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by Zachary Clemente
Original painting by Stephen Gladue.
Kickstarter has been the way for me to find new comic projects and boy am I glad to have come across this project. Moonshot from Alternative History Comics and edited by Hope Nicholson, is a 200 page collection of short stories from Indigenous creators across North America showcasing the rich heritage and identity of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis storytelling. Comics fan have been advocating for unique voices and creators in comics; now is a great time to show your support and back this project!
Here are some of the fantastic creators in Moonshot:
Claude St-Aubin (R.E.B.E.L.S., Green Lantern, Captain Canuck), Jeffery Veregge (G.I. Joe, Judge Dredd), Stephen Gladue (MOONSHOT cover artist), Haiwei Hou (Two Brothers),Nicholas Burns (Arctic Comics, Curse of Chucky, Super Shamou), Scott B. Henderson (Man to Man, Tales from Big Spirit), Jon Proudstar (Tribal Force), George Freeman (Captain Canuck, Aquaman, Batman), Mark Shainblum (Northguard, Corum: The Bull and The Spear),Elizabeth LaPensee (Survivance, The Nature of Snakes, Fala), Buffy Sainte-Marie (Fire & Fleet & Candlelight, Coincidence & Likely Stories), Richard Van Camp (Path of the Warrior, Kiss Me Deadly), Ryan Huna Smith (Tribal Force), David Robertson (The Evolution of Alice, Stone), Steve Sanderson (Darkness Calls, Journey of the Healer), Michael Yahgulanaas (RED), Michael Sheyahshe (Native Americans in Comic Books, Dark Owl), David Cutler (The Northern Guard), and more!
From the Kickstarter page:
Moonshot will be printed as a 200 page, full colour, high quality volume showcasing a wide variety of stories and artistic styles, highlighting the complex identity of indigenous culture from across North America. Most of the original stories created exclusively for this volume are between 5-10 pages, including pinup art and prose passages.
The traditional stories presented in Moonshot are with the permission from the elders in their respective communities, making this a truly genuine, never-before-seen publication!
“Water Spirit” by Haiwei Hou.
Complete with exciting rewards, including beautiful stamps (mail from Canada only) from artist Jeffrey Veregge, prints, and a special hardcover edition, Moonshot is definitely a project to back, even if only to add to the growing part of your bookshelf for Kickstarted comics.
Take a look at MOONSHOT and find out more about Alternative History Comics.
Return with us to the simpler days of 2007 when Nicholas’s Gurewitch’s The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories, a collection of his Perry Bible Fellowship comics was a best selling delight, and Gurewitch was the next Gary Larsen. AlAlthoughne more PBF book appeared—The Perry Bible Fellowship Almanack—it was the last as Gurewitch investigated some television opportunities and animation, settling into a sort of “Where is he now?” status. Although the occasional PBF strip appears, it isn’t like the olden days. (I still quote “A Hit for Bobby.”)
However, Gurewitch is back with a new book, to be Kickstarted: Notes on a Case of Melancholia, Or: A Little Death. The book was quickly funded, and stretch goals are now in the works. It’s not a comic, but more of a picture book, about “Death’s despair regarding his kid- an affectionate “Little Death” who simply doesn’t have what it takes to carry on the family business.” Certainly a macabre topic that pairs will with the rest of Gurewitch’s oeuvre.
I guess being as consistently funny was Gurewitch wasn’t that easy, but seeing him come back with some books is an excellent return for a singular talent.
In the world wide web there’s a lot that goes unnoticed, even in more niche industries like comics. For the last few years artist Gannon Beck, along with various writers, has been telling tales of the Spaces Corps, a guild reminiscent of the Green Lantern Corps at DC or the Nova Corps at Marvel. What separates it from those is its authenticity in depicting actual military life, thanks in large part to Beck’s time in the Marines. The zero issue is currently funding its print run on Kickstarter while the third issue is going strong as a webcomic. I talked with Gannon Beck about the evolution Space Corps from how it started to what’s coming next.
What was your background in comics before Space Corps?
In high school I did comics with a friend. We did them for fun, but looking back, I have to say that those comics projects were instrumental in developing my illustration ability. We also did a few gag strips—one strip about aliens that crash landed on earth that we tried unsuccessfully to get syndicated, and another strip called The Big Gap that was about a retired Marine living with his grandson. We did The Big Gap as a webcomic for a few years. It eventually petered out, but it was fun and helped hone our writing and drawing skills. It’s actually really hard to write captivating strips in four panels. I like the long form format of comic books much better; however, because of how we set up the grid for Space Corps, which is 4 x 4 panels, I can smuggle a daily strip style of writing into the pages.
You explain well how Space Corps got started on the Kickstarter page, but how did you connect with your other collaborators on the project?
Joey Groah was the instigator. Joey heard about an art class that I taught every week at the local comic book shop and stopped by to introduce himself. He was already a member of Comics Experience and introduced me to a bunch of people on the workshop. He also introduced me to his childhood friend and writer, Bryan Richmond. Especially at the beginning of my time at Comics Experience, I did a bunch of short stories with various writers. The collaboration with Bryan led to Space Corps and stories just kept erupting from it. Rather than fight it, we just went with it.
You’re a very capable writer, so why did you collaborate with other writers for Space Corps #0 and beyond?
There is no question that Space Corps wouldn’t be the same, and wouldn’t be as good, had I tried to do it on my own. In a creative collaboration like ours, the ideas spark off of each other to form new ideas and concepts.
Take issue 3, for instance. In coming up with the characters in that issue, it was Bryan and I throwing ideas back and forth that made them what they are. Once those characters inserted themselves into the story structure, it took on a life of its own. Once you place a character like Sheg into a boot camp environment, there is a logic as to what that story alchemy is going to be. It was important to me to do an issue on boot camp because it’s one of those touchstone military experiences that all military people share. The idea of Sheg as a character, however, started with Bryan. Even though we’re only half way through the issue, try to imagine the story without Sheg. For that matter, try to imagine the story without Cazarez, who also started with Bryan. I can’t do it. It just wouldn’t be the same story.
I love the story we’re telling, and I love the characters. I also love the process of working these things out with Bryan. We’re having a good time doing this, and I think that shows up in the work as well.
Rewards from the ‘Space Corps’ Kickstarter.
How have you been promoting Space Corps the webcomic and, more recently, Space Corps the Kickstarter?
For the most part, it has been social media and conventions. It’s a looong road, though. It can take a long time to build an audience.
Recently we’ve been experimenting with breaking up the pages into dailies. The 16 panel grid lends itself to that really well. We post the dailies on Facebook and Twitter, and that has increased engagement a lot. In the documentary, Stripped, Bill Watterson talked about how when daily newspapers were thriving, comic strips became a part of people’s daily routine—a part of their ritual. Breaking the pages into dailies is our attempt to get back to that.
All of this is ironic. The first comic books were just repackaged daily strips from newspapers. Eventually, publishers started commissioning new material, and the form evolved. Now, with the internet and people’s limited attention spans, we’re reverse engineering the comics page to get back to where it all started—the daily strip.
The point is to make it easy to keep up with—give people bite-sized chunks. Even though we read strips like Calvin and Hobbes in collected volumes, the way people initially fell in love with it was in tiny bits at a time. So that’s why we want you to be able to read Space Corps from the comfort of your own feed.
Is that a smart marketing move? We’ll see, but that’s the thinking behind it.
The military community is known for being an especially supportive one. Has your background played a role in the success of the campaign so far?
It has helped, for sure. People who have been around the military really have supported the comic. Not only veterans like it but their families as well. It feels really good when I put a thought in Deven’s head and a whole bunch of veterans say they’ve had the same thoughts. The first page of issue #3 when Deven is thinking about how to get through the day, for instance, particularly seemed to hit home.
The cultural authenticity in Space Corps is very important to both Bryan and me. When we get it right, people in the military will see a little of themselves and those they serve with in the story. In turn, they’ve been among our biggest supporters.
Aside from the military audience, there are comic book people who really like it as well. That’s been such a boost to us to get all the encouragement we have from people we meet at cons and on the Comics Experience. It gives us the confidence to think maybe we’re not entirely crazy for thinking this is good. Because we’re producing pages without pay, the encouragement we get from both the military and the creative community really helps. We don’t take it for granted at all and are so appreciative for those who have taken a chance on it and liked it.
Kickstarters for single issues are difficult because with shipping you have to charge a high price for one comic. You’re offering the print copy of Space Corps #0 for $8, which is cheaper than some I’ve seen. Still, are you getting any blowback on the cost?
It doesn’t seem to be the case. Sure, we would probably get more if we had a 120 page volume we were offering, but it would also be more expensive to print, so we would need more money. With crowdfunding, it has as much or more to do with helping the endeavor than it does getting the cool thing. At least that’s how I feel about it when I’m supporting someone’s campaign. Don’t get me wrong, I want the thing, but it’s more than that; I want the thing to exist, and I’m willing to pay a little more to help it exist.
When people give us $8 to cover the shipping, I think it’s because of a “help-get-it-off-the-ground” kind of thinking. They know they are helping us bring this into the world. They become a part of the art creation, not just the consumption.
Buttons Gannon designed as a stretch goal for the ‘Space Corps’ Kickstarter.
Do you have stretch marks in mind if you exceed your goal?
We do. The first stretch goal will be a challenge coin. Military units routinely get challenge coins with their unit logo on them. We think it would be cool to do one for Capt Brockett’s unit, the one Deven will end up attached to. If we reach that, we’ll see if we can come up with something else. We really can’t dangle things like, “If you give us more money, we’ll give you more Space Corps,” because more Space Corps is coming no matter what. Bryan and I are committed to telling these stories.
What do you want out of this Kickstarter, other than funding?
Other than funding, the marketing Kickstarter provides is helpful. We want to keep growing our audience. We’re proud of the work, and we think a lot more people, military and civilians alike, would like it if they just read it. If more people have read Space Corps because of the Kickstarter, then that’s a success in addition to the funding.
It doesn’t look like we’ll go ridiculously over our Kickstarter goal, so none of this money is going to go to Bryan, Joey and me. If we go over the amount we’re asking for, it’s going to go into printing more books. The more books we can get into circulation, the more people have a chance to fall in love with the characters. At this stage of the project, that’s our focus.
An example of a sketch cover reward offered by the Kickstarter.
The subsequent issues of Space Corps are gray wash, not color. Is that how you’ll print them?
