on Lady Sabre because he “can’t draw beautiful women,” but beauty is relative. He isn’t drawing pinup models, no, but for my money the personality he imbues in Sabre and other characters makes them more “attractive” than any two-dimensional characters gorgeously drawn by a Frank Cho or Terry Dodson or Adam Hughes. Greg Rucka is known for writing powerful women, and Rich Burchett compliments Rucka’s development of Sabre with a powerful, non-exploitative depiction.
As a veteran of superhero comics, Rick could probably have delivered satisfactory action sequences with relative ease. But he doesn’t rest on his laurels, offering up innovating action in several of the first five chapters. The swordplay early on in Chapter One is particularly excellent, from the motion lines when the blades swing to pages that feature Sabre’s epic duel with Hans.
I believe Lady Sabre is the first comic Rick colored, which is pretty impressive. The color choices don’t astound, but it’s never a distraction. That’s more than I can say for some of the comics being released by major publishers, and I only expect Burchett’s coloring to improve over time.
The next thing I want to address is the pocket guide included with the Kickstarter package. The amount of worldbuilding done in the mouthful-of-a-title Edwin Windsheer’s Pocket Guide to the Sphere: The Odom (Part 1): Allyria & Fueille is absolutely staggering. To the best of my knowledge, Rucka didn’t really get compensated for these 64 pages that help you further understand the world of Sabre. If anything, it probably cost money due to printing While tiny, the hardcover book is definitely readable, though I admit I prefer viewing it as a PDF on my tablet to reading the hardcover itself. Even with that in mind, if I ever lost the pocket guide my collection would feel woefully incomplete. It’s beautifully designed, and is a wonderful companion to the main book.
There’s not a whole lot to say about the process book other than that it demonstrates the effort Rucka and Burchett put into Sabre. The paperback includes annotations by Greg and early design sketches by Rick, immersing you into their (obviously effective) creative process. Watching the project come together and move forward is something special to behold. I hope they offer a copy of the book on their website eventually, so more would-be webcomic creators and creators of comics in general can learn a thing or two.
The design of all three books is one of the best parts of the package. I pledged for the least expensive edition, and it still largely failed to feel cheap. As beautiful as the cover is, I particular love the the look of the graphic novel without the dust jacket. The only real flaw I can point to is the back insert. The pouch and the map felt sort of jutted out. I actually ended up peeling off the pouch, which thankfully caused minimal damage to the book. To be fair, though, the map and pouch were part of a stretch goal that the team didn’t even reach, and the map itself is great, so it’s hard to complain too much.
Lady Sabre is, to date, the 23rd most successful comic book Kickstarter campaign ever, but I highly doubt it was anywhere near the 23rd most profitable. Rucka and company were extremely generous to offer so many upgrades to already-impressive rewards, especially for a price as low as $30 for print copies of the first volume, the Pocket Guide and the Process Book. At some point the creative team plans to offer remaining copies of the book on the Lady Sabre website
. I would highly encourage you to buy them while you can.
Rating: Worth The Wait
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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Titan announced today they are serializing the Kickstarter-funded 21st Century Tank Girl, which saw artist and Co-creators Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin returning to the character which made them famous in the 80s and 90s.
Last April, the Tank Girl Kickstarter campaign smashed it’s intended goal of $94, 839, raising nearly $300k to fund Hewlett and Martin’s return to the franchise. The project also brings on board celebrated indie artists Philip Bond and Jim Mahfood. From Titan:
TITAN PUBLISHES THE KICKSTARTER SENSATION 21ST CENTURY TANK GIRL!
This June, Titan Comics are excited to announce they are serializing Kickstarter Smash Hit 21st Century Tank Girl!
After a break of more than 20 years, artist extraordinaire Jamie Hewlett has returned to the
iconic character which made his name. Co-created in the late 80s by Hewlett and writer Alan Martin, Tank Girl quickly became a household name and revolutionized British comics industry. This landmark publication reunites the two collaborators for all-new original material!
Titan will publish 21st Century Tank Girl as a 3 issue mini-series written by Martin and illustrated by a stellar line-up of stalwarts and newcomers including Philip Bond (Kill Your Boyfriend), Jim Mahfood (Miami Vice), Brett Parson, Jonathan Edwards, Warwick Johnson Cadwell, Craig Knowles and more!
21st Century Tank Girl #1 will be issued with two Jamie Hewlett covers, and will be ready for pre-orders in the April edition of PREVIEWS.
Are you excited for Tank Girl’s return? Let us know in the comments!
A Kickstarter is a little like having a baby in only 31 days, You put all your efforts into the birth, but then what happens to the baby? Well now we’ll get to see the kids grow up and go to school. Kickstarter is enabling creators to showcase more of what happens to projects after the initial funding ends with a new “Spotlight” feature that launches today. All creators with funded projects will now be able to manage the page to present a view of their work, with huge graphics, an inviting look, an attractive new timeline feature that can share the creator’s story at a glance, and links that can go anywhere—so buy buttons and links to ongoing projects can be added.
And for those who like to see how the project got made, the original Kickstarter page will still be archived in a tab called “Story.”
Since Kickstarter ages are often top search results, this is a good way to promote the finished project and later developments and direct buyers to a place to purchase related projects.
For instance here’s how the old pages looked:
And how they’ll look now:
As you can see it’s a huge improvement and a perfect showcase for further interaction and sales. For comics people where Kickstarter pages are already a hub of activity, this can effectively become a storefront. Kickstarter has a very creator-oriented philosophy and this is a strong indication of how they’re implementing that going forward.
And here’s a video:
Here’s a history comic on Newyorker.com by Julia Wertz about when pinball was illegal in New York City
In other Wertz news, she’s working on Impossible People, a second memoir about her alcoholism that she started after The Infinite Wait and then abandoned. To fund it’ she’s running her own crowdfudning effort, which you can support at the above link. Why her own thing?
While many cartoonists have had success with Patreon (a monthly donation site) or with Kickstarter for specific projects, I decided I would rather create my own page for two reasons. 1) Both those sites are built on a rewards model for donation amounts. While that sometimes works great, my time is very limited and I think it would be more beneficial for readers, and myself, if I use all my time to generate new material for everyone to read, rather than spending time making extra nonessentials for an exclusive group of people. I’d much rather be making less money while producing substantial work, than making more money and creating extraneous things. A) I am uncomfortable with the transparency sites like Patron and Kickstarter that make public financial amounts and goals. It is really no one’s business how much or how little anyone is making, and I have no set financial goal, as I’m just grateful for anything.
Here’s a page from the original version:
I’m a big fan of Wertz’s work—it’s funny, perceptive and brave. Her reasons for going with her own platform make a lot of sense for some creators—fulfilling elaborate Kickstarter pledges are a lot of work, and Patreon, while not as complex, has its own time-consuming maintenance. I hope a bunch of people will support her in her work.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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By Bruce Lidl
Following immediately on the conclusion of the second Image Comics Humble Bundle, Archie Comics has joined the Humble Bundle comics movement with its first release. Humble Bundles are curated collections of digital comics available under a “pay what you want” revenue model. Customers can choose their payment amount for the basic pack, or spend extra money for additional content. Customers can also choose what percentage of their payment goes to the publisher, to the Humble Bundle company and to a charity picked for the bundle, in this case either the Hero Initiative or the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Also, all Humble Bundle comic collections are sold in variety of formats, with absolutely no DRM restrictions embedded in them.
Past digital comics Humble Bundles have proven very popular and generated considerable revenue for publishers and charities. The first Image Humble Bundle in April 2014 received almost $400,000 in payments, while the just completed Image bundle got over $450,000, and appears to have been the highest grossing comics bundle so far.
