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Kickstart My Art | Elysium Online

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.

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Comics A.M. | Council OKs San Diego Convention Center expansion

Comic-Con International

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]

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Salgood Sam wants his Dream Life to come true

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.

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Canadians grow their own superheroes for new anthology

J. Bone's take on Alpha Flight

J. Torres explains his newest project:

A number of my Canadian comic book pals and I grew up reading Alpha Flight, Captain Canuck, or Wolverine comics and we’ve always thought that there should be more Canadian superheroes out there. Over the years, we’d periodically get together and inevitably talk about the Canadian superheroes we’ve created (sometimes dating back to childhood) and always wanting to do “something” with them.

Well, we’re finally about to do something — something pretty big, and pretty cool. Kinda like Canada itself, eh?

That something is True Patriot, an anthology of short stories featuring homegrown Canadian superheroes, and Torres has announced a stellar roster that includes Scott Chantler (Two Generals), Ramon Perez (A Tale of Sand), Andy Belanger (Kill Shakespeare), Faith Erin Hicks (Friends With Boys, The Adventures of Superhero Girl) and the team of Jack Briglio and Ron Salas. The anthology will be 100 pages, full color (or “colour,” as they say north of the border), and available in both hardcover and digital formats. Watch for the campaign to go live on IndieGoGo on Oct. 1, but in the meantime, check out Torres’ blog for some cool character designs.

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Comics A.M. | The Oatmeal creator raises $1M for Tesla museum

Nikola Tesla

Crowdfunding | Matthew Inman, creator of The Oatmeal, raised $1 million in just over a week on Indiegogo to help fund the restoration of Nikola Tesla‘s laboratory as a museum, surpassing the $850,000 goal. “THANK YOU SO GODDAMN MUCH,” Inman wrote on his blog. “WE ARE GOING TO BUILD A GODDAMN TESLA MUSEUM.” There are still 34 days left in the funding campaign. [The Associated Press, The Oatmeal]

Publishing | Warren Simons, executive editor of Valiant Entertainment, discusses gathering the talent for the Valiant relaunch, refining the characters for modern-day tastes, and keeping the books accessible to new readers. He also gives some hints about what to expect from Valiant’s upcoming series Shadowman. [Previews World]

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Indiegogo Spotlight | It’s sword vs. swordfish in Samurai Chef

Samurai Chef is an Indiegogo project that aims to create a comic based on a fake TV show.

That’s a little confusing, but bear with me. Mayamada is a T-shirt company started by a couple of self-described IT geeks. After some experiments that didn’t go too well, they decided their T-shirts would feature characters from anime-inspired shows on a fantasy television network. The key with something like this is coming up with a good hook for the shows, and once you have done that, you might as well do something more with it, right? That’s the sort of thinking that gave us Battlepug, after all — that Eisner award-winning webcomic started out as a T-shirt design as well.

Samurai Chef is a parody of Iron Chef featuring a monkey with a sword. Contestants vie to make dishes that will not so much taste delicious as withstand the destructive power of the host. And then an elite team of top chefs, who have been watching from a distance, come flying in on live TV to take over the competition with their own signature dishes — which come to life.

It’s a great concept for a comic, and the artwork by British artist Pinali sells it. That’s the upside of basing a comic on a T-shirt design — you start with good art. The creators have reached their funding goal, but the campaign goes on until August 29, so it’s worth stopping by and checking it out.

And maybe if the comic takes off, it will become a real animated cartoon some day.

Check out the preview page below.

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Free comic anthology Off Life launches Indiegogo campaign

Since Robot 6 first covered the launch of the new U.K, free street-press comics anthology Off Life, editor Daniel Humphry has received more than 60 submissions and dozens of messages of support from industry figures. Humphry hopes to now build on all that good will, announcing an Indiegogo campaign to secure the funding to cover the costs of the first issue’s print run. Humphry has such a missionary zeal for the medium, I must admit I’m curious as to what shape this anthology will ultimately take. No prizes for anyone answering “rectangular.”