We treat the short stories differently than the ongoing series. After issue #0 we really want to break the series off into two different series. One series will just contain 8 page short stories like we saw in issue #0. I’m not even sure that we know what we want to call the short story series. With the short stories, though, we can be expansive– go forwards or backwards in time to tell a story. I can get experimental with the art and work with other creators. A lot of writers have expressed interest in writing Space Corps short stories, and I think it’s a great idea. Most of those, if not all, will be in color.
The main story, which is more linear than the short stories, is a part of a grand structure. The gray tones are important because, even though it’s science fiction, we intentionally want to invoke a connection with WW2 and WW1. Most photos and film we see of those periods are in black and white, so by using gray tones, we can tap into those motifs thematically and emotionally. I experimented with different styles, even water color in the way Matt Kindt works on MIND MGMT, but thematically gray tones made more sense.
I also want the main series to look hand drawn. I love looking at combat art, and most work done by combat artists tends to be gestural. I want the readers to be aware they are looking at something that is drawn by hand.
A recent page of ‘Space Corps’ utilizing a 16-panel grid.
I’m really excited to see future issues hit publication, because you really open up your work. I’m astounded with how effortless you make a 16-panel page look. I can’t imagine asking for that panel count from an artist, but you co-write this so you must enjoy them.
Thanks. It’s a function of knowing how to use the grid. Because we want to make each issue about something, even if it’s a part of a larger arc, we sometimes need to have high panel counts. Sometimes we’ll fit 2 to 3 pages of story onto a single page. A strict grid used with strict rules helps organize the information in a way that make it work. I can easily use repetition and contrast in the layout in a way that makes the reader pause or shift gears on a page when I want them to.
You’re in the midst of Issue 3 of Space Corps as a webcomic. When does the first arc end?
The first arc ends in issue 6. In the first three issues, we wanted you to get a feel for who Deven is before he joins the Space Corps. The internment camp, leaving home, and boot camp are all important stories. They give context to Deven’s evolution as a person as he deals with becoming a cog in the machinery of war. In issues 4, 5, and 6 the situation is going to get exponentially more harrowing for Deven. If you’ve been loving it so far, you are in for a ride.
After that, what’s next for Space Corps?
After the first arc, we need to figure out what the second arc will be. We’ve got plenty of ideas, and it’s just a matter of narrowing it down and picking the next story we want to tell. Ultimately we’ll pick the strongest and most logical story to tell after issue #6.
It’s possible we may find a publisher for the first arc, but if not, we’ll Kickstart the trade.
Beyond even the first and second arcs, we know where the story is headed, and we’ve got tent poles of the story figured out along the way—at least in broad terms. Whether it takes 20 issues to get to the end or 70 issues, we don’t know. It’s way more than six, though.
What have you been working on recently other than Space Corps?
As far as comics, I’m doing the layouts for Past the Last Mountain with Paul Allor and Louie Joyce. It’s been a ton of fun.
I also do some parody comics for kicks. I’ve done a Batman parody with my friend, Troy McDevitt, where Batman is interviewing a new Robin because he goes through so many. Troy and I also did a Star Wars parody about how the Death Star was so poorly designed they only included one bathroom. The whole story is about Emperor Palpatine hogging the bathroom. Troy and I have known each other since we were teenagers and these stories come about from us cracking each other up making jokes. I do the parody comics very loose, just to get the jokes out of my system. I don’t spend a ton of time on them but they’re fun.
What are your short term goals as a comic book creator?
Just to keep getting better at the craft and figuring out ways to increase production on the cheap. There is nothing really sexy about it. I read everything I can. I see what’s working for other creators, and when I see a process or tool that’s interesting, I try it out to see if it works for me.
How about long term? Where do you want to be in [x] years?
Space Corps is it for the foreseeable future. It’s going to take years to get this story out. I’m not opposed to work-for-hire on small projects, but I’ve never viewed Space Corps as a stepping-stone to work-for-hire. Space Corps is what I want to do.
For me, Space Corps more than just a cool science fiction story. It’s a vehicle to help process a lifetime spent around the military. Military service has been a family affair. The heaviest fighting seen in my family, and possibly in all of history, was on Tarawa and Iwo Jima, where my grandfather served as a Sea Bee. It’s why Cpl Hive is full of bees. He is an homage to my grandfather. In a larger sense, though, the world has grown up in the wake of WW2. I’ve grown especially aware of how we’re still affected by the ripples of the war. I’ve lived in Japan both as child and an adult as a part of the treaty signed at the end of the war. I lived in Berlin at the end of high school, surrounded by a wall erected in the aftermath of how Germany was divided when the Third Reich fell. That gave me a front row seat to the end of the cold war when the wall fell. I stood on the wall, shoulder to shoulder with East and West Germans, the night freedom took hold of all of Germany.
WW2 isn’t the only historical inspiration for Space Corps. That said, even Vietnam, Korea, and the wars in the Gulf have to be looked at a little through the lens of WW2. WW2 brought on the nuclear age. Also during WW2, America reflexively emerged as a world military power that has remained unrivaled until this day. The military we have today is a result of the military that was built during the 40s. We had a strong military in place for the conflicts in Korea and later, Vietnam. Caught in the current of history, my dad fought and was wounded in Vietnam. Two of my uncles fought in Vietnam as well, one who was killed in combat, leaving behind his pregnant wife.
My older brother was the first to join out of my family in my generation. He joined the Marine infantry and was in one of the first units into Kuwait during the first Gulf War.
My own military experience, while unremarkable, helps give me insights I wouldn’t otherwise have. While my brother was liberating Kuwait, I was in boot camp. The cease fire was called days before I graduated from Parris Island, and I enjoyed a hero’s welcome on boot leave for doing nothing. The nation reflexively and consciously made sure it treated veterans better than it had after Vietnam. As a result, I received the free sodas and thanks my brother earned. In March of 1991, while I got to soak it up, he was still living in a shallow hole in the desert. Whereas I got to witness the cold war break down in Berlin as a bystander, I helped monitor its end doing intelligence work in the Marines. In Korea I stood on the DMZ and listened to both countries blast propaganda on loudspeakers like quarrelling children. The contrast of standing on a demarcation of oppression as it dissolved, like it did in Berlin, and standing on one that was still festering, like in Korea, was stark to say the least.
When out of the Marines, as a volunteer, I helped high schoolers get in shape for boot camp. As a result, I’ve met the kids in my community as they signed up for service in the midst of two wars. I’ve seen the mix of pride and apprehension on their parents’ faces as they said their good-byes, knowing their children would likely end up in a warzone.
Then there is the logo work I do for the military, which has given me yet another perspective. Through the most recent wars I’ve talked almost daily with the men and women doing the fighting. For over a decade I’ve collaborated with Marines, soldiers, airmen and sailors about artwork that best captures how they view themselves. I’ve done over 2000 of these designs —each and every one of the logos a collaboration with the unit. The resulting art is a record of the mindset of warfighters as they prepare for and fight wars.
War is the most serious of human endeavors. The stakes couldn’t be higher for civilizations and the individuals who wage it. Space Corps is a way to get at themes and topics related to war that we don’t think about maybe as often as we should. Lurking in Space Corps are a lot of stories I need to explore. In comics, my long-term goal is to keep telling this story.
This is the gameplay trailer for Armikrog, the stop motion animated game by Doug TenNapel and Pencil Test Studios.
By: Tonia Allen Gould
Blog: Tonia Allen Gould's Blog
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This week, I’m especially thankful – thankful I have a solid roof over my head and a home with windows and doors, and readily available food hand-picked from a market, proper medicine and supplies, running water and yes, definitely yes, flushing toilet facilities and a roll of paper always at an arm’s reach to me.
I’m equally thankful I’ve seen with my own eyes, through experiential and cultural travel, a part of the world along the Caribbean Coast, in developing Nicaragua – so now I know what it means to call myself truly fortunate.
I’m thankful for the opportunities, present and past, I’ve had bestowed upon me simply because I’m a red, white and blue, flag-waving American, and thankful to know I could, if I had to, live without surplus and modern conveniences, electricity and things that don’t really matter if it came down to instinctual survival. I am heartened and enlightened to know there are nations of people everywhere, especially in developing countries, that know far more about survival than many of us ever could. And, it is they that have much to show us on what that really means, and globally, we can each benefit from showcasing our cultural differences in a non-exploitative, educational way.
I’m thankful to know I can survive under dire circumstances because I’ve seen people, with my own eyes, who have literally nothing and yet maybe, in some ways, they have everything they could ever want and need, because they know how to live and thrive in some of the poorest conditions on the planet and still know what it means to be a part of a community and to love and support their families.
I’m thankful that I can now put my personal judgements and biases aside, because I’ve seen impoverished children, far more impoverished than I ever was growing up – living below the poverty line in Midwestern America. While many of the people I met may be lacking in opportunity, Nicaraguan children still smile and are happy, because they are each cared for by an entire village of people, and causes, who invest their hearts and souls into their wellbeing and care, despite economic conditions.
Mostly, I am thankful that I have stumbled upon the Finding Corte Magore project which has put me on a personal path to growth and the opportunity to work and mindshare with some of the smartest and caring people I can ever hope to know. I am thankful that we have “found” Corte Magore and that I have had the great pleasure of coming to know the Campbell family, and their beautiful, private island of Hog Cay, Nicaragua, and that I have personally earned their family’s trust and support in the Finding Corte Magore project. It’s a huge undertaking and I’m comforted to know, it will take our own village of incredible people, to raise this project to be everything it promises to be.
See you on Corte Magore!
The Finding Corte Magore Project
Coming Soon on Hog Cay, Nicaragua
Tonia Allen Gould
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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Kickstarter maestros Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray of Paperfilms are at it again, this time with a Western, Abbadon, a tale of murder and mayhem set in a town full of just about every vice you can imagine. As with previous projects, the book is being funded on Kickstarter, and as of this writing is a few thousand dollars from making its goal, with two weeks to go.
It’s only the latest in a series of successful crowdfunding ventures for the Paperfilms team—we spoke with Palmiotti previously about Sex and Violence Vol 2 here and Denver here. This one has a new wrinkle: A partnership with Adaptive Studios, a new company that rescues abandoned IP. Palmiotti graciously answered a few questions about the project and Adaptive for The Beat.
