Some 31 months after the release of Nonplayer #1, writer/artist Nate Simpson has revealed that, as of November, the second issue is fully penciled and partially colored. He also refers to plans for an additional project, a webcomic and a subsequent collection he hopes to fund through Kickstarter.
Published through Image Comics, the first issue of Nonplayer thrust readers into the double life of Dana Stevens. The story opens in a lushly rendered fantasy world, the game space of a fictional MMO called Warriors of Jarvath. There, Dana operates as a ruthless assassin, murdering one of the game’s pivotal non-player characters. Once logged out, the young woman returns to work delivering tamales. The series debuted in April 2011 to widespread acclaim, heralded by advance praise from Geof Darrow, Frank Quitely and Jean “Moebius” Giraud, each a key influence on Simpson’s visual sensibility.
“The moment I sat down and read a printout of the book, I was seriously knocked on my ass,” Joe Keatinge (Glory, Hell Yeah) wrote on ROBOT 6 ahead of the issue’s release. “This dude’s comics debut is ridiculous and puts many a veteran cartoonist to shame.”
The single issue earned Simpson the 2011 Eisner Award for Best Newcomer.
I don’t back that many projects on Kickstarter, but The Spider King is a great-looking book, so I’m seriously considering it. I can’t remember which artist acquaintance put me on to the Facebook page of Italian artist Simone D’Armini, but the guy has a very cool style, synthesizing the influence of all kinds of the right folks (I detect hints of Ben Caldwell, Andrew MacLean, WJC and Uli Oesterle; check out his DeviantArt page here). The Spider King is one of that old chestnut, Vikings versus aliens, written by Australian writer Josh Vann, which is why those prices on the Kickstarter page might seem a bit on the high side, as they’re in Australian dollars.
It’s hard to get an idea of a comic from just a few scattered panels on a Kickstarter campaign page, but Vann’s dialog seems as witty as D’Armini’s images are stylish. They’re about halfway there towards their target, with 16 days to go, so take a look and see if you agree that this project deserves to see the light of day.
A once-respected scientist became the laughing stock of the scientific community when he published a book claiming aliens are real. But as attested by the title of Scott Fogg and Marc Thomas‘ upcoming graphic novel Phileas Reid Knows We Are Not Alone, he’s about to be proved right in a big way.
Fogg and Thomas — the artist and writer — have turned to Kickstarter to fund Reid’s story, which brings the scientist together with a reporter, her 10-year-old son and a 14-year-old alien to stop a war between Earth and Io. Joining Fogg and Thomas’ own team are Dean Trippe and Vito Delsante, who will respectively color and letter the project.
Currently they’ve made more than $6,600 of the $8,500 they’re looking for to create and publish the graphic novel, with just nine more days to go. I spoke with Fogg about the project, using Kickstarter and why his Super Bunny comic never made it past the first issue.
Auctions | Comics industry legend Maggie Thompson plans to put up for auction 524 comics from her personal collection. Thompson, who with her late husband Don was a longtime editor of the Comics Buyer’s Guide, estimates that she has 10,000 comics, all stored in a special vault-like addition to her home, which she built using the money from a previous sale, of Amazing Fantasy #15 (the first appearance of Spider-Man) and the first 100 issues of The Amazing Spider-Man. Bidding on the first batch of comics, which includes The Avengers #1, Journey into Mystery #83 (first appearance of Thor), The Incredible Hulk #1, and original cover art from Conan #4, begins today. [The Associated Press]
Comics | ICv2 releases the results of its White Paper (previously reported at Comic Book Resources), which tracks comics and graphic novel sales in all channels. Briefly, the report shows that sales of comics and graphic novels are up, manga is up dramatically, and digital comics sales continue to increase — although growth is slowing a bit, which is to be expected as the base increases. [ICv2]
Retailing | The rental chain Tsutaya and the bookstore chain Yurindo have returned Kuroko’s Basketball books and DVDs to their shelves after “X-Day,” Nov. 4, passed without incident. Someone has sent hundreds of threatening letters to convention sites, bookstores, the media and Sophia University (the alma mater of Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki), over the past year, and the most recent batch of letters said that “X-Day will be on the final day of the [Sophia University] school festival.” Meanwhile, police are checking security cameras near all the mailboxes in the districts from which the letters were mailed, looking for suspicious people. [Anime News Network]
