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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Kickstarter, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 156
1. Stamford’s First Little Free Library On Kickstarter

Little Free LibrarySteven Wood hopes to raise $400 to install the first Little Free Library in Stamford, CT.

As is the case with other similar street libraries, this structure encourages people to “take a book, leave a book.” By constructing a Little Free Library, Wood hopes to deepen the sense of community with his neighborhood. Here’s more from the Kickstarter page:

“The finished project will look similar to the library that is pictured above. We will need to design and build this library from scratch. The library will hold enough space for approximately 20 or 30 books of various types for children and adults.”


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2. NYC Pizza-Themed Coffee Table Book On Kickstarter

A group of New York City natives hope to raise $15,000 for their coffee table book, New York Pizza Project. The collaborators have visited more than 100 pizza shops throughout the five boroughs.

The contents of the book will feature photographs, interviews, and stories. We’ve embedded a video about the project above. Here’s more from the Kickstarter page:

“A few years ago, the five of us were sitting around eating pizza and talking about the pizza shops we grew up in. Aside from the always heated debate about the best slice in New York, we found ourselves reminiscing about the little things — the Icees, the orange booths, the pizza guy who never smiles — stuff like that. We started discussing the idea of a book that encapsulates all of those little things we love about New York City pizza.”


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3. The Harts Pass books are in... and heading out the door!

About ten days ago, my Kickstarter project took one final (major) step towards its ultimate conclusion as forty boxes - hot off the presses - arrived safe and sound in my carport. My studio space will be happily crowded for a bit as rewards are being shipped just as quickly as I can get everything safely repackaged and sent off in the mail. Reports thus far are GRRRand :)

Trail's End Bookstore in Winthrop, WA has signed copies on hand, and I'll be doing a local launch for the on May 4th -- when my school visit schedule has finally settled down a bit. Stay tuned for an Etsy Shop/paypal button etc. so that I can do at least a little bit of business in online sale and thanks again for helping me to make this book. Cheers!


0 Comments on The Harts Pass books are in... and heading out the door! as of 4/4/2014 10:49:00 PM
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4. Amy Chu Kickstarts a Third Volume of ‘Girls Night Out’ [Interview]

For the last several years, writer Amy Chu has been a familiar face at comic conventions around the World – just last year I bumped into her at Thought Bubble! Among other things a contributor to The Beat, Amy is perhaps best known for her self-published anthology comics ‘Girls Night Out’, which have so far been printed into three volumes. Each of these tells six stories or so, loosely themed around an idea, or phrase, and with a starry line-up of artistic collaborators.

And for volume three, ‘Girls Night Out: The Way Love Goes’, she’s successfully headed to Kickstarter! At the time of writing she is well ahead of her target, making this her second successful Kickstarter campaign for the series. A self-publisher, she works with a number of great creators on this latest volume – including Larry Hama, Trish Mulvihill, Janet Lee and Craig Yeung. I couldn’t let this Kickstarter pass without taking the opportunity to ask her about the latest edition of her series – and thankfully she found time after Emerald City Comic-Con to offer some answers! Hurray!


Steve: You’ve studied comics pretty extensively – I know you’re a graduate of Scott Snyder’s writing class, among others. How do you approach writing a story? What’s your focus, or goal?

Amy: I studied architecture in college so I think there are some good analogies between buildings and stories. When I have an idea I want to build into a story, I do tend to focus on structure first, especially for a short, then I work on the layers of the narrative, the obvious and then the subliminal.

I’m very focused on what the reader experiences as he or she moves through the story- and the emotion that they come away with after finishing it. I also figure if someone is spending the money, they should get at least a couple reads out of it.

Steve: There’s a lot of experimentation going on in terms of writing, in these six stories. One is told entirely in tweets, for example. How do you go from an idea to a script? At what point do you hit on an idea and decide that’s the one you want to write into a fully-formed story?

Amy: Like a lot of creators, I have many ideas that float in the ether, at various stages of completion. If I have an interesting idea, I usually start writing it out until I hit a snag. On rare occasions, I’ll actually vomit out a complete story in one setting, but usually it’s a lot of back and forth. But every story has a different backstory in its genesis.

For example, the tweet story “Big City” was actually an improv experiment with artist Sean Von Gorman at Carmine City Comics in front of an audience. We basically came up with the story as people came in and out of the store and Sean sketched it out.

Steve: You also move from genre to genre, and tell stories from a range of different perspectives and viewpoints. Was it always your intention to use the theme of love to play around in different genres and styles?

Amy: I like playing with different genres and styles, but needed something to tie the stories together. I did this with”Tales of New York” and I think it worked creatively for me, and for the readers.

Steve: A six-page story is one of the most difficult things to pull off in comics. Is it daunting to tell a complete story within such a relatively short space? Or do you prefer that feeling of compression?

Amy: I never really thought of it that way. Some stories are suited to shorts, and others to arcs. I try to go with what feels right. You don’t want to squeeze in something that doesn’t fit.

Steve: Do you find that you tend to focus in more on character or story – or do you feel you hit both equally?

Amy: Hmm… I think the character needs to be fully fleshed out for the story to work most of the time, but the story needs to have a structure to go somewhere. I guess I’d ask the reader if they feel I hit both or not.


Art by Larry Hama and Trish Mulvihill

Steve: There’s a whole range of impressive artists here – The Date has Larry Hama and Trish Mulvihill as the artistic team! How did you find collaborators to work with on the stories?

Amy: As a self publisher I can pick and choose who I want to work with, so long as they are interested in working with me.  But every situation is different, sometimes it’s “let’s do something together!” like with Janet Lee over drinks at the Marvel holiday party. Or with Louie Chin I walked by his table at MoCCA Fest and loved his stuff immediately. And with Trish I begged! I just couldn’t see anyone else doing the colors on Larry’s story.

Steve: Did you come to your collaborators with a completed script; or pitch a story to them and then write with their artistic style in mind?

Amy: It works both ways. If I don’t have a completed script that I think they would be interested in or matches their style, I’ll definitely write one for them.

Steve: This Kickstarter also brings a wholly new story to print as well – one written by Marta Tanrikulu and illustrated by Paulina Ganucheau. How did that story come about?

Amy: I have been thinking about including other writers in the Girls Night Out anthologies, and since the crowdfunding campaign started off strong, I figured this would be a good issue to add someone else’s story as a bonus. I had met Marta in the Comics Experience forums. She sent me the script for “Enduring Love” awhile back – the theme was right, but it needed an artist. When I saw Paulina Ganucheau’s work I thought it was a perfect matchup.


Art by Paulina Ganucheau

Steve: As mentioned at the start, this isn’t your first Kickstarter, as you also successfully crowdfunded the original comics which make up this collection. How has your experience been with crowdfunding?

Amy: I love it for various reasons, and not just the ability to fund the project. It really does help build a fanbase and a level of awareness about the stories I do. I don’t think it’s for everyone, but if you’re somewhat organized and have some decent project management capabilities you should do just fine.

Steve: Have you changed the way you approached running this second Kickstarter, having already gone through the whole experience before? What advice would you give for anyone looking to run their own campaign?

Amy: Yes, not in huge ways, more like fine tuning. I have a better sense this time of what people like and don’t like.  Set reasonable goals and develop your reward tiers carefully – do your research and look at other successful (and not successful) campaigns.  You’ll see many campaigns meet their goals because of original art and commissions and not the actual book! Also, treat your backers as stakeholders in your project, not just sources of cash.

Steve: Once this Kickstarter wraps up, are there any plans for future Girls Night Out stories? Is there anything you can tease us about?

Amy: As long as the stories aren’t played out and people want them, I’ll write them. I’m actually working on the lineup for the fourth volume – the working theme is “Lost and Found.”

Steve: What else do you have coming up? Where can people find you online?