Today’s Archie bundle contains Afterlife With Archie Magazine #1, The Fox: Freak Magnet, Sonic/Mega Man: Worlds Collide Vol. 1, and The Best of Archie Book One. Customers that pay more than the going average price also get The Death of Archie, Archie Meets KISS, The Best of Archie Book Two, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1, and Sonic/Mega Man: Worlds Collide Vol. 2., while those who pay $15 or more will receive all of the above plus Afterlife With Archie Vol. 1: Escape From Riverdale, Archie Comics Spectacular: Party Time, Archie: The Married Life Vol. 1, and Sonic/Mega Man: Worlds Collide Vol. 3. Other incentive titles will likely get added over the course of the bundle’s two week run.
At this point, the sole remaining publisher holdouts from Humble Bundle appear to be Marvel and DC. While initially designed for independent video gaming publishers, even rather large gaming companies have used Humble Bundle since its inception in 2010, including EA and THQ. Interestingly, Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment participated in a gaming Humble Bundle in November 2013 that included comics themed games Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City, distributed through the Steam gaming platform. Whether that might indicate a broader Warner Brothers/DC openness to the Humble Bundle philosophy remains to be seen.
Crowdfunding platform Indiegogo announced a partnership with Vimeo last weekend at Sundance that will make the video-hosting site as the preferred distribution platform for films funded on Indiegogo.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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by Pamela Auditore
Anyone familiar with Spike TV Scream Award Winner and New York Times Bestselling Artist/Writer Ben Templesmith’s work knows he is profoundly influenced by HP Lovecraft. Even a cursorary glance at his art makes this apparent. Lovecraft’s influence is most directly on display in Templesmith’s most recent graphic novel Squidder. A tale of a one time warrior doing battle and eluding the common place acolytes who’ve accepted the Dark Cephlopod Gods as their own.
But now, the marriage is official!
Templesmith will be tackling Lovecraft himself, the horror master who has influenced creators for nearly a century, including Mike Mignola, Nic Pizzolatto (“True Detective”) and GRR Martin.
In an e-mail yesterday, Templesmith, announced he is temporarily forgoing a sequel to Squidder, for an adaption of HP Lovecraft’s “DAGON.” “A proto-Chuthullu story,” as the Kickstarter page calls it.
As Templesmith tells it:
“‘DAGON’ is the first Lovecraft story I ever read… and is just oozing in mood and fear [sic]…so I figured I’d turn the visuals it gives me in to a deluxe graphic novella. I finally get to handle some of the unspeakable horrors of Lovecraft, especially because it’s the 125th anniversary of his birth.”
Templesmith also says he will be working on Fell, and is in talks with Warren Ellis for more issues of Wormwood.
Somehow I have neglected to mention until this moment that Jackie Estrada is crowdfunding a second book of photos taken at conventions over the years, this one focusing on the 90s.
The first volume was a roaring success. This second one (Despite not having me on the cover) looks to be just as good. And the perks are excellent.
This volume covers youthful looks for most of today’s superstars.
That’s Frank MIller, Neil Gaiman, Bill Sienkiewicz, Bernie Wrightson and Dave Gibbons from 1991.
And Chris Ware and the late Kim Thompson from 1993.
There’s also a very rare photo from an event that I didn’t think any photos existed for, the VERY FIRST Freinds of Lulu Meeting at the Cafe Lulu in San Diego:
That’s Cat Yronwode, Lee Marrs, unknown, the late Kim Yale, Martha Thomases and Maggie Thompson. Veteran warriors all.
Anyway, this kickstarter is at the “halfway done 50% funded” spot, so it could use a little kick.
Doc Unknown created by Fabian Rangel Jr & Ryan Cody.
Fabian Rangel Jr. and Ryan Cody debuted Doc Unknown # 1 two years ago, and the project was financed entirely by Fabian out of pocket. They launched a Kickstarter project to fund BOSS SNAKE: Cold Blood, Cold Streets. The duo raised $7,540 to fund the project based on a character from the introductory issue, but the fruitful Kickstarter ventures put the creators on the map and helped with further projects with IDW and Dark Horse. Fabian and Cody raised $12,250 to publish DOC UNKNOWN: Winter of the Damned & other. The second Doc Unknown kickstarter project offered a number of enticing rewards that made publishing the comic with a cover by The Goon’s Eric Powell that much sweeter.
Third time’s the charm? The ambitious creators are attempting to fund their final installment of the series:
DOC UNKNOWN: THE WAR FOR GATE CITY is a 104 page graphic novel collecting the final four issues of supernatural pulp series DOC UNKNOWN. The third and final volume will be 94 pages of new story, featuring an introduction from ED BRISSON (SHELTERED, CLUSTER, MURDERBOOK) an afterword by me (Fabian Rangel Jr) and will include a pin-up gallery featuring MATT SMITH (BARBARIAN LORD), ALEXIS ZIRITT (SPACE RIDERS) LOGAN FAERBER (OH, KILLSTRIKE), DAVID RUBIN (THE RISE OF AURORA WEST), and MIKE MIGNOLA (HELLBOY)!
The series has raised (not taking account the Kickstarter and Amazon fees) $19,790. So, it’s safe to say they know what their doing when it comes to launching a successful Kickstarter, following through a quality product and rewards. I had a conversation with my Southern Arizona dive bar drinkin’ buddy and AMCE director, Ryan, about the success of the series, what to expect from DOC UNKNOWN: THE WAR FOR GATE CITY, and offers advice to Kickstarter comic creators.
Henry Barajas: Let’s cut to the chase. You and Fabian have raised $19,790 for this series. You’re already over 50% of goal. What’s your fuckin’ secret?!
Ryan Cody: Our backers are comic and pulp adventure fans who appreciate the world we’ve built. I think we really built on a successful first volume and good reviews and word of mouth. Doc Unknown Vol.1 was totally financed by Fabian on his own, then we did a small Kickstarter for a spin-off one-shot featuring Boss Snake and the enthusiasm was overwhelming. We noticed that there could be a market for more of these characters and Volume 2 of Doc was funded via Kickstarter within two days and did incredibly well. By delivering on time a high quality product, we eliminate any fear backers may have, and they in turn feel confident in telling their friends about it. It’s very grass roots and organic.
“New Boss Snake one-shot cover by ABE SAPIAN artist MAX FIUMARA with colors by DAVE STEWART!”
Barajas: Without giving anything away, what can backers expect in the last Doc Unknown adventure?
Cody: Everything. It will reward long time readers and include practically every character we’ve seen before. All of our villains are banding together to take out Doc. It’s also welcoming to new readers as the book is designed to be very accessible. There are alternate universes, magic, science, fish monsters, motorcycles, explosions, ghosts, lasers and plenty of punching. What else could you possibly want in a comic book?
Barajas: I noticed some big names are doing some pin ups of the character. How does it feel to see your character reimagined by someone like Hellboy creator Mike Mignola?
I was floored when Fabian told me. These guys are really busy with their own work, so the fact that they will take time out of their schedules to draw a character Fabian and I created is pretty amazing. Volume Two had Scott Godlewski and James Harren pin-ups in it, two of my personal favorite artists, and now to have someone like Mignola drawing a character I designed is absolutely nuts. It’s really cool and it’s fair to say he’s one my biggest influences. I think it just shows how timeless and fun our book is, it has a bit of everything we all loved growing up in it.
Barajas: What are some things you’ve noticed with unsuccessful kickstarter comic book projects?
Cody: I think there are two major factors in why kickstarters can fail. #1 is poor production and art. If your comic does not look like it could stand up with other books on the shelf, it’s probably not ready and the art and story is probably not up to par. Poor design, coloring and lettering can make even a good artist look like an amateur. The other reason I see is people asking for way too much money. The theory on these Doc Unknown books is to ask for the absolute minimum and then hope it makes considerably more than that to actually cover all the expenses. I think Fabian has really done well planning them out that way.