Comics | Brian Steinberg looks at Archie Comics’ most radical move yet: the relatively adult Afterlife with Archie, which literally turned America’s most iconic teenagers into zombies. Steinberg talks to Archie CEO Jon Goldwater, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, artist Francesco Francavilla and others about the significance of this comic, which sold almost 65,000 copies to the direct market. [Variety]
Creators | Newsday picks up the story of Al Plastino’s original art for the John F. Kennedy comic that was canceled when the president was assassinated, and then published a few months later at the request of the Johnson administration. Plastino, now 91, had been told the artwork would be donated to the Kennedy Library, but last month at New York Comic Con he learned that a private individual had the art and was planning to sell it through Heritage Auctions, which now says it won’t move forward until the ownership question is resolved. Copyright lawyer Dale Cendall, former DC Comics President Paul Levitz and artist Neal Adams weigh in on the case. [Newsday]
Kickstarter | In the wake of the successful Fantagraphics Kickstarter campaign, Rob Salkowitz looks at the evolution of the crowdfunding platform from a way for individual creators to connect with their audiences to a pre-sale mechanism that eliminates a lot of the risk for smaller publishers. [ICv2]
Comics | A CGC-certified 9.2 copy of The Brave and the Bold #28, featuring the first appearance of the Justice League, was sold by Pedigree Comics for $120,000, a record price for the issue (cover-dated February-March 1960). ““The sale for $120,000 is a record price for any copy of Brave and the Bold #28, almost doubling the only recorded 9.4 sale (from April, 2004) of $60,375,” said Pedigree Comics CEO Doug Schmell. “The other 9.2 copy (with off-white pages) fetched $35,850 in May, 2008. This book is beginning to rise dramatically in demand, popularity and value, evidenced by the recent sales of two 8.5 examples (in September, 2013 for $45,504 and for $40,500 in June, 2013).” [Scoop, via ICv2]
Passings | “He took me seriously”: Shaenon Garrity writes the definitive obituary of webcomics pioneer Joey Manley, who died Nov. 7 at the age of 48. She talks to a number of the creators who worked with him over the years and puts his accomplishments into perspective. [The Comics Journal]
Although it took Aaron Alexovich a decade to create the material that will appear in the Serenity Rose: 10 Awkward Years compilation, it only took a few hours for the Kickstarter to sail past his initial goal. It kept right on sailing; at press time, the original $5,500 he was looking to raise is a mere pittance compared to the almost $40,000 the project has raised. And it still has two weeks to go.
I caught up with Aaron to discuss the success of the project and his plans for the future of the Serenity Rose world.
JK Parkin: First off, congratulations on reaching — and blowing away — your original goal. Now that you’re well over the amount you needed, what are your plans for the extra money?
Aaron Alexovich: Thank you! Blown away is right. I put up the Kickstarter around midnight on Halloween and went to bed just hoping not to be embarrassed by the whole thing. The next morning my wife, Ami, told me we were fully funded already and I almost cracked my skull open in the shower. Would’ve been hard to fulfill all those orders with half my brains dangling out.
Last year, Ryan Estrada came up with a cool idea: a pay-what-you-want Kickstarter. Anyone who pledged at least a dollar received the winter 2013 edition of The Whole Story, a bundle of four digital comics, each of which was a complete story. It went over pretty well, blasting right past its initial goal of $2,500 to a total of more than $40,000 — including 750 backers at that $1 or more level. (Estrada, being no fool, did add some enticements to pledge at higher levels.)
Now he’s back with another Kickstarter with an even cooler concept: Broken Telephone, a series of 18 independent yet interconnected comics. Here, let’s let Estrada explain:
It seems we hear a lot of horror stories about Kickstarter projects gone wrong, whether it’s because printing took longer than anticipated, postage rates shot up or the creators seemingly disappeared for long stretches of time with no updates.
On the other hand, there’s Rocket Girl.
Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder had some advantages going into their second Kickstarter — it wasn’t their first rodeo, they were able to line up a publisher (Image Comics), and they both had industry experience. They aren’t the only Kickstarter project I’ve backed that has been able to hit its fulfillment date, but it’s happened infrequent enough that it seems worth noting. It also helps that the final project is very well done, showcasing an intriguing premise, a fun story and electric artwork, but that’s beside the point (unless the point is that you should buy this comic, which you should; the second issue comes out Wednesday).
