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1. Interview: Joey Stern, co-founder of Geeks OUT talks Flame Con – NYC’s first ever LGBTQ comic convention

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Back in November, queer nerd organization Geeks OUT launched a kickstarter campaign to fund the creation of a convention by queer nerds, for queer nerds. A month later they’d far exceeded their $15k goal, raising nearly $20,000 to make their con a reality. I spoke with Joey Stern about what led him start Geeks OUT, how that led to Flame Con, and what queer geeks and their allied communities can expect from New York City’s first ever LGBTQ comic convention on June 13.

Edie Nugent: Tell me a little about your role at Geeks OUT and how you got involved with the organization.

Joey Stern: We founded Geeks OUT in 2010 after New York Comic Con.  There was only queer panel that year and it was so packed that you had to stand in the back just to be there.

We wanted to make an organization that connected these fans, and gave them a more than once a year event to gather and see each other. We also wanted to make NYCC a gayer place, so we held events and parties as we fund raised to get enough money for a table.

It was really intense, but a year later, we debuted at NYCC with monthly queer comic/geek events and a table where people could come and find a group for themselves.

Nugent: So how did you decide to make the leap from that to putting on an entire convention?

Stern: We and the board of Geeks OUT felt like it was a natural progression and an opportunity to introduce an existing queer audience to amazing queer and ally artists and creators.

There’s so much out there now, it’s really hard to find a lot of the stuff that’s made for you, and Flame Con offers a connection for people and creators to meet and find new passions.

It also creates connections and empowers queer fandom, which is an important part of what we do.

Nugent: Why do you think comic book fandom appeals to the queer experience?

Stern: There really is no art like Comic Books. It’s not only informative, but it offers a lot more context for the writers’ words than traditional books do (or paintings offer on their own). They also have an indie experience, and like queer culture, were for a long time considered the realm of weirdos and freaks.

Comics in general are often about exploring new worlds and future tomorrows. And I think that idea is really appealing to anyone who has experiences of being on the outer edge of polite society.

For me, the X-men’s construct of creating new family, and finding friendship with people like you was really informative.

Nugent: You really leveraged queer fandom to launch Flame Con, raising almost $20k for the event. Were you surprised by how much support you received?

Stern: Yeah! Oh man, it was terrifying, we were worried the whole thing was going to fail, but people really came out to support us and this effort. It just shows how vibrant and important this community is.

Nugent: Do you think recent media attention on sexual harassment at cons, especially of cosplayers, helped identify a real need for a more progressive type of con experience?

Stern: Sure! But I think a lot of that work has been done by cosplayers coming to the media. It’s been really amazing to see people having that conversation and pushing for safer spaces (and to see cons, like NYCC respond positively to those changes).

Nugent: What are some programming highlights from Flame Con that you’re excited about?

Stern: We’re excited to be putting on all sorts of programming – hopefully something for everyone! A panel about writing for LGBT teens hosted by award-winning author David Levithan, a Q&A with Steve Orlando, writer of DC’s upcoming Midnighter series (DC’s first ongoing title to feature a gay man as a lead character,) a great panel on queer horror with Mark Patton, star of the infamously queer Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge and Cecil Baldwin, voice of the hit podcast Welcome to Night Vale, a panel about looking at Sherlock Holmes from a queer perspective, a discussion with some up-and-coming industry pros about costume design, and lots more. We’re really packing something interesting into every minute of this con! There’s also a performance from Sarah Donner!

Nugent: What makes Flame Con different from other cons that aren’t queer-centric?

Stern: It’s tailored to its audience. All Gender bathrooms, queer artists and creators taking center stage, and panels that are not Gay 101, but a bit more focused.

Nugent: How so? 

Stern: Bigger cons have panels focused on Gay Artists, we have panels focused on writing Gay Sherlock Fan Fiction.

Flame Con is a one-day event on June 13 in Brooklyn. Here’s a complete list of guests appearing at the con. For more information check out their website and their Facebook page.

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2. Archie Comics Kickstarter cancelled in the face of criticism

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I’d been hearing word on the street that the controversial Archie Kickstarter campaign would be cancelled, and now about $30 K in andCBR has the official word. The planned titles—Jughead by Chip Zdarsky, Betty & Veronica by Adam Hughes and Kevin Keller by Dan Parent—will be published, as promised, but the rollout will be slower with Jughead launching in the fall.

According to Archie publisher Jon Goldwater, the negative attention was detracting too much from the actual projects:



“Very broadly, Jughead will come first, sooner than you’d think,” Archie Comics Publisher and CEO Jon Goldwater told CBR News. “Probably October. Then we’ll take a pause, figure out the rollout of the other two and how to best position them in the market. It’s going to take longer than we’d hoped, obviously, but these titles are top priority for us, and we want to make sure our fans get the best books possible.”

The decision to pull the Kickstarter, Goldwater said, came after the conversation no longer became about the books themselves — “Jughead,” to be written by Chip Zdarsky and illustrated by an artist to be named; “Betty and Veronica,” written and drawn by Adam Hughes; and “Life with Kevin,” written and penciled by Kevin Keller creator and Archie veteran Dan Parent and inked by J. Bone — but about the Kickstarter itself.

The Beat’s retail columnist Brandon Schatz had a detailed post on what he saw as the problems with the crowd funding effort last night.

The big problem Archie Comics is running into involves warring ideas. As a self-sufficient publishing company, they have certain contracts and financial details that they need to keep confidential. However, they are taking a step out of the “self-sufficient” bounds by asking for money – which demands that the math be shown. It might be a popsicle stick solution to a unique problem, but they are doing a poor job in convincing me that it can support the weight.

Don’t get me wrong: Archie as a company isn’t saying anything wrong. They are building a compelling narrative around this Kickstarter that I can get behind. They aren’t Marvel and DC. They don’t have parent companies, and so while they might be big, they’re still relatively small. This affords them the opportunity to move and change with greater ease, but such freedom also comes with a lack of safety net, so to speak. Opportunities arose, and tied up some funds. It happens. What’s losing me are the actions that have surrounded this launch, as well as the product currently being offered with the Kickstarter.

Other publisher Kickstarters—from Fantagraphics and Last Gasp—have been successful, but the grassroots effort seemed more appropriately placed than this one. Although the projects being funded—contrary to what everyone seems to think—were NOT going to be sold in Wal-Mart and Target, just putting the names of those chains in the same paragraph as “crowdfunding” raised an incongruous picture. Although this was a bump in the road for Archie they’ve definitely done the right thing by pulling the plug.

Archie released a statement to CBR on the effort:

We will be ending the Archie Kickstarter today.

We launched the “New Riverdale” Kickstarter as a unique and innovative way to celebrate the company’s upcoming 75th anniversary and to bring attention to some new titles that we are extremely excited about — “Jughead” by Chip Zdarsky, “Betty and Veronica” by Adam Hughes and “Life with Kevin” by Dan Parent and J. Bone. We decided to dive into crowdfunding as an energetic, interactive and different method to raise money to help expedite the launch of these titles. The chance to engage with our fans directly was really appealing to us, and we’re extremely grateful and honored by the support and pledges we’ve received.


While the response to these new titles has been amazing, the reaction to an established brand like Archie crowdfunding has not been. Though we saw this as an innovative, progressive and “outside-the-box” way to fund the accelerated schedule we wanted to produce these books, it became another conversation, leading us further away from the purpose of this whole campaign: to get these amazing books in the hands of fans faster than we could on our own. While we fully expected our goal to be funded, it was no longer about the books and how amazing they will be. We don’t want that. This is why we’re shutting the Kickstarter down today.

We don’t regret trying something new. It’s what Archie’s been about for the last six years. We will continue to be a fearless, risk-taking and vibrant brand that will do its best to embrace new platforms, technology and ways to interact with fans. As a company, we have always prided ourselves on pushing boundaries and challenging expectations and perceptions.


The wonderful New Riverdale titles we wanted to launch will still come out — albeit not as quickly as we would have hoped had we attained the funding via Kickstarter. We believe in these books and know they’ll find an audience in comic shops, fueled by great stories and amazing creators.

We’d like to thank the great team at Kickstarter for their guidance and feedback and the entire staff at Archie Comics for their endless hours of hard work and dedication to this very special initiative.

