X-POSITION: Yost Gives His X-Men an "Amazing" End
Eben Burgoon’s goofy comedy The B-Squad is the story of a ragtag crew sent off on various missions around the world. He brings considerable comedic energy to the story, and the twist is that a member of the squad is killed off in every issue. Burgoon chooses who to kill at random by (in real life) spinning an antique sailor’s gambling device made of whalebone.
The first issue was funded on Kickstarter, and you can download it for free from the shop at the B-Squad website. Now Burgoon is running another, more ambitious Kickstarter to fund the rest of a six-issue run and print it as a graphic novel. In Issue 2 (which was privately funded) and Issue 3, the story takes place in Tapigami, the masking-tape world of real-life artist Danny Scheible; the team is sent to rescue Bill Murray, who has been kidnapped by the artist.
There was more to World War II comics than the classic American heroes most U.S. readers associate with the era. Comics’ Golden Age stretched north to Canada, with a unique faction of adventurer comics that, for the most part, haven’t been seen in 70 years. However, Hope Nicholson is out to change that. After her success last year reprinting Nelvana of the Northern Lights with some help from Kickstarter, she’s back back with another Canadian hero: Brok Windsor.
Introduced in 1944 by Jon Stables in the anthology Better Comics, Brok Windsor was a French-Canadian doctor/adventurer, somewhat in the vein of John Carter and Doc Savage, who found a secret world lost to the ages dubbed Tarqua, or as he puts it, “beyond the mists.” Windsor fell in with the natives, who used futuristic technology, and went on a series of adventure mixing science fiction, fantasy and Westerns in a pulp-y 1940s style.
Brok Windsor’s stories, like Nelvana’s,are part of a subset of comics published in the 1940s dubbed the “Canadian Whites.” These black-and-white comics were created to fill a void in the country left when the Canadian government instituted the War Exchange Conservation Act, which restricted the import of non-essential goods from the United States.
Some comic book heroes enjoyed their heydays well before toymakers began churning out action figures, and therefore never found a place on shelves beside the likes of Superman, Batman and Captain America. However, Bill Murphy hopes to change that with his Amazing Heroes Kickstarter campaign.
With a goal of $30,000, Murphy plans to produce a line of action figures based on the Black Terror, the original Daredevil, Stardust and other Golden Age heroes that have lapsed into the public domain. He says he even has the permission of the rights holders of Captain Action, a toy introduced in the mid-’60s, to produce a figure based on that character.
Dan Brereton was one of the first creators to bring painted art from the covers of comics to their interiors, and now he wants to put some of that art onto bookshelves and coffee tables. He’s putting the finishing touches on his fourth hardcover art collection, titled Enchantress, and is offering a limited edition to 250 of his most ardent fans.
Brereton and art collector Steve Morger have taken to Kickstarter looking to raise $3,000 to publish and, in effect, sell these limited edition versions of Enchantress — and they’ve already met their goal five times over. The limited-edition Enchantress Kickstarter has raised more than $17,000, with 19 days to go, with many of the supporters jumping in on the high-dollar rewards like original paintings. Brereton and Morger plan to announce stretch goals after they return from Comic-Con International
Here’s an example of some of the art from Enchantress:
Things appear to be going well for collaborators Evan Young and Lou Iovino: Not only are they in the final hours of a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the second volume of their alternate-history thriller The Last West, they’ve signed a deal with Outlier, whose founders’ producing credits include the Twilight and Percy Jackson film series.
The agreement gives Outlier to the exclusive rights to shop the property to film studios, television networks, financiers and the like.
“Lou and I are really ecstatic about working with Outlier and having them shopping the comic around Hollywood,” Young told ROBOT 6. “It’s clear that they think the basic premise of the story holds the potential to intrigue the masses. But even more important to us is that Outlier is right on board with the fact that The Last West isn’t totally whiz-bang. It’s a slower-burn, character-driven story to sink your teeth into — the way Lost was, for example. Outlier gets this 100 percent. So combine that with the fact that Outlier clearly knows their business, have a proven track record with some mega-hit movies behind them. … Man, we really can’t wait to see where it goes.”
If your standard comics-reading experience, whether in print or online, has gotten a bit humdrum, perhaps Modern Polaxis is the solution.
The brainchild of Australian artist Sutu, it’s the story of a paranoid time traveler, presented as his private journal, brought to life in an augmented reality comic book. Polaxis hides all of his secrets and conspiracy theories within its pages — in the “augmented reality layer” — which can be discovered by readers with an iPhone or an iPad and a free app (a beta version is available from the iTunes store).
Sutu has finished about 20 pages of illustrations and animation, and now he’s turning to Kickstarter to help complete the project.
