If you’ve been a comics fan for any significant amount of time, you’ll know that the people who work at and frequent comic shops are sometimes just as interesting as the titles you’re there to buy. With that in mind, cartoonist Jayson Kretzer has been doing a webcomic called Wannabe Heroes based on the exploits of a group of comic shop friends who find themselves with powers of their own. Oh, yeah, and a ninja bear.
Kretzer’s Wannabe Heroes has been running as a webcomic for several years, switching between humor about the unique subculture that is comic fandom and action-oriented exploits that include the aforementioned ninja bear. And now this month, Krezter is looking to take his creation to a new level — with some help from you. Kretzer has launched a Kickstarter campaign in an effort to raise $3,200 to publish a full-color first issue of a conceived four-issue Wannabe Heroes series containing all-new material. He’s already halfway to his goal.
Wannabe Heroes‘ webcomics are online now, and the first issue of Wannabe Heroes is set to be released in May.
Cartoonists | A campaign to raise money to erect a 9-feet-tall bronze statute of Family Circus cartoonist Bil Keane in his hometown of Paradise Valley, Arizona, is trailing about $23,000 short its goal ahead of an April 30 deadline. Alan Gardner points out that amount is reachable on Kickstarter. [The Arizona Republic]
Publishing | Kevin Roose has a brief chat with Bluewater CEO Darren G. Davis, who says that the company’s bestseller, the Michelle Obama bio-comic, sold about 150,000 copies; the CEO biographies do about half that number. [New York Magazine]
Conventions | The organizers of Asbury Park Comic Con emphasize they are getting back to basics, with a comics event that eschews movies and other media to focus solely on comics. The headline guests for the Saturday event are Michael Uslan, Al Jaffee and Herb Trimpe. [The New York Times]
Conventions | In Pennsylvania, the first-ever Nittany-Con drew about 400 people to enjoy the three c’s of comics conventions: Creators, cheap comics, and cosplay. [Centre Daily Times]
Conventions | And in New Jersey, the Hasbrouck Heights Comics Expo drew an equally enthusiastic, if somewhat smaller, crowd. [NorthJersey.com]
For a dead guy, Dracula sure gets around a lot.
All jokes aside (for now), a comics gem recently popped up on Kickstarter with the official launch of writer Mark Sable and artist Salgood Sam‘s long-hinted-at graphic novel Dracula: Son of the Dragon. Set in the 15th century, it’s one part historical and one part horror, and while it might be shelved next to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, this story isn’t a pop culture mash-up. It’s s an origin story that ties together the historical Vlad the Impaler with the fictional Dracula, beginning with Vlad’s childhood and how he was inducted into the dark arts.
In progress for more than a year now, Sable and Sam are using Kickstarter to raise funds to finance the production of Dracula: Son of the Dragon ‘s 60-page first volume, both in a standard edition and a series of limited edition versions. In addition to various editions offered to people who pledge for the fundraising campaign, the duo are offering original artwork, appearances in the book, and even a script review by Sable himself.
The business model of Box Brown’s Retrofit Comics is old school all the way: He’s doing print editions, on paper and everything, of indie comics and selling them individually and by subscription. But he added a new twist this week when he announced on the Retrofit Tumblr that if the number of subscriptions reaches 130 (it was at 122 that day) by this Friday, every subscriber will get a two-color riso print (in full below). I find the concept of stretch goals fascinating, as they allow some customers to benefit from decisions made by others — I thought this was a good deal, so I subscribed, and now that a bunch of other people have subscribed as well, I get a free print.
Conventions | Small Press Expo organizers apologized to exhibitors for the problems they experienced trying to register for the show. Despite several server upgrades ahead of time, the site went down when the “tsunami” of applications hit on Sunday morning. They then opened up PayPal to take the table orders, but they were unable to shut it down when all the tables were sold. They are sorting it out now, and if the tables were oversold, refunds will be issued. Roger Langridge depicted his registration experience on his blog. [SPX Tumblr]
Publishing | After 13 years of publishing and promoting yuri manga, Erica Friedman is stepping down as Yuricon events chair and giving up on publishing: “I can’t afford print, you don’t want digital, the JP companies won’t talk to me and all the many differences between JP publishers and US fans are so huge and insurmountable. I don’t have the energy or clout or money to bridge the gap.” [Okazu]
Comics | Reporter Henry Hanks asks three experts about the increasing tendency toward “headline-grabbing plot twists” in comics, such as the death of Damian Wayne, and which ones they think have been the most successful. “I strongly believe that The New 52′s Batgirl can be seen as a great example of a major plot shift or re-imagining of a story that required readers to let go of a long-loved character (Oracle) and begin to believe in Batgirl as a new character, one who’s recovered from a life-threatening attack,” says Dr. Andrea Letamendi, a clinical psychologist and convention speaker. “The character essentially presented the determination, resilience and psychological strength that she needed to put the cape back on after a severe injury, just as readers were challenging her ability to represent a strong rebooted character. It’s as if we could relate to the weight on her shoulders, because we were a part of that process. [CNN]
Publishing | DC’s 52-variant-cover gimmick with Justice League of America #1 seems to have paid off, as ICv2 estimates Diamond Comic Distributors sold more than 300,000 copies to comics shops last month. That adds up to more than $1 million in retail sales, a rare height last passed by in January by The Amazing Spider-Man #700. ICv2 also posts the Top 300 comics and graphic novels for February. [ICv2]
Kickstarter | Gary Tyrrell talks to Holly Rowland, who with husband Jeffrey has launched a business called Make That Thing to help comics creators fulfill their Kickstarter pledges. The Rowlands are also the team behind the webcomics merchandise retailer TopatoCo. [Fleen]
As a second Kickstarter campaign winds down for Sullivan’s Sluggers, this time to help cover international shipping costs for the oversized hardcover, artist James Stokoe has spoken out against the effort and requested that his name be removed from the graphic novel. Writer Mark Andrew Smith quickly responded with a statement to ROBOT 6.
