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By: Jerry Beck,
Blog: Cartoon Brew
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, Doug TenNapel
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, Mike Dietz
, Pencil Test Studios
, The Neverhood
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Doug TenNapel, creator of games like Earthworm Jim and The Neverhood and the TV series Catscratch, is crowdfunding a new clay-animated stop motion game called Armikrog. He’s working with Mike Dietz and Ed Schofield of Pencil Test Studios, his animation collaborators on earlier games, to create a point-and-click adventure game for PC, Mac OSX and Linux.
The game tracks the adventures of “a space explorer named Tommynaut and his blind alien, talking dog named Beak-Beak [who] crash land on a weird planet and end up locked in a mysterious fortress called Armikrog.” TenNapel’s Kickstarter goal is to raise $900,000 in 30 days, and the production has already received over $11,000 in a little over one hour of campaign time.
As most Cartoon Brew readers are aware by now, we’ve had a “no crowdfunding” policy in place for a long time. But times change, and as more animation filmmakers incorporate crowdfunding into their production plans, we feel that it’s necessary to provide a platform for noteworthy projects that need funding. Starting today, we’re going to try something new by featuring a curated selection of crowdfunded animation projects on Fridays. We especially aim to give exposure to promising animation that may slip through the cracks due to a lack of exposure in mainstream media.
For starters, I’d like to highlight WONDER 365 Animation Project by Japanese filmmaker Mirai Mizue. Mizue creates his abstract films the old-school way by drawing and painting onto paper, but he uses digital compositing techniques to fantastic effect:
If you follow Mizue on Vimeo, you know that he’s been working diligently on WONDER 365 for the past 365 days in a row. Mizue received a grant from the Agency for Cultural Affairs in Japan, which allowed him to hire over 150 painters to help color the film, but he’s still looking for funding to complete the music recording and post production.
The Wonder 365 crowdfunding effort continues through April 30. The project is currently 22% funded. Here is the film’s trailer:
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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Writer/publisher Vera Greentea is shooting for her fifth successful Kickstarter comic book campaign. Since 2010 she has raised $22,601 and this time she’s trying to hit her $10,000 goal to fund her latest anthology, PAPA.
The expected release for this book is (American) Fathers Day. The money raised will go to the printing. PAPA is expected to be full color, 50 pages in standard comic book format. Vera’s previous projects have been accessible to all ages but PAPA is intended for a mature audience. I suspect this might affect her and dissuade previous supporters, and grow a whole new audience.
Greentea has recruited some stellar talent this time around. I have participated in a successful Kickstarter anthologies where it’s very apparent that it’s the artist’s first printed work but we all have to start somewhere. The only artist I’m familiar with in this book is Lizzy John—I really enjoyed her run on Fraggle Rock, and it’s good to see her still behind the drawing board. It’s nice to see Vera taking a chance on working with other artist that could use the spotlight.
The stories will be illustrated by three insanely gifted artists that I discovered in some prodigy-ridden pocket universe. They are Ben Jelter (Sidius Nova, The Tumor); Lizzy John (Fraggle Rock) and Joseph Lacroix (Diablo).
Vera was kind enough to give me time from her busy publishing schedule to give us some insight on the success of her previous projects and what goes in to creating a successful Kickstarter project. Don’t forget to visit the project page and kick-in a few shekels and help this book see the light of day.
Henry Barajas: You and the artist, Laura Müller, really worked well together on NENETL— how did you two find each other and make this book come alive?
Vera Greentea: For every book I do, I look for a particular “feel” that might give the story a certain kind of atmosphere or flow. For Nenetl, I was looking for an artist that could draw movement. It took some time, but I was excited to find Laura’s art blog, her work is so incredibly dynamic and has a fantastic organic appeal to it. I contacted her and she replied almost immediately. It was clear we were enthusiastic about each other’s work, and I think that shows in the book and gives it so much life. She’s my Nenetl soulmate.
Dia De Los Muertos parade image from NENETL
Barajas: NENETL revolved around Hispanic culture. What got you interested and what kind of research did you do?
Greentea: I feel like I’m surrounded by a lot of Hispanic aspects of culture, especially food – there’s a grocery store by me full of interesting ingredients targeted at the local Latino population, I guess, but I love exploring when it comes to cooking. I constantly look up the provenance of traditional recipes. So I was looking up a recipe, when I came upon information about the Mexican celebration Day of the Dead. I’ve heard of the festival before, but the article just took hold of me. Suddenly it was many hours later and I found myself deep into researching this particular tradition and many peripheral aspects of the culture as well. Something about a culture that isn’t mournful about death, but treasures and invites their passed ones really touched me on a personal level – that is what made me want to delve into its world. I didn’t mean to write a story about it, that just happened I think because part of me wanted to share the gorgeously unique and non-melancholy idea behind the Day of the Dead festival. Even though I finished writing NENTEL l, I still continuously research this tradition, online and off.
Barajas :What helped you the most in achieving the last goal?
Greentea: Laura’s gorgeous art really made a difference from the beginning – it’s just so striking. I tend to be very vocal on the Kickstarter blog for my projects, and this time I had so much art to show in the process updates. With every art-brimming update, people fell in love with Nenetl more and more.
Barajas: You have came up with some interesting pledge rewards and set yourself apart from the rest of the project out there. How do you come up with new rewards for your projects?
Greentea: To tell you a secret, I actually find coming up with incentives really really hard. I have no idea how to create a gorgeous hoodie with Recipes art, or how to find someone to make a life-size plushie of a Nightbird! How do people do that? So I try to come up with bizarre things that no one else will think to have, and things that I feel they can have with them – like a guitar pick on a keychain. Plus, I discovered a lot of fathers these days play guitar. Maybe it’s a rebel baby boomer thing?
Barajas: What can you tell us about PAPA that isn’t already on the page?
Greentea: PAPA is a collection of dark creepy stories about men put in difficult situations, men who also happen to be fathers. Children can be tragically influenced by their parents, and when their fathers are forced to react to their bizarre situations… well, none of the kids can take it lightly. What you can expect are twists and twisted endings, characters with emotional agendas, some humor, but most basically of all, stories about pride and fear and love.