THE BEAT: Unlike some of your other Kickstarters this is an adaptation of an unproduced screenplay? Can you explain the origin of this tale?
JIMMY PALMIOTTI: Justin and I were introduced to the crew from Adaptive Studios by a mutual friend and I flew out to California to meet and talk to them about what our company, Paperfilms does, show them the books we have done and think about how we can work on some projects together. Since Paperfilms is just a couple of people, on our end, we can put books together, but we really don’t have time to do much else and we thought this partnership would be an interesting one since the crew at Adaptive specialize in a lot of multi media including publishing and have connections that we either don’t or don’t have the time to pursue since comics are a very labor intensive medium.
We spoke about a few projects while there, and one special one in particular; Abbadon. We read the screenplay a few times and after some back and forth, thought this would make a great graphic novel with us adding our take on it. Even more attractive to us was we felt it would be a great world building project since the bigger picture outside the graphic novel is the town itself and its place in history. So bottom line is we fell in love with the screenplay, did our take of it, built on it and then went out and put a team together to do the art on the graphic novel. What backers of the Kickstarter will get is a complete story, cover to cover, that has a bigger picture built into it that we hope to continue building on.
THE BEAT: Adaptive Studios’ business plan involving rescuing abandoned IP. What does that mean and how does your partnership work?
PALMIOTTI: Adaptive studios is rescuing some IP as well as working with us to create new properties and exciting graphic novels. With anything I do in this business, it’s all about relationships and partnering with like minds that share similar goals. We do it on every single project when working with artists and designers, creating what we think are the perfect representation of the story we are working on. When I met and spent some time with the crew at Adaptive, I found that we had a lot of the same goals in common which was really exciting. Adaptive studios totally respected with Justin and I did, and since they didn’t do graphic novels themselves, this partnership made sense to us. The best part of working with them is that they really love graphic storytelling and like us, have a love of all genres, so partnering with them has been a no brainer. On Abbadon, they brought the project to us and we fell in love with the idea and built on it. Our next project together will be an original idea we had that they liked, and we are going to see how we can make it all come together. Partnering with anyone doesn’t make sense unless the other person can bring something to the table and we think by working together, we can do some pretty amazing things. Abbadon is our first project and right now, the focus is on us to put together a stunning graphic novel and hopefully a successful Kickstarter campaign.
THE BEAT: You’ve returned to the Western genre, where you told so many great stories with Jonah Hex—did you feel you had more Western stories to tell?
PALMIOTTI: For me, it’s a genre that will never get old because the classic storytelling elements are always at play. A successful genre always has certain elements to it that have universal appeal, and with Abbadon, it’s no different. With Jonah Hex, we based all of our stories around a main character and it was a fun ride, but with something like Abbadon, we can tell a ton of stories based on the set up in this graphic novel we couldn’t tell in a book like Jonah because we were always dealing with content specific guidelines. The book was basically an all ages one and with Abbadon, we are telling a more adult story with elements that we would never get away with in a million years in Hex. So, yes, we have more stories to tell, but we want to tell them as we see them.
THE BEAT: I assume Abbadon refers to the town this is set in—some people may remember it as the name of an enigmatic character from Lost, but it’s also a Biblical term for a bottomless pit. How does the story reflect that?
PALMIOTTI: The town name is based on the biblical name and what it represents. The story and main character is the lawless town itself, and how the people in it are tempting fate on a daily basis. It’s a town where lust, greed, pride, and madness are right at home. It’s the most fun place you can go and it may also be the last place you visit as well, depending on your deepest desires. We took the worst of the classic old west and created a lawless sin city that the reader will find fascinating on many levels. The main story about a killer on the loose has everything to do with the story itself and the characters involved with the hunting of the madman. There is a lot of character development within the 64 pages and its something we have a lot of experience with .
THE BEAT: Reading the description on the Kickstarter page, this sounds like a western detective story. What else should readers know about what this story is about?
PALMIOTTI: The graphic novel Abbadon is set in the late 1880’s American West and features some of the most intriguing characters we have ever had the pleasure to work on. This is the story of an expanding wealthy city steeped in sin, where anything is possible if you have the money, influence and power to obtain it. Poised to become the next boomtown, Abbadon is plagued by a series of grisly murders heralding the arrival of U.S. Marshall Wes Garrett.
A legendary lawman, Garrett’s claim to fame is that he killed a notorious murderer, who cut a bloody swath across the country and left scores of mutilated men, women and children in his wake. Garrett’s arrival exposes the secret that Abbadon’s sheriff Colt Dixon has desperately been trying to conceal – the victims have all been mutilated the same way they were by the killer Garret stopped – a man some called a monster, but the papers called him Bloody Bill.
Garrett and Dixon reluctantly join forces and have opposing ways of dealing with the situation at hand as they try to uncover the killer’s identity in a town so full of corruption that everyone is a suspect. It really is a great story because the characters themselves are really interesting.
THE BEAT: You worked with Fabrizio Fiorentino on All Star Western—what does his art style bring to a Western comic?
PALMIOTTI: Fabrizio knows his stuff and his illustrations and character drawings add a real world quality to the story and his storytelling and figure work breath life into our script in a way that is both beautiful and horrifying at the same time because of the subject matter. When we worked with him on All Star it was towards the end of the run and we wanted to find another project to work on together and this one was the perfect fit. The really cool thing about the book is each page is better than the last.
THE BEAT: The Western genre is considered kind of passe now, but western movies were once as popular as superhero movies are now. Do you think there could ever be a comeback for Westerns or has the time passed?
PALMIOTTI: I think there is always room for a quality story to be told no matter what the genre. Westerns are no different. I find it funny that the American western is a lot more fascinating to people living outside the U.S. and still has strong appeal.
THE BEAT: Any new features of your Kickstarter model with this project? It’s already more than half funded after a few days with minimal promotion (Editors note: , so you must be doing something right!
PALMIOTTI: We tried something different with this Kickstarter and focused on our usual backers first, and now we are spending the next few weeks going out and promoting the book to everyone. Only the people that have done Kickstarters realize just how much work it is to not only create the book, but getting a campaign together and especially promotion is a full time job. With our past Kickstarters, they always start out strong out of the gate and it’s the last few weeks we have to really focus on. The fun part of this process is that if we hit the number we are asking for, we can get really creative with the stretch goals and offer some really cool things to everyone backing Abbadon. At the end of the day, the art and story are the real sellers for this project and its up to us to deliver the goods. I am happiest to see that a lot of people are buying the digital version, which is only $5. I can see that these pledges are coming in from all over the world and I find this all to be really exciting. A big thanks for all of you that have supported this and past projects and to those new to Kickstarter, go have fun and explore the site. There are so many amazing comics and graphic novels to choose from.
Here we go again: another alternative publisher has turned to crowdfunding to stockpile some scratch for an upcoming list. This time it’s Last Gasp, the venerable SF institution that published some of the great foundational underground comics and now publishes and distributes art book,s comics and lovely ephemera, has a campaign for its fall list.
The Kickstarter has been running a little while but has a ways to go, so it’s a good time to get in on it. Rewards include books by Camille Gargia Rose, Ron English, Henry Sultan, t-shirts, Weirdo magazine bundles and all kinds of good stuff. If you like Undergrounds/Juxtapoz/pop surrealism or just eccentric amazing things, this is for you.
Do you want to live in a world filled with beautiful art books and bizarre printed matter? Of course you do!
Join us – be a part of Last Gasp’s fall publishing season and help launch the next fleet of twisted art books into laps, coffee tables, and bookshelves worldwide.
The book business is changing. In the past, it was “difficult” to publish unusual books. Now it is nearly impossible. To cover the costs of printing we need up-front support from people who love books.
The money you contribute will go directly into the printing and production costs of these forthcoming publications.
About Last Gasp:
Since 1970, Last Gasp has been an axis of the art and counterculture communities in San Francisco and beyond, publishing both emerging and established artists.
From our early years publishing underground comix to more recent art books, we’ve tried to publish unusual artists whose artwork moves us on a visceral level. In more than four decades we have published books with artists such as Robert Crumb, Mark Ryden,Camille Rose Garcia,Gary Baseman, Robert Williams, Junko Mizuno,Trina Robbins, S. Clay Wilson, Justin Green, Spain Rodriguez, Keiji Nakazawa, Suehiro Maruo, Elizabeth McGrath, Timothy Leary, Todd Schorr, Ron English, Laurie Lipton, Diane DiPrima, and countless others.
In addition to publishing, Last Gasp is a distributor, selling books from small and independent publishers to a network of booksellers worldwide.
Choose a reward and help us ensure this weirdness lives on!
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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While at SPX this year, I was able to grab a quick word with seven amazing cartoonists about their work in Hana Doki Kira, a Shōjo comic and illustration anthology released earlier this year after a rather successful Kickstarter campaign. Not only filled with gorgeous work inspired by Shōjo – a sub-genre of manga covering a wide variety of subjects, often with a strong focus on human and romantic relationships. As the anthology itself describes:
Shōjo is known for its distinctive use of flowery imagery, magical plot devices, and romantic themes. Out book takes its title from three key elements of the Shōjo world: Hana meaning flower, Doki echoing the sound of a pounding heart, and Kira – the impression of sparkling beauty.
Contributors to Hana Doki Kira in attendance at SPX were: Alice Meichi Li, Carey Pietsch, Kris Mukai, Megan Brennan, Rebecca Mock, Tim Ferrara, and Annie Stoll – who served as “art director” on the project. I asked each their introduction to Shōjo, how it has influenced their work, and what working on an anthology was like.
Captive of the Roses by Alice Meichi Li
One of the most popular and influential Shōjo series, Sailor Moon was named as a gateway for many not only into the genre, but into comics in general.