The artist teamed with Luke Crane (The Burning Wheel, Mouse Guard Roleplaying Game) to develop a two-player strategy game based on the one from the comics. And now that it’s been play-tested, they’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to make Mouse Guard: Swords & Strongholds a reality.
“The game is played on a board with a grid,” Petersen explains on his blog. “Mouse pawns reside on the grid intersections (mostly) and are moved in conjunction with cards: Swords, Diplomacy, and Strongholds. Each card allows the mouse you are moving an ability beyond it’s normal movement. We came up with something that is a 2 player light strategy game that is pretty easy to learn and can scale in difficulty with the skill levels of the players.”
The Kickstarter set will feature a wooden board, eight plastic pawns, 30 cards (drawn by Petersen) and illustrated rules sheet, in a cardboard box. A deluxe set, produced by Skelton Crew Studios, will include an oversized board and box, both made of cherry wood, and eight plated pewter mouse pawns.A day into the campaign, and it’s already raised more than $7,900 of its $18,000 goal, which likely means the June Alley Inn will be filled with the sounds Swords & Strongholds before long. Pledge incentives include signed games, original card art, original box-cover art (already gone), and the deluxe version of the game.
What a difference seven years makes! When Todd Allen published the previous edition of his book, the title reflected the digital comics scene at the time: The Economics of Web Comics. Even more tellingly, he didn’t produce an eBook version — it was print -only.
The world of digital comics has spun around on its axis several times since then, and Allen, who writes about digital comics for The Beat and has taught e-business courses at Columbia College in Chicago, is now working on a major revision of his book, now titled The Economics of Digital Comics. And this time, he’s funding it through Kickstarter, another major force in the comics industry that didn’t exist seven years ago. We asked Allen how he constructed his Kickstarter, what his plans are for the book, and where he thinks digital comics are going.
Robot 6: First of all, congratulations on exceeding your goal! You started with a very modest goal of $500, and as of this writing your backers have almost tripled it. It doesn’t seem like a lot of money — what will you use it for?
Todd Allen: I definitely took the minimum-costs route on this. I need to set up a couple files with my print-on-demand provider. I may or may not upgrade some software — I’ll worry about that when I’ve got everything written and am ready to go into production. Could I have counted my labor for the book and time spent running a Kickstarter toward the cost and put the goal at something like $12,000? There’s a case to be made for it. I’m doing a Kickstarter Campaign Diary over at Publishers Weekly, and this week’s installment is about setting the pricing and goals.
In its strictest sense, music and comics couldn’t be further apart — even the most flagrant of comic book sound effects are, in fact, silent. But in the past decade, a number of comics creators with a passion for musical acts have stepped forward and created tributes to their favorite musicians — with notable comics based on or inspired by the likes of Tori Amos, Johnny Cash and Spearmint. Shawn Demumbrum has turned that trend into an informal line of independent anthologies through his company SpazDog Press, peaking now with Nothing Can Stop Me Now: Stories Inspired by Nine Inch Nails.
This upcoming graphic novel anthology, now seeking funds on Kickstarter, has writers and artists creating four- to eight-page stories based on songs from the band’s catalog. Led by a story by Caleb Monroe and Jason Copland based on “Every Day is Exactly the Same,” the collection also features contributions from such creators as Dirk Manning, Caanan White, Salgood Sam, Ryan Cody, Artyom Trakhanov and Joel Gomez. Unlike Demumbrum’s three previous “Inspired by” anthologies, Nothing Can Stop Me Now will be a full-color hardcover.
“Making comics with people who are passionate about the same music I like is something that want to continue to do. I want to continue to challenge myself as a creator and a publisher,” Demumbrum said in a press release. “Going from black and white to color and soft cover to hard cover are just two of the challenges. I wanted to add a pinup gallery so I could attract creators who didn’t have time in their schedule for a full story, but could create a single image for the book. For the previous books, I wanted to make the books PG-13 so that stores could carry them without restriction. The comic book industry has broadened even in the past few years. Comic books like Saga have pushed a mainstream mature to the forefront. I want the Nine Inch Nails book to reflect that type of book.”
Nine Inch Nails and its frontman Trent Reznor have a surprisingly long history of inspiring comics: An early issue of J. Scott Campbell’s Gen13 had a villain created as a homage to Reznor, and the 2004 independent comic Chang Fury featured the singer/songwriter as a fictionalized character. Likewise, Reznor and his bandmates have mentioned they’re comic readers as well, and the band’s 2007 album Year Zero reportedly had an tie-in comic in the works, but was never officially released.