And, most importantly, to our fans that pledged money to this Kickstarter — we thank you. Your dedication, love of Archie and his friends and endless positivity are examples to all. We will be in contact shortly via Kickstarter to get a special thank-you gift in your hands as soon as possible. Your support means the world to us.





 

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3. MATT CHATS: Brian Buccelleto on Transmedia Project “Sons of the Devil” Coming Soon from Image Comics!

Welcome to MATT CHATS, where I (Matt) talk to a person of interest in the comic book industry every Tuesday at 4:30 PM Eastern. Today I am speaking with an industry veteran but relative necomer to the Image renaissance. When Brian Buccelleto offered the first two issues of his upcoming Image series Sons of the Devil (also a short film) to reviewers on a recent episode of the Word Balloon podcast, I jumped at the chance to read them and talk to him. As a fan of his collaborations with Francis Manapul on The Flash and Detective Comics, I was not disappointed, more than happy to discuss with Brian the differences between something on the screen and on the page, the effect crowdfunding has on financials and other aspects of the creative process.

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Did you talk with Kyle Higgins about the process of bringing something from the screen to the comic book page?

He’s a really close friend of mine and so we talk about everything – including the process of filmmaking and comic books. That said, he helped me out a lot on the film. Shout out to Kyle!

How are your philosophies similar?

We love film and comics and want to do both. So I think everything we create is done with the hope of being able to tell the stories in both mediums.

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What do you think are the pros and cons of doing a film simultaneously with a comic, as opposed to adapting a film years later like Higgins did?

I think the biggest pro for doing it simultaneously is that you can actually SEE the story come to life on screen, which informs what you do in the comic AS you are doing it. Having actors take your material, interpret it, and make it their own helps you see the characters in new and interesting ways. Also, in the case of Sons of the Devil, we were able to secure interesting locations and have visual reference that I then gave Toni in the script. I think there was a certain level of synergy with doing both comic and film together. For Kyle and C.O.W.L./The League, I think adapting it later allowed him distance to cherry pick the best elements of his short. Honestly, I don’t know if there is a downside to either. Making comics and films are each awesome experiences… getting to do BOTH is off the charts awesome.

What are some storytelling benefits of telling a story both on the comic page and on the screen?

I think the two mediums are similar but have their own inherent advantages in how the story is told. Film is a forward-moving visual medium where you experience the story with sight and sound. There is a momentum to films that you want to sustain because you HOPEFULLY have the viewer’s undivided attention and you want to keep it. It’s more of a sensory experience for the viewer. Comics are also visual, but are experienced at a pace dictated by the reader. There is no captive audience. In some ways that’s a disadvantage… but the benefit of a comic is that a reader can spend as much time on a single page as he/she wants. And the reader can go back and re-read and really digest the material without it hurting the experience.

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What kind of audience did the Kickstarter attract? Was it more composed of fans of films or comics?

It was mostly comprised of fans of my work, who were intrigued by my transmedia concept.

Does the fact that the comic was funded through a Kickstarter campaign change the financials of the series at all? Because of the Kickstarter, for example, is the sales threshold lower?

II I don’t think being a Kickstarter project has any bearing on sales thresholds. In the case of SOTD, almost all of the funds we got went into the budget of the short film – which ended up costing more than what we got from Kickstarter. So financially speaking, the Kickstarter didn’t pay for the ongoing series. I had to get financial support from other means. But Kickstarter allowed me to start the comic book and get far enough down the road to pitch it to Image. This allowed me to take the concept from its initial plan as a one-shot to becoming an ongoing series.

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Kickstarter is as much about marketing tool nowadays as it is a way to amass funds. How big of an impact do you think the campaign has had on the visibility of the work?

Honestly, I don’t know how directly Kickstarter will factor into the marketing of the book. I had approximately 250 backers, so I don’t think that number will significantly impact the sales number for issue 1.

For any artists looking to be discovered, can you describe how you searched for an artist for Sons of the Devil?

I feel VERY lucky. I was searching an international portfolio website called Behance when I came across Toni Infante’s work. I also tried DeviantArt and inquired using social media.

What were some of the challenges of working with a less experienced artist?

Honestly, I don’t look at his art or our lack of American comic credits and think “less experienced.” He is a professional artist with an amazing skillset, and I haven’t had any challenges that you might associate with a new artist.

Were there any benefits?

Only that I get the honor of working with him.

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Was it hard letting go of the coloring duties for Sons of the Devil?

Not really. I’ve been coloring for 20 years and have had my fill. Of course, him showing me great coloring samples helped to make the decision easy.

You’re perhaps best known in the comics scene for your collaborations with Francis Manapul. Has it been difficult in any ways to be seen as a writer in your own right?

Not really. I made the decision to do my own solo stuff very early on, so that I could carve out my own identity as a writer. I self-published a book called Foster early on in our Flash run and did a 12-issue Black Bat story for Dynamite. I think it took a little more time for me to build trust within DC editorial so that they saw me as an individual in collaboration with Francis and not just the guy that he brought in to help. But to their credit, they have been very supportive of me and have allowed me amazing opportunities to shine on my own with Rogues Rebellion, Injustice and a few solo arcs on Flash. Oddly enough, I think Francis has had a tougher time being seen as a writer because he is such an amazing artist that it overshadowed his own writing chops. But he IS a writer/storyteller and has future plans to do his own solo stuff.

What are your hopes for Sons of the Devil professionally, creatively and personally?

Personally and creatively, I am always trying to grow as a writer and tell personal stories that resonate. So my hope is that each project I do is better than the last. Professionally, I would love for SOTD to be an ongoing series AND a television series.

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Do you think the amount of great output from Image Comics good for business, or does it make it harder for your book to stand out?

I think there is always room for good books from every corner of publishing. The Image brand is obviously something any creator would want to be associated with. The amount of quality content that Image puts out means that retailers and fans will be more likely to try the book because Image’s track record is a promise of quality. As far as standing out among the other great books, I think that’s a challenge no matter how many books Image is publishing. There are 400 books that come out in a given month… so standing out is bound to be a challenge,

What’s the most exciting part of taking the plunge with a creator-owned series from Image?

Being able to tell the stories I want to tell EXACTLY how I want to tell them. Unfiltered.

You can find Brian on Twitter and his name on issues and trades in comic shops across the world.

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4. ComiqueCon Celebrates Women in Comics in November

by Zachary Clemente

 

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COMIQUECON 2015 COMING TO DEARBORN, MICH. NOV. 7; FESTIVAL

CELEBRATES GENDER DIVERSITY IN COMICS

 

ComiqueCon, a one-day festival celebrating women in comics, announced plans to bring its inaugural event to the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Mich. on Nov. 7. The festival will bring together female artists, illustrators, publishers and fans for a day of fun and discussion on the growing impact of women readers of comics and graphic novels.

“We’re thrilled to bring today’s most talented ladies making comics together for this one-of-a-kind event. Women don’t just read comics – they make excellent comics, too!” said ComiqueCon founder Chelsea Liddy.

This year’s festival, which is co-sponsored by Green Brain Comics, has already announced several main stage presenters including: Leila Abdelrazaq, graphic artist and author of Baddawi; Nancy Collins, author of Vampirella; Marguerite Dabaie, author of The Hookah Girl; Alex de Campi, author of Smoke/Ashes, Archie vs. Predator, Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman and No Mercy; Nicole Georges, author of Calling Dr. Laura; Mikki Kendall, co-author of Swords of Sorrow; and Mairghread Scott, author of Transformers, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and Bravest Warriors. Other planned events include a costume contest, artist VIP reception, discussion panels and a screening of the documentary “She Makes Comics.”

“It’s 2015 and it’s time to put the spotlight on some of the talented female creators working in the comics industry,” said Katie Merritt, co-owner of Green Brain Comics. “We at Green Brain Comics have always worked hard to highlight the diversity in the comics industry, both in the creators and the material they produce. Supporting ComiqueCon is a great way for us to continue that work.”

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Cover by Dave Acosta

In an effort to help with the festival’s initial startup costs, ComiqueCon recently launched a crowdfunding campaign on Tilt.com. The campaign will run through June 6 and includes numerous sponsorship levels. Sponsors who donate at the $25 level are eligible to receive a limited edition variant of Swords of Sorrow No. 1 with cover art by artist Dave Acosta, scheduled to publish on May 6. Other incentives include admission to ComiqueCon 2015, limited edition ComiqueCon 2015 buttons, and admission to a private meet and greet VIP reception on Nov. 6 with ComiqueCon artists and writers. To participate in the crowdfunding campaign, visit http://comiquecon.com.