Amy: End of this month I have a bunch of stuff coming out- a short in the Vertigo/DC Comics anthology “CMYK” that hits the stores April 30. I also have two stories – one with CP Wilson III, and the other with Brian Shearer in ComixTribe’s SCAMthology I think also out around the same time. I’m also working on something with Wendy Xu and Larry Hama that will be available this fall.

I’ve been asked to pitch on a bunch of different titles- there’s definitely stuff in the works but I don’t want to jinx anything by talking about it until it happens.  I try to post updates on my work on my site, I’m on twitter here and on Facebook here!


Many thanks to Amy for her time! To find out more about Girls Night Out: The Way Love Goes, you can find her Kickstarter here!

1 Comments on Amy Chu Kickstarts a Third Volume of ‘Girls Night Out’ [Interview], last added: 4/7/2014
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5. Kickstarter Poetry Project Remixes Art with Monkeys

Doodler Alan J. Hart has raised more than $4,600 on Kickstarter for his poetry project, Everything’s Better with Monkeys. The funds will be used to cover the cost of printing 500 books.

Hart has written a lengthy poem pondering about the adding monkeys to art pieces by René Magritte, James McNeill Whistler, and Vincent Van Gogh. To accompany each funny verse, he re-created these pieces with appearances from baboons, orangutans, and more. We’ve embedded a video about the project above. Here’s more from the Kickstarter page:

“The complete poem includes homages to famous paintings including Grant Wood’s American Gothic, Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory, Pablo Picasso’s The Old Guitarist, Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, and more. In all, more than a dozen classic paintings get the simian improvement treatment.”


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6. Check out the preview for “Quest For The Ore Crystals”

Check out the new video trailer for Quest For The Ore Crystals. This will be part of a larger video as I launch the crowdfunding project for The Tall Tales of Talbot Toluca. Make sure to go to the web site and sign-up and I’ll send out an email and let you know when we’re ready!

And here’s a different kind of trailer… the kids and myself just goofing around.

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7. Light of the White Bear Kickstarter Project

David Clement-Davies, author of The Sight, Fell, and Fire Bringer, is running a Kickstarter project to bring his newest book, Light of the White Bear, to the United States. I've read several of his books and really enjoyed them. If you like books about wild animals, with deep social and spiritual themes, you'll enjoy his books.

If you'd like to support an author fighting for autonomy over his books, or if you just like his books (or think you might!) please consider backing this Kickstarter.

0 Comments on Light of the White Bear Kickstarter Project as of 3/18/2014 4:41:00 PM
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8. ‘Q is for Queens’ Children’s Book Featured on Kickstarter

LICNYC.com blogger Amol Sarva hopes to raise $8,000 on Kickstarter for his ABC children’s book, Q is for Queens. Most of the funds will be used to cover the cost of printing.

With this book, Sarva hopes to educate the world on all of the various landmarks and activities within New York City’s biggest borough. We’ve embedded a video about the project above. Here’s more from the Kickstarter page:

“I’ve got the art part figured out and most of the icons sorted – so that part is well on its way. I still need to find the right printer to partner with here in Queens, so hopefully that part goes well. A is for Arthur Ashe, B is for Bayside, C is for Cyndi Lauper…R is for Ramones or maybe Rockaway or maybe both! Lots to do as you can see.”


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9. Jules Rivera: “Why do they Never Show the Poor Magic Schools?” [Interview]

It might be all well and good for Harry Potter and his inherited money and fancy scholarship-based schooling in a Scottish castle, but stories about young magic-users rarely seems to ever look beyond that. We always seem to end up reading about Chosen Ones, rather than stories which look beyond prophecies and epic fates. For every Boy Who Lived, there are many more sorcerers who go to state magic schools and colleges, who don’t have the benefit of privilege on their side.

Step in Jules Rivera, who found great success last year with her Kickstarter for volume one of her wizard-school series Misfortune High. On the back of the success of that campaign, Rivera has now launched a Kickstarter to help fund volume 2 of her series, which focuses on a smug white kid called Biscuit, whose snobbish behaviour gets him kicked out of the top magic academy and sent to a state-run magic school instead.

To find out more about the project, I spoke to her about the idea of the series – which she writes, draws and colours herself – and what we can expect from volume 2. Read on!


Steve: Misfortune is a fun, manic series – it’s also a story with a very distinct message. What was your goal when making the first volume? What made you want to tell this particular story?

Jules: Misfortune High came about from the simple question of “Why do they never show the poor magic schools in series like Harry Potter? And by extension, why are there never any people of color with prominent roles in these things?” My goal in the first book was to set up the world and complete the traditional sort of “Act One” of the story: the main character is faces a conflict, and then is called into action.  In Biscuit’s case, he loses his idyllic existence in Phoenix Academy, narrowly escapes the thugs of Misfortune High, and then decides to fight his way back to his old life in the most desperate, stupidest way imaginable.

I wanted to tell this particular story because no one else seemed to be doing it.  That’s not to say Harry Potter parodies don’t exist but Misfortune High is much more than a parody.  It’s a challenge.  It’s a type of magic story that takes the reader somewhere they don’t expect to find magic or whimsy: the ghetto.

Steve: You write, draw, colour, letter and design the series, and I know you’ve said that you try to go for a different art direction in each story you create. What was your initial plan for the direction of Misfortune High – and was that the direction you ultimately went in?

Jules: At the time I began developing Misfortune High, I was in full swing production on my other graphic novel series, Valkyrie Squadron.  To set it apart from Valkyrie, I wanted to give it a more organic rendered look, using watercolors or some other natural media.  However, after several conversations with other artists on their sources of inspiration, the form sensibilities changed dramatically from VS too.

As I kept developing these characters, the forms became far more exaggerated, and the line work far more loose.  I ultimately went for a scribbly, marker-sketched style where everybody has these crazy, cartoonishly shaped bodies.  I think that looseness emphasizes the fun and wackiness of the story.

Steve: What were your influences for the series? What art were you inspired by, what sense of design?

Jules: My artistic influences were the works of Jamie Hewlett.  His work on all the Gorillaz artwork inspired me to start playing with the more cartoonish bodies of the characters.  Also, I got inspired by artists who put out really sketchy expressive linework, such as Jeff Stokely of Six Gun Gorilla.  (No, there is not a gorilla theme to the inspiration; that’s just a coincidence).

I also drew inspiration from Juanjo Guarnido’s watercolor rendering style from Blacksad (fun fact: the American version of the hardcover of Blacksad: A Silent Hell includes 40 pages of Guarnido’s watercolor process at the end, which gave me some valuable insights into natural media rendering).


Steve: At what point did you decide on the colouring style for the series? The colours often dictate the tone of a series, and Misfortune High has this light, sort of sketchy tone to it, like it’s been done by hand – is that the case, or do you colour digitally?

Jules: The marker rendering style idea came from a representative of the publisher to which I had initially pitched Misfortune High.  One of their people saw my concept art rendered in markers, and asked me if I was going to color the whole comic like that.  I hadn’t even thought of doing it that way at the time, but I loved the idea.

It took some art tests to hammer down the style and the logistics, but I eventually developed the process to include both digital colors and marker sketching on vellum sheets.  The digital flatting saves my poor markers from dying every time I have to render a page, and the vellum captures that sketched marker look in a way that digital brushes simply can’t replicate.

Steve: Once you decided that you would write and draw the book, did that bring extra pressure for you, or an extra sense of freedom? You can play to your own creative strengths on both sides, but you don’t have that collaborative aspect with a second voice?

Jules: I can’t say I ever really feel pressure from being my own art team because I’ve been doing it for over ten years.  I started doing my own webcomics in 2003, writing and drawing everything myself.  Misfortune High is my third series, so this wasn’t pressure so much as time to make the donuts. There was another writer who had been my sounding board at the beginning of development, but he got pretty busy with his own works so I took over handling the project solo.