Barajas: Was the making of this book a way to work out some underlining “daddy issues?”
Greentea: Ha! Well, I wouldn’t say I have daddy issues per se, not more than anyone else at least – I do have an interesting father who I love. I find myself interested in relationships, especially the ones between parents and their children. Fathers and mothers are everything to a child, they’re practically their gods. But they’re also just people with human agendas, and silly goals, and just a bundle of ideas that can be absolutely wrong. All the fathers in PAPA are fallible and imperfect.
In the story of NENETL, the main theme is also about a child looking for her family, so I guess I don’t really veer that far from the particular concept of what is the importance of family.
Barajas: It feels like you have a lot of stories that you’re dying to share, why is this story important to tell?
Greentea: I actually wrote the stories of PAPA before I wrote Nenetl of the Forgotten Spirits. To Stop Dreaming of Goddesses, the first comic I wrote, is also rather dark – it’s about fighting your personal demons, even if you think they make you a better person. I think I became a little lighter lately, even as I write stories about long dead kids searching for someone to love them.
Henry Barajas is the co-creator, writer and letterer for El Loco and Captain Unikorn. He has also written and lettered short stories for two successful Kickstarter SpazDog Press projects: Unite and Take Over: Stories inspired by The Smiths and Break The Walls: Comic Stories inspired by The Pixies. He is the Newsroom Research Assistant for The Arizona Daily Star and was nominated for the Shel Dorf Blogger of the Year award for his work at The Beat. You can follow him on Twitter @HenryBarajas.
Double Fine has released a teaser trailer for its point-and-click adventure game Broken Age, which raised $3.3 million on Kickstarter last year (a record for games at the time). The game is the parallel story of a young boy and girl:
The girl has been chosen by her village to be sacrificed to a terrible monster–but she decides to fight back. Meanwhile, a boy on a spaceship is living a solitary life under the care of a motherly computer, but he wants to break free to lead adventures and do good in the world.
An exciting new original graphic novel from Serena Obhrai and Jennie Gyllblad following the epic adventures of a not so ordinary girl.
One of the huge benefits to co-organising the Women in Comics Europe community (and its communal output page) has been getting to know many of the extremely talented women in the industry and keeping up with their various projects. One such artist is Jennie Gyllblad, whose bi-weekly Jenspiration webcomic has become part of my regular reading, and I was thrilled to hear that she was involved in a new project that really showcased her work.
Elysia is a 300 page urban fantasy and sci-fi graphic novel written by the prolific Serena Obhrai, that is currently causing a storm on Kickstarter. With 21 days still to pledge the project has already achieved 74% of the funding required and shows no sign of abating. In other words, get in quick!
Part of the popularity is surely down to the pitch itself, a tale of a fictional future where angels and humans have to coexist side by side, the former guarding the latter but never to enter a relationship with each other. Elysia is the result of a broken rule, and is not only struggling with the usual perils of growing up, but with the clash of cultures and identities within her, as well as being the key to saving the world! Importantly it’s established in the blurb that this is not a religious tale, the angels instead being led by “planetary alignments”.
A story of angels is not something I’ve quite come across in comics before – save of course for Preacher, which is an entirely different sort of story! – and it strikes me as one that will have mass appeal. Angels in Young Adult fiction were rather overdone a couple of years ago, but the focus was always on the tragic suffocating love story rather than the sci-fi and fantasy aspects that the idea is surely ripe for.
The art is stunning with fully painted pages and excellent character design. The Kickstarter video makes it clear just how much work has already been done on this project in terms of design and planning, and this video is, I think, also key to the popularity of the project (go watch it now!). As is a rather clever pledge feature – a ticket to the exclusive launch signing in London. The higher tier pledges also offer fans a chance to appear in the comic themselves.
Obhrai and Gyllblad are clearly ambitious with this just the first volume of many, and future plans to turn Elysia into an animated TV series and computer game.
The Kickstarter campaign is for the 300 page Volume 1, split into three chapters of 100 full colour pages with the first scheduled for release in September 2013.
Kickstarter: Join Elysia On Her Journey…
Okay, comics just got a little cooler. Elaine Lee and Mike Kaluta have started a Kickstarter to produce Harry Palmer: Starstruck, a long in the making continuation of heir Starstruck storyline.
If you read this when it came out or in the recent IDW reprinting, you know it’s one of the most fantastic space operas ever produced in comics.
Given the fluid nature of all the various versions of Starstruck over the year it is only far to ask: “So, what’s in the book?”
• 176 pages of Starstrucky goodness, including 140 pages of sequential art, plus gallery, glossary and special features to immerse you deeply in Harry’s corner of the Multiverse.
• A terrific science fiction story about what it means to be human, even when you’re not quite sure you are human.
• 60 pages of Harry Palmer’s 140 page-plus story will be reprinted from the Marvel/Epic Startruck series, episodes #2 and #3, but the pages will be expanded from within with exciting flashbacks of Harry’s former life as a rebel soldier and mercenary “proldier.”
• 80 brand new story pages, detailing Harry’s past—as a rebel fighter in the revolution and a proldier fighting for Cyberforms in the Droid Wars—then taking us further into his very strange future. Yes, 80 never-before-seen pages of Kaluta’s unforgettable art… beautifully painted, if we meet our secondary goal.
• More action, adventure and intrigue! More dirt on the private lives of androids and clones! The scoop on “Running in Place,” the most popular, most dangerous, and most addictive means of life extension in the Starstruck Multiverse.
• Your book will be printed in stunning black & white, if we make our basic goal, in glorious, all-new, fully-painted, digital color, if we make a bit more. (Help us find donors, you’ll get an upgraded book and additional rewards. It’s up to you!)
• And so you won’t be kept waiting too long, everyone who pledges enough to receive the book, will also receive PDFs of each chapter, approximately 22 pages in length, as the chapters are finished!
This books needs to be in color so we suggest giving as generously as you can!