When I was very young, one of my babysitters introduced me to Sailor Moon and at the time I had a serious need for stories about ladies and stories about girls who are fully-realized characters who got to be silly and dumb and got to express their wants and needs; but also be powerful and have agency in their own world. That started a life-long love affair. [...] I love stories about girls, about things girls love by women – it’s a wonderful thing. – Carey Pietsch
Megan Brennan: I wasn’t really into comics until some of my friends started reading Sailor Moon and other Shōjo comics and I realized that comics could be something completely different and I connected with it [Shōjo] really strongly. It was the only comics I read for a really long time because it was telling these stories I couldn’t get elsewhere; girls were the main characters, girl-things were important, and the things they cared would we life-changing and monumental; it was great. – Megan Brennan
Someone handed me Sailor Moon volume 10 in middle school at a school dance; I sat down, read the whole thing, my life was changed forever and I never looked back. – Rebecca Mock
It’s an understatement that there’s a drought in comics for stories starring or aimed at girls and it seems that many readers left wanted found what they needed in Shōjo such as Sailor Moon. Though he didn’t interact directly with Shōjo until later, Tim Ferrara remarked on how it informs his current work:
I didn’t actually grow up reading Shōjo; it was always a genre I thought should exist but I never knew that it did. [...] I’m glad it exists; it’s a needed genre – especially here in the States where we don’t have a lot of things that are representative for that demographic. – Tim Ferrara
Art by Janet Sung
Each artist is influenced or at least informed by Shōjo, many in the depiction of specific themes or use of ornate illustration.
There’s a lot of tropes that I use – a lot of decorative elements, lots of flowers, lots of sparkly things. [...] I also focus a lot on the clothing design and the hair. In Shōjo manga, there’s always beautiful, gorgeous, flowing hair. I love putting that in my art. – Alice Meichi Li
An untranslated copy of Candy Candy volume 10 was one of the earliest comics that I read and absorbed – and since I couldn’t read it, all I could do was look at their facial expressions and try to understand what was going on through the artwork alone. [...] One of the earliest things I learned from that was how to do was how to convey an emotion in a comic. – Kris Mukai
I think the themes and the beautiful linework have always been a big influence on me. My style is very sketchy and bold – you might think I would be more drawn to Shōnen, but there’s something beautiful about personal relationships as well as flowing lines that have always captured my heart. You may not think I’m a very Shōjo-inspired person, but I’m always thinking about beautiful lines and interesting stories. – Annie Stoll
It’s easy to latch onto the evocative beauty of how the work, but the influence Shōjo has had goes beyond that – granting an underserved readership access a necessary more.
It’s made me more conscious of writing all characters with agency; that’s something Shōjo manga does well – expanding beyond a traditional, mainstream narrative. I think some of the aesthetic seeps into my work too, I’m a fan of expressive faces and the ability to show emotion very clearly. – Carey Pietsch
It was a way for me to connect with comics. There’s a void in comics. [...] There’s comics for young kids and comics for young adults; but theres a gap there for pre-teens and young teens; there aren’t comics that speak to them and specifically not a lot of American comics that speak to girls. Shōjo fills that void, even if it’s cultural appropriation. These comics are coming from Japan – it’s an entirely different culture, we don’t really understand it, but even then there’s something there that we connect to viscerally and you can see how much they’ve caught on in a culture that they weren’t made for; there was such a hunger for that kind of comic. – Rebecca Mock
Art by Joyce Lee
Lastly, I was happy to hear that all were pleased with the process of working towards an anthology and though many only had the responsibility of working on their own pieces, they came together and pulled off the project with aplomb, befitting an homage a spectrum of manga.
I do participate in a lot of anthologies; I take it as a way of making new friends. I love getting to know new artists and just getting to be part of that group is an honor. – Alice Meichi Li
It was so cool seeing the final book come together because everybody else’s stories fit together but they were all so different. You could see completely different perspectives of the same basic ideas. – Megan Brennan
It was at times exhilarating; we felt very powerful with all the possibilities available to us. At other times, it was very stressful because we were taking on a huge responsibility for no reason other than we sat down one day and decided we wanted to do this. We had to commit to this idea that you just come up with without any set due date, nobody backing you; it was really empowering to know that we were able to create something from nothing. – Rebecca Mock
It was so much fun; we really lucked out with Rebecca [Mock] and Annie [Stoll], and the Year 85 Group is so wonderful. It was so excited to get to see other artists talk about their themes and show sneak-peaks of their process along the way, and they did a wonderful job putting it all together. – Carey Pietsch
It was good having that initial group of six people who were really interested in helping out; everyone had a very unique job or position – it was a little bit like a Shōjo manga honestly. [...] It was a really good balance of personalities that all worked together – it never felt like a competition. – Annie Stoll
On the actual process of putting together the Hana Doki Kira anthology, Stoll described how it was born out of love for Shōjo.
There was a core six of us who hung out and drew and once we realized that we all loved Shōjo manga and started talking about making some kind of anthology. We ended up structuring it kind of like a pyramid scheme where each of us would invite two or three more people into it, so before you knew it, we had 26 amazing artists that were all making new friends and talking about Shōjo. – Annie Stoll
Stoll is a seasoned veteran in the world of comic anthologies, contributing in the astronomically successful Valor campaign, actively working on the second volume of Hana Doki Kira, and launching an extraordinarily ambitious project, 1001 Knights - a people-positive, feminist bent collection, aimed at making a tome of illustrations, comics, and unconventional art representing no less than 1001 characters.
Here is the full list of the Hana Doki Kira contributing artists: Aimee Fleck, Alex Bahena, Alice U. Cheong, Alice Meichi Li, Anna Rose, Annie Stoll, Becca Hillburn, Carey PIetsch, Catarina Sarmento, Catherine, Chelsie Sutherland, Elisa Lau, Endy, Janet Sung, Kaitlin Reid, Kelly / Hkezza, Kris Mukai, Lindsay Cannizzaro, Megan Brennan, Rebecca Mock, Sarah O’Donell, Shelly Rodriquez, Sloane Leong, Stefanie Morin, and Tim Ferrara. For more, check out their Facebook and Tumblr pages!
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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Actually $440 since I just pledged $10 for a copy of Elijah Brubaker’s Reich #12. If there is any company which deserves the preordering help that Kickstarter uses its Sparkplug, now run by Virginia Paine following the tragic death of founder Dylan Williams. The Kickstarter covers Reich #12 and a collection of William Cardini’s Vortex.
Hi all! This is Virginia, owner/showrunner of Sparkplug Books. I’ve been managing Sparkplug since I took over ownership a year and a half ago. It’s been fun/busy/hard but I’ve had a lot of help. And now we need YOUR help. Sparkplug needs funds to publish our next two books I’ll get to those later and so, we are kickstartering our fall publications. If it goes well, we may even be able to fund a third!
I know Sparkplug has meant a lot to a lot of people over the years. I’ve done my best to keep Dylan William’s vision alive and publish underappreciated, idiosyncratic comics by really awesome folks. We’ve been struggling financially since Dylan passed, but I think it’s important to keep going and finish at least one of his projects, and create another that he would approve of. With your contribution, you can be a part of this legacy of amazing comics.
The two books offer something for everyone.
Brubaker’s Reich is a meticulously drawn and researched biography of psychologist Wilhelm Reich, inventor of Orgone and many other crazier than fiction theories.
Vortex, by contrast is a crazier than life fantasy epic told in the Fort Thunder style. They’re both the kind of bold projects Sprakplug has always been known for. And some good rewards, like an acrylic painting by Cardini:
A lot of cartoonists—and many blogs, ahem—have taken to PAtreon as a means to finance the creation of comics. There are quite a few (a round up post is called for, maybe later this week) and Patreon doesn’t make it clear who makes the most, the way Kickstarter does, but Jason Shiga recently hit $1000 a month for his Ignatz winning webcomic Demon. Given his analytic background, there’s much of that in the post, but here’s an excerpt:
I know it’s an arbitrary number, but the $1000 mark is significant for a couple reasons. First, it amounts to the opportunity cost of not going with a larger publisher for this project. Second, someone could theoretically live on $1000. They’d have to be childless, live in a hovel in Detroit with 4 other dudes eating beans and rice 3 times a day. But man, if you were to describe that life to my 20 year old self, I’d tell you that sounds pretty nice. I know a lot of my readers here are cartoonists so maybe you can relate to that feeling of knowing so clearly in your bones that you were meant to do this one thing. But then there you are screwing in widgets all day, waiting for that whistle to blow so you can bike home and draw again. When I started out making comics, I didn’t want to be rich or famous. I just wanted to make more comics. I still do.
The lifestyle that $100 a month affords you is not a very appealing one, but, as he says, it makes the project officially a success. As he explains, he started out with usual business model of selling print editions, art and digital subs. This level of income for a regular webcomic would thrill many cartoonists, but given Shiga’s 15 year career, and the success of Meanwhile (which led me to coin the term The Shiga Index when analyzing sales charts.)
My own Patreon is nearing $700, which is a pretty good number all things considered. I’m very fortunate to have this level of success and appreciate each and every patron. Obviously it isn’t enough to live on, but it had taken care of paying for the backend, investing in the site more, and yes, paying some of those New York City bills. Patreon still doesn’t have the “excitement” level of Kickstarter, but it is beginning to afford a bunch of people at least some return on their work.
PS: Demon is totally dope. It’s a cross between Unbreakable, Groundhog Day and Shiga’s own classic Fleep. READ IT.
A lot of cartoonists—and many blogs, ahem—have taken to PAtreon as a means to finance the creation of comics. There are quite a few (a round up post is called for, maybe later this week) and Patreon doesn’t make it clear who makes the most, the way Kickstarter does, but Jason Shiga recently hit $1000 a month for his Ignatz winning webcomic Demon. Given his analytic background, there’s much of that in the post, but here’s an excerpt:
Jason Shiga’s Patreon for Demon reaches $1000 a month was originally published on The Beat
And yet another crowdfunded Horror anthology, this time led by Christian Sager who explains it thusly:
CANAAN CULT REVIVAL is an explicit and graphic compilation of horror, designed to distress its readers. In fact, some creators who originally participated in the magazine had to withdraw when they were exposed to its subject matter. This isn’t yet another retelling of the same witchcrafted demon possession you’ve come to know.
“The Flagellant:” (Art by Drew Rausch.) Kushiel the Wayfarer has punished Purgatory’s residents for eternity. When a coven of wealthy socialites tries to bind him, it becomes Kushiel’s turn to punish himself.
“Trial By Cauldron:” (Story & Art by EC Steiner.) Dissension in a coven of witches leads to one young woman to seek the terrible embrace of the demon Andras.
“Beestings:” (Art by Anthony Hightower.) Two young men are seduced and punished after they beat up a witch’s son.
“By Proxy:” (Art by Eraklis Petmezas.) Frank Delaney decides to scare his son away from the occult by turning their home into a “hell house.”
“The Never Event:” (Art by Henry Eudy.) As part of her initiation as a demon hunter, Luanne’s father forces her to exorcise another teenage girl… or kill her trying.