There are many advantages to having the artist and writer on a project living in the same head.  There are fewer miscommunications, and the team can’t really break up (How does one break up with oneself?  That’s pretty existential). The down side is the panic attack I have every time I have to begin writing again.  I spend far more time on art duties than scripting so I’m constantly out of practice.  However, I’ve had some great creator friends along the way who have been willing to hear me out, and talk me off a ledge from time to time which has helped keep things on track.

Steve: What do you find the hardest part of the creative process, personally?

Jules: Fighting the white bull.  Any time I begin a new blank script page or a blank comic page is always rough.  I try to use outlines to help fill up my scripts quicker, blocking out what I want each scene to do for the story, but that’s not a foolproof solution.  Sometimes, scripts don’t want to come together.  Sometimes I have to know when to walk away from a script until I have some better ideas.  It’s the same with art.  Sometimes I’ll try blocking out the artwork of a page to try out different ideas and they’ll all be terrible.  Fighting that initial hump is really the hardest part.

Steve: How did the story come together? Was there a point where you felt everything clicked into place?

Jules: Oh, yes.  Misfortune High was really only a concept until a year and change ago.  “Over-privileged teen gets sent to a magic school in the ghetto and has to learn to get along with people unlike himself” is not a story.  It’s a concept.

Everything came into focus when I started introducing conflict elements like the dragon and the shapeshifter antagonist, Johnny Cuervo to the story.  Giving Biscuit a mission, even if it’s a dangerous, ill-advised one, helped everything snap into focus.


Steve: The main cast are made up of four: Biscuit, Sonia, Star and Warren. Which characters were easiest to develop and put together? Did you develop Biscuit first, or the characters he goes on to meet at the school?

Jules: Actually, there’s five if you count Johnny.  I’m not sure what the rules are in counting antiheroes in main casts, but he’s a guy who’s definitely not going away.

Anyway, Biscuit and Warren came first because they’re sort of natural converses to one another.  Biscuit is the sheltered, ignorant, rich kid and Warren is the voice of reason from the wrong side of the tracks.  Biscuit comes up with cockamamie schemes and Warren is the straight man who has to pull him back from the edge.

Star and Sonia were a little harder to figure out, but after some development I hammered down their personality traits.  Star became the saintly savior who shows a compassion to Biscuit even most readers can’t muster (and one that doesn’t make sense for pragmatic, self-preserving Warren).  Sonia started as a bubbly, goofy comic relief, but became much more complicated and interesting after I made her the go-between between the main cast and antihero.

Steve: Biscuit, despite being the possible lead of the book, is a remarkably smug git at times. Was it difficult to build a book around a lead character who can be so unlikeable? Does that make it harder to pull the rest of the cast into his orbit? Or did that constant sense of class conflict fire up your writing?

Jules: It’s times like this I wish this interview was live: hearing Biscuit be described as a “remarkably smug git” in a proper British accent would be the highlight of my life.

Ha, that aside, yes, it’s actually very hard to build a book around a lead who’s a complete tool.  As the writer, I have to sympathize with every character and understand their motives, otherwise I’m writing a silly stereotype.  Biscuit’s audience appeal is pure schadenfreude.  Everybody laughs every time they hear about the rich kid getting his, but in terms of story, that only goes so far.

After some research (and some eye-scarring views of Lena Dunham’s GIRLS and Tiny Furniture), I figured Biscuit out.  Even then, I had to do some work figuring out how to get all the cast on his side, which happens in Book 2.


Steve: In Britain, we have a really distinct class system, and it informs everything that people do and has for decades and decades. Is it similar for America? Do you also have this sense of ‘the rich get richer and the poor get poorer’?

Jules: Oh, hell yes it’s similar.  If you want to get stupidly rich, like the guys shown in Park Avenue: Money, Power, and the American Dream, it’s near impossible to achieve in America without marrying some obnoxious crotch fruit from a rich family.  However, I still believe America is a place of social mobility, where people from humble beginnings and the right resources can change their destinies.

My mother put herself through college taking advantage of opportunities within the New York hospital system to become a degreed medical professional of 30+ years.  My husband and brother-in-law were brought here from Russia as children to take advantage of the opportunities America offers, later going on become a software developer and user experience designer respectively.

I went to college on the state of Florida’s dime to become an engineer. I’ve obviously quit engineering now, but the savings I built during my time in the salt mines gave me the freedom to work on Misfortune High and other big art projects.

America is kind of a lousy place to come from nothing to build vast wealth, but you can still chase your dreams.  Maybe you can even be comfortable.  The key is to get information on the right kinds of programs and apprenticeships that can help people build their skill sets.

And, hey, if you’re a savvy enough software developer, you can always build the next hot app to sell to Google or Facebook.

Steve: Were there moments where you felt you were being too harsh on Biscuit, or too kind on the pupils of Misfortune High?

Jules: In book 1, all the fireballs and fisticuffs are in good fun, but things start to get intense for Biscuit in book 2.  I feel a little bit bad for putting Biscuit through the wringers the way I do, but some things are necessary for the plot line.

Steve: All this, and I’ve barely mentioned the magic yet! This is a magic school, indeed. What made you decide to add that element of fantasy to the series?

Jules: The high concept was “ghetto magic school.”  You can’t have a ghetto magic school without the magic.  Besides, it’s a fun way to turn stories about the ‘hood on their ear and have fun with them.  Stories about bad neighborhoods are always so severe and dour.  It’s easy for general audiences to forget that people in the ghetto have a sense of humor too.  I guess Friday and its sequels weren’t enough to convince people.

Key and Peele did something pretty similar with their Vince Clortho High skit, which is hilarious.  If I ever got the chance to work with those guys on something like that, it would be awesome.


Steve: Do you have a clear idea in your head of the rules of magic for this world?

Jules: I think it’s more accurate to say I’ve got a clear idea in my head of what I don’t want the rules of magic to be in this world.  Harry Potter sort of left me scratching my head as to why the muggle world and the wizard world must stay completely separate.  I suppose it’s to sell kids on the idea magic could exist in our world, but the mechanism breaks down in a lot of places when you stop and think about it.

I wanted magic to be a pretty casual thing in Misfortune High.  It’s everywhere, anyone has access to it, and if you’re really good with it, then great.  You can’t really hide dragons from an entire population with cameras in their cell phones anyway.

Steve: The first volume of Misfortune High was successfully funded by Kickstarter, and volume two is live now! How has your experience of the site been?

Jules: My experience with Kickstarter has been really great!  You are correct that Misfortune High Book 2 will go to Kickstarter at the beginning of March, once I finish the video and running some numbers.  I admit my success had more to do with the counselling I’ve received from my other Kickstarter comic buddies such as Tyler James of ComixTribe.  He helped give me a lot of pointers and moral support that contributed to the success of the project.  In fact, he posts a series of articles on how anyone can achieve Kickstarter success, which I highly recommend.

The Kickstarter site itself too helps out with taking the guess work out of page formatting, communicating with backers, and sending out surveys.  It made the whole thing very streamlined, which is a Godsend considering how much work a Kickstarter project is unto itself.

Steve: How much of a full-time job is it once a book is funded on Kickstarter? That’s a side nobody really looks at, but I have to imagine that getting funded means you then have a mountain of mail, commissions, signings and so on to do.

Jules: I got a bit lucky this time around in not having too many commissions to tackle.  I tried to get those out of the way first before any stock arrived.  Once I got the books in, my house turned into a fulfilment warehouse, and I spent the better part of three days signing, packing, gluing, taping, and sealing whatever was necessary to ship stuff out.  I don’t know how I did it, but I got 75% of my shipments ready in that three-day weekend.  I should be dead.

Steve: What are you long-term plans for Misfortune High? Do you have a set ending in place for the series?

Jules: Misfortune High is currently planned as a five-book series, with book 1 available for sale now and book 2 going to Kickstarter this month.  That would leave three books left to produce.  However, depending on how well the series does, I could end up doing more OGNs.  Moreover, I’m situated in Hollywood near a huge animation community, so who knows where this thing could end up? I’m keeping my options open, but we can count on at least five books for sure.