The Kickstarter for Nothing Can Stop Me Now has raised nearly $12,000 toward its $14,000 goal with more than two weeks left.
Lark and Eagle are two down-on-their-luck heroes just looking for a break — and they find one in Hero Overhaul, a TV reality show that upgrades their powers and spruces up their public images. Now they have an opportunity to redeem themselves for a prime-time audience.
That’s the premise of Lark and Eagle, the superhero comic created and written by Steve Johnson, who’s launched a Kickstarter campaign to make the first issue a reality. He’s joined by Toro Diego (pencils), Mickey Clausen (inks), Matt Webb (colors), Ed Dukeshire (letters) and J.K. Woodward (cover).
Dave Cockrum passed away in 2006, but his life’s work lives on in the minds of his fans and in the epic contributions to Marvel’s X-Men, DC Comics’ Legion of Super-Heroes, and elsewhere. And now, Aardwolf Publishing is looking to raise funds to release a never-before-seen chapter in Cockrum’s creator-owned series The Futurians, titled aptly enough, The Futurians Return.
Cockrum created The Futurians in the early 1980s following the success of the relaunched Uncanny X-Men, jumping into creator-owned with an inaugural volume published by Marvel before releasing another three issues through an upstart publisher. The series follows a group of superhumans whose powers come via a transmission from the future intended to help prevent a major disaster. Led by a hobo-turned-businessman Vandervecken (or alternately, the Dutchmen), the Futurians are assembled and quickly tasked with confronting the threats they were empowered to stop.
Nearly a year ago, ROBOT 6 reported on a graphic novel anthology being created in tribute to Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo. Now that dream is closer, but the publisher needs some help to make it a reality.
Locust Moon Press’ Little Nemo: Dream A Little Dream boasts an undeniably impressive contributor list, with marquee names like Peter Bagge, Paul Pope, J.H. Williams III, John Cassaday and Craig Thompson. More than 100 artists are involved with the 144-page book, with contributor J.G. Jones describing it as “perhaps the most stunningly ambitious comic project I’ve ever seen.”
Comics, animation and video games, all on the same platform, all offered for free: That’s the vision Alex Simmons has for his new digital service, the Arthawk Entertainment Online Network (AEON). He’s running a Kickstarter campaign to get the service off the ground, and he already has plans to go beyond that.
Simmons is a veteran comics writer whose credits include Archie Comics (he won a Glyph Award for his story “The Cartoon Life of Chuck Clayton”), Scooby-Doo and his own creator-owned series, Blackjack. He writes in a variety of other formats as well, including creating interactive mystery stories for the Tiger Toys video game, and he runs the annual Kids’ Comic Con in the Bronx. A few years ago he put together an art exhibit, “The Color of Comics,” that traveled as far away as Senegal.
The AEON is an ambitious project. Artist Derrick A. Richardson, who has done work for DC and Marvel, is the CEO, and Simmons and Richardson have put together a team of animation, creative and technical consultants to build the platform. All this costs money, and they set the goal of the Kickstarter at $100,000. I talked with Simmons about the thinking behind the platform and what the next steps will be.
Do you like your sword-and-sandal epics with a heaping helping of history? Then consider the upcoming comic Kyrie by Matt Crotts. Set in the third century CE in Roman North Africa, it follows a group of thieves on the run from Egyptian authorities for some mystical artifacts.
“Kyrie is a blend of three of my passions: Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, dynamic illustration, and compelling storytelling,” Crotts writes on the campaign’s page. “Though still a stand-alone short story, [this 16-page comic] is written as a functional prologue, and will exemplify the style, characters and scope of an upcoming long-form adventure epic, to be produced separately and further down the road.”
In 2011, writer Joey Esposito and artist Jonathan Moore kickstarted Footprints, a four-issue, hard-boiled detective comic that followed Bigfoot, the Jersey Devil and other cryptids as they investigated the death of a Yeti. Now the duo has returned to that world — and to Kickstarter — for a one-shot subtitled “Bad Luck Charm.”
“The one-shot features two new tales — one set before the events of Vol. 1 and one set after,” Esposito told ROBOT 6. “The first story, given away for free on the Kickstarter campaign, features the oafish Jersey Devil and Vol. 1’s big bad, Motheresa, heading to 1962 to Las Vegas to try their luck. The second story will catch up with Foot, Nessy, Devil and Choop as they investigate a new cryptid emerging in the swamps of South Carolina, the Lizard Man.”
Esposito provided ROBOT 6 with that first story, which is posted in its entirety below. If you’d like to see the second one (and get your hands on a digital copy of the first Footprints collection, which is included at every reward level above $15), check out the Kickstarter campaign.