I don’t know about you, but this is the exact kind of event that I’m excited to see happen and I hope it goes very well for them. Originally from the Detroit area, this very well may be the event to pull me back after more than 10 years.

For more information on ComiqueCon, or for sponsorship opportunities, contact Chelsea Liddy at comiquecon@gmail.com.

 

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5. UPDATED: Archie Comics is Kickstarting a $350,000 relaunch with Zdarsky, Hughes and more

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UPDATE: Archie president Jon Goldwater has released a statement on the Kickstarter. See below.

Well, here is one company you didn’t expect to be crowd funding things: Archie Comics has launched a Kickstarter for $350,000 to continue their updated, realistic version of the Riverdale Universe. For this amount, they will follow up the Mark Waid/Fiona Staples Archie book (due later this year) with a Jughead series by Chip Zdarsky and a Betty and Veronica Title by Adam Hughes, as well as Life with Kevin featuring Kevin Keller by regular writer Dan Parent and inked by J. Bone.

The Kickstarter has already garnered about $8000 and some social media scrutiny to say the least. Archie is certainly the oldest comics company to turn to crowdfunding, and some may be surprised that they need to raise capital to refurbish their line. While the Waid/Staples take on Archie was seen as the latest move in the line’s general freshening, it was also abandoning a formula that has worked for 75 years. Just the other day I spoke with Bart Beaty about his new book Twelve Cent Archie, and the incredible timeless durability of these stories. Launching a new, more contemporary, less iconic look is part of the general update that Archie has been busy with for the last five years or so.

Also, Adam Hughes on Betty and Veronica seems like a “male gaze” take on the characters that s bit out of step with the current popularity of girl-centric comics. But it does speak to a wealthy, older niche audience that might be into supporting this effort.

Developing.

Archie Comics, the acclaimed and bestselling comic book publisher that is home to some of the best-known pop culture creations in the world, including Archie, Jughead, Betty & Veronica, Josie & The Pussycats, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and the hit AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE series, announced today that it would launch a historic crowdfunding campaign via the popular Kickstarter platform.

The Kickstarter campaign’s call to action is a simple one: Help Archie Comics build a New Riverdale. Specifically, the Kickstarter will ask fans to help fund a slate of titles that build off the surefire success of ARCHIE #1 ­­­­­— the debut issue of a new, ongoing ARCHIE series from writer Mark Waid (Daredevil, Kingdom Come) and artist Fiona Staples (Saga). The series will be crafted by some of the biggest names in the comic book industry and feature the most beloved characters in comic book history.

The three new titles, launching over the next 18 months, include:


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JUGHEAD — Featuring the adventures of Archie’s hamburger-loving best friend, from acclaimed writer Chip Zdarsky (Sex Criminals, Howard the Duck) and an artist TBA. An off-the-wall series full of laughs, unexpected twists and a modern sense of humor.

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BETTY AND VERONICA — Girl-next-door Betty Cooper and wealthy socialite Veronica Lodge are best friends and fiercely competitive. While they both have a history with that guy Archie, the series puts the focus squarely on them — their friendship, their high school lives and adventures beyond Riverdale. Written and drawn by comic book legend Adam Hughes (Wonder Woman, Before Watchmen: Doctor Manhattan).

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LIFE WITH KEVIN — Kevin Keller, the hugely-popular and historic character that broke new ground in Riverdale by being the first gay character in the company’s publishing history returns in a new ongoing series. Writer/artist Dan Parent (Kevin Keller) and inker J. Bone (The Spirit) tell a tale of an older, more experienced Kevin as he navigates a new city, new romance and leaving home.

“Our fans are part of our family — they’re an integral part of everything we do,” said Archie Comics Publisher/Co-CEO Jon Goldwater. “We’re not flush with corporate cash like Marvel or DC. But we’re also not afraid to take calculated risks. With this Kickstarter, fans have the chance to get in on the ground floor of an exciting and forward-thinking initiative. Fans can help build a New Riverdale, brick-by-brick. We’ve put together a stellar lineup of titles — featuring the best and the brightest creators working on our top characters. With your help, we can make this New Riverdale a reality. The best part? This is only the beginning.”

The crowdfunding initiative marks the latest part of the company’s 75th anniversary celebration — while also marking the beginning of a new era for the long-running publisher. With the launch of ARCHIE #1 on July 8, the company will be poised to reimagine its core characters while retaining the humorous and edgy elements that made them instant sensations when they first appeared.

“When I first stepped into the Archie offices, the brand was frozen in time. The stories felt stiff and dated. That’s no longer the case,” Goldwater said. “This is a new Archie. A new Jughead. A new Betty and Veronica and a new Kevin. We’re holding onto the things that made them great — the humor, the love triangle, the friendship and youthful exuberance — but presenting them in a way that can appeal to everyone, from classic comic fans to new readers who might not know every nook and cranny of our history. Each part of this is a brick that will help build a New Riverdale. But we can only do it with your help.”

 

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We live in a time of unheralded growth and awareness for comics. The Avengers are in theaters. The Flash is running around on TV and, defying odds; comic book print sales are staying strong while digital continues to grow. If comics didn’t already have an era dubbed the Golden Age, we could make a strong argument that this is it.

By now, you’ve probably heard the news: Archie Comics has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to help launch three new titles. These books will expand on the foundation being created in the pages of July’s ARCHIE #1 by the hugely talented team of writer Mark Waid and artist Fiona Staples. These books cannot exist without the support of our fans, the most important people in the world to us. The people that have supported Archie since day one, 75 years ago.

It’s also a good opportunity to talk a bit about story. About quality. About the relationships between the producers of comics – the publishers – and you, the fans.

I’m sure the first question you have about this is “Well, why does Archie need our money?” That’s a good and fair question. We understand and value every purchase our fans make. We’ve chosen to be fully transparent when launching this Kickstarter, as we have been in the past with all our initiatives. Let’s face it: we are not Marvel or DC Comics. We don’t have their bottomless bank accounts. We don’t have their corporate infrastructure.

We can’t launch 20 titles a month. We can’t flood the market with double-shipped books.

We are a privately owned company that has built a track record for being innovative, forward thinking, progressive, relevant and agile. Over the last six years, while I’ve overseen Archie Comics, we’ve acted more like a new publisher than one that’s been around for decades. We are the oldest start-up in history.

So, let me take it a step further. Not only are we not Marvel or DC – we don’t want to be.

We don’t want to tell convoluted stories that require fans to buy a dozen comics to understand one. We don’t want to reboot our titles every six months. We don’t want to alter characters to make headlines and then move on as if nothing happened.

We are not cloaked in secrecy. We’re here – we’re connected and we’re available. Our fans are as much a part of the company as our employees. We are all in this together.

What matters most to Archie Comics? For us, for me – it’s all about the story and art. It’s about making sure the level of quality is beyond sky-high. It’s about the characters. It’s about doing the best job we can to create the best comics possible with the best talent available. That’s why you have names like Waid, Staples, Zdarsky, Hughes, Parent, Aguirre-Sacasa, Francavilla, Hack, Swierczynski, Gaydos and more on our titles. The best and brightest doing career-defining work on characters recognized around the world. And this is only the beginning.

As we enter our 75th year, its obvious Archie is here to stay. This isn’t a plea to keep us in business. This is a call to action. We want to partner with our fans to build on something we already know is going to be a huge success – ARCHIE #1. But not through gimmicks, hype or smoke and mirrors. But through the thing that has gotten us to this point: great storytelling. Help us build a New Riverdale and vote with the one ballot that will get the attention of the Marvels and DCs of the world: your dollar.

Be a part of something new and vibrant. Support the little guy fighting to make some noise and show the slow-moving goliaths of the comic book industry how it’s done: through hard work, great storytelling and tactical and calculated risk-taking.

Help us build a New Riverdale for everyone.