Steve: Do you have anything else coming up this year? Where can people find you online?

Jules: Other than con appearances (I’ll be at SDCC), and the continued production of my webcomic, Valkyrie Squadron, the one thing I can announce is my involvement in the pitch for MindSweepers.  Developed by TV animation writer Patrick Rieger, it’s the story of teenagers who dive into the minds of their fellow students to fight the monsters within each other’s heads.

The pitch is available to read on Amazon, and if it gets picked up, I’m presently slated to be a driving talent in the art design of the show.  It’s great fun, and the more people comment on the series, the more attention it’ll get.  Look out for more news on that in the future.

To find more information on me online, I can be found at my website here, although my Twitter account usually has more updated information.  Misfortune High can be followed at the website or on the Tumblr production blog.


Thank you very much to Jules for her time! This is usually the point where I link to all her work – but she’s already done that! So instead here’s a reminder that Misfortune High Vol 2 is currently running on Kickstarter RIGHT NOW!

2 Comments on Jules Rivera: “Why do they Never Show the Poor Magic Schools?” [Interview], last added: 3/19/2014
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10. Kickstarter-Funded Book Store Bar to Open in Indianapolis

books&brewsAfter raising $17,264 using Kickstarter, Jason Wuerfel is getting ready to open a bar/ used bookstore in Indianapolis.

The microbrewery will sell used books, and will also serve beer in order to supplement its income. The store will brew its own beer inspired by books. Check it out:

Books & Brews will brew on a three 55-gallon pot brewing system that will net approximately one barrel of beer per batch. Keeping with the literary theme of the business, all of Books & Brews’ beers will be named after classic literary works, characters or authors, such as Alice’s Adventures in Witbier, The Canterbury Tales Pale Ale, Charlie and the Chocolate Stout, and Clifford the Big Red Ale.

Readers can even trade in old books for beer. (Via IndyStar).

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11. Fiction Magic: Kickstart Your Writing with Deb Lund

Sometimes writers need a good kick in the pants.

Wouldn’t it be great to have your own personal writing coach by your side every day to get you moving? She could whip the sheets off you each morning, bugle reveille in your ear, even toast  you an Eggo while you shower.

Eh, who am I kidding? Writers don’t shower!


Author Deb Lund brought together her 20+ years of teaching experience in a magical way—with 54 surprising writing prompts, tips and tricks for you to apply to your work-in-progress whenever you’re feeling stuck. It’s like having that writing coach right there with you, only a lot less annoying. It’s “Fiction Magic”!

Fiction Magic Title screenshotMagicalDebLund

For years, Deb taught 4th- and 5th-grade students how to write, and she wanted to make it cool for them, so she developed these cards. Her real “aha” moment came when she realized that she could teach adults the same way she taught children, using the same FUN strategies. ABRACADABRA! These “magical” cards act as triggers to pull something out of your head that you wouldn’t ordinarily be able to coax out.

At the Oregon Silver Falls SCBWI Writing Retreat, star agent Jen Rofé of Andrea Brown Literary Agency attended Deb’s session and then exclaimed, “I want all my writers to have your cards!” Yep, she was that impressed. The only problem? Deb’s cards were a prototype that cost her $200 to produce. How could she make them for a dozen writers? A hundred? A THOUSAND?

Enter Kickstarter. Deb’s Fiction Magic campaign is on right now and it’s 94% funded already! But with just 10 days to go, she needs your help. And believe me, you want her help, too!

Let’s do a few tricks right now, shall we? Whip out your WIP and see if these magical remedies help!


Your characters must make some bad choices along the way. They may even have to negotiate for something they need or want with people they loathe. Characters may know they’re agreeing to bad deals but feel they have no choice. Or the deals appear good, but fall apart later. Or time factors make the deals even more ominous. Make the stakes of bad deals so high it’s difficult for your characters to back out of them.

When you feel stressed by all that’s on your plate, be gentle with yourself. Let your characters agree to bad deals, but the only agreement you need to make with yourself right now is to write, no matter how bad the writing may seem.


Secrets can be powerful tools or sources of trouble. Or both. What information could your characters unwittingly slip out to the wrong people? Characters could be in danger because of secrets. Other characters could reveal secrets that affect your lead characters, whether the secrets were theirs or not. In trying to cover up secrets or escaping from those trying to conceal secrets, what could go wrong? Who will be angry? Hurt? Feeling betrayed? Put in life or death situations?

Do you keep your dreams secret? Sometimes they need protection, but when you’re ready and the time is right, reveal them to others who believe in you.


If you’re lucky, you’ll pick this card over and over, because this is Key. Your characters are on quests. Delay them. Interrupt their journeys. Who or what could step in to make your characters stop in their tracks? The interruptions may be people, objects, circumstances, thoughts, feelings… Send your characters merrily down the road, and then run them into roadblocks. Keep tossing them unending hardship. Warm up your pitching arm and let it rip. Throw after throw after throw.

As a writer, you have plenty obstacles. For each one you throw at your character, remove one from your writing life! Where will you start?



There are 51 more Fiction Magic tricks for you to try. But only if you help Deb reach her goal.

Check out her Kickstarter and create your own magic! (Even if that includes the bugle call. But that’s not for me. I am NOT a morning person!)

10 Comments on Fiction Magic: Kickstart Your Writing with Deb Lund, last added: 3/28/2014
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12. Rachael Smith on House Party: “I’d Like to Answer this Question in the Form of a Play” [Interview]

The British comics scene is in one of the healthiest places it’s ever been right now, with new projects coming from all angles, and new creators breaking onto the scene. Among them is Rachael Smith, who came to attention last year after publishing a series of mini-comics including How We Write, and I Am Fire. But for her latest project she’s decided to up the ante and put out a graphic novel, called House Party.

To do so, she’s taken the project to Kickstarter, where she’s already hit her target goal. With the news that she’ll subsequently be publishing the book with Great Beast comics, I spoke to Rachael about the idea for the story, her creative process, life in Leicester, and what people can expect from the story, were they to pledge to the project.

And at one point she also writes a short play.



Steve: What’s the premise of House Party? What is the book about?

Rachael: House Party will be a 92 page graphic novel where three lost 20-somethings Michelle, Neil, and Siobhan are feeling disillusioned after being shoved into the real world since feeling like superstars at university. In an attempt to get their carefree composure and happiness back they throw a massive house party, just like they used to. Instead of reconnecting them with their younger selves, however, things go a little differently and the three of them must decide how to move forward in lives that none of them really asked for.

Steve: This is your first graphic novel, having previously worked on several shorter stories like “I am Fire” and “How We Write” How did you find the process of scripting House Party in comparison? Was it daunting to take on such a bigger project?

Rachael: Amazingly so! It was a story I really wanted to tell though, so I ploughed on in regardless. My process didn’t really change that much from when I was writing the shorter stories…but obviously it did take a lot longer, and I had to work a bit harder to make sure to keep the characters consistent throughout.

Steve: How did you get involved with Great Beast, who’ll be publishing the book?

Rachael: Well, Marc Ellerby and Adam Cadwell (co-founders of GB) had both been giving me advice over Twitter and Facebook on how to make it as a comic book illustrator. Once I got to the stage where I was able to quit my day job and start spending a lot more time on comics, I think they started to pay attention to my work bit more closely. Then when I tweeted the cover image for House Party, Marc immediately told me to keep them in the loop about it – which lead to me pitching it to them as a project when I had 5/6 pages done. The rest is HISTORY!


Steve: What’s been your experience so far of the British comics scene in general? The last year was essentially the year you ‘broke in’ – have you found it to be pretty welcoming as a community?