Rewards include shirts, sketch cards by Ryan Cody, digital comics via Comixology, and thank you credits in the book.
Click here to learn more or support the project.
We often get requests to promote Kickstarter campaigns here at the Beat, and not all of them are things that people would actually buy. But here’s one that boasts a top notch creative team—Attila Futaki, artist of Severed and the best selling Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief; colorist Greg Guilhaumond (Severed); and letterer Todd Klein (everything ever)—and an intriguing backdrop of 1911 Paris and based on the true story of Jules Bonnot, a mechanic turned anarchist. The book is with dream project of writer Stefan Vogel and co-writer Laura Pierce. As explained on the Kickstarter page:
I first discovered ‘The illegalists’ a.k.a ‘The Bonnot Gang’ in London’s oldest radical bookstore ‘Housmans’ in 2009. What struck me most was, they weren’t just ‘criminals’, they were anarchists. They had strong anti-establishment beliefs, fighting low wages and the 12 hour work day; a lot of them were blacklisted for draft dodging and unable to work. Paris in 1911 was a city of riots, strikes and savage repression. These anarchists evolved into illegalists because they had no other choice – they stole to survive. I was reminded of the final scene from the film “I’m a fugitive from a chain gang” Where Paul Muni meets his girlfriend to tell her he’s leaving town, she asks ‘But how will you live? And as he slips into the darkness, unseen, he responds ‘I steal’.
The campaign has quite a ways to go — £9000 has been raised of the £35,000 needed to publish it. The first half of the story is complete, the equivalent of three US comics, or one European album, all funded by Stefan out of his own pocket. He has decided to try to raise funds to finish the story and self-publish it through a Kickstarter. This is definitely a nice looking project, and deserves a look, so check it out.
Vogel provided the following synopsis with sample art. (Disclaimer: he also purchased an advertising campaign on the Beat, and I agreed to run a longer post on it after seeing the quality of the project.)
A Graphic Novel Based on True Events
Jules Bonnot Jean Dubois
Preview of ‘THE ILLEGALISTS’ drawn by Attila Futaki (‘Severed’ by Scott Snyder) written by Stefan Vogel & Laura Pierce, coloured by Greg Guilhaumond (‘Severed’) and lettered by Todd Klein (‘Sandman’).
Set in Paris 1911, against a backdrop of thieves, bohemians and anarchists; a struggling mechanic is forced into crime, becoming France’s most dangerous and wanted man.
Jules Bonnot, an underpaid and overworked mechanic.
After a co-worker is injured and cast aside by the factory, Jules attends a subversive meeting which organizes strikes..
After much talk of revolution…
Jules is badly beaten…
His life of Crime begins…
Journalist and author A.J. Jacobs has been researching geneology for his forthcoming book, It’s All Relative. Not too long ago, he launched a crowdfunding venture for the Global Family Reunion Festival on Indiegogo.
Jacobs and his team hope to raise $30,000.00 for this event which is scheduled to take place on June 6th in New York City. It will feature more than dozens of speakers, musical performances, and a number of activities.
The video embedded above features appearances from former President George H. W. Bush, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, and Harry Potter movie series actor Daniel Radcliffe; Spurlock confirmed that he will appear at the festival. The proceeds from ticket sales will benefit two organizations, the Alzheimer’s Association of New York City and the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund.
The FUBAR comic books might not be familiar to the traditional Wednesday Warrior, but they’re a major player in the growing zombie and anthology markets. Even though the one time it strayed from its anthology roots its Kickstarter raised over $95,000, FUBAR is committing to sharing a selection of short stories by a variety of creators. Next up are FUBAR: By The Sword and FUBAR: Declassified, exploring zombies during different periods of wartime. I spoke to the founder of FUBAR Press and major contributor to the series, Jeff McComsey, about crowdfunding the two graphic novels.
Art by Steve Becker.
Congrats on the success of the new Kickstarter! Did the stories collected in this campaign start before or after FUBAR: Mother Russia?
The stories in By The Sword and most of Declassified have been a long time coming. We’ve been publishing quite a few By The Sword stories as issues first, in the two-issue miniseries FUBAR: By the Sword and then in the Guts & Glory one-shot. Mother Russia’s success moved back the Kickstarter for By The Sword just because we needed a little more time to wrap up that campaign.
From FUBAR: By The Sword. Art by Chris Peterson. Story by Shawn Aldridge.
What made special ops and the periods of history covered in By The Sword the logical next projects for FUBAR?
The Special Ops stories are mostly made up of stuff Steve [Becker] and I wanted to draw and we just kind of came up with a reason afterwards. By The Sword was a natural extension of our American history volume. Plus we wanted to draw some swords and shields [laughs].
From FUBAR: Special Ops. Art by Steve Becker. Story by Jeff McComsey.
You’ve covered so much of world history at this point. What’s left to explore next?
We’ve got a whole music-themed issue that has already been unlocked as a stretch goal for the current campaign. After that, who knows!
FUBAR: Mother Russia. Art by Steve Becker.
All the FUBAR campaigns have done well, but what do you think made the Mother Russia Kickstarter in particular such a huge success?
Well, I think the standalone story nature versus the anthology is one aspect. Another would be I think it’s a neat story that we were able to convey with the little info you can when doing a Kickstarter. Kickstarter was also kind enough to feature us in one of their “Projects We Love” email blast and that really set the campaign off.
I wrote a piece awhile back about how Kickstarter was making anthologies possible again, but the standalone long form nature definitely seemed to have been a positive factor for Mother Russia. Has it made you consider doing more graphic novels?
I always have one or two ideas for OGNs going at all times. I have a few projects I’ll be finishing up until summer but after that, if something crazy doesn’t come up, I’ll be working on one of those OGN ideas.
American Terror by Jeff McComsey.
FUBAR-related or no?
Well, Mother Russia 2 is one of them. I have a pretty fleshed out idea about where things go after the first volume. American Terror is another option. I also have a hankering to do a bio comic.
Would you use Kickstarter for all of those?
Most definitely. I plan to Kickstart projects until people stop backing them.
From FUBAR: Special Ops. Art by Steve Becker. Story by Jeff McComsey.
How do you think your career would be different without Kickstarter?
It’s hard to say, but I certainly wouldn’t have been able to get nearly as many books on the shelf.
What makes Alterna Comics a good partner for FUBAR?
Alterna has a great business model for small press creators that are willing to help push their work. Alterna gets us into shops, book stores, ComiXology. It’s up to us to then get people to pick up those books and enjoy them.
At this point, after some really impressive Kickstarters, how much would you say FUBAR is a business and how much of it is a hobby for you and other contributors?
I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me it’s a business. Publishing, Kickstarters and all the other ephemera that pops up is itself a full-time job. Then I still have to get freelance work done. It can be tough. My love/need of drawing comics is only seconded by my love/need to publish/make comics.
From FUBAR: By The Sword. Art by Chris Peterson. Story by Shawn Aldridge.
Check out the latest FUBAR Kickstarter, which ends Sunday night. Follow Jeff at his website and on Twitter.
And yet another crowdfunded Horror anthology, this time led by Christian Sager who explains it thusly:
CANAAN CULT REVIVAL is an explicit and graphic compilation of horror, designed to distress its readers. In fact, some creators who originally participated in the magazine had to withdraw when they were exposed to its subject matter. This isn’t yet another retelling of the same witchcrafted demon possession you’ve come to know.
“The Flagellant:” (Art by Drew Rausch.) Kushiel the Wayfarer has punished Purgatory’s residents for eternity. When a coven of wealthy socialites tries to bind him, it becomes Kushiel’s turn to punish himself.