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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, Lars Brown
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Kickstarter has been a talking point in the comics industry ever since its conception, most recently and prominently for the fallout between Mark Andrew Smith and the problems he’s been having with his Sullivan Sluggers book. My experience with the platform has been limited: I use it purely as a pre-order service and since May last year (when I first began using the site), I’ve backed a total of 9 projects, 8 of which have been successfully funded. Of these 9 -all of which have been comics- I have so far received 3 books, each one at least 4 months later than initially promised.
Many more generous and patient people than myself are happy to lend their backing to a project simply because they find it interesting or as a way to show their support for the creator, and don’t mind weathering out any delay in the release of the end product. I’m of the notion that when you undertake an endeavour such as crowd-funding a book, you research it thoroughly, analyse any risks and generally go in to it as prepared as possible. If you give a ballpark estimate of when you hope to ship a book out, it should remain in that ballpark, major catastrophes aside. The relationship between backers and a creator is one of goodwill and trust, and any problems that occur should be relayed with honesty and open-ness.
Which is all to say I’m now even choosier when selecting projects I’d like to see realised. With that in mind, I’m pointing you in the direction of Lars Brown’s excellent-looking Penultimate Quest, a simple, no-frills Kickstarter, with a book that’s complete and ready to go, and an extremely modest target of $350, which is currently galloping nicely along at $2267. Here’s more from Brown:
This Kickstarter is to fund a small print run of my new book, Penultimate Quest book 1. My plan is to distribute it on my website, larsbrown.com, and conventions that I’m able to attend. It is 90 pages long.
I started Penultimate Quest in January 2012, at the time I conceived it as a jokey, stand alone mini comic… later in the year I started to kick around the idea of making it into a full length story. The idea of a never-ending dungeon was tantalizing and it carried with it a special challenge of explaining its origin and placing it all in a satisfying story. With my notes in place I began work on the full story in December and now have the first part complete.
If you would like to read the comic it is all available online at my website, larsbrown.com. Thank you.’
I love the story concept and art on this and have happily pledged for a book complete with sketch. Funding ends March 22nd, with $15 getting you a copy of the book within the US, plus an additional $10 anywhere else in the world (which is very reasonable when taking into account the shipping hike. I’m slightly obsessed with the increase in US shipping costs as it’s cutting me off from a load of comics, so I hereby reserve the right to mention it in every post from now to May).
You can back Penultimate Quest here.
Here’s a real Kickstarter based on a fake artist whose real work has been forged by Guy Adams and Jimmy Broxton, both of whom are real living people and are not figments of fiction, unlike the artist who didn’t draw this comic strip, because he never existed. Got that? This is GOLDTIGER.
I’ll explain it properly. The idea of the Kickstarter is that Adams and Broxton have restored a classic, controversial comic strip created in the 1960s by artist Antonio Barreti and writer Louis Shaeffer. The strip was commissioned run in a national newspaper, but was deemed too risque and scandalous for publication. The strip was locked out of circulation, Barreti had a breakdown and spent four years in a rehab clinic in Turin. Shaeffer continued to send him new scripts, however, and the team kept creating more stories for their characters. Shaeffer sadly died, and following his death, Barreti vanished.
The stories have just been collected together, however, and restored. The artwork is enhanced and lettering fixed, and the first volume of stories will be put out via Kickstarter.
— The thing is, Barreti and Shaeffer don’t exist, and never did. GOLDTIGER is an all-new creation from Adams and Broxton, which collects 128 pages of comics into a hardcover book. But not just the strips are collected in the book: the idea is that readers will also be able to trace the fictional life story of the two creators, and their journey whilst seeing that reflected in the story. While the strips progress in a 1960s style, you’ll also see how Barreti and Shaeffer’s personal lives affected GOLDTIGER itself. So in essence, you’re getting two stories – the comic strips, which tell spy action adventures with more than a hint of sex; and the assorted bits and pieces which tell the story of fictional GOLDTIGER creators Barreti and Shaeffer.
It’s a madcap idea for a comics project, and the Kickstarter is currently 3/4 funded, with only three days to go. Head on over to the Kickstarter, and have a read of the concept in more detail! Broxton is a fantastic artist, and Adams a great writer. This is a real high concept, but one which looks well worth trying out.
A couple of interviews with more information on Make That Thing, the new company that helps successful Kickstarter campaign actually send out all their rewards. it’s a division of TopatoCo, the webcomics’s merchandising company which already has a formidable infrastructure—a fork lift!, warehouses, employees!—and manufacturing contacts to help their cartoonists sell their merch. The program is rolling out slowly as an in house project. Todd Allen talks to David Malki about some of the metrics:
PW: How do you price this sort of service?
MALKI: Generally speaking, on the net [profits of the Kickstarter campaign]. This is another area where Machine of Death and The Tomorrow Girl are going to be our test cases to see where the bottlenecks are when coordinating between a site like Kickstarter and our existing workflows. Establishing the workflows is going to determine the pricing, and there may also be variation depending on the particulars of the project. But the watchword is collaboration: we want to be a service to creators, not a liability. We want everyone in this exchange to be successful. So by pricing on the net, we have a vested interest in efficiency, but it still scales with the success (and the complexity) of the project.
Over at Fleen, Gary Tyrell
talking to the other principle, Holly Rowland
Fleen: So once things open up and Jenny Q. Cartoonist is getting ready to Kickstart Yurt Days, when does she contact you? Are you going to need clients to work with you to lay out their campaigns, and especially their estimated delivery dates?
Rowland: Ideally, we would work with the client from the beginning. They would contact us with a short proposal (we will have an online form) and if our panel of experts decides that the project is a good fit, then we work with the creator to figure out all of the bits and what their goal should be. I have been doing A LOT of reading about crowd funding and the challenges therein, and budgeting and goals is a really big one for some.
Delivery dates are also an issue that comes up time and time again. We want to build in a 6-8 month tight turnaround, and make the artist stick to the deadlines.
Fleen: How big do you see MTT getting? On the one hand, you need to keep a schedule of projects such that your employees stay busy. On the other hand, you can’t be so packed full that an unexpectedly big success messes up your logistics for the next two months.