– Jon Goldwater

15 Comments on UPDATED: Archie Comics is Kickstarting a $350,000 relaunch with Zdarsky, Hughes and more, last added: 5/12/2015
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6. Crowd Watch: Comics Uniting Nations Kickstarter is saving the world with van Lente, Dunlavey, Woo, Brrémaud, Bertolucci 

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One of the more ambitious and important comics Kickstarter efforts now running is the Comics Uniting Nations effort. Spearheaded by Josh Elder, who already got the Reading With Pictures literacy effort off the ground, this is an equally important project that will communicate the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals via the medium of comics. This is a great mix since comics have been proven to cross cultural lines, and communicating the important goals of the SDGs worldwide.

The campaign has been moving along but should get a boost from the first announced creative teams — including Action Philosophers van Lente and Dunlavey and (most excitingly to me anyway) Frédéric Brrémaud  and Federico Bertolucci the team behind the exquisite wordless Love series. Anyway, here’s the line-up thus far:

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Goal 4: QUALITY EDUCATION
Writer: Yen Yen Woo (Dim Sum Warriors)
Artist: Lars Jakobsen (Ganske Vist)


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Goal 5: GENDER EQUALITY
Writer/Artist: Graphic India (Ramayan 3392A.D., Grant Morrison’s 18 Days)


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Goal 6: FRESH WATER AND SANITATION
Writer: Fred Van Lente (Amazing Spider-Man, Archer & Armstrong, Action Philosophers)
Artist: Ryan Dunlavey (Action Philosophers, M.O.D.O.K: Reign Delay)


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Goal 15: ENVIRONMENT ABOVE WATER
Writer: Frédéric Brrémaud (Love: The Tiger, Daffodil) 
Artist: Federico Bertolucci (Love: The Tiger, Richard Coeur de Lion)

And some background:

“I was a United Nations employee for years before becoming a comics pro, and I am thrilled at this opportunity to be contributing again to their global mission,” says Fred Van Lente, the New York Times bestselling author tackling Goal 6: FRESH WATER AND SANITATION.  “I’ve been doing comics for non-fiction and non-profits long enough to know comics aren’t just a great way to convey complex issues to a wide audience, they are the best way. With the great literacy advocacy group Reading with Pictures at the helm, this is a terrific chance to tell great comics and save lives in the process.”

“Comics change lives,” explains Josh Elder, Founder of Reading With Pictures. “Every comic fan already knows this because comics changed our lives. Now we have the chance to do the same for millions of disadvantaged men, women and children all over the world.”

“Publishing the LOVE series by Frederic Brremaud and Federico Bertolucci has been a thrill for us at Magnetic Press, not just because they are beautiful books, but because they speak about a topic near to our hearts: wildlife conservation and the world of nature that surrounds us, too often ignored in today’s society,” offers Mike Kennedy, Publisher/President of Magnetic Press, whose creators Brremaud and Bertolucci are working on Goal 15: ENVIRONMENT ABOVE WATER.  “We hope that these books — and our participation in the Comics Uniting Nations project — can help open eyes around the world to these plights and interest people to at the very least become aware of the issues, if not actively participate in any way towards improving these conditions.”

Comics Uniting Nations is a partnership between Reading With Pictures, PCI Media Impact and the PVBLIC Foundation.  The Comics Uniting Nations team is working in coordination with the United Nations Post-2015 Development Planning Team to create a series of seventeen comics addressing the world’s most serious challenges, such as climate change and sustainable energy, extreme poverty, health, education, gender equality, drinkable water and economic growth. 

Comics UNiting NAtions has teamed with Abrams ComicArts, Action Labs, Andrews McMeel Universal, Archie Comics, Boom Studios, comiXology, Dark Horse, Dynamite, Humble Bundle, IDW, Madefire, Magnetic Press, NBM Publishing, Oni, Papercutz, Peanuts Inc., Teshkeel, TOKYOPOP, UDON and Valiant to run this Kickstarter with rewards and talent.

It’s not very often you get to support educating people around the world about the most important survival issues our planet faces AND create from kick-ass comics, so get behind this KS pronto!

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7. Two Nerdlebrity duos launch competing crowdfunded comic-con TV shows

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

 

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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.

1 Comments on Two Nerdlebrity duos launch competing crowdfunded comic-con TV shows, last added: 3/30/2015
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8. The Little Comic That Could – A Conversation about How a Graphic Novel from a Small Publisher Achieved a Film Adaption [Interview]

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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9. Kickstarter unveils a month of comics events

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Since launching, Kickstarter has funded 2,652 comics projects, raising $37 million. Comics have a 49.72% success rate—the fourth highest after dance, music and theater, so it’s a well established category for the crowdfunding giant.

In the month of April, Kickstarter’s Brooklyn office will host several comics related seminars and events. You can RSVP for all of these on the Kickstarter page, but here’s a rundown, with a pair of events this Thursday.

Kickstarter 101: Starting Your Comics Project
APR 2
6:00 pm
at 58 Kent Street, Brooklyn, NY 11122
Host: Jamie Tanner (Kickstarter, “The Black Well”)
Special Guests: Molly Ostertag (“Strong Female Protagonist”), Ray Sumser (“The Entire Cartoon Universe”), Hazel Newlevant (“Chainmail Bikini”)
Whether you’re a writer or artist, working in print or online, there are great ways for you to use Kickstarter. This primer will show you how to bring your Comics project to life. A panel of experts will discuss how to structure your campaign to tell your story, come up with great rewards, and spread the word about your project.

Kickstarter 201: Comics Rewards & Fulfillment
APR 2
7:45 pm
at 58 Kent Street, Brooklyn, NY 11122
Host: Craig Engler (Kickstarter, “Lovecraft: The Blasphemously Large First Issue”)
Special Guests: Heather Antos (“Unlawful Good”), Amy Chu (“Girls Night Out”), George Rohac (CEO, Breadpig)
Join us for a candid and in-depth talk on creating and fulfilling rewards for your Comics project. This panel discussion will explore the virtues of digital vs. print rewards, unique experiences you can offer your backers, and the always-popular subject of shipping costs.

Talking Shop: An Evening with Bill Plympton
APR 7
7:00 pm
at 58 Kent Street, Brooklyn, NY 11122
Moderator: Signe Baumane (“Rocks in My Pockets“)
Join two-time Oscar-nominated filmmaker Bill Plympton as he screens his award-winning, animated feature film, “Cheatin’” — a tale of love, jealousy, revenge, and murder. Following the screening, Bill will discuss the making of the film — and its 40,000 hand-drawn frames — with moderator Signe Baumane, and take questions from audience.

Talking Shop: Comics in the Past, Present, and Future
APR 22
7:00 pm
at 58 Kent Street, Brooklyn, NY 11122
Moderator: Charles Brownstein (Executive Director, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund)
Special Guests: Karen Green (producer of “She Makes Comics,” Graphic Novel Librarian at Columbia University), Locust Moon Press (publishers of “Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream”), John Roberts (Comixology)
Across genres and styles, comics have gone through significant transformations in their century-plus of popularity. This lively evening of talks with industry all-stars will explore how comics have evolved, and dig into their fascinating history, development, culture — and what the future might hold.

Introduction to Comic Book Drawing with Josh Bayer
APR 25
12:00 pm
at 58 Kent Street, Brooklyn, NY 11122
Special Guest: Josh Bayer
Writer, teacher, and editor Josh Bayer will discuss comics tips and best practices in this two-hour workshop aimed at adults. Attendees will also get to put what they’ve learned into action with an actual comics-making exercise. Josh is the editor of the comics anthology “Suspect Device,” author of the comics “Raw Power,” “Rom Prison Riot,” and “Theth,” and a contributor to “Henry and Glenn Forever and Ever,” among many other small press anthologies. He has been drawing underground comics since 1988.

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10. John Dilworth Brings Back ‘The Dirdy Birdy’

The creator of "Courage the Cowardly Dog" is reviving his earlier cult character, Purdy the Dirdy Birdy.

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11. Interview: Fresh Romance’s Janelle Asselin on running a successful Kickstarter

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The Fresh Romance Kickstarter campaign is in its final hours but it’s already made nows. Not only is it well over 150% funded, but editor/publisher Janelle Asselin’s plan to bring back romance comics in a contemporary guise with Rosy Books has definitely struck a nerve.