“Trial By Cauldron:” (Story & Art by EC Steiner.) Dissension in a coven of witches leads to one young woman to seek the terrible embrace of the demon Andras.
“Beestings:” (Art by Anthony Hightower.) Two young men are seduced and punished after they beat up a witch’s son.
“By Proxy:” (Art by Eraklis Petmezas.) Frank Delaney decides to scare his son away from the occult by turning their home into a “hell house.”
“The Never Event:” (Art by Henry Eudy.) As part of her initiation as a demon hunter, Luanne’s father forces her to exorcise another teenage girl… or kill her trying.
“The Bully Pulpit:” (Art by Rich Barrett.) The deacon of a small religious school warns his students that one of their peers is possessed by a demon. To further his cause, he turns to diabolism and domestic abuse.
“Snow Blind:” (Art by Rafer Roberts.) Young Alia Siskin temporarily loses her vision. But the demon Beleth has plans for her… and her new puppy.
“The Resident:” (Art by Kelly Williams.) Joe checks out the same rare books from the local library everyday. When the head archivist confronts him, she learns a dark, demonic secret.
And some art:
“Trial By Cauldron.” Written and drawn by EC Steiner.
“The Flagellant.” Art by Drew Rausch.
Kelly Williams – “The Resident”
“Beestings.” Art by Anthony Hightower.
Rafer Roberts – “Snow Blind”
“The Bully Pulpit.” Art by Rich Barrett.
“By Proxy.” Art by Eraklis Petmezas.
Henry Eudy – “The Never Event”
Craig Engler, co-creator/writer/co-executive producer of Syfy’sZ Nation is kickstarting a new comic based on HP Lovecraft; it’s already funded but it’s definitely in the spirit of the season.
“Halloween week is the perfect time to launch ‘Lovecraft: The Blasphemously Large First Issue,’ the start of a new series we’re working on that completely reinvents H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos,” Engler said. “The story is set in the present day and recasts Lovecraft as the world’s foremost alchemist and a magician who guards a secret library of forbidden knowledge, which includes books like the Necronomicon.”
Engler (Z Nation, Zombie Apocalypse) is writing the story with pencils and inks by Daniel Govar (DC, Marvel), colors by Matheus Lopes (Image, Dark Horse, IDW) and a special limited-edition cover by red hot artist Lewis LaRosa (Valiant). The first issue will be 48 pages long, including 6 pages of Lovecraft pinups by some fantastic guest artists:
Brian Hurtt (The Sixth Gun),
Dennis Calero (X-Men: Noir)
John Bivens (Dark Engine)
Lukas Ketner (Witch Doctor)
Richard Luong (Cthulhu Wars)
Jamie Tanner (The Dark Well)
The Kickstarter will also feature a special green foil variant cover that’s only being offered during the 28 day campaign.
By: Adrienne Crezo,
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“Fast Fingers” by Katie Kreuger via Flickr. (Creative Commons licensed image)
BY AMANDA L. BARBARA
The Internet has brought about a new age of experimentation in publishing, and stepping into the literary laboratory is the prolific storytelling duo, Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant.
The authors’ recent project, “Fiction Unboxed,” was a crowdfunded experiment in writing and publishing a book live in 30 days. Platt’s and Truant’s goal was to give aspiring authors and fans of their popular podcast a look behind the curtain at their writing process.
Platt and Truant are no strangers to writing quickly. They wrote more than 1.5 million words in a year and continue to publish fiction at a breakneck pace.
For “Fiction Unboxed,” they started without any characters, a plot, or even a genre in mind and careened into publishing a book in front of a live audience. This project had nearly 1,000 backers and overfunded at $65,535. Backers got to see the authors’ story meetings, watch them hammer out the plot, write, and edit the final draft.
It’s easy to see the appeal in writing a book quickly. Platt’s and Truant’s method meant they could start earning revenue from their published book right away and get to work on their next project.
But what about the average writer who isn’t used to cranking out a story at such a fast pace? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of rapid writing.
The Benefits of Writing Fast
There are a number of potential rewards to producing and publishing quickly, including:
- Reader engagement. “Fiction Unboxed” generated an enormous amount of engagement among indie authors, the duo’s nonfiction audience. But even for fiction writers, publishing quickly can help maintain readers’ interest in your work. The New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout has cultivated an enormous fan base due to her ability to quickly produce more of the books her readers love on an accelerated timeline.
- Exposure. Doing something out of the ordinary is a great way to get noticed as an author. Platt and Truant used their writing process to create a highly shareable and marketable product that gained a lot of attention simply because it had never been done before.
- Momentum. Writing quickly obviously helps you produce more work, but it also helps you gain traction from a publishing and marketing perspective. The more you publish, the more chances readers have to discover your work, and a new title can provide a boost to your entire catalogue.
Potential Drawbacks of Rapid Production
While there are a number of benefits to writing and publishing quickly, Platt and Truant are experienced writers who understand the publishing process. They know what they can reasonably accomplish, and they have a team in place to help with other aspects of book production, such as audio and cover design.
Producing a book in 30 days probably wouldn’t work for a less experienced writer. If you’re thinking of giving yourself an ambitious deadline, proceed with caution to avoid these pitfalls:
- Lower quality: The duo’s final product, a YA Steampunk novel called “The Dream Engine,” has a 4.8 rating on Amazon. But for new authors, a tight deadline may not leave enough time for professional editing and cover design, which could result in a lackluster book.
- Public failure: “Fiction Unboxed” was a risky endeavor. What if they hadn’t completed the project? What if the book flopped?
Want to have the first draft of your novel finished
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While you shouldn’t let fear hold you back as a writer, always consider how readers will receive your book.
“Fiction Unboxed” was a fun experiment, but the underlying message isn’t that you should try to write a book in 30 days. Platt and Truant wanted to show writers that storytelling doesn’t have to be a painful process and that with practice, good stories can be written quickly.
Most importantly, you have to do the work. Platt and Truant haven’t produced so many books by sitting around waiting for inspiration to strike — they’ve done it by hitting their word count day after day. Hard work is something they stressed in the book that inspired the project and in “Fiction Unboxed” itself.
There’s no one process that works for every author, but you shouldn’t be afraid to try new things. Just keep writing, and the words will come.
Amanda L. Barbara is vice president of Pubslush, a global crowdfunding publishing platform for the literary world. This platform is bridging the gap between writers, readers, publishers and industry leaders. Follow Amanda on Twitter and Google+.
In the world wide web there’s a lot that goes unnoticed, even in more niche industries like comics. For the last few years artist Gannon Beck, along with various writers, has been telling tales of the Spaces Corps, a guild reminiscent of the Green Lantern Corps at DC or the Nova Corps at Marvel. What separates it from those is its authenticity in depicting actual military life, thanks in large part to Beck’s time in the Marines. The zero issue is currently funding its print run on Kickstarter while the third issue is going strong as a webcomic. I talked with Gannon Beck about the evolution Space Corps from how it started to what’s coming next.
What was your background in comics before Space Corps?
In high school I did comics with a friend. We did them for fun, but looking back, I have to say that those comics projects were instrumental in developing my illustration ability. We also did a few gag strips—one strip about aliens that crash landed on earth that we tried unsuccessfully to get syndicated, and another strip called The Big Gap that was about a retired Marine living with his grandson. We did The Big Gap as a webcomic for a few years. It eventually petered out, but it was fun and helped hone our writing and drawing skills. It’s actually really hard to write captivating strips in four panels. I like the long form format of comic books much better; however, because of how we set up the grid for Space Corps, which is 4 x 4 panels, I can smuggle a daily strip style of writing into the pages.
You explain well how Space Corps got started on the Kickstarter page, but how did you connect with your other collaborators on the project?