Rowland: We’re going to take it slow for the first year and only run one or two campaigns at a time². That feels manageable, and gives us space to tweak as we go. After that, who knows? If we could afford to hire a campaign manager for each campaign, that is something I would love to do. A Kickstarter sherpa, if you will.
So as you can see this is a pilot program that will probably stay within the company for a while, not the solution to shipping out Veronica Mars dvds. If it works out—and we can’t see why it wouldn’t given TopatoCo’s resources and strang management—we’d imaine other companies would spring up to do much the same thing.
BTW, reading between the lines of Malki and Rowland’s comments this is more a partnership than a fulfillment house. If you squint a little bit, it looks kind of like the services of a traditional publisher, only the money is coming directly from the consumers. What’s revolutionary about the whole process is that it allows the transaction between creator and consumer to be as transparent as possible, but the actual services are much the same. Sometimes everyone goes a different way to see the same thing.
Good news everybody! Today has seen two more Kickstarter projects funded: Guy Adams and Jimmy Broxton’s GOLDTIGER, as well as Steven Sanders’ SYMBIOSIS. Both projects were featured on The Beat, so we’ll take full credit for the successes. The projects both still have a little time available if you’d like to get involved, however…
GOLDTIGER was mentioned only a few days ago! This is a hardcover book collecting together a collection of new comic strips created by Guy Adams and Jimmy Broxton. The idea is that these strips will be dated in order to look like they were first made in the 1960s, and were created by a writer and artist from that time. The book will chronicle these fictional creators of the book at the same time as collecting the strips, giving the reader two narratives for the price of one. You can find the Kickstarter here.
SYMBIOSIS is an art book created entirely by Steven Sanders. Each copy comes with a creative commons license, meaning you can use any of the ideas or concepts Sanders uses for your own work. Alex De Campi has already said that she’ll be writing a short story based on one of the characters, whilst several other people have decided to bring the ideas to life in a variety of ways. More on that later, hopefully. This also comes as a hardback, and you can find the Kickstarter here.
Congratulations to all!
By: Jerry Beck,
Blog: Cartoon Brew
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, Cyanide and Happiness
, Dave McElfatrick
, Kris Wilson
, Matt Melvin
, Rob DenBleyker
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The Kickstarter campaign to produce an animated series based on the online comic Cyanide and Happiness concluded a few minutes ago with a grand total of $770,309 from 14,242 backers. The amount of money raised obliterates the previous animation crowdfunding record held by David Fincher and Blur Studio’s The Goon animatic, which raised $442,000 last November.
Last month when the Cyanide and Happiness campaign was at its midway point, Cartoon Brew wrote about how well the effort was doing. The four creators of C&H—Kris Wilson, Rob DenBleyker, Matt Melvin, Dave McElfatrick—had set their fundraising goal at $250,000. They exceeded that amount by 300%, and with the money they’ve raised, their team will now produce eleven 10-12 minute episodes, as well as weekly short-form pieces for an entire year.
“This hardcover graphic novel covers the 1920 unsolved murder of author and bridge expert, Joseph Elwell.”
I doubt you will need more encouragement than the above to go RIGHT THIS MINUTE and support Rick Geary’s
Kickstarter for The Elwell Enigma
— but just in case, here are five more reasons:
* Rick Geary is one of the best (and most underrated, IMHO) cartoonists of his generation, with more than 30 years of distinctive, disturbing and thought provoking work in his resume.
* Geary’s two Treasuries of Murder — Victorian and 20th Century— both published by NBM, are eerie, fascinating painstakingly researched accounts of the most notorious crimes of 200 years, from Lizzie Borden and Mary Rogers to Sacco & Vanzetti and William Desmond Taylor. They are non fiction comics at their best.
* Though NBM has supported Geary’s murder series very well, he’s taking matters into his own hands with this Kickstarter, so you can now support him directly.
* The Elwell murder is a classic “locked room” mystery — he was found inside a locked house, shot in the head. The crime has has never been solved. I confess, as a bit of a “murder buff,” I had never heard of this crime, so I’m looking forward to learning all about it.
* The book is almost finished—all but 20 pages are drawn—so rest assured YOU WILL GET YOUR BOOK and postcards and whatever in a timely fashion.
Bonus! Geary talks about the new Treasury of Victorian Murder Compendium, Volume 1 here
I always try to find out as much as I can about whatever subject I’ve chosen. This is probably my favorite part of the process because it’s often a journey of discovery in which what I thought I knew about a particular case turns out to be untrue or misleading.
With the more famous cases, I always end up with more information than I would ever need for an 80-page book. In that case, the process becomes one of editing down and searching out the essential elements. With other cases—likeThe Bloody Benders or The Axe-Man of New Orleans—there is relatively little material out there, so it’s more a matter of expanding what I have by means of fewer panels per page, more full-page illustrations, etc.
Of course, with all the books I’ve done, the research process never really ends because I’m constantly acquiring new bits of information and incorporating them into both text and visuals up through the final inking.
It’s been a HUGE month for webcomics projects on Kickstarter with no less than four six-figure projects.
The Cyanide and Happiness crew netted $770,309 for their animation projects—the most ever for an animation Kickstarter. You may recall that the four-man combine rejected three established TV deals to do it their own way.
David Makli!’s Game of Death party game raised $556,596. And Aaron Diaz’s Dresden Codak is up to $396,250 wth a few days left. Finally Howzard Taylor’s Schlock Mercenary has raised $138,063 for a series of collectible coins [yes, POGs are back], with a few hours to get your order in.
As I’ve said here many times, a popular webcomic having a huge Kickstarter is not really news…but four of them in one month raising six figures show no letdown in interest and enthusiasm. Welp, guess that’s not really news. either. Anyway. add them all up and it’s more than $1,860,000, about half of what Veronica Mars has raised thus far.
Gary Tyrrell at Fleen has more commentary and observations on the Veronica Mars Kickstarter—he’s a much more savvy observer of all this than I, so just go read what he has to say.
If first you don’t succeed….