As the last few hours count down, we caught up with Asselin for a quick check in on how the campaign got going and how she prepared for such a time consuming but ultimately successful task. And as a bonus, here’s a look at the story from Sarah Vaughn (ALEX + ADA) and Sarah Winifred Searle (SMUT PEDDLER) about a couple headed to the altar for all the wrong reasons.

You can still support the Fresh Romance digital anthology in the link above and The Beat endorses this action!

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THE BEAT: Obviously this has been a very successful Kickstarter. But they are known for being a lot of work. How did you prepare for crowdfunding?

ASSELIN: I’ve backed quite a few Kickstarters over the years, so I’d already spent some time noting what worked and what didn’t work. I knew what I liked as a backer and a lot of that went into the decisions I made for my own Kickstarter campaign. The biggest thing, though, was that I spent a lot of time before we launched setting up the actual business and getting people not just on board as creators but actually working on their comics. I didn’t want to leave backers waiting around for months after we ended, wondering if they’d ever see their rewards. I did a lot of calculations to figure out the bare minimum I needed to get started, and went over not just the goal number but all the pricing numbers over and over again.

THE BEAT: Did you seek the advice or support of any Kickstarter veteran?

ASSELIN: I did email a bit with Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan of Oh Joy Sex Toy about their campaign. They had that great post they did about the numbers behind their Kickstarter that was really helpful and my lawyer put me in touch with them to talk a little more about specifics. I’d also done some interviews over the years with folks like Spike Trotman and Kel McDonald about their crowdfunding stuff, before I was even really sure I wanted to do it myself! Some of the KS campaigns I’ve backed over the years have been run by friends, like Jeremy Haun, so I’d heard some of the behind-the-scenes commentary on that. And also, a bunch of the creators I have on board have been a part of other KS campaigns, as has my publicist.

THE BEAT: Is there anything you would have done differently?

ASSELIN: I definitely would’ve given myself more lead-in time. I also probably would’ve hired some pros to do my video, because the stress of trying to do it myself was not worth it in the long run. I eventually got help from a friend who is a video pro but the whole process was pretty unnecessarily stressful. And I would’ve offered individual international shipping costs for some countries, like Canada. I’ve had some complaints about my international shipping costs, but as I’ve said honestly to folks, if they can find me cheaper options, I’d love to see them, but most of the international shipping I looked at ran at least as much as I’m charging, if not more. I know a lot of campaigns get into trouble where the shipping costs have to come out of pocket or end up being so astronomical they can’t afford them, and I did NOT want to be in that place. Still, I would adjust some of the individual country pricing so that it wasn’t just one flat international rate.

THE BEAT: The success of the campaign has allowed you to increase payments to creators and put out even more stories. How far do you have Rosy Press planned?

ASSELIN: I have pitches that could take us well beyond the first year – and we’ll open up to submissions soon, so I anticipate planning even further into the future. As I’ve tried to reinforce throughout the campaign, our initial funding goal was just the start – I never intended to just put out three issues and then call it a day. This is an ongoing monthly and as long as it is financially feasible, I’ll keep putting it out.

THE BEAT: And of course the inevitable question: now that you’ve done a Kickstarter for one title, would you consider doing this again?

ASSELIN: Possibly? It’s really stressful and it’s a ton of work, but it is also super exciting and validating. It’s a great way to test the waters on a project because you can get preorders and also gauge interest, and there’s a lot of value in that. I’m not sure how many people would’ve believed that a magazine like Fresh Romance with a Regency romance, a queer high school romance, and a paranormal romance would’ve gotten as much support as it has, but it’s been amazing. If there’s another project that I feel needs that extra push, it would likely be worth it.

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12. MATT CHATS: Gabo Gabs about Writing and Drawing Micro-Fiction

Welcome to MATT CHATS, a weekly interview series in which I talk to a creator, consumer or seller of comics. This week I spoke with Gabriel “Gabo” Bautista, who is working on several projects right now including The Life After for Oni Press and Albert the Alien for Thrillbent. During that time he also managed to fit in Jupiter, a series of 100 micro-stories set on the largest planet made up of just one drawing and one page of text each. His Kickstarter campaign has been funded, but it’s still running so you can jump in and get an early copy of the hardcover and push it closer to its stretch goals. I spoke to Gabo about creating Jupiter, setting rewards for the campaign and more.

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I first encountered your work with The Life After, and what immediately struck me was the panel density. What was your reaction to a script that asks for a lot of panels per page?

I’ve always been a fan of using a lot of panels! The idea of slowing down time by shoving more panels on a page has always intrigued me, so when I first read Fialkov’s script I was elated. There is that 50 panel two-page spread that we had in the first issue. The monotony and slight repetition of each panel really drives home the idea that Jude does the same damn thing day in day out, like many of us have suffered or currently suffer in our day to day lives.  I’m all for a page full of panels as long as there is a good reason for it!

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Did working in that kind of style influence the creation or development of Jupiter?

Jupiter was mainly influenced by two things: a challenge by Kenneth Rocafort to do a daily drawing in a Moleskine daily planner, and constant dreams of futuristic settings that I feel intimately connected to. The rest sort of just ran its course on its own, I just sat back and let my hands do the work.

What’s the appeal of a story told in one image and a page or less of text?

I’ve always been intrigued by the synopsis’ you find on the back of books, especially sci-fi and fantasy novels with those amazing painted covers. Being able to squeeze a whole concept into just a paragraph is the idea I wanted to harness for this project.  The fact that you can open the book to any page and be immersed into that world for a brief moment is what I find appealing. That and it’s great for people like me who has short attention spans haha.

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Do you find micro-stories to be more or less challenging than longer-form projects? Why?

I’ve never taken on the task of writing something longer than a few pages, but I feel micro-stories are easier in that it doesn’t take a lot to belt one out, its almost like playing a quick game of poker vs a round of Magic the Gathering. While Magic is way more complicated and requires more time to complete, poker in itself is full of strategy and complications that take years to master, only its much faster to play.

For me, developing a story comes pretty easy. Sometimes I feel that perhaps my brain produces way too much of whatever chemical causes someone to make things up, but I sure as hell am grateful for it.

Is there any way you’d prefer Jupiter to be read? All at once/one at a time/some other way?

I’ve never really given that idea any thought. I suppose it could be read from beginning to end, but at the same time I love that Jupiter is like a sketchbook where you can flip to any page and be sucked into that scene in just a matter of seconds.

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Would you ever sell the Moleskin daily planner that contains all of the Jupiter drawings?

I’ve had a lot of friends suggest I put it up as one of the reward tiers, putting a price of a couple thousand on it, hoping maybe some crazy rich person would pledge for it. At the same time though I’ve had other friends who scold me for thinking about it, saying I should keep it as long as I can. I’ve never been big on keeping my art, hell sometimes I just give it away at conventions, but the idea of giving away or selling a book with over 100 drawings in it is a bit hard to process. To be honest my biggest fear would be that the pages would get separated and distributed, and at the same time I would love nothing more than for people to have a little piece of Jupiter to themselves. I’M TORN. WHAT DO I DO? It’s literally just collecting dust in my studio! [Laughs] Maybe in a few years I’ll start tearing out the pages and gifting them or selling them. WHO KNOWS. I have to keep reminding myself that we are simply guardians of art until a new owner is found.

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You offer high-level of backers a significant influence over the content of your book, particularly at the $250 level. Was that an easy decision to make, or did it feel more like a necessary evil in order to get funded?

It was 10% “necessary evil so I could get funded.”  I figured people would be clamoring at the chance to be in the book. “TO BE IMMORTALIZED,” I kept repeating in my head. Overtime though, I’ve realized that the people who becoming part of the book WILL be immortalized, in my heart.  Cheesy, ain’t it? I’m serious though! Those people who pledge at that level believe me and Jupiter enough to become a part of it, they trust in me to do a great job in taking their likeness and converting them into a legend of Jupiter. It’s super awesome, and they are super awesome. Ultimately though, I always wanted to have this be a THING in Jupiter, taking a few people and turning them into legends… It’s neat!

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After 100 drawings and 100 stories, how connected are you to this world?

There’s a lot of it that I don’t remember. I look at the images and fragments of the stories come to me. Sort of like when you’re looking at an old photo of yourself hanging with friends.  You might know when it was taken, what might have been going on in your life then, but you probably don’t remember it as well as you’d like. My connection to the world of Jupiter I’ve created is similar; I don’t try to force things into it. Instead I let those things come out when they want, and hope to hell they make sense and that I can jot them down before I forget them.