Joey Groah was the instigator. Joey heard about an art class that I taught every week at the local comic book shop and stopped by to introduce himself. He was already a member of Comics Experience and introduced me to a bunch of people on the workshop. He also introduced me to his childhood friend and writer, Bryan Richmond. Especially at the beginning of my time at Comics Experience, I did a bunch of short stories with various writers. The collaboration with Bryan led to Space Corps and stories just kept erupting from it. Rather than fight it, we just went with it.
You’re a very capable writer, so why did you collaborate with other writers for Space Corps #0 and beyond?
There is no question that Space Corps wouldn’t be the same, and wouldn’t be as good, had I tried to do it on my own. In a creative collaboration like ours, the ideas spark off of each other to form new ideas and concepts.
Take issue 3, for instance. In coming up with the characters in that issue, it was Bryan and I throwing ideas back and forth that made them what they are. Once those characters inserted themselves into the story structure, it took on a life of its own. Once you place a character like Sheg into a boot camp environment, there is a logic as to what that story alchemy is going to be. It was important to me to do an issue on boot camp because it’s one of those touchstone military experiences that all military people share. The idea of Sheg as a character, however, started with Bryan. Even though we’re only half way through the issue, try to imagine the story without Sheg. For that matter, try to imagine the story without Cazarez, who also started with Bryan. I can’t do it. It just wouldn’t be the same story.
I love the story we’re telling, and I love the characters. I also love the process of working these things out with Bryan. We’re having a good time doing this, and I think that shows up in the work as well.
Rewards from the ‘Space Corps’ Kickstarter.
How have you been promoting Space Corps the webcomic and, more recently, Space Corps the Kickstarter?
For the most part, it has been social media and conventions. It’s a looong road, though. It can take a long time to build an audience.
Recently we’ve been experimenting with breaking up the pages into dailies. The 16 panel grid lends itself to that really well. We post the dailies on Facebook and Twitter, and that has increased engagement a lot. In the documentary, Stripped, Bill Watterson talked about how when daily newspapers were thriving, comic strips became a part of people’s daily routine—a part of their ritual. Breaking the pages into dailies is our attempt to get back to that.
All of this is ironic. The first comic books were just repackaged daily strips from newspapers. Eventually, publishers started commissioning new material, and the form evolved. Now, with the internet and people’s limited attention spans, we’re reverse engineering the comics page to get back to where it all started—the daily strip.
The point is to make it easy to keep up with—give people bite-sized chunks. Even though we read strips like Calvin and Hobbes in collected volumes, the way people initially fell in love with it was in tiny bits at a time. So that’s why we want you to be able to read Space Corps from the comfort of your own feed.
Is that a smart marketing move? We’ll see, but that’s the thinking behind it.
The military community is known for being an especially supportive one. Has your background played a role in the success of the campaign so far?
It has helped, for sure. People who have been around the military really have supported the comic. Not only veterans like it but their families as well. It feels really good when I put a thought in Deven’s head and a whole bunch of veterans say they’ve had the same thoughts. The first page of issue #3 when Deven is thinking about how to get through the day, for instance, particularly seemed to hit home.
The cultural authenticity in Space Corps is very important to both Bryan and me. When we get it right, people in the military will see a little of themselves and those they serve with in the story. In turn, they’ve been among our biggest supporters.
Aside from the military audience, there are comic book people who really like it as well. That’s been such a boost to us to get all the encouragement we have from people we meet at cons and on the Comics Experience. It gives us the confidence to think maybe we’re not entirely crazy for thinking this is good. Because we’re producing pages without pay, the encouragement we get from both the military and the creative community really helps. We don’t take it for granted at all and are so appreciative for those who have taken a chance on it and liked it.
Kickstarters for single issues are difficult because with shipping you have to charge a high price for one comic. You’re offering the print copy of Space Corps #0 for $8, which is cheaper than some I’ve seen. Still, are you getting any blowback on the cost?
It doesn’t seem to be the case. Sure, we would probably get more if we had a 120 page volume we were offering, but it would also be more expensive to print, so we would need more money. With crowdfunding, it has as much or more to do with helping the endeavor than it does getting the cool thing. At least that’s how I feel about it when I’m supporting someone’s campaign. Don’t get me wrong, I want the thing, but it’s more than that; I want the thing to exist, and I’m willing to pay a little more to help it exist.
When people give us $8 to cover the shipping, I think it’s because of a “help-get-it-off-the-ground” kind of thinking. They know they are helping us bring this into the world. They become a part of the art creation, not just the consumption.
Buttons Gannon designed as a stretch goal for the ‘Space Corps’ Kickstarter.
Do you have stretch marks in mind if you exceed your goal?
We do. The first stretch goal will be a challenge coin. Military units routinely get challenge coins with their unit logo on them. We think it would be cool to do one for Capt Brockett’s unit, the one Deven will end up attached to. If we reach that, we’ll see if we can come up with something else. We really can’t dangle things like, “If you give us more money, we’ll give you more Space Corps,” because more Space Corps is coming no matter what. Bryan and I are committed to telling these stories.
What do you want out of this Kickstarter, other than funding?
Other than funding, the marketing Kickstarter provides is helpful. We want to keep growing our audience. We’re proud of the work, and we think a lot more people, military and civilians alike, would like it if they just read it. If more people have read Space Corps because of the Kickstarter, then that’s a success in addition to the funding.
It doesn’t look like we’ll go ridiculously over our Kickstarter goal, so none of this money is going to go to Bryan, Joey and me. If we go over the amount we’re asking for, it’s going to go into printing more books. The more books we can get into circulation, the more people have a chance to fall in love with the characters. At this stage of the project, that’s our focus.
An example of a sketch cover reward offered by the Kickstarter.
The subsequent issues of Space Corps are gray wash, not color. Is that how you’ll print them?
We treat the short stories differently than the ongoing series. After issue #0 we really want to break the series off into two different series. One series will just contain 8 page short stories like we saw in issue #0. I’m not even sure that we know what we want to call the short story series. With the short stories, though, we can be expansive– go forwards or backwards in time to tell a story. I can get experimental with the art and work with other creators. A lot of writers have expressed interest in writing Space Corps short stories, and I think it’s a great idea. Most of those, if not all, will be in color.
The main story, which is more linear than the short stories, is a part of a grand structure. The gray tones are important because, even though it’s science fiction, we intentionally want to invoke a connection with WW2 and WW1. Most photos and film we see of those periods are in black and white, so by using gray tones, we can tap into those motifs thematically and emotionally. I experimented with different styles, even water color in the way Matt Kindt works on MIND MGMT, but thematically gray tones made more sense.
I also want the main series to look hand drawn. I love looking at combat art, and most work done by combat artists tends to be gestural. I want the readers to be aware they are looking at something that is drawn by hand.
A recent page of ‘Space Corps’ utilizing a 16-panel grid.
I’m really excited to see future issues hit publication, because you really open up your work. I’m astounded with how effortless you make a 16-panel page look. I can’t imagine asking for that panel count from an artist, but you co-write this so you must enjoy them.
Thanks. It’s a function of knowing how to use the grid. Because we want to make each issue about something, even if it’s a part of a larger arc, we sometimes need to have high panel counts. Sometimes we’ll fit 2 to 3 pages of story onto a single page. A strict grid used with strict rules helps organize the information in a way that make it work. I can easily use repetition and contrast in the layout in a way that makes the reader pause or shift gears on a page when I want them to.
You’re in the midst of Issue 3 of Space Corps as a webcomic. When does the first arc end?