“The Bully Pulpit:” (Art by Rich Barrett.) The deacon of a small religious school warns his students that one of their peers is possessed by a demon. To further his cause, he turns to diabolism and domestic abuse.
“Snow Blind:” (Art by Rafer Roberts.) Young Alia Siskin temporarily loses her vision. But the demon Beleth has plans for her… and her new puppy.
“The Resident:” (Art by Kelly Williams.) Joe checks out the same rare books from the local library everyday. When the head archivist confronts him, she learns a dark, demonic secret.
And some art:
“Trial By Cauldron.” Written and drawn by EC Steiner.
“The Flagellant.” Art by Drew Rausch.
Kelly Williams – “The Resident”
“Beestings.” Art by Anthony Hightower.
Rafer Roberts – “Snow Blind”
“The Bully Pulpit.” Art by Rich Barrett.
“By Proxy.” Art by Eraklis Petmezas.
Henry Eudy – “The Never Event”
Craig Engler, co-creator/writer/co-executive producer of Syfy’sZ Nation is kickstarting a new comic based on HP Lovecraft; it’s already funded but it’s definitely in the spirit of the season.
“Halloween week is the perfect time to launch ‘Lovecraft: The Blasphemously Large First Issue,’ the start of a new series we’re working on that completely reinvents H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos,” Engler said. “The story is set in the present day and recasts Lovecraft as the world’s foremost alchemist and a magician who guards a secret library of forbidden knowledge, which includes books like the Necronomicon.”
Engler (Z Nation, Zombie Apocalypse) is writing the story with pencils and inks by Daniel Govar (DC, Marvel), colors by Matheus Lopes (Image, Dark Horse, IDW) and a special limited-edition cover by red hot artist Lewis LaRosa (Valiant). The first issue will be 48 pages long, including 6 pages of Lovecraft pinups by some fantastic guest artists:
Brian Hurtt (The Sixth Gun),
Dennis Calero (X-Men: Noir)
John Bivens (Dark Engine)
Lukas Ketner (Witch Doctor)
Richard Luong (Cthulhu Wars)
Jamie Tanner (The Dark Well)
The Kickstarter will also feature a special green foil variant cover that’s only being offered during the 28 day campaign.
By: Adrienne Crezo,
Blog: Guide to Literary Agents
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“Fast Fingers” by Katie Kreuger via Flickr. (Creative Commons licensed image)
BY AMANDA L. BARBARA
The Internet has brought about a new age of experimentation in publishing, and stepping into the literary laboratory is the prolific storytelling duo, Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant.
The authors’ recent project, “Fiction Unboxed,” was a crowdfunded experiment in writing and publishing a book live in 30 days. Platt’s and Truant’s goal was to give aspiring authors and fans of their popular podcast a look behind the curtain at their writing process.
Platt and Truant are no strangers to writing quickly. They wrote more than 1.5 million words in a year and continue to publish fiction at a breakneck pace.
For “Fiction Unboxed,” they started without any characters, a plot, or even a genre in mind and careened into publishing a book in front of a live audience. This project had nearly 1,000 backers and overfunded at $65,535. Backers got to see the authors’ story meetings, watch them hammer out the plot, write, and edit the final draft.
It’s easy to see the appeal in writing a book quickly. Platt’s and Truant’s method meant they could start earning revenue from their published book right away and get to work on their next project.
But what about the average writer who isn’t used to cranking out a story at such a fast pace? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of rapid writing.
The Benefits of Writing Fast
There are a number of potential rewards to producing and publishing quickly, including:
- Reader engagement. “Fiction Unboxed” generated an enormous amount of engagement among indie authors, the duo’s nonfiction audience. But even for fiction writers, publishing quickly can help maintain readers’ interest in your work. The New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout has cultivated an enormous fan base due to her ability to quickly produce more of the books her readers love on an accelerated timeline.
- Exposure. Doing something out of the ordinary is a great way to get noticed as an author. Platt and Truant used their writing process to create a highly shareable and marketable product that gained a lot of attention simply because it had never been done before.
- Momentum. Writing quickly obviously helps you produce more work, but it also helps you gain traction from a publishing and marketing perspective. The more you publish, the more chances readers have to discover your work, and a new title can provide a boost to your entire catalogue.
Potential Drawbacks of Rapid Production
While there are a number of benefits to writing and publishing quickly, Platt and Truant are experienced writers who understand the publishing process. They know what they can reasonably accomplish, and they have a team in place to help with other aspects of book production, such as audio and cover design.
Producing a book in 30 days probably wouldn’t work for a less experienced writer. If you’re thinking of giving yourself an ambitious deadline, proceed with caution to avoid these pitfalls:
- Lower quality: The duo’s final product, a YA Steampunk novel called “The Dream Engine,” has a 4.8 rating on Amazon. But for new authors, a tight deadline may not leave enough time for professional editing and cover design, which could result in a lackluster book.
- Public failure: “Fiction Unboxed” was a risky endeavor. What if they hadn’t completed the project? What if the book flopped?
Want to have the first draft of your novel finished
one month from today? Use this discounted bundle of
six great resources to make that happen.
While you shouldn’t let fear hold you back as a writer, always consider how readers will receive your book.
“Fiction Unboxed” was a fun experiment, but the underlying message isn’t that you should try to write a book in 30 days. Platt and Truant wanted to show writers that storytelling doesn’t have to be a painful process and that with practice, good stories can be written quickly.
Most importantly, you have to do the work. Platt and Truant haven’t produced so many books by sitting around waiting for inspiration to strike — they’ve done it by hitting their word count day after day. Hard work is something they stressed in the book that inspired the project and in “Fiction Unboxed” itself.
There’s no one process that works for every author, but you shouldn’t be afraid to try new things. Just keep writing, and the words will come.
Amanda L. Barbara is vice president of Pubslush, a global crowdfunding publishing platform for the literary world. This platform is bridging the gap between writers, readers, publishers and industry leaders. Follow Amanda on Twitter and Google+.
Todd Allen – you know, the guy from this very website? – is taking his first project to Kickstarter. And true to form, not only will he be running the Kickstarter campaign himself… he’ll also be blogging about it. This is ‘The Economics of Digital Comics’.
Notable not just for offering you the chance to see what Todd really looks like, the campaign is for a new book he’s writing in which he delves into digital comics. Having written for Publishers Weekly for a long time, there aren’t many people who know as much as Todd does about comics retailing, and this whole new world of Kickstarters, webcomics, crowdfunding and Patreons could use a little explaining.
The Kickstarter has already crushed the goal, meaning if you jump onboard the Todd Allen train you’re guaranteed to get yourself a copy of the book. Hurrah!
Danielle Corsetto’s Girls with Slingshots webcomic has been a decade-long success, collected into 7 print editions over the years and amassing a huge audience around the world. So to celebrate, she’s chosen to go on a road trip across America, meeting fans and taking part in signings.
She’ll be hitting a few comic-cons along the way, and has a fairly exhaustive tour diary already planned out. To help fund the trip she’s headed to Kickstarter, where she’s offering books, prints, all kinds of merchandise and comics goodness for anybody who takes part. And she’s already hit her target, once more! You lot really don’t waste time on these Kickstarters, do you?
While she’s gone, guest artists will be taking over her site for a few weeks, offering their own takes on the characters. Find out more about the plans on the Kickstarter page!
Vera Greentea is back once more for a seventh shot at Kickstarter, having enjoyed success with every single one of her last campaigns. And she’s returning with Allison Strom once more for a third issue of her series ‘Recipes of the Dead’.
A series about a young, struggling baker who accidentally whips up a magical recipe which starts attracting her all kinds of trouble, the series mixes fantasy, magic, demons, romance – all the things every comic could do with more of. And the series features gorgeous, lush, expressive artwork from Strom, a brilliant talent whose every issue is somehow an improvement on the last.
Having already hit the funding target, the third issue will now get to go into production, with Greentea able to pay Strom for all 22 pages of the comic. Any extra money now will go into enhancing the book, as well as helping Greentea head across to NYCC so she can launch the book there. Lucky NYCC.
Issue #3 is expected to be completed around September. To find out more, head to the Kickstarter page!
By: Kenneth Kit Lamug,
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If you’ve ever perused the online web comic community Tapastic.com, you’re sure to have seen the slice of life webcomic “The Danemen” featuring the DaneMan himself. The silent (word-less) comic transcends language through the use of visual queues that brings drama and comedy to the viewer. It’s like watching a classic Chaplin act and waiting for the finale, which never disappoints and is almost always unexpected.
In the video below, David shows us his work process and how it defines his unique style. Make sure to take notes, and don’t forget to support his Patreon campaign so he can make comics until the end of days!
Artist Al Davison, best known for his work on comics like The Unwritten, Hellblazer and The Spiral Cage, has set up a Patreon campaign this week to support his new project. Called ‘Muscle Memory’, this story is a follow-up to the autobiographical The Spiral Cage, the book which first made his name. You may have seen the project mentioned on Twitter, as he has been extensively promoting it and sharing it with fellow creators. As of today, he has only had two backers. Let’s change that.
A frequent presence at conventions over the years, Davison has been a ubiquitous and engaging presence for comics in the United Kingdom and abroad. The Spiral Cage was one of his first pieces of work, in which he wrote and drew his experiences of growing up with Spina-Bifida, a birth condition which he says was expected to kill him – and yet decades later, after over twenty-five years of making comics, he’s still going.
Having made a name for himself on a series of one-off issues of Vertigo projects like Hellblazer, House of Mystery, The Unwritten and others, he’s spent most of his time working under the alias ‘The Astral Gypsy’. Last year he released ‘The Alchemist’s Easel’, billed as being a guide to drawing the unconscious.
Muscle Memory has been a long-awaited follow up from Davison, as he talks in further depth on his life and childhood – looking at his childhood attempts to deal with disability, as well as accounts of abuse he received from his father.
I want to make it clear that this is not a story of victimization, but a story of survival and of winning against the odds. Their will inevitably be distressing scenes throughout the series, but it is also an optimistic and often funny look at my life, because that’s how I am.
One of the great talents of comics, Davison deserves as much support as the industry can offer. Please go take a look at his Patreon today.
