Artist Pere Perez has worked on comics for the likes of Dark Horse DC, Marvel and Valiant, but now he’s poised to strike out on his own with his first creator-owned graphic novel Shaolin Mutants.
Described by Perez as an “epic kung-fu adventure,” Shaolin Mutants follows a kung fu-trained Shaolin monk named Leroy as he fights mutant armies in a near-future apocalyptic world. Kung fu is often used in comics, but Perez has a leg up on many of his colleagues: He’s a black-belt Wing Chun instructor who’s been practicing martial arts for nearly two decades.
“My love for martial arts has triggered the creation of this book, and my knowledge of them has helped me to create fighting choreographies and page layouts unlike anything you’ve ever seen on a comic book,” Perez writes on the Indiegogo page for Shaolin Mutants. “Also, I’ve tried to explain the philosophical and moral aspects of martial arts, so hopefully this book is not just an anthology of cool action scenes.”
Crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo have been a boon for independent comic creators, providing much-needed start-up cash to get their projects off the ground. Similar in scope to the rise of underground comix in the 1960s or the black-and-white boom of the 1980s, it’s changed the game for a number of creators. That’s why recent news that the massive video game publisher Square Enix is partnering with Indiegogo is so interesting.
To briefly summarize: Square Enix is one of the big players in the video-game market, especially in Japan, with titles such as Final Fantasy and Tomb Raider. In the partnership with Indiegogo, the two companies have essentially formed a think tank for independent developers outside of Square Enix to post video game proposals as Indiegogo campaigns. If they’re successful in the crowdfunding stage, they’ll receive marketing and development help from Square Enix to make the projects a reality. Going further, Square Enix even says there’s a possibility that video game developers could pitch projects based on the company’s immense back catalog.
The Northlake Public Library in suburban Chicago unveiled its Hulk statue earlier this month to a crowd of more than 300. ^Trustee Tom Mukite, who joined the board specifically to spearhead the statue campaign, called the event the “largest turnout at the library ever.”
Mukite and the other trustees launched an Indiegogo campaign in April to make improvements to the library that included the addition of a Hulk statue to help attract visitors. According to the campaign’s page, “Today’s libraries are celebrating creativity, entertainment and life long learning, and they are doing it with technology and popular materials including graphic novels.” It continued, “We want to smash [libraries'] stuffy reputation with a 9 foot tall Incredible Hulk Statue.” In explaining why the Hulk is an appropriate decoration for the library, the campaign said, “Just as Dr. Bruce Banner transforms into the Hulk, we want our library community members to make their own personal transformations through books, programs, and awesome new equipment. [...] The project will show off the fun side of the library and get the community talking. The Hulk will force patrons to look at the library in a whole new way.”
Legal | Singapore cartoonist Leslie Chew apologized today for four comic strips that were formerly posted on his Facebook page Demon-Cratic Singapore. In a statement released by his lawyers, Chew said, “I accept that (the) comic strips had misrepresented to the public that the Singapore Judiciary administers differential treatment to individuals based on their nationality, social status and political affiliation, and that there have been specific criminal cases in which decisions were made by the Singapore judiciary on the basis of the above factors rather than on the merits.” In light of the apology, and the fact that the strips have been taken down, the Attorney-Generals Chambers has dropped contempt of court charges against Chew. The cartoonist was also charged with sedition in April, but those charges have been dropped as well. [Straits Times]
Legal | Palestinian cartoonist Mohammed Saba’aneh, who was arrested in March by Israeli authorities and held for what many feared would be an indefinite period, is expected to be released today. [Palestine News Network]
Graphic novels | Aligning itself with the latest trend in education, Diamond Book Distributors has released a list of 98 graphic novels that can fit in with a Common Core curriculum. [Diamond Book Distributors]
Awards | The shortlist has been announced for the Scottish Comic Book Alliance Awards. [Forbidden Planet]
Although I initially didn’t plan it this way, it’s appropriate that I’m running this interview with And The One Day creator Ryan Claytor on Father’s Day, as earlier this month Ryan and his wife Candace welcomed their first son, Owen Marshall Robert Claytor, into the world. Congratulations to the Claytor’s on their new addition!