The first arc ends in issue 6. In the first three issues, we wanted you to get a feel for who Deven is before he joins the Space Corps. The internment camp, leaving home, and boot camp are all important stories. They give context to Deven’s evolution as a person as he deals with becoming a cog in the machinery of war. In issues 4, 5, and 6 the situation is going to get exponentially more harrowing for Deven. If you’ve been loving it so far, you are in for a ride.
After that, what’s next for Space Corps?
After the first arc, we need to figure out what the second arc will be. We’ve got plenty of ideas, and it’s just a matter of narrowing it down and picking the next story we want to tell. Ultimately we’ll pick the strongest and most logical story to tell after issue #6.
It’s possible we may find a publisher for the first arc, but if not, we’ll Kickstart the trade.
Beyond even the first and second arcs, we know where the story is headed, and we’ve got tent poles of the story figured out along the way—at least in broad terms. Whether it takes 20 issues to get to the end or 70 issues, we don’t know. It’s way more than six, though.
What have you been working on recently other than Space Corps?
As far as comics, I’m doing the layouts for Past the Last Mountain with Paul Allor and Louie Joyce. It’s been a ton of fun.
I also do some parody comics for kicks. I’ve done a Batman parody with my friend, Troy McDevitt, where Batman is interviewing a new Robin because he goes through so many. Troy and I also did a Star Wars parody about how the Death Star was so poorly designed they only included one bathroom. The whole story is about Emperor Palpatine hogging the bathroom. Troy and I have known each other since we were teenagers and these stories come about from us cracking each other up making jokes. I do the parody comics very loose, just to get the jokes out of my system. I don’t spend a ton of time on them but they’re fun.
What are your short term goals as a comic book creator?
Just to keep getting better at the craft and figuring out ways to increase production on the cheap. There is nothing really sexy about it. I read everything I can. I see what’s working for other creators, and when I see a process or tool that’s interesting, I try it out to see if it works for me.
How about long term? Where do you want to be in [x] years?
Space Corps is it for the foreseeable future. It’s going to take years to get this story out. I’m not opposed to work-for-hire on small projects, but I’ve never viewed Space Corps as a stepping-stone to work-for-hire. Space Corps is what I want to do.
For me, Space Corps more than just a cool science fiction story. It’s a vehicle to help process a lifetime spent around the military. Military service has been a family affair. The heaviest fighting seen in my family, and possibly in all of history, was on Tarawa and Iwo Jima, where my grandfather served as a Sea Bee. It’s why Cpl Hive is full of bees. He is an homage to my grandfather. In a larger sense, though, the world has grown up in the wake of WW2. I’ve grown especially aware of how we’re still affected by the ripples of the war. I’ve lived in Japan both as child and an adult as a part of the treaty signed at the end of the war. I lived in Berlin at the end of high school, surrounded by a wall erected in the aftermath of how Germany was divided when the Third Reich fell. That gave me a front row seat to the end of the cold war when the wall fell. I stood on the wall, shoulder to shoulder with East and West Germans, the night freedom took hold of all of Germany.
WW2 isn’t the only historical inspiration for Space Corps. That said, even Vietnam, Korea, and the wars in the Gulf have to be looked at a little through the lens of WW2. WW2 brought on the nuclear age. Also during WW2, America reflexively emerged as a world military power that has remained unrivaled until this day. The military we have today is a result of the military that was built during the 40s. We had a strong military in place for the conflicts in Korea and later, Vietnam. Caught in the current of history, my dad fought and was wounded in Vietnam. Two of my uncles fought in Vietnam as well, one who was killed in combat, leaving behind his pregnant wife.
My older brother was the first to join out of my family in my generation. He joined the Marine infantry and was in one of the first units into Kuwait during the first Gulf War.
My own military experience, while unremarkable, helps give me insights I wouldn’t otherwise have. While my brother was liberating Kuwait, I was in boot camp. The cease fire was called days before I graduated from Parris Island, and I enjoyed a hero’s welcome on boot leave for doing nothing. The nation reflexively and consciously made sure it treated veterans better than it had after Vietnam. As a result, I received the free sodas and thanks my brother earned. In March of 1991, while I got to soak it up, he was still living in a shallow hole in the desert. Whereas I got to witness the cold war break down in Berlin as a bystander, I helped monitor its end doing intelligence work in the Marines. In Korea I stood on the DMZ and listened to both countries blast propaganda on loudspeakers like quarrelling children. The contrast of standing on a demarcation of oppression as it dissolved, like it did in Berlin, and standing on one that was still festering, like in Korea, was stark to say the least.
When out of the Marines, as a volunteer, I helped high schoolers get in shape for boot camp. As a result, I’ve met the kids in my community as they signed up for service in the midst of two wars. I’ve seen the mix of pride and apprehension on their parents’ faces as they said their good-byes, knowing their children would likely end up in a warzone.
Then there is the logo work I do for the military, which has given me yet another perspective. Through the most recent wars I’ve talked almost daily with the men and women doing the fighting. For over a decade I’ve collaborated with Marines, soldiers, airmen and sailors about artwork that best captures how they view themselves. I’ve done over 2000 of these designs —each and every one of the logos a collaboration with the unit. The resulting art is a record of the mindset of warfighters as they prepare for and fight wars.
War is the most serious of human endeavors. The stakes couldn’t be higher for civilizations and the individuals who wage it. Space Corps is a way to get at themes and topics related to war that we don’t think about maybe as often as we should. Lurking in Space Corps are a lot of stories I need to explore. In comics, my long-term goal is to keep telling this story.
This is the gameplay trailer for Armikrog, the stop motion animated game by Doug TenNapel and Pencil Test Studios.
By: Tonia Allen Gould
Blog: Tonia Allen Gould's Blog
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This week, I’m especially thankful – thankful I have a solid roof over my head and a home with windows and doors, and readily available food hand-picked from a market, proper medicine and supplies, running water and yes, definitely yes, flushing toilet facilities and a roll of paper always at an arm’s reach to me.
I’m equally thankful I’ve seen with my own eyes, through experiential and cultural travel, a part of the world along the Caribbean Coast, in developing Nicaragua – so now I know what it means to call myself truly fortunate.
I’m thankful for the opportunities, present and past, I’ve had bestowed upon me simply because I’m a red, white and blue, flag-waving American, and thankful to know I could, if I had to, live without surplus and modern conveniences, electricity and things that don’t really matter if it came down to instinctual survival. I am heartened and enlightened to know there are nations of people everywhere, especially in developing countries, that know far more about survival than many of us ever could. And, it is they that have much to show us on what that really means, and globally, we can each benefit from showcasing our cultural differences in a non-exploitative, educational way.
I’m thankful to know I can survive under dire circumstances because I’ve seen people, with my own eyes, who have literally nothing and yet maybe, in some ways, they have everything they could ever want and need, because they know how to live and thrive in some of the poorest conditions on the planet and still know what it means to be a part of a community and to love and support their families.
I’m thankful that I can now put my personal judgements and biases aside, because I’ve seen impoverished children, far more impoverished than I ever was growing up – living below the poverty line in Midwestern America. While many of the people I met may be lacking in opportunity, Nicaraguan children still smile and are happy, because they are each cared for by an entire village of people, and causes, who invest their hearts and souls into their wellbeing and care, despite economic conditions.
Mostly, I am thankful that I have stumbled upon the Finding Corte Magore project which has put me on a personal path to growth and the opportunity to work and mindshare with some of the smartest and caring people I can ever hope to know. I am thankful that we have “found” Corte Magore and that I have had the great pleasure of coming to know the Campbell family, and their beautiful, private island of Hog Cay, Nicaragua, and that I have personally earned their family’s trust and support in the Finding Corte Magore project. It’s a huge undertaking and I’m comforted to know, it will take our own village of incredible people, to raise this project to be everything it promises to be.
See you on Corte Magore!