Although the baseball-horror comic was originally solicited through Image, Smith turned to Kickstarter in May 2012 and surpassed his original $6,000 goal by a staggering $91,626, leading to the book’s metamorphosis into a “200-page Deluxe Omnibus-Sized Hardcover.” That success brought with it a little controversy, however, as Smith drew criticism for his decision to also offer the “Kickstarter-exclusive” Sullivan’s Sluggers through Amazon.com and other outlets. The growth of the graphic novel to 3.5 pounds also led to a miscalculation in shipping rates, sending Smith back to the Kickstarter well last month (that effort has generated $5,265 in pledges to date).
But on Wednesday, Stokoe took to his blog to distance himself from both Kickstarter campaigns, saying, “the writer and myself had briefly talked about working together on the KS, but due to some disagreements, I decided to remove myself from it completely.”
After wowing us with Five Fists of Science, shocking us with Our Love Is Real and winning over the mainstream with Wolverine & The X-Men and S.W.O.R.D., Kansas City comics creator Steven Sanders is going back to square one with a simple idea: Create a whole new world.
Sanders is doing so with his elaborate mixed-media book Symbiosis, now the subject of a Kickstarter campaign. He describes Symbiosis as “exploring a world where all technology is powered by biological engines that are deeply linked to humans,” told through a series of texts and illustrations.
There are two remarkable things about Dave Kellett’s Kickstarter for his documentary Stripped. The first is that the pitch video includes a snippet of what Kellett claims is the first-ever audio interview with reclusive Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson. That alone is going to make this film a must-see for a lot of people.
The second is that this is a Kickstarter for a project that’s already fully funded. What Kellett is looking for with this second campaign is access to more licensed footage:
We get links a lot of Kickstarter projects, but very rarely do I see one that seems quite as magical as Goldtiger, by Guy Adams and Jimmy Broxton. Well, I say Adams and Broxton, but there is another conceptual level to this project. The book is presented as if a high-end archival edition of a legendary lost newspaper strip by a pair of fictional creators, Antonio Barreti and Louis Shaeffer, with the story of their descent into dysfunction and madness affecting the contents of the strip accompanying it.
It’s a post-modern conceit that allows Adams and Broxton to both produce a fun homage to their favorite vintage newspaper adventure strips, and wryly comment on the psychological damage producing comics has all-too-often wreaked upon the writers and artists of the form. Most of all, though, it’s some great-looking comics: Broxton has provided us with some exclusive examples from the work in progress, and they’re all gorgeous.
To add a further level of intrigue to this story, “Jimmy Broxton” is also a fictional character of sorts, a persona created by the veteran inker James Hodgkins as he entered a new phase as his career as an illustrator rather than a finisher. Broxton dazzled me with his work on DC’s Knight and Squire miniseries: as fine a storyteller as he is a stylist, and producing multiple memorable character designs to boot. Guy Adams is a comparative newcomer to comics, but an author of a multitude of both novels and non-fiction. Their partnership was midwifed by Liam Sharp, who hired them both to work together for his digital comics publisher Madefire. Obviously, creative sparks flew. When I spoke to them both recently about Goldtiger, I realized they’ve became quite the double act …
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at the books, comics and what have you that the Robot 6 crew have been perusing of late. Today we welcome our special guest Steven Sanders, artist of such comics as Wolverine and the X-Men, Wolverine, S.W.O.R.D, Our Love is Real, The Five Fists of Science and more. He’s currently using Kickstarter to raise funds for a “Creative Commons art book” called Symbiosis.
“Symbiosis is a world-building art book that tells the story of a woman’s travels through a world where the symbiotic relationship that we have with technology is made much more visceral,” the Kickstarter page reads. “All sources of power are generated by bio-etheric engines, with which the operators share a direct mental link. The story-telling is loose and mostly visual. It will be told with art that uses a variety of media and formats: fully painted, colored line art, black-and-white line art, and comic art. What you do with this story is up to you. Enjoy it on its own merits, or take it and spin it off into any of a million different directions.”
To see what Steven and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below:
Publishing | This wrap-up of the third annual India Comic Con, which drew an estimated 50,000 attendees (up from 15,000 last year), doubles as a snapshot of that country’s $22 million comics industry. The growth of the market is attributed in large part to the rise of graphic novels, which are luring young-adult readers. [The Times of India]
Comics | Writing for The Atlantic, Noah Berlatsky weighs in on the backlash over DC Comics hiring Orson Scott Card in an article titled “The Real Reason to Fear a Homophobe Writing a Superman Comic”: “It’s disturbing to have Orson Scott Card writing Superman, then, in part because Superman is supergood, and the supergood shouldn’t hate gay people. But it’s also disturbing, perhaps, because Superman is a violent vigilante — and because violent vigilantism in the name of good is often directed not against injustice, but against the powerless.” [The Atlantic]
Does everybody remember Mongoose Publishing’s Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a range of Judge Dredd miniatures? I can’t think of many comics-based crowd-sourcing campaigns that reached their initial target so quickly and outstripped that original target by so much (after originally seeking $2,000, they finally ended at $101,457, allowing for multiple stretch goals). Well, now Mongoose is fundraising for another miniatures-RPG based on a classic 2000AD property Rogue Trooper. Again, they’ve quickly shot past their first target of £6,000 in just one week, allowing for another ambitious program of stretch goals to roll out.
Clearly Mongoose is tapping into something big with these campaigns, there’s a demand for these products that has probably gone unnoticed by non-gamers for years.