Rachael: Oh my goodness it’s been SO welcoming! More so than any other creative industry I’ve ever experienced. People seem a lot more eager to share information and help each other. Last year I asked so many creators for advice and they ALL answered me – I was expecting to hear from maybe 20% of them. Like, honestly, since writing that last sentence I’ve been sitting here for 5 minutes trying to think of a time when someone in the industry was mean to me and I can’t (and I’m pretty sensitive, I cry at adverts and stuff).

Steve: The various comics published by Great Beast have all been, to various extents, rooted in their specific setting – Blood Blokes, Chloe Noonan, and so forth. Where is House Party set, and how did you decide on that setting?

Rachael: House Party is set in Leicester, where I went to uni and now live. I decided on Leicester because the story is, in parts, very autobiographical – I did Fine Art at uni and then worked at a coffee place for a while – just like Siobhan. Also, my friends get a real kick out of being able to recognise the campus or other scenes – and I think it lends them a reality that I don’t think I’d be able to give the scenes if I was just making places up out of nothing.

Steve: House parties in general – they’re a bit rubbish, really, aren’t they? Especially when they’re at YOUR house in particular.

Rachael: Haha! Yes I suppose so – although I have been to some pretty good ones, and if they are at your house at least you don’t have to shell out for a taxi home? And often people bring too much booze with them and then leave it so you’ve got leftovers for a nice night in…I’m going to stop answering this question now ‘cause I think I’m coming off as WELL STINGY.


Steve: What made you want to make this your first graphic novel? What about the story or characters was it which you first got invested in to the extent that you settled on this to be your next big project?

Rachael: Hmm…well it was the first idea I’d had which I knew was going to be too big to fit into a mini comic. I had also been feeling pretty despondent and unappreciated at my full time admin job (which I was actually able to quit in December – yaaay!) and so a story about a group of ex-students feeling like they had nothing to put their creative energy into anymore was probably inevitable.

Steve: Where did you first start when you actually sat down to write the story? Is your main focus typically on character or on narrative?

Rachael: I started writing ‘House Party’ when I was still at my day job – I’d take my laptop in and sit with it on my lunchbreaks. My stories usually start with a situation, rather than a character. For I Am Fire the inspiration started when an ex-colleague told me how he’d been at work and they’d had a particularly awful fire drill.

House Party was inspired by a friend telling me an anecdote about a house party he’d been to himself that involved a baking tray. If I tell you any more than that I shall have to kill you.

Steve: Do you plan out a skeleton of a story, with a start and end, and then fill in the middle? Do you approach things as a stream of consciousness, of sorts, where you know the start and you see where things take you? What kind of approach do you take to scripting?

Rachael: When I’m at the writing stage, I will write 750 words a day until I’ve got a sort of a story. Sometimes I won’t be in the right frame of mind to write a scene or a piece of dialogue – so I’ll just pick a character and write 750 words about who they are – what do they want? What are they afraid of? How would they react if they were stuck in a lift? Etc. Or I’ll pick two characters and write 750 words about how they feel about one another.

Once I feel like I have enough stuff to construct a story I’ll print the whole thing out (sorry rainforest) and I will literally cut it up and build a rough script on my bedroom floor. All the character stuff I’ve written will become reference material. Then I’ll type it all up again and edit it and start adding proper dialogue and page breaks. I’ll constantly be looking at Dan Harmon’s story circle structures throughout this process to make sure I’m telling a story and not just writing stuff until stuff stops happening.

I’m a bit embarrassed I’ve just told you all that now. It sounds crazy. Is it a crazy way to write a story? Probably. If I’m gonna write anything bigger than House Party I’ll have to move into a bigger bedroom.

Steve: As writer/artist – and also colourist and letterer – do you find that when you’re writing the story, you’re writing with an eye to interesting visuals or specific images? Do you try and write pages which’ll challenge you as an artist to keep trying new stuff?

Rachael: I always put the story first. If I really feel like drawing a horse I won’t shoe-horn a horse into a scene in a bar. I hate drawing cars, but unfortunately they do exist in the world I’m writing about so they tend to crop up. So, yeah I don’t think ‘I’m really bad at drawing this thing so I’ll put it in a story’ – but I won’t try to avoid it if it does need to be there. Does that make sense? I kind of want to draw a horse now.


Steve: Who’re your influences as an artist? If I were to make a comparison, it’d likely be to people like John Allison?

Rachael: Kate Beaton was the first comic book artist I found online that actually made me want to give it a go myself. Her stuff was just so hilarious and different from anything I’d seen before. So she’s a massive influence. After that it was Bryan Lee O’Malley, Marc Ellerby, and John Allison who I looked up simply because people kept comparing me to them. And they’re all rad so that was awesome.

Steve: You’re involved in basically every aspect of the creative process for the book. What’ve been the most challenging parts of making House Party?

Rachael: I’d like to answer this question in the form of a play:


‘Trapping’ – a play by Rachael Smith, aged 29

Marc Ellerby: Thank you for these pages Rachael, they look great. Are you trapping them as you go?

Rachael Smith:

Marc Ellerby: Do you know what trapping is? Should I have asked you this before you’d finished the first two chapters of your book?

Rachael Smith: *sobbing forever*


Nb: Marc was actually amazingly supportive of my ignorance of trapping and had three pretty intense Skype conversations with me about it. Thanks Marc!

Steve: Now I need to go find out what ‘trapping’ is myself!

You’re remarkably prolific – last year you released I think three comics as well as being featured in Aces Weekly. What else do you have coming up, aside from House Party?

Rachael: At the moment I’m struggling to see a life beyond House Party as it has swallowed up so much of me since last September, but I would like to start writing something else soon. I’d quite like to go and see what Jenny has been up to since I Am Fire…but we shall see. I’ve also got Will Brooker’s script Towards the Moon, which is a beautiful story he wrote for me to illustrate. I’m only two pages in so I need to get on that.

Steve: Where can people find you online? Do you have any last words to encourage people to check out the Kickstarter, and perhaps pledge to it?



Twitter: @rachael_

Facebook: www.facebook.com/rachaelsmithillustration

Tumblr: askflimsy.tumblr.com/

Oh my gosh you guys, it’d be so awesome if you could take a look at the Kickstarter and pre-order House Party. There’s a well cheesy video on there with me, Marc, Adam, and a bunch of my friends AND my cat that you can laugh at. The project has been funded now, but we’re in the process of putting together some PRETTY EXCITING STRETCHGOALS to make this book actually amazingly beautiful and something that all your friends will be jealous of when you show it to them.

…too much? I don’t care, I’m shameless. Just click here already:


3 Comments on Rachael Smith on House Party: “I’d Like to Answer this Question in the Form of a Play” [Interview], last added: 3/28/2014
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13. Facing the Kickstarter Fears: Take a Risk

Guest post by Deb Lund

Most of you know me as the author of rollicking rhyming romps like my dinobooks, Dinosoaring, and Monsters on Machines, but preparing for a retreat with Darcy forced me to finally complete a first draft of an upper middle-grade historical fantasy. But kidlit isn’t where my writing started. My writing dreams began with wanting to write for adults, so I played with novels, short stories, and poetry. I’m getting back to trying an adult novel right now, but I’m jumping ahead here. Let me back up.

Deb Lund online.

Deb Lund online.

[DebWeb.jpg] Web site link for here and/or in bio below. http://www.deblund.com]

Years ago, I was an elementary teacher librarian who wanted a sabbatical, but my school district didn’t know what to do with me since I already had my master’s degree (which focused on teaching writing). The personnel director said I could plan out my sabbatical year and list activities that I would do, comparable to a master’s degree, and my list had to relate to my job. My first thought was, “But I wanted to work on my novel!” And then the light went on. *Kids’ books!*

These days I find myself teaching more adults than kids. I love presenting at conferences, providing continuing education courses for teachers, and offering writing classes when my schedule allows. I often say that once I figured out I could teach adults the same ways I taught kids, we all learned a lot more and had a lot more fun.