The Finding Corte Magore Project
Coming Soon on Hog Cay, Nicaragua
Tonia Allen Gould
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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Kickstarter maestros Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray of Paperfilms are at it again, this time with a Western, Abbadon, a tale of murder and mayhem set in a town full of just about every vice you can imagine. As with previous projects, the book is being funded on Kickstarter, and as of this writing is a few thousand dollars from making its goal, with two weeks to go.
It’s only the latest in a series of successful crowdfunding ventures for the Paperfilms team—we spoke with Palmiotti previously about Sex and Violence Vol 2 here and Denver here. This one has a new wrinkle: A partnership with Adaptive Studios, a new company that rescues abandoned IP. Palmiotti graciously answered a few questions about the project and Adaptive for The Beat.
THE BEAT: Unlike some of your other Kickstarters this is an adaptation of an unproduced screenplay? Can you explain the origin of this tale?
JIMMY PALMIOTTI: Justin and I were introduced to the crew from Adaptive Studios by a mutual friend and I flew out to California to meet and talk to them about what our company, Paperfilms does, show them the books we have done and think about how we can work on some projects together. Since Paperfilms is just a couple of people, on our end, we can put books together, but we really don’t have time to do much else and we thought this partnership would be an interesting one since the crew at Adaptive specialize in a lot of multi media including publishing and have connections that we either don’t or don’t have the time to pursue since comics are a very labor intensive medium.
We spoke about a few projects while there, and one special one in particular; Abbadon. We read the screenplay a few times and after some back and forth, thought this would make a great graphic novel with us adding our take on it. Even more attractive to us was we felt it would be a great world building project since the bigger picture outside the graphic novel is the town itself and its place in history. So bottom line is we fell in love with the screenplay, did our take of it, built on it and then went out and put a team together to do the art on the graphic novel. What backers of the Kickstarter will get is a complete story, cover to cover, that has a bigger picture built into it that we hope to continue building on.
THE BEAT: Adaptive Studios’ business plan involving rescuing abandoned IP. What does that mean and how does your partnership work?
PALMIOTTI: Adaptive studios is rescuing some IP as well as working with us to create new properties and exciting graphic novels. With anything I do in this business, it’s all about relationships and partnering with like minds that share similar goals. We do it on every single project when working with artists and designers, creating what we think are the perfect representation of the story we are working on. When I met and spent some time with the crew at Adaptive, I found that we had a lot of the same goals in common which was really exciting. Adaptive studios totally respected with Justin and I did, and since they didn’t do graphic novels themselves, this partnership made sense to us. The best part of working with them is that they really love graphic storytelling and like us, have a love of all genres, so partnering with them has been a no brainer. On Abbadon, they brought the project to us and we fell in love with the idea and built on it. Our next project together will be an original idea we had that they liked, and we are going to see how we can make it all come together. Partnering with anyone doesn’t make sense unless the other person can bring something to the table and we think by working together, we can do some pretty amazing things. Abbadon is our first project and right now, the focus is on us to put together a stunning graphic novel and hopefully a successful Kickstarter campaign.
THE BEAT: You’ve returned to the Western genre, where you told so many great stories with Jonah Hex—did you feel you had more Western stories to tell?
PALMIOTTI: For me, it’s a genre that will never get old because the classic storytelling elements are always at play. A successful genre always has certain elements to it that have universal appeal, and with Abbadon, it’s no different. With Jonah Hex, we based all of our stories around a main character and it was a fun ride, but with something like Abbadon, we can tell a ton of stories based on the set up in this graphic novel we couldn’t tell in a book like Jonah because we were always dealing with content specific guidelines. The book was basically an all ages one and with Abbadon, we are telling a more adult story with elements that we would never get away with in a million years in Hex. So, yes, we have more stories to tell, but we want to tell them as we see them.
THE BEAT: I assume Abbadon refers to the town this is set in—some people may remember it as the name of an enigmatic character from Lost, but it’s also a Biblical term for a bottomless pit. How does the story reflect that?
PALMIOTTI: The town name is based on the biblical name and what it represents. The story and main character is the lawless town itself, and how the people in it are tempting fate on a daily basis. It’s a town where lust, greed, pride, and madness are right at home. It’s the most fun place you can go and it may also be the last place you visit as well, depending on your deepest desires. We took the worst of the classic old west and created a lawless sin city that the reader will find fascinating on many levels. The main story about a killer on the loose has everything to do with the story itself and the characters involved with the hunting of the madman. There is a lot of character development within the 64 pages and its something we have a lot of experience with .
THE BEAT: Reading the description on the Kickstarter page, this sounds like a western detective story. What else should readers know about what this story is about?
PALMIOTTI: The graphic novel Abbadon is set in the late 1880’s American West and features some of the most intriguing characters we have ever had the pleasure to work on. This is the story of an expanding wealthy city steeped in sin, where anything is possible if you have the money, influence and power to obtain it. Poised to become the next boomtown, Abbadon is plagued by a series of grisly murders heralding the arrival of U.S. Marshall Wes Garrett.
A legendary lawman, Garrett’s claim to fame is that he killed a notorious murderer, who cut a bloody swath across the country and left scores of mutilated men, women and children in his wake. Garrett’s arrival exposes the secret that Abbadon’s sheriff Colt Dixon has desperately been trying to conceal – the victims have all been mutilated the same way they were by the killer Garret stopped – a man some called a monster, but the papers called him Bloody Bill.
Garrett and Dixon reluctantly join forces and have opposing ways of dealing with the situation at hand as they try to uncover the killer’s identity in a town so full of corruption that everyone is a suspect. It really is a great story because the characters themselves are really interesting.
THE BEAT: You worked with Fabrizio Fiorentino on All Star Western—what does his art style bring to a Western comic?
PALMIOTTI: Fabrizio knows his stuff and his illustrations and character drawings add a real world quality to the story and his storytelling and figure work breath life into our script in a way that is both beautiful and horrifying at the same time because of the subject matter. When we worked with him on All Star it was towards the end of the run and we wanted to find another project to work on together and this one was the perfect fit. The really cool thing about the book is each page is better than the last.
THE BEAT: The Western genre is considered kind of passe now, but western movies were once as popular as superhero movies are now. Do you think there could ever be a comeback for Westerns or has the time passed?
PALMIOTTI: I think there is always room for a quality story to be told no matter what the genre. Westerns are no different. I find it funny that the American western is a lot more fascinating to people living outside the U.S. and still has strong appeal.
THE BEAT: Any new features of your Kickstarter model with this project? It’s already more than half funded after a few days with minimal promotion (Editors note: , so you must be doing something right!
PALMIOTTI: We tried something different with this Kickstarter and focused on our usual backers first, and now we are spending the next few weeks going out and promoting the book to everyone. Only the people that have done Kickstarters realize just how much work it is to not only create the book, but getting a campaign together and especially promotion is a full time job. With our past Kickstarters, they always start out strong out of the gate and it’s the last few weeks we have to really focus on. The fun part of this process is that if we hit the number we are asking for, we can get really creative with the stretch goals and offer some really cool things to everyone backing Abbadon. At the end of the day, the art and story are the real sellers for this project and its up to us to deliver the goods. I am happiest to see that a lot of people are buying the digital version, which is only $5. I can see that these pledges are coming in from all over the world and I find this all to be really exciting. A big thanks for all of you that have supported this and past projects and to those new to Kickstarter, go have fun and explore the site. There are so many amazing comics and graphic novels to choose from.
Return with us to the simpler days of 2007 when Nicholas’s Gurewitch’s The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories, a collection of his Perry Bible Fellowship comics was a best selling delight, and Gurewitch was the next Gary Larsen. AlAlthoughne more PBF book appeared—The Perry Bible Fellowship Almanack—it was the last as Gurewitch investigated some television opportunities and animation, settling into a sort of “Where is he now?” status. Although the occasional PBF strip appears, it isn’t like the olden days. (I still quote “A Hit for Bobby.”)