If you’ve been following the Sullivan’s Slugger’s controversy—catch up here and here—you know that writer Mark Andrew Smith has gotten a lot of criticism over his handling of the fulfillment of last year’s $97k Kickstarter for the story about a minor league baseball team going up against a monster invasion. Among the problems: stores got copies before paying customers, international customers still hadn’t gotten theirs and artist James Stokoe has disavowed the book, prompting writer Smith to accuse him of ending his marriage via stress among other things.
Last month Smith started a second kickstarter for SULLIVAN’S SLUGGERS, with the stated goal of raising money to pay for international shipping on the first kickstarter. The mechanism for this was simply selling MORE copies of SULLIVAN’S SLUGGERS, which goes against the general rules of Kickstarter. Amid outcry, the campaign was suspended a few days in.
But now Smith is back with an Indiegogo campaignto raise the international shipping money
The book grew in size/uprgrades to an omnibus edition and the costs of shipping (3.5 lbs) jumped up a lot with the extra weight. International shipping prices from the USPS skyrocketed this year as well.
I didn't freight directly from China to the UK, EU, and AU which would have saved a lot of time and money and now I have to freight the books from California to these destinations. All of these factors added up to a huge price jump.
I need to raise more funds to get the book to international backers. That's where you come in.
The campaign is asking for $16,000
— just how many international copies did he sell anyway? Well, let’s do some spitballing. Admittedly, it is expensive to ship a 3.5 lb book overseas — perhaps as much as $40. So $16,000 would ship 400 books, and if you look at the original Kickstarter
under “International edition” there are 387 orders—so that kinda checks out. Except that in the same price bracket are people who chose to get a print with their copy of the book, so we’ll never know just how many of those 387 are international and how many are orders for a print.
It’s clear that the new campaign is also geared towards selling more copies of the book: Smith’s Indiegogo includes the same level of retailer orders as the last Kickstarter — $500 gets you 24 copies of the book, $1000 gets you a 60-pack.
Meanwhile, some purchasers took to Twitter to complain:
According to his Twitter feed, White is from Newfoundland, so this would come under the dreaded international orders.
This whole matter doesn’t seem to be getting cleaned up any time soon. After Smith’s mishandling of the earlier campaign, at the very least hecould be more transparent about how much money he needs to raise for international shipping. And those customers who paid for their books should get them, regardless.
More to come, we’re sure….
I'm glad the holidays are over and everyone is off their ass making back to making some comic books. Something's in the water or there just are some great project with a lot of heart and soul. We have some bright new faces, an industry favorite and a successful project manager looking for repeated success.
You have only a few hours to get the Spring 2013 series by Benign Kingdom and as it includes sketchbooks and posters by Emily Carroll, Tyson Hesse, Gigi D.G. and Phil McAndrew, you might want to do that. The project is long funded, but it ends today!
Pixar artists Dice Tsutsumi (art director, Toy Story 3) and Robert Kondo (sets art director, Ratatouille) have announced that they are producing an independent short film. To help raise funds for the production, they are auctioning some of their exploratory sketches on eBay.
The auction serves as a valuable reminder that crowdfunding is not the only way to raise money for a film project. By auctioning their drawings on eBay instead of offering them as rewards on Kickstarter, Tsutsumi and Kondo are avoiding the often stressful task of organizing a major crowdfunding campaign as well as circumventing Kickstarter’s hefty fees, thus ending up with more time and money to devote to their film.
The two artists could yet end up running a crowdfunding campaign. “We may do Kickstarter too if we get man power to set it up in the future,” Tsutsumi wrote on Facebook. “It takes a lot of work to set up [a] successful Kickstarter.” Of course, there’s nothing wrong if they choose to do that. It’s refreshing, however, to see some out-of-the-box thinking that doesn’t treat crowdfunding as the holy grail, but rather as a component of a diversified fundraising effort.
As long rumored, Kickstarter has announced a new app for iPhone and iPod Touch. You can download it here.
TweetArtist and designer Steven Sanders, curly of beard and intense of eyes, launched a Kickstarter yesterday for his new project Symbiosis. A massive 100+ page art book, Symbiosis is designed with the idea that people will be able to take the ideas and visuals created by Sanders and do whatever they want with them. They [...]
Up until the internet made magazines go away, TRIPWIRE was one of the UK's best comics-related publications, with solid features and great art direction. Since it ceased regular publication, editor Joel Meadows has assembling a deluxe hardcover anniversary edition, and he's now got a Kickstarter underway for a TRIPWIRE 21st anniversary. It will be a handsome, wide ranging affair, as you can see from more examples on Meadows' blog:
Brett Culp kick-starts his Batman inspired not-for-profit documentary, Legends of the Knight. Culp that features interviews from everyone's favorite industry Bat-fans, and powerful everyday people that use their enthusiasm to be active in their communities and overcome extreme hardship.
By: Jerry Beck,
Blog: Cartoon Brew
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, Bill Plympton
, Cyanide and Happiness
, Dave McElfatrick
, John Kricfalusi
, Kris Wilson
, Matt Melvin
, Moonbot Studios
, Ralph Bakshi
, Rob DenBleyker
, Add a tag
What is the most funded animation campaign currently running on Kickstarter? Is it:
The answer is none of the above.
The most successful live animation campaign at the moment is Cyanide and Happiness, a long-running webcomic that aims to branch out into a series of long-form animated episodes. In the eleven days since the campaign was launched, over 7,300 backers have contributed $362,000, easily surpassing the project’s original goal of $250,000. It is already the third-highest funded animation campaign in Kickstarter’s history, and could break more records before it’s all over.
The four twenty-something creators of Cyanide and Happiness—Kris Wilson, Rob DenBleyker, Matt Melvin, Dave McElfatrick—are no strangers to animation. Before coming together to make the comic in 2004, they met each other as teenagers doing animation on Newgrounds. In 2009, they began creating brief animated segments based on their comic. Their YouTube channel has amassed neary 200 million pageviews with short-form bits and pieces of animation.