Locust Moon Comics in Philadelphia has been putting together ran all-star anthology celebrating Winsor McCay’s LIttle Nemo with contemporary artists going nuts artistically. The above strip by David “Mouse Guard” Petersen is but one example of many jaw-droppers. The Kickstarter for the book launched Monday and has already been funded, but you will probably want a copy of it, anyway. Here some more art just to add to the persuasion.
YOu can read more about the project at the Locust Moon blog.
Roger Langridge and Jeremy Bastien
The entire comics industry wants to go humble! Humble Bundle that is! Yet another publisher has signed up for this service which allows readers to pay what they wish to download a bunch of ebooks, while supporting charity, This time the publishers is Dynamite, and they have over 120 books up for grabs—the biggest comics bundle ever—and daily free comics including, today Red Sonja #1 by Gail Simone. It’s all to celebrate their 10th anniversary as a publisher.
While I’ve been writing this story I’ve been watching the ticker go upwards — more than 300 just in the 10 minutes it took to type and check for typos. (HA) Already more than 2000 bundles have been downloaded. In keeping with the tradition of promotions hosted and arranged by Humble Bundle, Dynamite will contribute a portion of the proceeds to three important charitable organizations, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Dynamite is proud to announce that, through the Humble Bundle, the following titles will be available to purchasers at a price they personally determine. While full descriptions can be found at the Humble Bundle website, it’s noteworthy to point out the high caliber of contributing authors in this assortment: Warren Ellis (Planetary, Moon Knight), Grant Morrison (Batman, Happy!), Tim Seeley (Batman: Eternal), Fred Van Lente (Incredible Hulk), Mark Millar (Kick Ass, Ultimates), Amanda Hocking (of the paranormal Hollowland series), Bryan Johnson and Walter Flanagan (stars of AMC TV’s Comic Book Men show), and much more.
• Amanda Hocking’s The Hollows: A Hollowland Graphic Novel (Multiple Issues)
• Chaos #1
• Cryptozoic Man (Multiple Issues)
• The Mocking Dead Vol. 1 (Multiple Issues)
• My Little Phony: A Brony Adventure
• Project Superpowers Vol. 1 (Multiple Issues)
• Sherlock Holmes Vol. 1: The Trial of Sherlock Holmes (Multiple Issues)
• Vampirella Masters Series Vol. 1: Grant Morrison & Mark Millar (Multiple Issues)
• Vampirella Masters Series Vol. 2: Warren Ellis (Multiple Issues)
• Vampirella Vs. Fluffy
AND — when you pledge more than the average you get these books!
• George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards: The Hard Call (Multiple Issues)
• Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files: War Cry #1
• Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet Vol. 1 (Multiple Issues)
• Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet Vol. 2 (Multiple Issues)
• Legenderry: A Steampunk Adventure (Multiple Issues)
• Pathfinder Vol. 1: Dark Waters Rising (Multiple Issues)
• Red Sonja Vol. 1: Queen of Plagues (Multiple Issues)
• Vampirella Masters Series Vol. 4: Alan Moore (Multiple Issues)
AND to those who exceed a a fixed pricing threshold, you get over 1000 pages of beautiful art with
• The Dynamite Art of Alex Ross
• Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time Complete Series (35 Issues)
Let’s see how big this one gets, shall we?
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a sale at SLG Publishing and pointed out thatit had been a pioneering publsiher in reaching new market,s targetting female readers, digital and many other areas. Alas laurel resting is swiftly rewarded with living in a cardboard box in this business, and some hard times and setbacks have hit SLG. Publisher Dan Vado has just launched afunding campaign to help the company, in his words, “get back on its feet. You can read the letter below. The amount he’s looking for is steep, $85,000, but it’s an ongoing campaign.
As Vado would be the first to admit, he made a few bad decisions along the way, but SLG is one of only a handful of companies—Fantagraphics, NBM and Dark Horse are the others—to remain from the earliest days of “indie comics publishing.” It was also, like most of the companies of the period, FOR THE MOST PART committed to creator ownership, not participation—if you think that is a good thing, throw a few bucks SLG’s way.
SLG Publishing is a San Jose, CA based comic book publishing company. Established in 1986, SLG has helped many cartoonists and comics creators start their careers.
Having weathered through three recessions and market downturns too numerous to count, SLG has long maintained an even keel through turbulent times. However the past few years a perfect storm of bad luck, bad economy and, yes, bad decisions have left the company on a terrible financial footing.
For a small business with a small staff, SLG maintains a fairly large footprint in the physical sense. Warehousing and storage account for a pretty large portion of the company’s budget.
Recently we were forced to relocate because our old building was being torn down. At the time I had a couple of choices, close up altogether or try and make a go of it somewhere else.
Not wanting to turn my back on a 28 year old business (which was struggling to begin with) I decided to try and keep going, adding a retail component to our storefront that we did not have before and add some other revenue streams to our gallery store as well as our publishing company like doing contract t-shirt printing and hosting live music. Sure, the smart thing to do was to just quit, but then publishing comics was never a really smart thing either, so go figure.
We had a line of credit, a couple of them, which I used to relocate with (this after a couple of different crowd-funding initiatives did not fund).
After running up our credit line during the move our bank decided to review our account and decided that the balance on the credit line was too high and, in their infinite wisdom, demanded immediate repayment in the form of a high-interest loan. This created a domino effect where, when reporting the change in my credit status to the various credit bureaus caused them all to cut my credit and in a couple of cases close my accounts.
Because of the nature of my businesses all of our debt was secured through personal guarantees and now I am in a spot where not only am I unable to get my business righted, but I have blown through all of my personal assets other than the home I live in to keep things going.
A simple bankruptcy for me is not an option as everything comes back to me anyway, so as much as this pains me to go this route I am asking for people’s assistance in helping me and my company get back on our feet. We are still in business right now, still trying to put out comics and are still running our gallery store and I am trying to keep both of these things running. However the revenue from comics publishing is not enough to keep us open AND pay down our debt.
We have exhausted all of the typical means of raising money, crowd-funding and sales eith pretty decent discounts being a couple of them. I am taking the GoFundMe approach because this is going to be an ongoing thing for the next couple of years. This isn’t something Kickstarter would touch anyway.
So, thanks for reading this and thanks for donating if you donate.
150 episodes in, and the Wait, What? podcast is undertaking a huge shift. No, it’s not relaunching, although it is spinning off in a whole new direction, and nothing will ever be the same again.
Why? Well, because hosts Jeff Lester and Graeme McMillan, who have spent the last few years dissecting and reviewing all kinds of comics on a fortnightly basis, are moving the site to a base of its own, and running it under their own steam. Formerly hosted by the Savage Critics website, Wait What will now be hosted on its own website, run by the pair.
Alongside the move, the pair have set up a Patreon in support of their podcast, which you can see here. The Patreon, which I’d suggest is one of the first times that comic critics have established a crowdfunding page of their own, has been a tremendous success thus far. They’ve hit several of their target goals, meaning that on top of the fortnightly podcast they will also be writing reviews for their site, and populating it with content.
Considering that both are established writers in their own right – Lester has written extensively for Savage Critics, whilst McMillan writes for Wired, Time, The Hollywood Reporter and more – that’s pretty good news. And on top of everything else? The podcast is teaming up with Oily Comics for a giveaway which is going on RIGHT NOW.
To find out more about all their plans, I spoke to them both about how the podcast got started, how it runs, and what we can expect in future months.
Steve: How did you two meet, to begin with?
Graeme: We met because I ripped Jeff off. That’s maybe not completely true — Jeff and I both knew Brian Hibbs, who owns San Francisco’s Comix Experience store and we’ve both worked for him at various times in our lives — but when I created the Fanboy Rampage!!! blog those many years ago, I subconsciously ripped the name off from the monthly column Jeff wrote for the Comix Experience newsletter.
It was so subconscious that, when Jeff got in touch to politely ask if I’d done it, my first response was “Of course I didn’t, what are you talking about?” It was my first experience with riding on Jeff’s coattails, but not my last.
Jeff: Mine is the Fanboy Rampage of Earth Two: technically, it came first, but it’s mostly a footnote to Graeme’s. I’m just glad I get to team up with him more frequently than once a year and I don’t have to have the rest of the JSA in tow.
Steve: When did the idea for Wait, What come about? Were you aware of other comic podcasts around, and wanted to get involved yourselves?
Graeme: The short version is, we wanted an excuse to talk comic stuff to each other. I was definitely aware of other comic podcasts, but not that many. We started five years ago, and I want to say I was only really aware of something like Word Balloon at the time? Definitely nothing as conversational or, for that matter, honest as what Wait, What? is.
Jeff: We actually owe a debt of gratitude to David Brothers, who as I recall shamed Graeme into finally buying the headset so we could actually start recording. And David’s 4th Letter podcast with Gavin Jasper and Esther Inglis-Arkell, along with Funnybook Babylon, were the first real podcasts I checked out. But Graeme was way more aware of other comic podcasts than I am—between having a really short commute and an inability to multitask, I can’t keep up—and that’s pretty much been the case ever since.
Steve: How did you develop the style of the show? Was the interest always in having a show which could run at length, and talk about any aspect of comics you wanted?
Graeme: The style of the show developed… unintentionally? I think that’s fair to say. When it first started, it was far more organized and compact than it’s become. We used to edit the longer conversations into shorter episodes, so that one session might make two or three episodes, but there was something about that that felt very artificial, and arbitrary — and also problematic, when we’d refer back to things that we’d said earlier that conversation, but two episodes back to the listener. It’s been a slow evolution, and one that’s reflected our learning curve as podcasters.
Jeff: We were very lucky to get feedback early on from listeners, and enough of them preferred the more organic approach of a longer conversation. It gave us the courage to really commit to that approach. Sometimes I worry it makes it difficult for new listeners to start listening to us—it seems like it’s asking for a big commitment up-front, but we have dedicated listeners who occasionally say things like, “man, if you just did three hours every other week, that’d be perfect!” And I think Graeme and I enjoy the freedom now, even if it still makes us feel “unprofessional.”
Steve: Being a completely visual medium, you’d think comics wouldn’t translate well to podcasts. Was it difficult, especially to begin with, to find ways to talk about them?
Graeme: It’s still difficult. We’re still guilty of concentrating more on the writing than the art, although having the website to post images/artwork when we’re commenting on a panel or sequence in particular has been a great help. I was going to say, it’s no different from writing about art, but that’s not true: depending on where you’re writing for, there’s the chance to feature the images RIGHT THERE beside the text, so it’s immediately put in context. You can’t do that on a podcast (or, at least, an audio podcast).