Fiction Magic Title

That’s how my 54-card deck and guidebook set Fiction Magic: Card Tricks and Tips for Writers got its start. You’ll find them on the crowd-funding site Kickstarter right now, but they won’t be there long. Why Kickstarter?

Kickstarter makes it possible for people with creative ideas to get the backing they need to pursue those creative ideas. I thought about sending the cards out to publishers, but since this project wasn’t the usual kidlit submission, I didn’t want to face another huge learning curve for this one unique project. In what genre would you place a writing-teaching card deck and book set? And with all the presentations and teaching I had done using my homemade deck, I already knew I had an audience, especially after all the requests I had from writers who saw what the prompts could do for their manuscripts.

Here’s how Kickstarter works: You design your project, come up with rewards for people who contribute to the project, explain your project in print and on a video, have it approved, set the date, tell everybody about it, and then try to reframe the ensuing anxiety as exhilaration and excitement.

Risk it All

Fears About Kickstarter

Failure. It was daunting to put myself out there like this. To be so public about the possible failure. But as a creativity coach, I know taking risks is an important part of the creative process. Failing is part of it, too. And so is picking yourself up after a fall. I’m no longer the person who had her first rejection years ago and didn’t submit anything again for 15 years.

Imposter. And then there’s the imposter syndrome. That’s how I felt today after seeing another big-name author back my cards. This one is not only getting the cards, but paying me to talk to her. I’m used to the imposter syndrome now and I don’t stay there for long any more.

This imposter business is where it’s good to have my own inner creativity coach to balance out my inner critic. Even though I’ve always prodded and been drawn to people who mentioned something they’ve “always wanted to do,” I have to admit that there were definitely selfish reasons for taking creativity coaching training, and even if I never worked with a client it would still have been worth it.


I coach myself pretty much daily. It’s not magic. You can be your own coach, too. I remind myself of my teaching and training. Of all the successes of my students and clients. Of the accomplished writers who seek me out when they hit blocks. I must have something to say. And if I do, you do, too.

Say it. Say that something that can help another find their way, see a new vision, take a risk. A risk like going on Kickstarter. A risk like joining a critique group. A risk like signing up for one of Darcy’s workshops. A risk like writing.

What risk can you take today? Not the big dream. Just one little step broken down as far as it can go. Take that step. Let us know how it went…

Deb Lund is an author, teacher, and creativity coach. She is proud to be on the Western Washington SCBWI Advisory Committee and to chair the original Inside Story. She babbles on her blogs and dabbles in the arts on Whidbey Island. See what Deb is up to at www.deblund.com.

From Darcy: Support Deb’s Kickstarter Project here. Only 6 Days to Go! The main goal has been reached, but the stretch goal is still looming! Read about it now! (“I want all my writers to have your cards.” Jen Rofe’, Agent)

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14. 4th Annual Shakespeare Sonnet Slam on Kickstarter

Melinda Hall hopes to raise $1,600 for the 3rd Annual Shakespeare Sonnet Slam. This free event, celebrating William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday, is scheduled to take place in New York City on April 25, 2014.

The stage, the Naumburg Bandshell inside Central Park, will feature readings of all 154 Shakespearean sonnets. We’ve embedded a video about the project above. Here’s more from the Kickstarter page:

“This is our 4th year and so far, we’ve had Sonnet Readers from ages 8-96 perform their Sonnet and there have been Readers from over 30 Countries.  Some Readers are professional actors but many are not, they just share a common love of Shakespeare and are willing to get up on that stage to perform. The audience is comprised of people of all ages who stay for as little as 10 minutes or stay the entire three hours and hear all 154 Sonnets by 154 Readers.”


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15. Lauren Zurchin Completes Fantasy Author Calendar

calendarSoon it will be time to buy a new calendar for 2014. Earlier in the year, photographer Lauren Zurchin ran a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a fantasy author-themed calendar project called “Beyond Words: A Year of Daydreams.”

The calendar is now complete and features photos of fourteen authors dressed up as fantasy characters. Each calendar costs $20; the proceeds generated from the sale of these calendars will be donated to First Book and Worldbuilders.

The participating authors include Lauren Oliver as a trapped spiritGregory Maguire as a steampunk automaton, Cassandra Clare as Autumn, and Christopher Paolini as Death. Here’s more about Paolini’s photo shoot:

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16. Gluten-Free Cookbook on Kickstarter

e2661378a3d07aabd7f330ec04c42906_largeFood blogger Marie Porter hopes to raise $10,000 on Kickstarter for her gluten-free cookbook project.

The finished book, titled Beyond Flour, will contain at least 75 recipes. If this campaign is successful, Porter hopes to release the book by October 2014. Here’s more from about the project:

“Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a ‘normal’ recipe, and attempting to come up with the perfect balance of alternative flours to substitute…I take a bit of a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch, throwing the original methods out the window. Rather than just swapping out the flours, I also look at utilizing other supporting ingredients and different techniques to achieve the perfect end goal…not just a ‘reasonable facsimile.’”


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17. Frederick Douglass Graphic Novel on Kickstarter

Artist Audran Guerard and writer Daniel Roy hope to raise $30,000 on Kickstarter for their comics project, The Life of Frederick Douglass: A Graphic Novel.

The funds will be used to cover the costs of supplies, live models, editing fees, printing, and distribution. We’ve embedded a video about the project above. Here’s more from the Kickstarter page:

The Life of Frederick Douglass: A Graphic Novel will be a graphic adaptation of Frederick Douglass’s life based on his two autobiographies: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave and My Bondage, My Freedom. The graphic novel will be composed of three 50-page volumes and will feature gorgeous watercolor art.”


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18. The Crochet Coral Reef Project on Kickstarter

The Institute For Figuring (IFF) hopes to raise $27,000 on Kickstarter for Crochet Coral Reef: The Book. It will feature essays from an art critic, a science historian, and IFF founders  Margaret and Christine Wertheim.

The finished book will also honor the work of the 7000+ contributors who took part in crocheting for environmental advocacy. For more information about these coral reef crochet creations, check out this TED Talk. We’ve embedded a video about the book project above. Here’s more from the Kickstarter page:

“The Crochet Coral Reef project was conceived as a direct response to climate change. It has mobilized people all over the planet to respond to this crisis in a powerful, constructive and collaborative way. The book will spread the word about climate change in a format that is highly accessible, scientifically astute, and visually stunning.”


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19. Kickstarter Features a Travel Guide For Pet Owners

falcoHave you ever wanted to take your dog along for vacation? Writer Paul and his faithful pet Falco hope to raise £300 for their travel book project, Europe: A Woof Guide.

This book will share information and tips on how to bring your canine best friend along for trips to the South of France, Spain, and Italy. Here’s more from the Kickstarter page:

“Why restrict yourself to holidays in the UK with its notoriously unpredictable weather when you can take your pet to the South of France, Spain, Italy or even the Czech republic just as easily. I recently booked a 1 week trip to the Cote D’azure for this summer that included all transport for 2 adults, 1 child and our dog in June for £250. It even included a free stop in Paris.”


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20. Picture Book On Kickstarter Features ‘The Three Little Pigs’ Translated Into Pittsburghese

Cartoonist Joe Wos has raised $3,185 for his picture book, The Three Little Pigsburghers. Wos’ project is a retelling of the “The Three Little Pigs” story that has been translated into “Pittsburghese.”

Filmmaker Rick Sebak wrote the the foreword and comedian Jimmy Krenn narrated the audiobook. We’ve embedded a video about the project above. Here’s more from the Kickstarter page:

“Pittsburghese is a dialect and language unique to the Pittsburgh and Pittsburghers, locally known as Yinzers because of their frequent use of the term ‘Yinz.’ ‘Yinz’ is the equivalent of the southern Ya’all. “Yinz Guys” is equivalent to ‘All Y’all!’ The New York Times once referred to Pittsburghese as the Galapagos Islands of the English language.”