Now, they aim to do something more ambitious: a series of 10-12 minute episodes. Initially, they attempted to negotiate a TV series deal with cable networks. They wrote about the fruitless effort on their blog:
We walked away from the first two [networks] due to rights and creative control issues. We thought that we could settle those issues in the third deal, but things didn’t quite work out as we hoped. We’re starting to realize that TV as an industry just isn’t compatible with what we want to do with our animation: deliver it conveniently to a global audience, something we’ve been doing all along with our comics these past eight years. That’s just the nature of television versus the Internet, I suppose.
Now they’ve turned to Kickstarter to appeal directly to their fanbase:
We firmly believe the entertainment industry is changing, and the Internet will eventually become the only way people watch shows. Especially the people that make up our awesome fanbase. The Internet is already the largest network, available when you think about it. Why go anywhere else? By reading our comics over the years, you folks have given us the careers we dreamed of having as kids, and turned our silly cartoons into something much, much bigger than ourselves. The prospect of doing an uncensored, unaltered Cyanide & Happiness Show and giving it directly to the fans is an incredible opportunity. We’re really excited to see how far we can take things.
Besides the amount of money raised so far, there’s another noteworthy aspect, and that’s that the C&H artists developed their careers entirely online. This is different from many other high-profile animation projects on Kickstarter launched by mainstream artists whose reputations were established in entertainment mediums outside of the Internet.
It still means something to be Ralph Bakshi, John Kricfalusi or Bill Plympton—that is, being the director of numerous theatrical features, the creator of a groundbreaking TV series, or the king of American indie animation has an incalculable advantage over being an upstart. But as the Cyanide & Happiness campaign has shown, lofty reputations from other mediums can’t match the support of a well-established online following.
The C&H Kickstarter already has more backers than the combined totals of the three aforementioned animation legends, and will also achieve a higher pledge dollar amount before the campaign ends. With this success, as well as the success of webcomic campaigns like MS Paint Adventures and Penny Arcade, the once-maligned webcomic is re-emerging as the unlikley foundation of entertainment empires.
I don’t know how long this has been around—and I feel stupid for not knowing—but TopatoCo, the great unifying force of the comic book universe, has started a crowdfunding fulfillment house called Make That Thing. An excerpt from their about page:
Make That Thing is a production agency for crowdfunded projects. We help artists and creators design, print, store, and ship this things they make — so you can focus on the art. We know that once your crowdfunding campaign is over, the real work has just begun. And we want to help make sure that your backers get what they pledged for in a reliable, professional, and timely manner.
To do that, we work with artists and creators who have an idea for a crowdfunded project. We help them conceptualize and figure out their project’s specs, as well as offer advice and a friendly ear to help figure out the best way to present the project to the world, including choosing backer tiers and designing stretch goals.
Once the project launches, we help promote it through our network of internet pals, and if the funding goal is met, we then swing into action, ordering the products needed, receiving them at our Massachusetts warehouse, and shipping them to backers all around the world.
Once that’s done, we place the product in our MADE THAT THING online store so anyone who missed the campaign can still buy it after the fact.
I don’t know about you, but far from being an easy money scheme, as I’ve seen Kickstarter grow, many of the most successful projects sound like full-time jobs in ADDITION to making the damn comic, what with all the sketching, mailing, signing, binding, personal dinners, guest appearances, videos, and other imaginative rewards being offered. And likewise, news is beginning to come out about some campaigns’ fulfillment dragging along a bit more than expected. For instance, Rich Burlew’s $1 million Kickstarter for ORDER OF THE STICK has been hampered by a very serious injury to his hand—severed tendons due to broken glass. That’s as legit as it gets, but he noted the one-year anniversary of the Kickstarter the other day:
I wish I had something special and inspirational to say on the occasion of the anniversary. All I can think of is how many unlit boxes are left on that Workometer a year later. My hand has been getting stronger, though, which has helped me with the amount I can draw before having to rest. I guess my new goal is to make sure it's all done so far in advance of the second anniversary that we don't even bother talking about it in those terms.
Burlew has been updating his supporters regularly, but it’s a LOT to get done. There’ve been a few reports of Kickstarter backlash,
as some 84% of top Kickstarter projects ship late. but don’t be crowing I told you so just yet….crowdfunding is here to stay, it’s just having growing pains.
And that’s where something like Make That Thing sounds like such a great idea, and TopatoCo—already a fulfillment and marketing house for the most successful webcomics—seems like just the people to do it. The service is currently in closed beta, running a project for Dresden Codak’s Aaron Diaz, but you can follow along on Twitter. Also of course Gary Tyrrell has been on this right along and has analysis here. He calls it a potential Game Changer. I agree.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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, Kids' comics
, Top News
, Hoax Hunters
, Michael Moreci
, Steve Seeley
, tim seeley
, Add a tag
One of the ways many people stumbled onto their first comic was through the promotional comics that used to come bundled in with action figures. You know the ones – you buy a He-Man figure, and in the box comes a comic which shows him in action, fighting against all the other characters who coincidentally also have action figures available too.
Well, if you do remember those comics, then here’s a kickstarter for you – Michael Moreci, Steve Seeley, and Tim Seeley’s MINI COMICS INCLUDED.
Mini Comics Included will be a set of six mini-comics, which replicate the sort of comics which used to come packaged in with action figures and board games. Each drawn by a different artist, with Moreci and the Seeleys writing all six issues. And if you pledge towards the project, you can get your hands not just on the comics – but also on action figures which have been custom made to go along with the comics.
I spoke to Michael Moreci about the project, and how it came into existence.
Steve: Mini Comics Included are based on the comics that used to be enclosed in the box whenever you bought toys like He-Man action figures, or Transformers. What are your memories from those mini-comics?
Michael: I have such amazing memories of Christmas morning, unwrapping presents with my older brother and revealing glorious He-Man action figures. We were into other stuff as well—I was especially a fan of the Super Powers figures—but He-Man was the alpha and omega of my childhood. Rick, my brother, and I would play with these figures all day long, making up stories, designing our own cartoon ideas, and acting them out. We’d cut up comics and paste new panels together that made little sense, but the stories were ours.
As a matter of fact, I really think that’s the beginnings of my love of storytelling in general, the ability—and encouragement from my parents—to make stuff up on my own. To wonder, to imagine. I read so many comics—mainly the minis that accompanied He-Man figures—and watched so many cartoons that the structure of stories got ingrained in me at a young age.
