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Jon Bogdanove was one of the big artists in the late 1980s and early 1990s, from his work on the X-titles and Power Pack at Marvel to the “Death of Superman” story arc at DC. But for the past decade or so, his name has been absent from comic shelves as he instead produces art for DC and Marvel’s licensing department. But news came out earlier this month that Bogdanove wants to return to comic, but he needs help.
The artist has turned to Kickstarter to raise funds to launch his first creator-owned comic, a 150-page graphic novel called Strongman. Going back to the circus roots of superheroes, this story follows “heroic 1920s circus strongman Bron Bellman, and his sideshow sidekicks.” Mixing pulp heroics with Teddy Roosevelt and even some Nikola Tesla, it’s described as an “anthology of legends” telling the story of Bellman and his adventures.
“[Bellman is] a Depression-era strongman who doubles as a pulp hero,” Bogdanove writes on his Kickstarter page. ” Bron travels the world with his companions in the Strange Bros. Circus, righting wrongs, and defending the downtrodden against all sorts of foes — from the criminal, to the supernatural. Tonally, Strongman draws on some of our favorite stories and characters for inspiration. It blends light-hearted action and globe-trotting adventure with vintage pulp crime drama, and gothic, mystical horror. Fans of H.P. Lovecraft, Lester Dent’s Doc Savage, Jack Kirby’s In The Days Of The Mob, Windsor McKay’s Little Nemo, Todd Browning’s Freaks, and Siegel and Shuster’s Superman, will all find something new to love in Strongman.”
Bogdanove isn’t shy about what it’ll cost to make this project work; he’s looking to raise $200,000 to fund this effort, which will pay a “professional living wage” for the artist, colorists, letterers and background assistants, as well as the printing and distribution of the completed graphic novel. Among the pledge incentives is a unique opportunity: a three-day lecture, discussion or class by the artist wherever in the world you want for $5,000.
Bogdanove talks openly about why he’s going to Kickstarter to make this project a reality, saying “there’s total creative freedom to explore and experiment with new ideas, but the comics won’t happen unless fans want it to. The readers are literally invested in the creativity. It is the purest, most democratic hope for new concepts and enterprises. We can go right to the readers and fans, and say ‘Hey guys, this is what we want to do.’ And if people are excited, they can make it a reality in a very direct way — person to person.”
For the money Bogdanove’s asking for, he’s going to need a lot of strongmen (and strong women) to make this happen. But as Bogdanove knows, in comic books those types aren’t in short supply.