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21. Kickstarter Reaches $1 Billion in Pledges

kickstarterCrowdfunding site Kickstarter has revealed that project’s on the company’s site have generated more than $1 billion in pledges by 5.7 million people to creative projects. That money has gone towards funding books, films, records, apps, TV shows, games, and even public works.

In addition, the company reported that more than half of that money was pledged in the last year. Donors from the U.S., the U.K. and Canada pledged the most money. Almost 1.7 million people have backed more than one project and almost 15,932 have backed more than 50 projects.

March 13th, 2013 was the day that generated the most pledges ever. Kickstarter also named author Neil Gaiman as one of the most influential Kickstarter user. Follow this link to read more fun facts about Kickstarter funding.

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22. Comics Artist Burns Books He Made With $50k in Kickstarter Funding

campbellvideoWebcomics artist John Campbell raised more than $50,000 on Kickstarter to fund a book project based on his online comic strip, Pictures for Sad Children. In an unusual turn of events, Campbell has burned the books that the donors funded, because he claims that he ran out of money to ship them.

Campbell posted a video on his Kickstarter page called, “It’s Over” which documents the burning of 127 copies of his book. “For every message I receive about this book, I will burn another book,” explains the video. Campbell apparently received 127 inquiries from backers looking for their copies of the book.

While many Kickstarter projects have had difficulty meeting their commitments, Campbell took things to a new level. continued…

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23. ‘Eight Little Zombies’ Featured on Kickstarter

Collaborators John LaFleur and Dave Metzger hope to raise $10,000 on Kickstarter for their children’s book, Eight Little Zombies. The funds will be used to cover the printing costs.

The inspiration for this project comes from the classic story and song, “Eight Little Monkeys.” We’ve embedded a video about the project above. Here’s more from the Kickstarter page:

“Our understanding is that it will take 4 to 5 weeks to receive the books (we’re printing domestically in the US, actually in Michigan.) If you’ve seen the high quality of the Lucy and the Anvil book that was done here on Kickstarter, we’re using the same printer and are very excited about their quality and boutique handling of customer service.”


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24. Interview: Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery on ‘Kill Shakespeare’ and Kickstarter

An idea is only as valuable as its execution, and Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery have spent the last four years executing their concept, a battle between Shakespeare’s most famous heroes and most evil villains, to great success. Kill Shakespeare first appeared as a comic book series from IDW in 2010, but in four short years has already expanded into new arenas. A New York stage show debuted on March 1st, and a Kickstarter is underway for a Kill Shakespeare board game. With a couple of days to go, it’s funded but nearing some stretch goals. I spoke to Anthony (A) and Conor (C) about where the brand has been, where it is now, and where it’s going next.


You said in the Kickstarter video that you came up with the idea for Kill Shakespeare 10 years ago. What has made you pursue this concept so fiercely?

A: I’m so extremely passionate about Kill Shakespeare because to me it’s more than just a concept/comic/game that’s entertaining. There’s something more to it – the ability to make people appreciate more about Shakespeare and his plays, as well as giving people the opportunity to learn something about themselves and humanity through the actions of the characters.

KS Live Stage Photo

Photo from the Kill Shakespeare stage show in New York.

What was your initial vision for the series?

C: The initial vision ended up being pretty similar to what we have now. We toyed with a couple of other mediums first and we wrote a VERY long first draft of a film that we then analyzed and looked at how we could adapt it in order to tell our story in a 12 part series. Most of our early ideas for Kill Shakespeare ended up in the comics in some form or another – which I think is a testament to how much we thought out the original concept to begin with.

Why did you decide to publish Kill Shakespeare as a comic first?

A: We conceived it originally as a MMO and then a feature film, but we realized that we didn’t have the knowledge or resources to produce our story in those mediums. We then thought about comics and realized that it provided us the best opportunity to tell the story that we wanted to tell. With comics the only thing that limits us is our imagination. If we can imagine a huge pirate battle, we can bring it to life (with the amazing art by Andy Belanger). Also, it’s really cool to bring something normally perceived as high-brow (Shakespeare) to a medium (incorrectly) perceived as low-brow (comics). Is it irony, or destiny…?

Has the visual elements of the comic book series been advantageous towards translating it to other types of media?

C: Oh for sure. Andy Belanger, are artist, has been key to everything we’ve done. One example is that we actually use the existing comic panels as part of the Kill Shakespeare stage show. They are presented on screen and the actors use them to act off of. Hopefully if K.S. becomes a film or television show then we’ll see Andy’s work reflected there too.

Shakespeare material is probably more inclined for the bookstore market than the comics crowd. How are you making Kill Shakespeare visible to them, including the readers who don’t ordinarily peruse the “Comics” section of Barnes & Noble?

A: You’re absolutely right – our biggest market is the bookstore market. The number of collected trade paperbacks we sell far outnumber those of the individual comics. However, we put just as much time in marketing to – and prioritizing – the comics market than the bookstore one. We always make a point to fill each issue with the action elements that the comics market really enjoys – the swashbuckling adventure, the magical elements, the battles. We emphasize that. We attend as many comic-cons as possible (over 20 in 2013) and we heavily ingrain ourselves with retail comic book shops. The comic shops are the lifeblood of this industry and we try to work with them to sell our issues to their fans.

Picture of the prototype of the KILL SHAKESPEARE board game.

Photo of the prototype of the KILL SHAKESPEARE board game.

How much work has it been overseeing the Kickstarter for the board game? 

C: We’re lucky that IDW is doing the heavy lifting on that one (and doing it well) but we’re still seeing a fair amount of our days consumed with sending emails and reaching out on social media to help spread the word.

What’s surprised you about the crowdfunding experience?

A: How much people look for humour and passion in the projects that they fund. It’s all about the personality. What Kickstarter really does is eliminate the corporate element to projects and give fans/reader/consumers a one-on-one experience with the creators. Most of the time people are funding the people, not the projects, and that’s an amazing revolution in the distribution chain of commerce.

What are some stores we should expect to see the Kill Shakespeare board game in?

C: The board game is going to be distributed far and wide so if you have a local comic shop or indie game store they can get it for you. Of course, you could also support the Kickstarter and get some sweet extras!


Another photo from the game prototype.

Since the start Kill Shakespeare has been with IDW. What makes them a good partner for the franchise?

A: IDW has been great from Day #1. What makes them a great partner are the talented people that work there. Everyone from the business brains that have allowed the company to flourish, to the talented design people there (like Chris Mowry, who oversees the design of all of our issues), it’s a hotbed of talent. They’ve also given us a lot of freedom to discover our story and voice, which has been amazing for us.

How much has the growth of the brand been calculated planning vs. going with the flow?

C: I’d say about 50-50. Anthony and I definitely charted out our strategy and identified where we wanted to take this idea, but as far as when and how things happen – there is always some serendipity there. For example, we didn’t think the stage show would be our second “thing”, but we happened to be in the right place at the right time when the amazing Soulpepper Theatre Company was looking for something funky and Shakespearean for one of their festivals.

Where do you see Kill Shakespeare going next? Where do you hope for it to go next?

A: We’ve got a lot of great things coming up for the brand, from the new comic mini-series The Mask of Night, to a new theatrical concept we’re exploring, to a teacher’s guide, to a television series. Our goal in the comics world is to become the new Fables – a series that’s been going on for over a dozen years and inspired so many creators and readers.

IDW announced a new volume of Kill Shakespeare the comic.

IDW announced a new volume of Kill Shakespeare the comic.

You can play as a number of Shakespearean players in the board game. Who are your players of choice?

C: I’m going to weakly opt out of this question as I haven’t had the chance to play-test the new version to see how each character’s unique attributes will affect my strategy. BUT if I was FORCED to choose I’d say Falstaff. Because then if I get tipsy during game-play I can say I was just trying to stay “in character.”

A: I’m still quite partial to Hamlet. Such a fascinating enigma of a man – it’ll be great to play the game as him for a couple hours and see if it allows me to get deeper into his head.