Specifically, with the comics, I was always hooked by the curiosity “what’s next?!” factor. Because, let’s face it, a lot of those comics were simply rad catalogues. Their whole purpose was to show off the next villain or weapon or whatever. Like, He-Man would suddenly bust out this underwater gear and, as an adult I’m like “where the hell did that come from? Dude’s wearing a loincloth and nothing else…” But as a kid, my mind was immediately set to “must have!” mode. Luckily, my mom worked at a toy store, so I had a hook up.
The comics were cool because, yeah, they were sometimes promo pieces, but they were also simple stories. They were just cool stories that enhanced the experience of being a He-Man fan, or a comic fan.
Steve: Why recreate that style of comic, in particular?
Michael: A lot of the discussions the three of us have regarding comics—and a lot of people have about comics—is the lack of fun, just pure, raw, fun. Guys like Kirby, Mantlo, Toth, you name it, were all exceedingly enthusiastic and had these wild imaginations. And that doesn’t exist all that much anymore. We’re too serious of an industry, like we won’t be regarded enough if we allowed our work to do all those wonderful things comics are capable of doing.
Getting back on point – Steve, Tim , and I have all had this itch to do something that harkens back to this particular comic/cartoon/toy era that we love so much and influenced us so heavily. And we wanted to do it right—nothing watered down, nothing compromised. We want to take readers back to a time when comics were something to enjoy, pure and simple. You read them because you were like “oh my God, who is this new character?! Is he good? Bad? What does this mean?!” But, again, so much of comics, right now, is set in its ways. Stories have to be told in a certain way, for a certain audience, in a certain format. We’re breaking all those rules because, one, we want to do something fun and original and totally unique; and two, we absolutely know people want this. These are the comics we love, but they’re also the comics people want.
Steve: You’ve worked with Steve Seeley frequently, with the current Hoax Hunters series at Image being one of the most high profile works. How did you all come together on this project in particular, and realise it was something you wanted to try and make a reality?
Michael: Steve and I, and Tim, share a similar affinity for this era of nerd culture, that late 70s early 80s cartoon, comic, toy, etc. I mean, we’re three 30s-ish geeks, how could we not?
It’s not just that, though. We’re also creators who like to think outside the box, creatively and professionally. And doing a Kickstarter has been on our minds for awhile, but we wanted to do it right. Meaning, we wanted their to be a reason we were doing a Kickstarter, not just some cash grab to make good on our names. That’s lame.
So, one night we were drinking—as we are wont to do—and kicking around ideas. We had something there, like we were scratching the surface. We knew we wanted it to be inspired by those comics and toys we loved, but that wasn’t quite enough. It still didn’t have that “okay, but why?” factor. And Tim hit it: Mini comics. Everything took off from there, making them a certain size, getting the toy designers on board, even the weird incentives. Because, truly, this isn’t something we could do anywhere else. Not like this. That’s is what makes it a perfect project for Kickstarter—we’re not just giving away art or head sketches or whatever. We’re all in on this the mini comics theme, and the drive is a ton of fun because of that.
Steve: How has the process of working with the Seeleys been? Both on Hoax Hunters, and now with Mini Comics Included.
Michael: Tim and Steve are like brothers to me. We work really well together because we share both common interests and common values. We’re workers, we’re that prototypical Midwestern no-frills get-the-job-done type professionals. We love what we do, but the cornerstone of how we operate is grounded in dedication to the work.
Yet, as similar as we are, we’re also very different. We each bring something different to the table and, out of that, we refine the best possible product. That’s how Hoax Hunters is—Steve and I often have different sensibilities and have to find a middle ground; the process of doing so makes us really understand where we’re coming from on a story level, and the book is better for it.
Steve: So, to the comics in particular – how did you decide which characters to use for these stories? Did you have some of the characters in mind already, or did you create them just for this project?
Michael: For the most part, yes. These were kind of pet projects that we knew, to some degree, would not thrive in the Direct Market system. This was an opportunity for us to cast off those shackles and say, “okay, we’re doing these stories right here, right now.” Steve and I have been chipping away at Prime-8s, and we had done an Omega Family short for Double Feature Comics awhile back. Tim had done a Colt Noble one-shot with Image awhile ago as well. His other two ideas are just exercises in weird and crazy stuff that Tim digs. So, beware.
The main requirement, though, was to align the stories with the spirit of the project. This isn’t one big excuse for a vanity press—some stories didn’t make the cut. We were looking for a specific type of playfulness. For instance, Literary Commandos is a G.I. Joe riff; Prime-8s is kind of He-Man meets Ninja Turtles; Colt Noble has He-Man written all over it. The feel of the book matters. Without that, it doesn’t matter what size it is or what toy you may have purchased; the story, and art, has to function. Speaking of, the artists on these titles are incredible. Paul Tucker, Brent Schoonover, Sean Dove, Clint Hiliniski are all absolutely killing on these books, and we selected them because they’re such perfect, perfect fits.
Steve: How long are each of the issues?
Michael: Sixteen total pages for each comic.
Steve: Are there any characters you’re particularly fond of? I couldn’t help but notice there is a frog cyborg, and I immediately need to know everything about this character, please.
Michael: Ha, well, that’s actually a frog totoro, though easily mistaken as a cyborg. He’s the leader of the hyper-evolutionaries who make havoc for the Omegas. That’s all Paul Tucker—his design sensibility and playfulness are out of this world. Watch that name, he’s going places.
Hmmm… favorites. Well, Dracula Man (from Superbeasts) is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard in a while. I love the Prime-8s villains, Dogtastrophe (you know, a play CATastrphe, get it?) and the K-G-Bee. And what’s not to love about a four-armed gorilla named Fourilla? There’s Marksman Twain, that’s a good one. Kikintha Balls…oh, and Daxxis from Omega Family. Love that Woolly Mammoth…thing.
Steve: BUT! Has it been difficult to create characters who can match up to the might of The Street Sharks?
Michael: Where would democracy be without them? And Battletoads?