However, Gurewitch is back with a new book, to be Kickstarted: Notes on a Case of Melancholia, Or: A Little Death. The book was quickly funded, and stretch goals are now in the works. It’s not a comic, but more of a picture book, about “Death’s despair regarding his kid- an affectionate “Little Death” who simply doesn’t have what it takes to carry on the family business.” Certainly a macabre topic that pairs will with the rest of Gurewitch’s oeuvre.
I guess being as consistently funny was Gurewitch wasn’t that easy, but seeing him come back with some books is an excellent return for a singular talent.
by Zachary Clemente
Original painting by Stephen Gladue.
Kickstarter has been the way for me to find new comic projects and boy am I glad to have come across this project. Moonshot from Alternative History Comics and edited by Hope Nicholson, is a 200 page collection of short stories from Indigenous creators across North America showcasing the rich heritage and identity of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis storytelling. Comics fan have been advocating for unique voices and creators in comics; now is a great time to show your support and back this project!
Here are some of the fantastic creators in Moonshot:
Claude St-Aubin (R.E.B.E.L.S., Green Lantern, Captain Canuck), Jeffery Veregge (G.I. Joe, Judge Dredd), Stephen Gladue (MOONSHOT cover artist), Haiwei Hou (Two Brothers),Nicholas Burns (Arctic Comics, Curse of Chucky, Super Shamou), Scott B. Henderson (Man to Man, Tales from Big Spirit), Jon Proudstar (Tribal Force), George Freeman (Captain Canuck, Aquaman, Batman), Mark Shainblum (Northguard, Corum: The Bull and The Spear),Elizabeth LaPensee (Survivance, The Nature of Snakes, Fala), Buffy Sainte-Marie (Fire & Fleet & Candlelight, Coincidence & Likely Stories), Richard Van Camp (Path of the Warrior, Kiss Me Deadly), Ryan Huna Smith (Tribal Force), David Robertson (The Evolution of Alice, Stone), Steve Sanderson (Darkness Calls, Journey of the Healer), Michael Yahgulanaas (RED), Michael Sheyahshe (Native Americans in Comic Books, Dark Owl), David Cutler (The Northern Guard), and more!
From the Kickstarter page:
Moonshot will be printed as a 200 page, full colour, high quality volume showcasing a wide variety of stories and artistic styles, highlighting the complex identity of indigenous culture from across North America. Most of the original stories created exclusively for this volume are between 5-10 pages, including pinup art and prose passages.
The traditional stories presented in Moonshot are with the permission from the elders in their respective communities, making this a truly genuine, never-before-seen publication!
“Water Spirit” by Haiwei Hou.
Complete with exciting rewards, including beautiful stamps (mail from Canada only) from artist Jeffrey Veregge, prints, and a special hardcover edition, Moonshot is definitely a project to back, even if only to add to the growing part of your bookshelf for Kickstarted comics.
Take a look at MOONSHOT and find out more about Alternative History Comics.
"Why should kids be the only ones who get pleasure out of animation," says the revered indie animation director Bill Plympton. "It offends me that American animation is stereotyped this way."
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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By Bruce Lidl
Lost somewhat in the initial burst of news from last week’s ImageExpo was the announcement of a new Image Humble Bundle offering, beginning that morning and lasting until January 21. The “Humble Image Comics Bundle 2: Image Firsts” is a massive collection of digital comics that can be purchased for whatever price the consumer chooses. Included in the basic bundle are the beginning issues of a number of recent series, including Alex + Ada, Deadly Class, C.O.W.L., Elephantmen 2260 Book One, Minimum Wage, God Hates Astronauts, Genius, and Satellite Sam. Paying at least $15 also gets you the slightly higher profile titles The Manhattan Projects, The Wicked + The Divine, The Fuse, Velvet, Sex Criminals, Wytches, The Walking Dead Vol. 22: A New Beginning (#127-132), The Fade Out #1, Nailbiter, Stray Bullets, Southern Bastards, and Shutter. And finally, a stretch price of $18 brings The Walking Dead Compendium One (#1-48), East of West: The World, and Saga Book One (#1-18). For anybody at all interested in Image brand comics, the price truly cannot be beat, especially as the retail price of the comics would be over $300 according to Humble Bundle. Also, purchasers are strongly encouraged to mark a portion of their price paid towards charity, in this case the comics creator focused Hero Initiative. As of this evening, the Image bundle has generated almost $318,000, with over five days left to go.
The current offering is the third Humble Bundle to include Image titles. The first time Humble Bundle included any digital comics was the Image bundle in April 2014 that generated almost $400,000 revenue in two weeks, with titles including Saga, Walking Dead, Fatale, Invincible and Chew. Image imprint Skybound also did a special Comic-Con Humble Bundle in July 2014 as well, which was almost entirely Kirkman based titles such as The Walking Dead, Invincible, Thief of Thieves, and Super Dinosaur. That bundle alone generated $232,000.
Other comic publishers that have released Humble Bundles since April include Dark Horse, Oni, Dynamite, BOOM!, IDW, Top Shelf and Valiant. According to Kelley Allen, Director of Books for Humble Bundle, comics publishers are eager to work with them, and she has a number of ebook and comics bundles planned in 2015 alongside Humble Bundle’s traditional gaming focused offerings. The average revenue number for the comics based bundles so far has been $288,000 for the 14 day period. According to Allen, non-gaming bundles allow Humble to “break out from their core gaming audience” but from the comics perspective, they can also create “enormous crossover” by getting great comics in front of the very large Humble Bundle community. With a very clearly defined, and devoted, young male demographic, Humble Bundle chooses comics with both a logical appeal, like Transformers, Star Wars and The Walking Dead, but Allen also curates high quality titles that may stretch demographic borders. She “pushed very hard” to include titles like Sex Criminals in the latest Image bundle, trusting the Humble Bundle audience to appreciate an outstanding title, even without prior awareness.
While the Humble Bundles may help expand the reach of digital comics, they are also helping to encourage comics publishers to feel comfortable with forgoing DRM protections for their products. Humble Bundles, regardless of content, gaming or ebooks, do not use Digital Rights Management anti-copying technologies, both for philosophical reasons and from a practical standpoint. As Allen pointed out, why use DRM when the consumer could theoretically decide to purchase the content for one cent in any case? Even Dark Horse, which has been very reluctant to forgo DRM generally, was convinced to try not using it for their big Star Wars themed Humble Bundle in October and was rewarded with sales over $375,000 for the two week offering.
Fundamentally, the Humble Bundle “pay what you want” approach reflects exactly the insights independent game developers have learned over the years in regards to digital sales. Since their products are almost universally available to be pirated, often in formats that are actually *more* user friendly than the official versions, game creators have learned to embrace the concept of giving customers compelling reasons to purchase, in the recognition that they do not have to anymore. Distribution options like Steam and Humble Bundle provide explicit value beyond what a pirated version can give, whether through ease of use, personal connection to the creators, community recognition, charitable giving, etc. The Humble Bundle experiment really leverages the unique potential of digital distribution, as the pay what you want model could not really scale in a system that necessitated fulfillment and postage charges. With this almost “donation” type model there is no extra expense for the seller after the first sale, everything after that is essentially “profit.” And the possibility that the new readers exposed to the material may become fans, and go on to make further purchases, even print purchases in local comic books stores, only heightens the value of the Humble Bundle offering. We are likely to see a number of interesting comics based bundles in 2015 and we will learn if this kind of non-traditional sales can become a significant portion of publishers’ revenue, in much the same way digital has already established itself recently.