You can learn more about the series on its official website and visit the board game’s Kickstarter page to support the next phase of Kill Shakespeare.

3 Comments on Interview: Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery on ‘Kill Shakespeare’ and Kickstarter, last added: 3/14/2014
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25. Lela Gwenn on Born Dark: “Everyone is the Hero of Their Own Story” [Interview]

Goblins don’t get the respect they deserve, do they? They’re twisted creatures of malicious intent, born of dark magic and with creepy pointed ears – but nobody ever gives them their due as servants of evil.

Not so writer Lela Gwenn, however! Lela has taken to Kickstarter to help fund a prologue issue for a planned six-issue miniseries called ‘Born Dark’, which looks to make you terrified of goblins once more. Pencilled by Richard Clark and lettered by Frank Cvetkovic, the Kickstarter campaign is edging ever closer to reaching the target.

So in order to find out a bit more about her story, I spoke to Lela about the project. Read on to find out about goblins, magic, alternate worlds and much more.


Steve: What is the idea of Born Dark? What’s the story about?

Lela: Issue 0 is set before all the characters get put in each other’s path. It focuses mostly on Bulvis– a goblin who made and lost his fortune betting on his ability to manipulate an 11 year old Malcolm. That was twenty years ago and the loss has grown exponentially over the years. But now he has a new target, a young boy named Jake.

Jake is lost. Shelved in a foster home that sees him as a cash crop. But he’s made friends with a funny little guy in the mirror. Maybe the mirror guy can help him find his sister?

Steve: Why goblins as the villains? What made you want to use them? In the past, there’s been a tendency in fantasy to use them as punching-bags.

Lela: Wellll… Bulvis is a not very nice guy. He’s selfish, sadistic and he doesn’t learn from his mistakes. But I think you’ll find the goblins as a whole are stuck in a world shaped by Bulvis’ mistake. Almost every character in this story is a child of trauma doing their best to do what they think is right. Everyone is the hero of their own story.

Steve: Is this an all-ages story, or one for an older audience?

Lela: OLDER AUDIENCES! That’s one of the things I worry about with the Issue 0 focusing mostly on Jake. It’s a story about an 11 year old… but not FOR an 11 year old. (unless you are like I was at 11, and have abandoned the “kids section” in search of meatier tomes)

Steve: How long have you been working on the project? What first got you interested in taking the first ideas and turning them into a story?

Lela: I started writing this story as prose 3 years ago. At some point I realized it didn’t work as a novel and I had just started trying my hand at comic scripts and it just hit me: THIS NEEDED TO BE A COMIC.

So, I gave it a shot!

As far as the ideas–I started reading adult fiction really early, but the kid’s lit that I read stuck with me. It always seemed strange to me that the kids from the “portal fantasies” from our youth (Oz, Labyrinth, Narnia) always ended up with the good guys and always went home cheerfully ready for school on Monday . No one chose the White Witch? No one said “Meh. The Maze needs a monarch. I think I’ll stay”? That idea stuck with me and I couldn’t shake it. So I started writing.


Steve: The idea of your Kickstarter is that you’ll be making a prologue issue, essentially, which you’ll then use to pitch a further series to publishers. So; in fact; you’re actually using Kickstarter to kick-start something. What made you decide to crowd-fund Born Dark?

Lela: As a team we thought about how we wanted to do this. Both Adam and Richard have been working with some of the better established houses and they felt it was a strong enough story to take to the houses, but when you do that– they want the full package! They wanna see ART! And COLOR! And LETTERS! That’s a helluva gamble for my friends to take on a relatively unknown writer. So we decided to go this way. People get a taste of the kind of story we want to tell, we can show a publisher that we have people ready to support us and everyone gets a kick ass book.

Of course, anything can happen and we are open to all the possibilities, but… aim high, right?

Steve: How have you found the process of organising and maintaining a Kickstarter, yourself, thus far?

Lela: EVERYONE IS SO DAMNED AMAZING. The way people have jumped in and supported the project it just leaves me shocked and awed.

I did a lot of research before this launched. I looked at how and where and when and what people needed to get behind a campaign. For people looking, Comixtribe has a lot of great info out there on running kickstarters and while I didn’t follow Tyler’s advice to the letter it certainly shaped how I did things. Watching how successful Joe Mulvey’s SCAM kickstarter was really inspired me.

This being a cooperative venture is much more coordinated and there are a lot more pieces to the puzzle, but really my main take away is that people want this kind of story. I cannot express the amazing gratitude I have for everyone


Steve: One thing I think is particularly interesting about the Kickstarter is that you’re making a promise to never again offer the comic in this format again, and have capped most of the rewards as a result. What motivated that decision? Do you think a Kickstarter has to have some sense of exclusivity, for the people pledging?

Lela: I have seen the anguish in my fellow nerd’s faces when they back a kickstarter and then see what they paid a premium for  “before it was cool” selling for less, or selling in a better packaging or something, afterward.  It’s not right. I have no idea what is going to happen to Born Dark after July 2014. I have aspirations, but I know what it costs to see the future in the worlds I build.

If Born Dark gets a publisher and it moves forward I will have 6 issues that have never seen print ready to go for them (so I’m not screwing the publisher) and the people who saw the awesome in a handful of sketches will have an extremely limited print run book to add to their collection. (So I’m not screwing the backers.) I see this as win-win for everyone.


Steve: How did you get in contact with artist Richard Clark about the project? What was it about his art which made you want to bring him on for the project?

Lela: I have this annoying habit of just asking people when I need help. I needed an artist and I needed an artist who could balance this crazy blend between our real world and a place where monsters roam the streets. I needed those goblins to feel as real as the people. Richard was the guy. Luckily the story got him excited enough and he knew I was serious enough that he got on board.

Steve: How has the collaborative process been between the two of you?

Lela: We are both big personalities. Sometimes we butt heads. But at the base of it I think there’s genuine respect there, and we both want what is best for the book. It all works out.

Steve: I notice a few other familiar faces amongst the creative team on the book, notably Adam P. Knave and Frank Cvetkovic, who are parts of the creative teams for Amelia Cole and Artful Daggers. How did the creative team assemble?

Lela: Adam sorta… adopted my scruffy self and did me several favors that I will never be able to repay him for (notably offering to take a look at the script when he REALLY didn’t have to.) Frank is the kind of guy that a lot of people might overlook, but that would be a big mistake. He’s a sweetheart of a man and before I needed a letterer I was like “Hey, when I have a comic, you’re gonna letter it, right?”

I like having my friends around me.

Steve: Frank has his own Kickstarter, Mute, and also worked on other Kickstarter projects like Nenetl of the Forgotten Spirits and Molly Danger. Do you think we’re seeing a Kickstarter community starting to grow, with groups of creators working together to support each other’s projects?

Lela: I think this is the way creative people have been forever. This is the Salons of Paris– only nerdier! We form a community around supporting each other’s creative impulses and we foster and nurture each other’s projects and contribute when we can. Not only that, we expand each other’s networks. I have a whole group of friends online who might never know about Nenetl or Fireside Magazine…except I can change that with the click of a RT button. That’s sorta amazing.

Steve: What else do you have coming up? Where can we find you online?

Lela: I have a secret story. It’s sold and in the works but I am to keep MUM about it, so I do. But it’s awesome. I’m a compulsive Tweeter. Seriously I’m at 105K tweets and it jumps up another K every 3 days or so. Stop by and say hi!


You can find my homepage here [Note from Steve: NSFW!) & the site for the comic is www.borndarkcomic.com – and all pages lead to the Kickstarter page which is here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lelagwenn/born-dark-issue-0


Many thanks to Lela for her time! Born Dark is running on Kickstarter now – and heading into the last few days, with £500 still left to reach the target. Go have a look!

2 Comments on Lela Gwenn on Born Dark: “Everyone is the Hero of Their Own Story” [Interview], last added: 3/18/2014
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