In terms of raw power, I’d need to wrap up Travis Bickle with Driver with a mutated dinosaur to enter the arena. Those were some badass sharks.
Steve: How tongue in cheek will the comics be? Looking back now, we’re aware that the comics were a way to try and sell more toys to kids – are you going to play with that, at all, or are you playing things straight? Is it tempting to try a more satirical approach with the stories, and wink at the readers?
Michael: We sort of play with the stories. As mentioned above, we’re totally aware that these comics were often promo pieces, and that’s that. But one thing we absolutely did not want to do was get ironic with this. Nobody enjoys nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake. So we had to walk a fine of embracing the idea too much and making it a sell aware wink at the tradition. I think the balance we have is a good one. We embrace it and honor what we’re working with, but make it our own as well, in a very loving way. Again, we want to recapture that feel of the time, and the best way to do so, we think, is to make it somewhat contemporary but retain the best sensibilities
Steve: How do you see the project moving on, if this Kickstarter is successful? Could we see a second wave in the future?
Michael: Oh boy…that’s like asking a woman who’s crowning if she’s thinking of having another kid. Okay, maybe not QUITE like that, but I’ve already had nightmares about the launch, and I’m writing this before actually doing so. I’m so thrilled about the project, but it’s also going to be a massive undertaking, from start to finish. I would love to do six more titles and make this a thing, and I think Steve and Tim would also. Right now, I’d say I’m hopeful. After all, we still haven’t told the story of the Blasteroids!
Many thanks to Michael for his time. So, one last mention – you can find Mini Comics Included on Kickstarter here. You can also find Michael on Twitter here!
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This one is like one of those baseball games that goes into the 17th inning, long and murky with no real payoff.
SULLIVAN’S SLUGGERS by Mark Andrew Smith and James Stokoe has a rather interesting history. An irresistible tale of a baseball team that has to go up against a team of monsters, it’s drawn in Stokoe’s choice style, and since the first images started circulating, it’s looked great. In 2010 it was to be published by Image Comics, and a big round of promo for this followed. However, that book never came out—although it was released digitally as a creator-owned comic—and instead it bounced back as a Kickstarter last year. With over $97,000 raised, surely this was a big success. Although the book was long drawn, copies only started shipping recently, after a bit of complaining over the delays. However it was worth the wait, as a super deluxe edition was declared to be worth the international postage:
The real unsung hero in this entire project is Sullivan’s Sluggers creator Mark Andrew Smith for the constant communication with the backers, and making sure everyone is still in the loop after all this time. Who could have possibly foreseen how massively successful this project would have been? Smith has remained professional throughout, delaying his other projects such as Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors and the eventual Sullivan’s Sluggers sequel, Pele’s Pounders. Has he learned a thing or two for the next Kickstarter project he starts? Absolutely.
Although this sounds a little like one of those mysterious new poster “I plan to go there again!” restaurant reviews on Yelp, it’s written by an actual person, Cameron Hatheway
of Cammy’s Comics Corner
As someone who desired to read SULLIVAN’S SLUGGERS but didn’t get in on the Kickstarter thing, I was happy to find you could now purchase it again…on Kickstarter. Smith started a campaign with a $1 goal, so people who want various levels can just pledge and get the package they want.
The new Kickstarter is, in part to pay for postage, says Smith. Part of the delay was what is becoming more and more common with Kickstarters: not figuring out how much it is really going to cost. As Smith wrote on his tumblr
Yes, there will be another opportunity for those that missed Sullivan’s Sluggers to pick it up this next month. I was a bone head and hugely underestimated international shipping because I saw another Kickstarter that was doing huge numbers at the time, and it said “International Orders Please Add $10”, and I said to myself “They know what they’re doing” and copied it FOOLISHLY. So lesson to be learned, look up the shipping costs by weight for international next time if you’re doing a Kickstarter. I’m going to do an adjustment Kickstarter to help out with international costs, so that I can eat the difference and not ask for more money from international backers, but to ship for the low low original price of $10 per book. But it’s only for the US, and the other books are going to post first.
This whole situation led to some snarking on Twitter—you can follow along with the various conversations in these tweets. Basically people felt that Smith was just using Kickstarter to sell copies of the comic.
While I understand the ire, for those who want a copy of the book it seems like a simple transaction. But Kickstarter doesn’t allow you to just sell things that are lying around your house.
And now more clarification: it turns out Stokoe, whose always spectacular art is the draw on the books, is not involved in ANY of this. He drew the book for a page rate and has now publicly distanced himself from it.
First off, I want to make abundantly clear that I’m in no way involved with the direction of either of the Kickstarters, or any other other outlet where that book is sold. The Writer and myself had briefly talked about working together on the KS, but due to some disagreements, I decided to remove myself from it completely.
There’s been talk on my behalf about fair compensation from the KS earnings, but I have to say that it personally doesn’t bother me. I have been paid what I was contracted for, and I’ve been very content to keep my nose out of anything involving the book post-Kickstarter. In other words, there’s really no reason to be offended on my behalf. I’m doing fine. I understand that some backers may feel mislead in that they were supporting me financially by backing the book, and for that I apologize. There was very little I could do once the ball started rolling in that regard, shy of shitting on the whole parade.
Blogger David Brothers
has long been critical of the whole way this was handled, and I understand he has another post on the subject coming out today.
Complicating matters even more, SULLIVAN’S SLUGGERS is in development as a movie, billed as “Major League meets Zombieland”—although that was last year and we know how these things tend to fade away.
We haven’t yet seen crowdfunding turn into an angry mob in the comics sphere, and it’s hard to pinpoint the exact smoking gun here, but selling backstock on Kickstarter does seem to be against the spirit of the thing at the very least. And backers are beginning to feel annoyed.
Jankiness in the form of this entire kickstarter. I funded the original and still haven't received my copy and now there is another kickstarter to enable me to get my copy. I could have ordered it on Amazon instead.
And as Stokoe’s statement makes clear, the “creator owned” comics world is often not what it seems.
If you don’t want to bother with the whole mess, for a short while you can just download the first two digital “issues” for free.