Jeff: Unfortunately, talking about the visual elements in comics and the artist’s role as a creator in Big Two bullpen-style comics is something a lot of comics criticism on the web has been kinda terrible at? Speaking for myself, that comes from having learned from my literature classes to talk—in a rudimentary way, at least—about what the writing and storytelling might be doing, but having far fewer tools for talking about, I dunno, what the artist is achieving by using a foreshortened perspective.
I think the podcast makes it easier for me to talk about the visual elements because I can do so conversationally, imprecisely, in a way I’d be too self-conscious to do in print. And it helps that Graeme will either help me out when I’m not making sense, or mock me for his own amusement. It’s a win-win situation…at least for him.
Steve: Do you think that the podcast has improved your ability to talk and analyse comics in general?
Graeme: Talking to Jeff has, more than doing the podcast, if that makes sense? He approaches things in a way that I just don’t, and it’s helped me appreciate what I’ve been reading more, and also question my assumptions on any given text.
Jeff: Yeah, I’d agree with that. Definitely. Although I think the standards are changing overall about how to talk about comics—there’s been a real push from online writers to change things up, and I think that’s helped me a lot as well.
Steve: How has the podcast developed over the years? Do you think you’ve changed as time has gone on – moved away from certain companies, moved towards certain kinds of stories, and so on?
Graeme: To an extent? As I said earlier, we started doing shorter episodes that were segments of longer conversations, and now listeners generally get the longer conversations more or less complete. Part of that’s being more comfortable doing what we do, but there’s also an element of us just KNOWING what we’re doing more now. There’s also been a bit of making mistake and then learning from them, too. I’ve said things in the past — reading into creators’ intentions, especially — that I try not to do now (Note the “try” — I still forget myself occasionally).
Jeff: I went through a couple years there where I refused to support Marvel financially, and I was worried that might modify the tenor of our conversations or what we could talk about and stay interesting. But it didn’t change things as much as I thought.
What has changed, since we started doing the podcast, is how digital has really grown as a market, and libraries carrying more graphic novels and collections than ever. I think those two factors have influenced the podcast tremendously, as it’s easier for me to stumble across material I might have missed, or to revisit material I had no interest in until it was ninety-nine cents an issue. I never would’ve ended up talking about Daddy Cool, for example, or what a thematically unified statement The Boys is for Garth Ennis, if I wasn’t able to supplement my staid comic book shop purchases with more experimentation.
Steve: A recent feature which has taken over a good hour of discussion each episode is your run-through of the Avengers books – starting right with issue #1 and tackling ten or so issues at a time. What made you want to go back and start reading and reviewing those books?
Graeme: I honestly don’t remember. I think it just seemed like a good idea at the time, and sounded like it’d be something fun and different for us to do? Jeff?
Jeff: Graeme doesn’t remember because it was his brilliant idea! I’d bought those amazing GT Corp. DVDs off eBay that contain 600 issues at a go of specific Marvel characters—Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and The Avengers—and I’d been moaning about how I hadn’t made any time to read them. And since Graeme also had the Avengers DVD, he said, “If we make it part of the podcast, you’ll have to read them!” And he was right. (Thank God we’re only reading the first 300 issues, though.)
Steve: Has that changed your view of the characters, or the series as a whole? Do you have a new favourite Avenger, for example?
Graeme: Not so much a new favorite Avenger — I think that’ll always be a tie between the Beast, Hawkeye or the Wasp depending on who’s writing at the time — but it was an eye-opener to go back and realize how bad the Lee/Kirby issues actually are. You think of the two working on Thor and Fantastic Four, and they’re capable of such amazing stuff, and their Avengers just doesn’t work. It’s kind of surprising how long it is until the series DOES work, to be honest — and just how quickly it all comes together when everything falls into place.
Jeff: I ended up loving The Wasp during the Stan Lee and Roy Thomas years: they both wrote her as kind of flighty (pun intended, probably) and with more than a little condescension, but she was the only one who seemed to be having anything like fun…or resembled anything like an actual human being.
Steve: Are there any types of comic you wished you spent more time on – you tend to talk about any comic you want, without a particularly heavy DC/Marvel/Image bias. But are there any comics you wish you could discuss in more detail?
Graeme: I think we talk about what we “want to” talk about — as evidenced by the amount of time we spend on 2000AD on a regular basis, or Top Shelf’s Double Barrel when that was coming out. There’re certainly comics I wish I knew more about so I could talk about them more, if that doesn’t sound too odd. I should be reading and talking about more Fantagraphics books, you know? Or Drawn & Quarterly, Nobrow, SelfMadeHero, and so on. I need to get outside of my Direct Market comfort zone more.
Jeff: Man, it can be hard to follow Graeme McMillan without just saying “Ditto!” and “What Graeme said!” after everything. As for what we cover…when the only limitations are our imaginations and our budgets, it’s not long before you get really frustrated with both.
Steve: Wait, What is particularly notable because you’re “candid”. Or, to put it another way, you don’t pretend that books are good just because everybody else says so. Do you think the ‘of the moment’ nature of podcasting allows you to offer a more honest review of comics than sitting down to write a review? Once something’s been said, you can’t so easily press the delete button?
Graeme: Yes, for better and worse. There are times I would love to take something back, but there’s a lot to be said for the immediacy of the whole thing, and the way in which it gets past a lot of the inner editor for the good, as well. Plus, having someone like Jeff to bounce half-formed ideas off, knowing that there’s something about the conversational format that gives you license to be just outright wrong is pretty great, too.
Jeff: For me, this is really where Brian Hibbs’ influence shines through: I started writing reviews for comics over at the Savage Critic website and I followed his lead in never being afraid to say what I thought. So I don’t think the “of the moment” nature of podcasting affects me, at least in that regard.
What’s great is that Graeme can point out my biases, suggest alternative readings, or just flat-out call me on my shit. Also great is that the organic nature of our podcast means I can revisit a work and talk about if my opinions change, and why. That’s an aspect of criticism that gets overlooked in the written medium—the idea that these works are part of our lives and as we age and the culture ages, what they mean to us can change.
I guess it’s easier to address how art is an ongoing conversation between the work and the beholder when you’re having a literal ongoing conversation with someone?
Steve: Do you think there can be a tendency to offer better reviews to creators you like as people, or to find conflicts of interest start to influence your discussions? Graeme, you’re always quick to let people know if you received a review copy of the books you talk about, before you talk about them.
Graeme: Am I? That’s maybe self-consciousness, rather than any intentional idea of what I should do in the name of transparency. I think there’s definitely a tendency to find yourself biased when you’ve received something for free, or know the people involved — more than once, we’ve talked about a particular comic being good for something we didn’t pay for, but not worth the official price, or something similar.
It definitely feeds into not only what you say publicly about a work, but also how you read it — but then, so does whatever mood you’re in when you read something. I’ve been incredibly guilty of writing something off when I read it the first time, then going back and having an entirely different experience when I revisit it. There’s a lot that’s in there beyond the objectivity we’re always supposed to show when we’re reviewing something.
Jeff: Damn it, Graeme! “Ditto.”
Steve: You’ve taken the podcast to Patreon and gone independent, moving away from the Savage Critics website. Was this because you wanted to take more ownership of the show?
Graeme: Yeah, and also because we wanted to do more with the show — and also see if the show could give something back to us in terms of the amount of work involved.
Jeff: To be clear, Brian was always incredibly supportive of everything we did and never put any kind of restrictions on our content or anything…but he’s also a busy guy with a lot of irons in the fire. Sometimes we couldn’t change things as fast as we’d like or feel like we could experiment easily. Or a lot of times the site would be content-light and then all of a sudden everyone would contribute at once, and I’d feel like we were stepping on toes.
Paring it down to just us—as tough a decision as that was, because I think Graeme and I are both really loyal—seemed like it would be the best way to figure out what we could do, and if people were willing to support us doing it.
Steve: What were your goals with the Patreon? What did you want to use the funds for, and have you been surprised by the response?
Graeme: The goals have always veered wildly between our natural pessimism (“It’ll be great if anyone even notices us”) and wild optimism and ego (“And then, when we’re making thousands of dollars every month!”). Realistically, we wanted to see if there was some way we could use the show as the basis for something more ambitious, which we also owned and controlled. We’ve been very, very surprised by the response. It’s way beyond what either of us were realistically thinking would happen.
Jeff: ARGHHHH. “What Graeme said.”
Steve: You’re one of the first high-profile ‘comics media’ places to take to Patreon, although I’m aware several other sites will be trying it soon. Do you think this is where comics criticism has to go, now? Fewer and fewer places are paying for digital content now.
Graeme: I’m not sure if this is where it HAS to go — I got started doing this for myself, for nothing, just to get it out there, after all, and that’s as valid an aim as ever — but it’s certainly one of the directions it can go in, especially if you’re looking to do this as a way to earn money (or even just break even from the cost of buying all those comics in the first place).
The future of paid online journalism is all over the place right now — not in terms of comic stuff, although if you think about what’s happened to Comics Alliance, iFanboy, MTV Geek and other sites over the last couple of years, that’s obviously in flux as well — but in general, there’s a lot of change and turmoil right now. No-one’s worked out what “the model” for this as a business really is, yet, and they’re still trying.
The last six months have been crazy, as someone who works in this field, and I doubt it’s going to get any less turbulent any time soon.
Art by Julia Gfrörer
Jeff : I’m super hand-wringy about the state of comics criticism: I think people can only write it for so long as a labor of love before they move on to something else, because they have to eat or the pain of feeling like such a small fish in an even smaller pond gets to them.
And although I think there’s a very good case to be made that there may not be anything to write critically about comic books that weren’t written in the first hundred issues of The Comics Journal, I feel like the two biggest impediments to comics being considered the important medium they obviously are has been an inability to keep books in print long enough to become “canon,” and our inability to have someone professionally writing about comics over the decades—without both of those things, I think every generation ends up having to re-create the wheel.
We’re finally in a situation where a canon is accumulating, and access to that canon is easier than ever. And we have Understanding Comics, and writers like Heidi and Tom Spurgeon who’ve been covering things for a stretch of time now. But I think it’s super-important to find ways for the next generation of comic critics—the people who are out there now—to get paid, and paid enough so they can think, “well, I can make a living at this—a bad living, but a living—and I really care about the art form, so maybe I should give this a shot.”