What’s the scariest part of the project for you?

The scariest thing for me was not being able to fund it. After Day 2 of the Kickstarter, the fear was completely obliterated.

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Now that the campaign is funded, are you thinking ahead about future stories?

I’ve been planning this for a while; the illustrations in Jupiter are actually from a 2013 Moleskine daily planner. I’ve got a 2014 thats nearly half full, and a 2015 that I’m currently filling. The next book will be slightly different, though; some of the stories will be written by guest writers (some of which will be some notable comics people!) I’m looking forward to seeing what people write to a piece of art that’s already been created.

Jupiter is just one of many projects you’re working on. How do you balance it all?

I have no damn idea. I can’t deny that I’m late on some projects and have had to pretty much cancel or put other projects on hold, but Jupiter has been done for several months, and I just needed to get it out of my system.

What keeps you cranking out pages, day after day after day?

BILLS, MAN. BILLS. I literally have no choice, if I slow down or slack off I will be sleeping on the streets. No greater motivator than the risk of going homeless if you goof off too much. Also the fact that I’m getting old. I see all these young cats in the comic game making power moves, and I’ve just barely reached the big leagues at 34? I don’t have time to mess around, I need to keep moving, keep drawing. Draw or Die.

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You can find Gabo on his website and on Twitter, and back his Kickstarter campaign for Jupiter for a few more days. Don’t wait.

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13. Alan Moore Interview Part III – Jack the Ripper, Joyce Brabner, and a Swan-Shaped Pedalo

Previous parts of this interview: Part I – Steve Moore, River of Ghosts, The Show, and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and Part II – Punk Rock, Crossed, and Providence. Now read on…

From HellPÓM: A few other things… Yes, now. Have you been following any of the latest revelations on Jack the Ripper? Do you keep an eye on that?

AM: [Laughs] No, because it’s all going to be bollocks.

PÓM: Oh yeah.

AM: Alright, I stand to be corrected, but what are the latest revelations on Jack the Ripper?

PÓM: Somebody claimed to have bought a scarf, a very expensive scarf…1

AM: Oh yeah, I read about that. And obviously at the time, that’s bollocks…

PÓM: Oh yes, absolutely and complete bollocks!

AM: And they’ve since proved that it’s bollocks – I think that they’ve just said that, no, there’s no connection at all between Catherine Eddowes and the stain on this scarf.

PÓM: I do remember thinking that they seemed to be in possession of an awful lot of information about DNA and all of that that seemed… unlikely.

AM: Unlikely at the time, yes. No no, that – these are always going to be non-starters. Alright, unless there is some brilliant piece of evidence waiting to be discovered that – how likely is that?

PÓM: I know. I just wondered if – ‘cause you did From Hell, I presume you still have some interest in the subject.

Koch SnowflakeAM: Well, with From Hell, at the end of it, in The Dance of the Gull Catchers, there is that statement about – Look, how long can this go on? About Koch’s Snowflake2, about the increasing trivia applied around the crinkly edges of this case, but the area of the case cannot exceed the original events and consequently, new books about Jack the Ripper, they’re less about Jack the Ripper than they are about keeping the Jack the Ripper industry going, because it’s been quite lucrative for a few years, you know? And I honestly think that that is the truth.

So, no, I tend to be dismissive of – every four or five years there will be ‘At last, the final truth!’ And it never is. And it’s very often preposterous, or a deliberate hoax. Or you’ll get, say, Patricia Cornwell, with her vandalisation of a Walter Sickert painting in the ridiculous hope that she could match the DNA to that on the letters received the police, which were not from the killer anyway.3

PÓM: I remember when the documentary was on the telly, I saw it was coming up…

AM: Yeah, I saw that, and I saw at the end of it, all she’d got was some footage of Walter Sickert being led out, probably in his eighties, to be filmed in a garden somewhere, and she said, ‘Yes, look at those eyes – pure evil.’ Ignorant woman.

PÓM: I remember she said something like ‘I knew as soon as I looked into his eyes that it had to be him.’4 And this is a woman who…

AM: That was all the evidence that she’d got, and – the thing is, that Patricia Cornwell is apparently supposed to be an actual real-life pathologist…5

PÓM: Yeah!

AM: …apparently cases in the American legal system have presumably depended upon her evidence – I hope she was doing a little bit more than looking in people’s eyes.

PÓM: I know! I have never been so disappointed with something on the television – in my life! Because I expected – because of who she was, and what she was, I expected this was going to be really incisive and good and interesting.

AM: I had read some of her books, so perhaps I wasn’t expecting quite as much as you were.

PÓM: [Laughs] Fair enough!

AM: I read a few of her books with the beautiful woman pathologist…6

PÓM: Oh, I know who you mean…

AM: …who somehow always ends up at the centre of every case. She’s always the one that the serial killer gets an obsession with, even though there’s no way in the real world that he would ever know who she was. She’s always smarter than the police. And then when I found out that Patricia Cornwell was herself a pathologist at some point I thought, ‘Yes, I think I can see where this is going.

PÓM: Yes. It did seem as well the whole Jack the Ripper thing was kind of because her father had left home when she was five, and there were some elements of that in there, which is where it started getting strange.

AM: Yeah, well a lot of these people who get obsessed with true crimes, they’re – sometimes, they can be working out something in their own psychology, rather than anything to actually do with the crime that they are officially dealing with. I haven’t really taken a great deal of interest in Jack the Ripper since finishing From Hell – probably more in Psychogeography and London.

richard_coles_dogPÓM: I must say, we’ve been spending a fair bit of time in London, Deirdre and myself. We were over there last week. We went to see – do you know the Reverend Richard Coles?7

AM: Oh yes, I met him once. I met him with Robin Ince.8

PÓM: Yeah. He was doing a thing in the British Library, he was doing – because he’s got a first volume of his autobiography out – another good Northampton lad!

AM: Is he? Yeah, he’s from out in the outskirts, I think he’s from one of the villages.

PÓM: That’s where he’s being a Rev these days. A thoroughly lovely man.

AM: He seemed really nice when I met him, and of course he was great in The Communards.

PÓM: Well, he was. He was. Not a great dancer, but a charming human being. But, yeah, I’ve recently joined the British Library, which is completely fantastic.9 I’m doing research into Flann O’Brien, and The Cardinal and the Corpse, all of that.

gorse 3[There’s actually a part of the interview missing here, because I felt it was so far removed from having even the slightest relevance to this particular site that it was best elsewhere. It concerns English writer Iain Sinclair‘s 1992 documentary film The Cardinal and the Corpse, which almost no-one has seen besides Alan and myself. It also peripherally concerns Irish writer Flann O’Brien, about whom I have been spending quite a lot of time reading and researching of late. The interview is here, on the gorse website. By absolutely no coincidence whatsoever I have an essay on Flann O’Brien in gorse #3, entitled The Cardinal & the Corpse, A Flanntasy in Several Parts, which I commend to you all. End of outrageous and gratuitious self-promotion.]

PÓM: Are you doing some series of things with Joyce Brabner?10

AM: There is a work that I’m – I’m doing a work with Joyce, but I’m starting that at the moment. I can’t tell you much about that, because it will be sometime this year – I’m more or less starting work on it now, over the next – probably over the weekend, and it’s likely to be something to do with identity, but I really can’t tell you much more than that – I’ve got my ideas, but they’re not really well formed enough yet, but later in the year I’ll be able to fill you in more with that.

A 4-seater swan pedalo

A 4-seater swan pedalo

PÓM: Ok, cool. Sure, we’ll talk again, undoubtedly. And I think I’m going to wrap it up – I must say, when you’re talking about doing Swandown, and things like that – that’s the thing with the pedalo, isn’t it? With the swan-shaped pedalo?11

AM: That is one of the sweetest films I’ve ever seen, and not just because I’m in it. In fact, I think that my contribution is one of the more negligible aspects of it. It’s English poetry. It shows you that there is no landscape that cannot be made poetic with the addition of a big plastic swan. And in fact, since then I also earlier this year – no, last year, last year. Spring or Summer, I went and filmed a bit with Andrew and Iain for their next project, which is called By Our Selves, and it’s all about John Clare12, and it’s got Andrew mucking about dressed as a straw bear, and recreating John Clare’s limping walk from Epping Forest and Matthew Arnold’s mental asylum back to Helpston in Northampton. Eighty miles or something, where he was eating grass and hallucinating. Yeah, so Andrew and Iain came up to Northampton, I spent a lovely afternoon sitting pretending to be a version of John Clare. They’ve got Toby Jones

13 doing all the heavy lifting in terms of being John Clare, so that should be – ‘cause he’s an incredible actor…

Alan Moore and a Straw Bear, borrowed from here

Alan Moore and a Straw Bear, borrowed from here

PÓM: What I was going to say about that is, you do really seem to be having far too much fun, still – you’re doing everything you want to.