Brandon and Amy recently sent out an update that detailed the process they went through fulfilling all the rewards they offered on Kickstarter. It was an interesting read, both from an “inside baseball” aspect and from a “this might help someone else looking to use Kickstarter” perspective, so I asked them if I could reprint it here. Brandon offered to expand it a little so it made more sense to non-backers who weren’t along for the six-month ride. I appreciate the time he took to do that, as well as the opportunity to share their story. So with that said, here are Amy and Brandon …
With 23 days left in a Kickstarter campaign to fund its spring/summer season of books, Fantagraphics has already surpassed its initial $150,000 goal.
“We literally are stunned by the support you have shown in less than four days,” Publisher Gary Groth wrote Monday in a Kickstarter update, “it’s incredible and we humbly thank you.”
As he explained last week to Comic Book Resources, the effort came in the wake of the illness and death earlier this year of co-founder Kim Thompson, which led 13 of the books he edited to be canceled or postponed. That amounted to the loss of about one-third of the spring/summer season, and a significant financial blow to the publisher. The Kickstarter is designed to help Fantagraphics finance the next season of books — 39 in all.
With that $150,000 goal now met, Fantagraphics is expanding the number of premiums. The campaign ends Dec. 5.
Creators | Anime legend Hayao Miyazaki, who announced his retirement just two months ago, is reportedly drawing a samurai manga set during the Warring States Period. Asked on the Japanese television show Sekai-ichi Uketai Jugyō over the weekend how the 72-year-old filmmaker will spend his retirement, Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki replied, “I think he will serialize a manga. From the beginning, he likes drawing about his favorite things. That’s his stress relief.” He also confirmed the manga’s setting before cutting off the line of questioning with, “He’ll get angry if I talk too much. Let’s stop talking about this.” Miyazaki has illustrated several manga over the past four decades, most notably the seven-volume Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. [Anime News Network]
Libraries | Mitch Stacy takes a look at the new Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum at Ohio State University, which is scheduled to open this weekend with a gala celebration. [ABC News]
It’s been just five hours since the Kickstarter campaign launched for his 108-page graphic novel The Squidder, and already Ben Templesmith has pushed past his initial $18,000 goal. That may owe a little something to the squid ink.
You see, people who pledge $130 or more will receive a slipcased Kraken edition, with an original sketch done in squid ink; 21 people have already snatched those up.
The limited-run hardcover, written and illustrated by Templesmith (30 Days of Night, Fell, Welcome to Hoxford), is described as Mad Max meets Chthulhu, exploring “themes of a changing world, propaganda, and the nature of control via the main character. We’ll follow this journey of unfinished business through a world now alien and destroyed by a war which humanity lost generations ago against the almighty squid.”
Everyone who pledges money to The Squidder will have their name included in the book, and get a first look at a nine-page prelude. Beyond the Kraken edition with squid-ink sketches, incentives include a T-shirt, original art pages, and an appearance in the book.
What if an alien invasion was … but wasn’t? At its core, that’s the concept of the upcoming graphic novel Phileas Reid Knows We Are Not Alone. Created by Scott Fogg and by Marc Thomas, the upcoming graphic novel follows scientist Phileas Reid as he looks to redeem himself after being pigeon-holed as a crazy person for speculating there are aliens. Reid finds his potential salvation when he meets an alien runaway from the the moons of Jupiter, but ends up in the middle of an interstellar face-off as the runaway’s people come looking for her and the Earth’s military thinks she’s the first soldier in an invasion.
“Phileas Reid Knows We’re Not Alone is an all-ages graphic novel with its sights set on action and adventure, but that doesn’t mean the book isn’t without a message: You are not alone,” Fogg wrote on the project’s Kickstarter page. ” Wherever you are, whoever you are, no matter what age you are, people have gone before you and people are with you now. Just because you feel alone, doesn’t mean you are. This knowledge is supposed to be comforting, but it’s also a challenge. You not being alone in the world also means your way of doing things and your way of thinking things isn’t the only way.”
The idea of playing as your favorite superhero in a video game world is catnip for comics fans, and the MMORPG City of Heroes was one of the earliest to offer that chance in an immersive, free-ranging world. But after eight years of continuous operations, the studio behind City of Heroes shuttered the game late last year. However, as comics fans can attest, good heroes never die — even if you don’t have the rights to them.
A group of ardent City of Heroes fans recently rallied under the name the Phoenix Project and started a Kickstarter to fund a “spiritual successor” to City of Heroes called City of Titans, hoping to raise $320,000 to create a near-identical home for themselves and other fans of comic book video games. This week, they achieved their goal and then some, raising $678,189. Now all they have to do is make the game.