No doubt Owen will one day be able to read about his birth from his father’s perspective, as Ryan has been chronicling parts of his life in a series of minicomics titled And The One Day. After almost a decade of self-publishing his comics, Ryan has turned to IndieGoGo to fund a collection of Autobiographical Conversations, the most recent story arc from And Then One Day. Autobiographical Conversations centers on a discussion between Professor Harry Polkinhorn, who teaches classes on the personal essay, and Ryan when he was a graduate student studying Comics and Fine Art. Their conversation is about autobiography, comics and the intersection of the two. His campaign ends on June 19, and he just announced a new stretch goal.
A library in suburban Chicago fell well short of its $30,000 fundraising goal to purchase graphic novels, a comics-creating station and a 9-foot-tall statue of the Incredible Hulk, but thanks to the generosity of a California businessman, it’s still getting a life-sized Green Goliath to call its own.
The trustees of the Northlake Public Library launched an Indiegogo campaign on April 26 in hopes of expanding its collection of about 2,300 graphic novels and manga, adding computer software and hardware, and buying a Hulk statue that might help attract visitors. “This larger-than-life literary character will become a giant green beacon of light to highlight our graphic novel collection, our creation station … not to mention the library’s sense of humor and whimsy,” the campaign description reads. “The project will show off the fun side of the library and get the community talking. The HULK will force patrons to look at the library in a whole new way.”
But with mere days to go, the Indiegogo drive has raised just $3,710; the statue alone costs in the neighborhood of $8,000.
Writer/director Hisonni Johnson has debuted the first episode of Grayson: Earth One, a fan-produced web series that re-imagines the origin of Dick Grayson/Nightwing in a familiar setting, with familiar characters, but without the DC Universe continuity.
“The twist being that Richard Grayson has never had the good fortune of being adopted as a child by Bruce Wayne, thus never becoming the boy wonder,” Johnson writes. “Instead, we have a Richard Grayson that had to fend for himself on the unforgiving streets of Gotham and, even worse, the streets of Bludhaven. A character that has to overcome years of dog eat dog mentality to become a selfless and kind individual. To ultimately fulfill his destiny and become a HERO.”
Judging from this video, it’s Arrow meets Catwalk, with occasional Dark Knight cameos. And, really, the acting and production standards aren’t that far removed from a typical CW series.
In conjunction with the premiere, Johnson has launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise $40,000 to produce five more episodes — a full season.
Legal | Singapore cartoonist Leslie Chew was arrested last week on charges of sedition, held over the weekend, and released on S$10,000 bail. His cellphone and computer were also confiscated. The charges stem from two cartoons on Chew’s Demon-cratic Singapore Facebook page. [Yahoo! News Singapore]
Crowdfunding | Chris Sims tells the truly bizarre tale of a crowdfunding scam: Someone copied Ken Lowery and Robert Wilson IV’s Kickstarter campaign for Like a Virus, including the video, and made it into an IndieGoGo campaign, presumably planning to pocket the money and run. [Comics Alliance]
As part of its “We Can Be Heroes” campaign to fight hunger in the Horn of Africa, DC Entertainment has kicked off an effort on Indiegogo to raise $50,000 in donations in exchange for “epic Batman stuff.”
Perks range from five Batman comic digital downloads (for a $10 contribution) to an exclusive Batman: Earth One lithograph by Gary Frank ($50) to a copy of the Injustice: Gods Among Us video game signed by creator Ed Boon ($250) to a cameo in the second volume of Batman: Earth One ($5,000). The copies of Batman and Robin #18 signed by Peter J. Tomasi have already signed out. There are even more rewards on the Indiegogo page.
The Batman-themed fundraising effort ends May 17.
The Canadian cartoonists who just completed a successful Indiegogo campaign to publish their homegrown superhero anthology True Patriot are back, but this time they aren’t in it for themselves: They’ve just launched a second Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the Red Cross.