AM: That stuff is the best. Things like that that just come out of the blue. I still enjoy me comics work, I still enjoy the ordinary writing that I do, but – the little surprising things like that, that I’ve not done before, that are a great afternoon out, seeing lovely people, and knowing that it’s going to end up as a really poetic cinematic document, yeah, I am having a lot of fun with that, when it happens. It’s irregular, but charming when it does.

PÓM: Well, good. And I think that’s it. Is there anything that you’re doing that I should know about that I don’t know about?

AM: Yeah, probably. Whether I actually consciously know about it, is the big question. There must be some – did you hear about The Dying Fire?

PÓM: Nooooo…

AM: This was a book that I’ve just brought out from Mad Love Publishing, it’s the collected poetry of Dominic Allard14

PÓM: Yes, I did, because I have a copy inside. Yes, of course.

Dying FireAM: Ah right. With the big introduction. That seems to be going quite well, and Dominic seems a bit stupefied by the sudden exposure – mind you, Dominic seems a bit stupefied by most things, it has to be said. But, no, that was really good, taking the books down to him, and giving him a load of copies, so there’s that. What else have I been doing? I’ve been reading through Steve Moore’s journals, which I collected from his house, and that’s bittersweet. There’s some incredible information in there, things that I’d forgotten about. Just day-by-day stuff in Steve’s life, but he was meticulous about listing it all.

PÓM: Do you do that? Do you keep a journal, or anything like that?

AM: No I don’t. And Steve’s journals are part of the reason why I don’t.

PÓM: Oh yes, one other thing I did want to ask you. Do you remember our last interview? That was the written interview.15

AM: Yes…?

PÓM: Did you ever get any feedback on that, or did you hear – there was a certain amount of…

AM: I don’t know if I did or not, Pádraig. Where would I have got it from?

AM: Well, indeed. There was huge amounts of hoopla on the internet about it, which – it was interesting. It was…

AM: Oh, that was the stuff about the Golliwogg?

PÓM: Yes, the Golliwogg, and…

AM: Yes, that was when I wrote my – Yes, I remember – that was when I spent the Christmas writing the rejoinder?

PÓM: Yes, yes!

AM: Yeah, I didn’t hear much about it, to tell the truth, once I’d got it out of me system, and I thought that the issues had been addressed, I just kind of let it go. Why, did – you say that there was a lot of furore?

PÓM: Oh, I had – when I put it up on my blog, and it just spread out everywhere, and I was getting hundreds of comments and replies. It was all quite fascinating – it genuinely didn’t bother me in any way, shape, or form. The people who said rude things, I just deleted them, because people have strange notions about what the right to free speech actually means. And it was just – it was interesting – it was great. It was a fantastic piece of, em…

AM: Invective?

PÓM: I was going to say a fantastic piece of writing, of a thing to put out there, and I was delighted to be in that way involved with it but, yes, a fine piece of invective, and all the better for it.

AM: I was talking with somebody who read it, and he was saying ‘I think you might have revived a kind of literary form, that has not been really practiced since the eighteenth century,’ the really crushing, bitter, stinging satire, if you will. Yeah, I was quite pleased with it. After doing it, I tended to put it out of me mind.

PÓM: No harm in that. I must say…

AM: Was any of the response positive?

PÓM: Oh yeah! Oh Christ, yes! Plenty of it. There was lots of people who are just happy to do down anything that turns up, but there was a lot of people that thought you gave someone a kickin’ that deserved a kickin’.

LocusAM: Well, that’s good. I had a very nice comment from Ramsey Campbell16. He said, pretty much, ‘Right on, Alan,’ so that was nice. I did see, in the Michael Moorcock issue of Locus that came out recently that Mike, he was talking a little bit about Grant Morrison as well, just because he was asked some question about why he doesn’t encourage other people to do Jerry Cornelius stories these days, which apparently does rather connect up with some of Morrison’s work. Ah, I thought it needed saying, and it was better out than in.

PÓM: Well, indeed. Sure, it’s all part of life’s rich pageant.

AM: Absolutely.

MelindaPÓM: How’s Melinda?17

AM: Mel’s fine – oh, yes, that’s something that I should probably tell you about. Mel is preparing for her first spectacular exhibition. This will be at the Horse Hospital in Bloomsbury.

PÓM: Oh, I love Bloomsbury, I have to say. I could live in Bloomsbury.18

AM: Have you been to the Horse Hospital?

PÓM: I don’t think we have, no.

AM: Well, I did a gig there with the lovely Kirsten Norrie19 – which also, she appears with me in that, By Our Selves, the John Clare film. But I did a gig where Kirstin was singing, and I was reading a part of Jerusalem, so I went to the Horse Hospital, and in there, I knew that our gig was underground, in the basement, and I thought, ‘Oh, this is a bit weird, there’s no stairs, there’s just these ramps.’ And then I thought ‘Horse Hospital!

But it’s a lovely little space, and I believe that Mel will be doing her exhibition there on April the 10th, and there’s tons and tons of drawings, there’s seven or eight of her paintings, and I believe that there might be some bronze busts that she’s done of the three main characters from Lost Girls. So, if anyone reading this happens to be in the Bloomsbury area around April 10th this year, they could do worse than to drop in.

PÓM: I shall be sure to tell people.

AM: OK, you take care, like I say, Pádraig, and love to Deirdre – and that’s what Mel’s doing, she’s preparing that.

———————————————————————————————————-

FOOTNOTES:

1On the 6th of September 2014 the Daily Mail carried a story that DNA evidence had been found on a scarf – allegedly once the property of Catherine Eddowes, the fourth of the five ‘canonical’ victims of the serial killer known as Jack the Ripper, whose exploits set Victorian London into a frenzy of speculation which has still not died away – which proved that the killer was actually Polish immigrant Aaron Kosminski. The story is here, although you really also need to read the refutation, here, as well.

2I refer you to the Koch’s Snowflake page on Wikipedia, because they explain it better than I ever will.

Chasing the Ripper3Crime writer Patricia Cornwell wrote a book called Portrait of a Killer — Jack the Ripper: Case Closed, published in 2002, where she claimed that British painter Walter Sickert was the Whitechapel murderer, and went to extraordinary – and, frankly, borderline insane – lengths to prove it, including supposedly cutting up one of his paintings in an effort to find clues of some kind. There’s an excellent piece about it on the Casebook: Jack the Ripper website, here. In the meantime, Cornell has written more on the subject, a Kindle Single called Chasing the Ripper, published in 2014, and available here, if you’re feeling brave.

4 Yes, she really says something almost exactly like that. Here‘s the relevant bit from the documentary, courtesy of those nice people over at YouTube.

5Patricia Cornwell isn’t actually a ‘real-life pathologist,’ although she did work in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Virginia for six years, first as a technical writer and then as a computer analyst, so had at least some input into their findings, one imagines.

6Dr Kay Scarpetta, the protagonist of twenty-two Cornwell novels thus far.

Fathomless Riches7The Reverend Richard Coles is a Church of England priest, currently working as the parish priest of St Mary the Virgin, Finedon, Northampton, in the Diocese of Peterborough. He was previously in The Communards with Jimmy Somerville, formerly of The Bronsky Beat, with whom Coles had also occasionally played. He is openly gay and lives with his civil partner in a celibate relationship, although they have four dachshunds, and he remains the only vicar in Britain to have had a Number 1 hit single. Above and beyond all that, he does regular appearances on the television and radio in Britain, and is a thoroughly lovely human being. He did an appearance in the British Library on Friday the 20th of February 2015 to publicise his autobiography, Fathomless Riches, which I attended with my wife Deirdre.