Steve: What sorts of rewards are you offering?
Jeff: Since everyone who is reading this is on the Internet already, I invite you to go to http://patreon.com/waitwhatpodcast and see!
Steve: You’ve already hit several milestones for the Patreon, and will now be writing content as well as recording the podcast. Is this your ideal for the future? That Wait, What spins into a whole, affordable website of its own?
Graeme: In a perfect world, yes. Quite how workable that would be in practice remains to be seen, of course…
Jeff: Yeah, that is totally my crazy dream: that enough people will believe in us and between that and the content we’re generating, we can get enough traffic to make something like a full-fledged comics website, one that doesn’t have to rely on exclusive previews or softball coverage. We have a few of those sites. We need more.
Also—and I know he’ll hate me for saying this—but Graeme McMillan is one of the smartest, most knowledgeable writers about both the business and artistic sides of the comics industry currently working, and I know he’s also a hell of a good editor. Who doesn’t want to see what he could build if he had the funds and the support to do so?
Steve: Does this mean, ultimately, that you’re now rivals with The Beat?
Graeme: Sure, why not. (I mean, no, not really; we don’t do a fraction of what the Beat does in reality, but professional feuds are meant to be good, right? Hey, Steve! Pixie sucks! YOU HEARD ME.)
Steve: Graeme, you are BANNED from The Beat as soon as I ask this one final thing: Where can people find you online? What are you up to at the moment?
Graeme: The podcast can be found here, and it’s on Twitter here (individually, we’re also on there as @graemem and @lazybastid). Right now, I’m typing this between deadlines for the Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision blog, where I post every weekday, and Wired.com’s entertainment vertical, because I clearly have a lot to say on the Internet.
Jeff: And I just got back from walking on the beach!
Many thanks to Jeff Lester for his time! And NO THANKS AT ALL TO GRAEME for his harsh and inaccurate and wrong and WRONG opinions regarding Pixie. You are now officially banned from The Beat, grr.
On top of the links above, you can find the new Patreon site for Wait What over here. I’m pledging myself! You’re in good company if you choose to as well.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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Anybody who has read any amount of my writing, either here and elsewhere, will probably know who my favourite comics writer is*. But I also have a favourite comics artist, whose work is a constant delight to me, and by whom I have pretty much everything I can get my hands on. It’s Rick Geary. He mostly works in black & white, has almost never done any work for The Big Two, and you could just about be forgiven for not having heard of him, but he’s been making his living as a cartoonist and comics artist for nearly forty years now, and is, for me, the comics artist whose work I cherish the most.
He worked on all sorts of things for Dark Horse Comics, and many others, over a number of years, much of which has been collected, and on a shelf right beside me, as I write. In 1987 he started work on a series called A Treasury of Victorian Murder for NBM Publishing, which now stands at eight volumes of true murder tales, which has since been joined by A Treasury of XXth Century Murder, which is up to six volumes, both of which feel like his true life’s work. I’ve always been a fan of true crime stories anyway, and to have them drawn in Geary’s gorgeous black line work is wonderful. If you want to try one – and you should – they’re all available on his Author Page at NBM. It’s not for nothing that Our Glorious Leader, Ms H. MacDonald, said ‘
No season would be complete without the latest in Rick Geary’s ongoing series of 20th-century murders: with elegant, unsettling penwork, Madison Square Tragedy: The Murder of Stanford White
tells the notorious story of architect Stanford White, who was murdered by a jealous husband in a theater atop the original Madison Square Garden.’
As well as his ongoing work with NBM, Rick Geary has recently taken to selling books through a series of Kickstarter campaigns, with the most recent, for The True Death of Billy the Kid, still running, until Monday the 11th of August, a week from today. It’s going to be a 60-page black-and-white hardcover graphic novel, and I can pretty much guarantee it’ll turn up right on time, too, because I’ve backed his other two projects, and they did – which is more than can be said for other fundraisers I’ve ante-ed up for, but that is something I’ll wait to address here another day, in the not too distant future.
Anyway, without further ado, here’s a quick interview with Rick Geary, which I was thrilled to be given the chance to do…
Pádraig Ó Méalóid: This is your third Kickstarter campaign, at this stage. First of all, what made you decide to try out fundraising like this as a way to get your work out there?
[Link to The True Death of Billy the Kid Kickstarter.]
Rick Geary: The first time I tried fundraising on Kickstarter was about a year ago, simply out of curiosity as to how it works and to see how well I would do. I thought I should start out with the kind of true crime graphic novel I’m known for. This was The Elwell Enigma, and it succeeded beyond my wildest imagination. After that, I thought I’d try something different. A is for Anti-Christ: Obama’s Conspiracy Alphabet, a kind of satirical children’s book, was a bit of a harder and slower process, but it finally came through. At last, I thought I’d use Kickstarter to fund the kind of historical and non-fiction subjects that fascinate me but which aren’t precisely murder cases. The True Death of Billy the Kid comes out of my life here in Lincoln County, and has now exceeded my funding goal with several more weeks to go. So I have to say I’m very happy with my Kickstarter experience. I also must say that the experience has been made as smooth as possible by my friend and agent and production genius Mark Rosenbohm, who has managed all three campaigns.
PÓM: Yes, I’d noticed that all your campaigns were under Mark’s name. So, is he effectively acting as your publisher on these, or is that the wrong way to look at it?
RG: I suppose he could be technically called my publisher, although I like to think of these books as self-published. They all have come out under my little imprint, Home Town Press.
PÓM: What led you to want to try out an internet fundraiser like this in the first place, and why did you choose Kickstarter to do it on?
RG: There are certain projects in my mind that I know would never be taken on by a mainstream publisher. The Obama Alphabet was certainly one of them. I began my career publishing my own work and I’ve always believed in it. Why Kickstarter? At the time, it seemed to be the only one out there.
PÓM: Are there any drawbacks to using Kickstarter, do you find?
RG: The hardest part of a Kickstarter campaign, though I’d hate to call it a drawback, is the work that comes on the back end. I try to be very conscientious about packaging the books and other premiums and sending them out in a timely manner. Almost 200 mailings for my first project. It’s all well worth it, though.
PÓM: Are you still producing work through more conventional means, like with NBM, for instance? I know they published your Madison Square Tragedy – The Murder of Stanford White around December 2013, so is there anything more scheduled from them?
RG: Yes, I’m still producing murder stories for NBM. I’m currently in the midst of a project that’s a bit of a departure from the true-life cases. Louise Brooks: Detective is a fictional mystery featuring the actress Louise Brooks solving a murder in 1940′s Kansas. After that I plan to return to non-fiction with the story of the Black Dahlia murder.
PÓM: Am I right in thinking you’re somehow related to Louise Brooks?
RG: She was my mother’s second cousin. Though they never met, they grew up in the same area of southeastern Kansas. Brooks was my mother’s maiden name (and my middle name). My mother was born and grew up in the tiny town of Burden, Kansas, as did both of Louise’s parents. The graphic novel I’m working on, Louise Brooks: Detective, takes place during the brief time (1940-42) that she returned to Kansas after her Hollywood career collapsed. The action unfolds in Wichita and Burden.
PÓM: What is it that draws you towards these murder stories, do you think?
RG: It’s become kind of a cliché, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve been attracted to the dark side of human nature. Perhaps because I have such a light and sunny nature myself. Stories of anti-social behavior have the most drama and excitement. And the unsolved cases are the best of all, for the mystery they embody and the speculation they engender. I’m a big proponent of the essential unknowability of things.
PÓM: With the unsolved cases, do you have opinions of your own on who might have done them, or does that not matter to you? With things like Jack the Ripper, for instance, which has virtually mutated into fiction, do you have any ‘favourite’ suspects?
RG: In most cases my goal is to keep a journalistic detachment and not express opinions of my own. Some of the unsolved murders have, as you say, mutated into fiction, but I try to give equal weight to all the theories out there, no matter how ludicrous. Jack the Ripper is the perfect example. The endless speculation linking him to the royal family or other well-known people is pretty flimsy, though entertaining. My belief is that the Ripper had to be some faceless, anonymous East End resident, someone you wouldn’t even notice on the street.
PÓM: What is it about Billy the Kid, that made you want to do this particular book?
RG: Upon moving to Lincoln County, New Mexico, seven years ago, I found that the Kid is a very big deal here. The town of Lincoln, where he spent much of his brief life, is a perfectly preserved little western settlement, and the local historical society is very protective of his story. Accuracy is the top priority. I noticed that no graphic novel has been published that told his true story, and it seemed a natural for my next project on Kickstarter.
PÓM: How much research goes into doing one of these books?
RG: I do as much as I can and still fit within the deadline. I start by reading as many books with as many different points of view on the subject as I can find, and take copious notes. I fill this out with online sources, but what I find there is usually not as detailed as the information contained in books. Then I condense all the material into what I hope is a clear and compelling narrative structure. As for picture reference for period costumes, interiors etc, I usually rely on my extensive personal library. But I can also find pretty much anything I want online.
PÓM: Have you any plans to do more ‘Wild West’ based stories, or is Billy the Kid a one-off?
RG: Nothing specific on the horizon, but I wouldn’t rule anything out.
PÓM: What’s your feeling about fundraisers like Kickstarter, now that you’ve been through it three times? Is it the future of comics publishing, or just an interesting sideline, for you?
RG: I can’t speak for others, but my own experience with Kickstarter has been nothing but positive thus far. I don’t know if it’s the future of comics publishing, but it’s certainly my future. I plan to use it, perhaps once a year, for graphic novel projects that treat broader historical subjects and wouldn’t overlap with the murder stories I do for NBM.
PÓM: Will this, and your previous Kickstarter projects, be available for the general public to buy later on, or is this the only way to get hold of them?
RG: All of my Kickstarter books are, for the moment, sold personally by me at the SD Comic-Con and at APE, or else are available via the “RG Store” on my Website. I’ve also been selling them, on consignment, through a retail outlet in my tiny burg of Carrizozo. Whether they will eventually gain a wider distribution remains to be seen.
PÓM: Thanks very much for taking the time to do this interview, Rick.
RG: Entirely my pleasure, Pádraig. Thanks for everything.
The True Death of Billy the Kid Kickstarter page
Rick Geary’s own Website
Rick Geary’s Author Page at NBM
Rick Geary’s Facebook Page
[*It’s Alan Moore, in case there was any doubt.]
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