Comics A.M. | This weekend, it’s Wizard World Chicago

Wizard World Chicago

Conventions | Wizard World Chicago Comic Con kicks off today with a guest list that includes Stan Lee, George Perez, Neal Adams, Greg Capullo, Humberto Ramos, Carlos Pacheco, Barry Kitson, David Mack and Chris Burnham. The convention continues through Sunday in Rosemont, Illinois. [Wizard World]

Creators | Cyriaque Lamar has a brief interview with Matt Kindt about Mind MGMT #0, which is being solicited now for a November release. (Issues 1-3 are already available.) Here’s Kindt on the look of the comic: “For this project, I wanted it to be less like you’re picking up a comic and more like you’re holding a story, right down to everything outside of the panels. I want it to feel interactive, something you don’t just drift into. I tend to read graphic novels over issues — I can’t remember thirty days ago from a bit of story. I wanted each issue something you’d go back to every month. My goal was give the book as much depth as possible to reward monthly readers.” [io9.com]

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Steve Rude starts an Indiegogo campaign to fund his 2012 sketchbook

Steve Rude’s Facebook page is a great place to see some top-notch art — recent commissions, sketches, covers, and assorted personal work. Earlier this week he announced an Indiegogo campaign to finalize funding for a full-color 2012 sketchbook. There’s a dozen funding options, ranging from $1 to $10,000, but a hard copy of the finished item will cost you from as little as $25. As of writing, there’s a long way to go before The Dude reaches his $5,000 goal.  I’m sure many comics fans of a certain vintage raised on Nexus will appreciate the opportunity to help out one of the finest comic artists of his generation, and get some new work by the maestro in return.

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Alterna Comics tries ‘reverse fund-raiser’ on IndieGoGo

Small comics publisher Alterna Comics is running what it calls a “reverse fundraiser” on the crowd-funding platform IndieGoGo. The term “reverse fundraiser” suggests the company will be giving the money to us, but alas, it’s not that good. What is reversed is actually the chronology of events: Alterna is looking for funding for comics that have already been published. Alterna founder Peter Simeti explains:

When these books originally went to print, fundraising sites like kickstarter and indie gogo weren’t super popular so we ended up putting print runs on credit cards. I’m still in a bit of debt because of this (about $30K) but it’s been getting better every year. I pay about $5K a year in interest fees though because of this, so it’s been a really hard upward battle to pay off the bills, pay creators, and produce new product. Especially on a substitute teacher’s salary… ($11K a year)

Compared to those numbers, the fund-raiser is quite modest; the goal is $2,500. And the rewards are pretty good: For $10, you can get a hard copy of any Alterna comic or a digital collection of 25 graphic novels in PDF format. But this does raise the question of what crowd-funding is really about. Johanna Draper Carlson recently commented that she prefers to donate to a project that is already complete and just needs funding for printing costs. This carries that to its logical extreme — the books are finished — but looked at another way, it is really just using IndieGoGo as a temporary storefront. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s definitely another wrinkle in the crowd-funding model.

Piping hot Oatmeal: Update on Charles Carreon’s lawsuit

Attorney Charles Carreon is the gift that keeps on giving for comics and law bloggers alike.

He’s the lawyer for the website FunnyJunk, which allows users to upload content they find amusing. About a year ago, The Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman blasted FunnyJunk for posting a number of his comics without his permission. Two weeks ago, Carreon sent Inman a letter threatening to sue for defamation if he did not pony up $20,000. Inman posted the letter with some snarky commentary and set up a fundraiser on IndieGoGo to raise $20,000. His plan is to send a photo of the money, together with a rude cartoon about the mother of the FunnyJunk owner, to Carreon and donate the cash to the American Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Federation. More than $200,000 has already been pledged in the fund-raiser. But on Friday, Carreon sued Inman, IndieGoGo, and both charities.

Here’s a quick roundup of recent developments:

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FunnyJunk lawyer sues The Oatmeal creator, Indiegogo and charities

FunnyJunk attorney Charles Carreon has sued not just The Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman, with whom he has been in an Internet battle for the past week, but also crowd-funding website Indiegogo, where Inman set up a fund-raiser to spite Carreon — and, apparently, the American Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Federation, who are the beneficiaries of the campaign.

Here’s the Courthouse News Service summary of the filing, posted by Ken at Popehat:

“Trademark infringement and incitement to cyber-vandalism. Defendants Inman and IndieGogo are commercial fundraisers that failed to file disclosures or annual reports. Inman launched a Bear Love campaign, which purports to raise money for defendant charitable organizations, but was really designed to revile plaintiff and his client, Funnyjunk.com, and to initiate a campaign of “trolling” and cybervandalism against them, which has caused people to hack Inman’s computer and falsely impersonate him. The campaign included obscenities, an obscene comics and a false accusation that FunnyJunk “stole a bunch of my comics and hosted them.” Inman runs the comedy website The Oatmeal.”