8Robin Ince is an English Science-Comedian and renowned Atheist. He is involved with the occasionally annual Christmastime event Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People, as well as the radio programme The Infinite Monkey Cage, both of which have included Alan Moore on occasion.

9If you think I’m being overly mean in describing the Rev. Coles as a bad dancer, I suggest you go look at this video of The Communards performing Never Can Say Goodbye

, and make up your own mind. The British Library, by the way, is one of my favourite places in the whole wide world. If Heaven is not very like it, I shall be very disappointed.

secondavecover110Joyce Brabner is an American comics writer, and the widow of the late Harvey Pekar. She has collaborated with Moore before, on Brought to Light, and on Real War Comics. Most recently she has written the non-fiction graphic novel Second Avenue Caper: When Goodfellas, Divas, and Dealers Plotted Against the Plague, about the real-life efforts of people caught up in the AIDS epidemic in New York in the early 1980s. It’s good stuff, and you all need to go read it.

Swandown11Swandown is a 2012 film in which Andrew Kötting and Iain Sinclair pedaled a swan pedalo down the Thames from the Hastings, on the sea, to Hackney, in London, occasionally joined by people like Alan Moore and comedian Stewart Lee. Look, I promise I’m not making this stuff up, and there’s a photograph to prove it. From left to right we have Lee, Moore, Kötting, and Sinclair.

12John Clare, known as The Northamptonshire Peasant Poet, was the writer of collections like Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery and Village Minstrel and other Poems. The film By Our Selves is in part based on Iain Sinclair’s book The Edge of the Orison: In the Traces of John Clare’s ‘Journey Out of Essex’. More information can be found on the By Our Selves Kickstarter page. It was successfully funded, and the project is ongoing.

Toby Jones13Toby Jones is an excellent English actor. Amongst other things, he has done the voice of Dobby the House Elf in the Harry Potter films, appeared in an episode of Doctor Who, and had parts in films like Captain America: The First Avenger, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Hunger Games, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and many many more.

14Mad Love Publishing is a publishing company Moore set up in the late 1980s with others, originally to publish AARGH (Artists Against Rampant Government Homophobia), and subsequently the first two issues of Big Numbers. The company had a long hiatus, but has reappeared recently as the publisher of Dodgem Logic, and most recently of The Dying Fire, a poetry collection by Moore’s old school friend Dominic Allard. The Northants Herald & Post reported on the story here.

15The interview referred to hear, which Alan doesn’t at first realise I’m referring to, is the infamous Last Alan Moore Interview?, which some of you may have already read, or at least read about. It has, to date, a bit over 100,000 views, and 350 replies, which is not too bad for the first post on a new blog!

doll216Ramsey Campbell is an English horror writer who has written numerous novels, including The Doll Who Ate His Mother, The Face That Must Die, and The House on Nazareth Hill, as well as numerous collections of short stories. He has a list of awards for his work as long as your arm, including the British Fantasy Award, the World Fantasy Award, the International Horror Guild Award, and the Bram Stoker Award.

17Melinda Gebbie is an American comics creator, now settled with her husband, Alan Moore, in the heart of England. They’ve worked together on various things, including Lost Girls.

18Bloomsbury is the bit of London that contains the British Museum, occasional headquarters of the Victorian version of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and the British Library. It’s full of culturally wonderfully stuff, parks with friendly squirrels in, and lots of Blue Plaques to all sorts of writers and the like. I recommend you go visit, at least once in your life. The exhibition in the Horse Hospital runs until the 9th of May, so there’s time to see it yet.

19Kirsten Norrie is a Scottish artist and musician, and a member of Wolf in the Winter, an international performance collective.

3 Comments on Alan Moore Interview Part III – Jack the Ripper, Joyce Brabner, and a Swan-Shaped Pedalo, last added: 4/27/2015
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14. Greg Weisman’s Rain of the Ghosts Kickstarter has a stretch goal: a comic book

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Neither audio plays nor YA projects have a great track record on Kickstarter, so the success of RAIN OF THE GHOSTS is a real outlier. But when you look under the hood, you can see why it succeeded: it’s an audio play adapting the YA novel by Greg Weisman, creator of Disney’s Gargoyles, one of the main writers for Star Wars Rebels and Young Justice, and currently the writer on Star Wars Kanan: The Last Padawan for Marvel. Weisman brought along some of his pals for the audio, including Marina Sirtis and Brent Spiner, among many other voice acting heavy hitters. You can see the whole list below.

Weisman chats about the project with our own Alex Jones here.

While the project has been funded—is now the all-time most funded Young Adult project in Kickstarter’s Publishing division—they’re a few thousand $$$ short of the first stretch goal: a 20 page comic adapting the the book, with art by Christopher Jones. So get those funding bucks ready.

The story of the novel, first in a proposed series, involves a young girl coming to terms with her supernatural heritage.

Here’s the cast list:

• Thom Adcox (Gargoyles, Young Justice, Felix the Cat);
• Edward Asner (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Gargoyles, Up);
• Jeff Bennett (Gargoyles, Young Justice, Batman: The Brave and the Bold);
• Steve Blum (The Spectacular Spider-Man, Star Wars Rebels);
• Daniella Bobadilla (Anger Management, Smallville);
• Jim Cummings (Gargoyles, Darkwing Duck, Winnie the Pooh);
• Elisa Gabrielli (Gargoyles, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Madagascar);
• Bryton James (Young Justice, The Young and the Restless);
• Josh Keaton (The Spectacular Spider-Man, Green Lantern: The Animated Series);
• Eric Lopez (The Spectacular Spider-Man, Young Justice);
• Vanessa Marshall (Young Justice, Star Wars Rebels, Guardians of the Galaxy);
• Jacqueline Obradors (NYPD Blue, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Young Justice);
• Gregg Rainwater (Gargoyles, Young Justice, The Young Riders);
• Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Gargoyles, Young Justice);
• Brent Spiner (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Gargoyles, Star Wars Rebels);
• Deborah Strang (The Spectacular Spider-Man);
• Joel Swetow (Charmed, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine);
• Jacob Vargas (Sons of Anarchy, Max Steel);
• Greg Weisman (The Spectacular Spider-Man, Young Justice).

















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15. Indiegogo and Vimeo Form Partnership to Support Filmmakers

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.

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16. Templesmith Does Lovecraft

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.

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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.

Dagon

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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.

3 Comments on Templesmith Does Lovecraft, last added: 2/13/2015
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17. Kickstarter alert: Comic Book People 2: Photographs from the 1990s by Jackie Estrada

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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.

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That’s Frank MIller, Neil Gaiman, Bill Sienkiewicz, Bernie Wrightson and Dave Gibbons from 1991.

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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:

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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.

3 Comments on Kickstarter alert: Comic Book People 2: Photographs from the 1990s by Jackie Estrada, last added: 2/28/2015
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18. Ryan Cody discusses ‘Doc Unknown’ Kickstarter success

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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.

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“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.

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.

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19. Crowdwatch: Anarchists and criminals in ‘The Illegalists’ by Vogel, Pierce and Futaki

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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.)

______________

THE ILLEGALISTS

A Graphic Novel Based on True Events

 

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             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.

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After a co-worker is injured and cast aside by the factory, Jules attends a subversive meeting which organizes strikes..


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After much talk of revolution…

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Jules is badly beaten…

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and arrested.

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His life of Crime begins…

http://kck.st/1CkhWKX

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20. A.J. Jacobs Launches Indiegogo Campaign

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.

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21. Interview: Jeff McComsey Talks Going to War with the Latest FUBAR Kickstarter

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.

Special Ops

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.

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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].

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

Alterna

Alterna Comics.

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.

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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.

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22. Review: ‘Lady Sabre’ Kickstarter Package Delivers

By Matt O’Keefe

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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

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23. 21st Century TANK GIRL will be published by Titan in June

21st_Century_Tank_Girl_1_Cover_ATitan 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!

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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!

1 Comments on 21st Century TANK GIRL will be published by Titan in June, last added: 3/22/2015
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24. Kickstarter’s new Spotlight feature: an ongoing storefront for creators

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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:

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And how they’ll look now:

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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:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7KLTEWL8S4

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25. Julia Wertz on illegal pinball—and running her own crowdfunder

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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:

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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.

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