As the text on the Indiegogo page explains:
Comics | After all of these years, the evangelical comics of 88-year-old cartoonist and publisher Jack Chick still stir controversy. The latest is in Buffalo, New York, where a mother is upset that a local church left on her doorstep a Chick tract that was read by her 7-year-old daughter. “It seems like a Lifetime movie or something that was put into a kid’s comic book and expose my 7-year-old to this horrible of an idea of a family life,” Brandi Gillette says. Titled “Happy Hour,” the 2002 comic depicts an alcoholic, abusive father whose wife dies following a beating (while he’s bellied up to the bar). When his two children start to go hungry because he’s spending the family’s money on alcohol, the girl smashes his liquor bottles and, after threatening to cut him with the jagged glass, convinces him to go to church, where he devotes his life to Christ. Chick Publications, which publishes the tract, says “Happy Hour” is intended for adults, not children. [WIVB]
How would you feel if there was a way for you to reconnect with your departed loved ones? I’m not talking Ouija boards, seances or spirit mediums; I’m talking connecting with them as you would with people around the world online. Sounds great, doesn’t it? But how do you think those loved ones would feel? That’s the question in the upcoming graphic novel Elysium Online, and it’s up to you to get it off the ground so you can find out the real story.
Described by creator Ilias Kyriazis as a graphic novel about what happens when a “revolutionary social network that lets you interact with your dead loved ones” goes wrong, Elysium Online is a hauntingly promising idea for a comic that looks beautiful, touching and just a wee bit creepy all at once. Elysium is the name of that social network, and when it’s launched in October 2021, people worldwide flock to it hoping to reconnect with their loved ones long thought dead. What they don’t know is that there loved ones are indeed waiting for them in Elysium, but they hate the living and are plotting to wipe them out of existence.
Conventions | San Diego City Council has given final approval to the planned $520 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center, viewed as necessary to keeping Comic-Con International in the city past 2015. The project still faces a legal challenge to a financing scheme involving a hotel-room surtax, as well as state regulatory approval, leading the city attorney to caution that the targeted 2017 completion date is just “a goal.” Whether Comic-Con organizers can be convinced to sign another three-year extension to their contract remains a big question. [NBC San Diego]
Conventions | Most of Heidi MacDonald’s article about New York Comic Con is behind a paywall at Publishers Weekly, but she pulls out some stats at The Beat: Ticket sales are up 190 percent over this time last year. As the capacity of the Javits Center is somewhere south of 110,000 people, this means the ReedPOP folks won’t sell any more tickets than last year, but they are selling out faster. Three-day and four-day passes are already gone, only Friday tickets remain, and ReedPOP vice president Lance Fensterman expects everything to be sold out by the time the show begins. [The Beat]
Cartoonist Salgood Sam (aka Max Douglas) is only 30 pages away from completing his first graphic novel, Dream Life: A Late Coming of Age. After health problems delayed his progress through over 115 pages, he’s turning to the support of fans to help fund a three-month marathon to complete Book One in time for next May’s Toronto Comics Art Festival
His IndieGoGo drive went up over the weekend and already he’s passed 33 percent of the way to his goal of $3,800. That total will allow him to dedicate the rest of the year to finishing Dream Life and producing 100 black & white preview copies for TCAF.
The first act of Dream Life was released as a webcomic in 2010, earning him a Joe Shuster Award nomination. Act Two and much of Act Three followed last year and this year, making it his longest solo project to date. As he explains it, “This story is a labour of love. A work of fiction with fantastic and adventure elements. It borrows from my own life — as close to autobiography as I’ve dared in many ways.”
Salgood Sam might best be known to modern readers for illustrating Rick Remender and Kieron Dwyer’s vampire pirates miniseries Sea of Red from Image Comics, but he’s been illustrating for a variety of publishers, from Marvel to IDW Publishing to Top Shelf, as well as putting out his own material for 20 years.
Early last year, he received a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to complete Dream Life, but he was hit with a number of medical struggles that halted his progress. He discussed that difficult period and much more in July with our own Chris Arrant. At that point, he mentioned planning on pitching Dream Life to Image Comics and some other publishers to get it in print, but apparently they didn’t bite or he decided to stick with going it alone. In the meantime, he’s focused on freelance work to keep the lights on and bills paid, but now he’s ready to go full tilt to finish it up.
Here’s a trailer he produced, although some of the perks mentioned in it have changed so be sure to stop by the IndieGoGo page for full details if you’re interested in helping.