This sounds outrageous on the face of it — who sues the American Cancer Society? — but when blogger Nick Nafpliotis called Carreon and asked why he is trying to shut down the fund-raiser, he responded that Inman and Indiegogo had not filed the proper paperwork, and thus they could just raise the money and pocket it themselves. It’s a fair point, although given the highly public nature of this event, it’s unlikely that Inman would do that. In other words, it’s a technicality. Carreon also took exception to Inman’s public mockery of him:

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Dave Gibbons talks digital comics and ‘very exciting’ new platforms

Dave Gibbons

When most fans think of Dave Gibbons, his seminal work with Alan Moore on Watchmen is likely the first thing that comes to mind. However, the acclaimed artist and writer prefers to look toward the future, even brushing aside a question about Before Watchmen, the sprawling DC Comics miniseries that’s been the topic of so many recent conversations, with a terse, “I have no comment on that.”

During Kapow! Comic Convention, Robot 6 spoke briefly with the legendary creator about his views on digital comics, DC’s New 52 and the state of the industry.

Robot 6: You’re seen as a huge influence, but who excites you in the field these days?

Dave Gibbons: Asking an open ended-question like that is very dangerous, ‘cause invariably I’ll think of people who I greatly admire when you’re not here. I can say in general what I find interesting at the moment are the creator-owned books. I’m really pleased with all the things like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, where people can get finance to do their own comics. The Internet allows people to very quickly build up a large audience. It allows publishing without huge overheads, which is very positive. I love the fact that in today’s comic world, classic work is readily available in brand-new formats, such as the IDW Artist’s Edition series.

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FunnyJunk lawyer tries to shut down The Oatmeal fund-raiser

Charles Carreon may be a good lawyer, but he has a tin ear when it comes to public relations.

Carreon represents FunnyJunk, which recently demanded that The Oatmeal cartoonist Matthew Inman pay $20,000 or be sued for defamation for complaining that the website permitted users to post his comics without permission. Inman responded by posting the letter on his own site with a series of scornful rejoinders, and then set up an IndieGoGo campaign to raise $20,000 for the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society.

His plan is to take a photo of the cash and send it, along with a drawing of the FunnyJunk owner’s mother attempting to seduce a bear, to the owner of FunnyJunk. The Internet reacted predictably, and Inman has raised more than $125,000 for the two causes, while FunnyJunk and Carreon have attracted, shall we say, a great deal of negative attention.

How could Carreon possibly make this situation worse for himself and his client? By whining and acting like a jerk, that’s how. He told Rosa Golijian of MSNBC’s Digital Life that he had to take his contact information off his website (oh noes!) because of the “string of obscene emails” he received.

And then he asked IndieGoGo to terminate Inman’s fund-raiser, alleging it violates the website’s terms of service. That’s right, Inman raises more than $100,000  for wildlife protection and cancer research, but FunnyJunk’s attorney is going to shut him down.

Or not. Inman doesn’t seem worried; he’s more concerned about whether his bank will let him take out $100,000 so he can photograph it with his rendition of the mother of FunnyJunk’s mother and a bear.

One more thing: Sending the owner of FunnyJunk that cartoon may turn out to be a good deed; after all this attention, he could probably turn around and sell it for enough money to hire another lawyer.

Tr!ckster offers the chance to have Steve Niles co-write your comic

Tr!ckster, the creator-focused event that took place offsite last year during Comic-Con International, is planning a return to San Diego. Putting on an event like Tr!ckster takes money, of course, so the creators involved have turned to Indiegogo to raise the $35,000 they need.

Indiegogo works a lot like Kickstarter: You contribute money toward a particular project and get back some kind of reward based on how much you pledged. The Tr!ckster folks are offering some fairly unique incentives that stem from the creator-centric ideas behind the event itself. These include opportunities to brainstorm, get feedback from, and even co-create with, the likes of B. Clay Moore, Doug TenNapel and Steve Niles. For instance, for $300, you can choose a cocktail hour/working session with Ivan Brandon and Eric Canete, who will help you brainstorm and offer feedback over booze. And for $750, Niles will actually co-write a 22-page comic with you. If you’re serious about becoming a comic book creator and have the money to spend, this is a pretty great opportunity. And if you aren’t interested in the creator incentives, they’re also offering things like Tr!ckster T-shirts and a Mike Mignola print.

Tr!ckster 2012 will be held July 11-13 at Wine Steals/Proper, a paired restaurant/pub on J Street in San Diego.


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