You may recall that in January, Metalocalypse and Venture Bros. director Jon Schepp launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a documentary about Superman Lives, the abandoned Tim Burton film that would’ve starred Nicolas Cage as the Man of Steel, Chris Rock as Jimmy Olsen, Tim Allen as Brainiac. Well, that drive surpassed its $98,000 goal, and now The Death of ‘Superman Lives’: What Happened? has a teaser trailer.
And it’s very teaser-ish, with a lot of quick shots of websites that covered the campaign (including ROBOT 6), production art from the abandoned film, and glimpses of new interviews with the likes of Mark Waid and Grant Morrison — and all tied together by somewhat-haunting audio and video from a March Q&A in which Cage talks about the Kickstarter.
Better still, the trailer promises The Death of ‘Superman Lives’: What Happened? will arrive in summer 2014, which means by this time next year, we could know the full story behind what could have been “the weirdest Superman movie ever made.”
Business | The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has approved Disney’s plan to build a 58-acre television and film production facility on the sprawling Golden Oak Ranch, near Santa Clarita, California. Located less than an hour north of Los Angeles, the 890-acre ranch has been owned by Disney since 1959, serving as the backdrop for projects ranging from Little House on the Prairie to Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Pirates of the Caribbean: The World’s End. ABC Studios has been producing more series than Disney’s Burbank facilities can handle, requiring additional sound stages to be rented. The new facility is targeted for completion in 2016.
Marvel Animation opened a new studio early last year in Glendale, just minutes from Disney’s Burbank lot. Marvel Studios later followed suit, moving from Manhattan Beach to new offices in Glendale. [TheWrap]
Since its launch in 2012, the Image series Skullkickers has filled the hole that was missing sword-and-sorcery, beer-drinkin’, raucous fight comic. We didn’t know we needed it until we got it, but now I’m glad it’s here. And now series artist Edwin Huang is stepping up his game with a deluxe art book containing his other creator-owned work, as well as that of some of his friend. And he’s using Kickstarter to do it.
Graphic novels | Dubbing this “the age of the graphic novel,” Glasgow, Scotland’s Sunday Herald asked an unnamed and unnumbered group of cartoonists, novelists, critics, comics historians and the like for a list of titles that should be in everyone’s library. The result is a pretty impressive, and varied, rundown — “the 50 greatest graphic novels of all time” — that ranges from Paul Pope’s Heavy Liquid and Lili Carre’s The Lagoon to Katshuiro Otomo’s Akira and Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. [Sunday Herald]
Creators | Rebecca Gross interviews Daniel Clowes about the development of his work, doing comics at a time when comics weren’t considered an art form, and the current exhibit of his work at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, “Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes.” [NEA Arts]
When I spoke to Evan Young for my Kickstand column back in May, he had just canceled the Kickstarter for his comic The Last West, the tale of a world in which all scientific and cultural progress has just stopped. But he had done it for a good reason: He had just signed with Alterna Comics, and having a publisher changed enough things that he felt he had to retool the Kickstarter.
Now he’s back, with a new Kickstarter campaign that has already exceeded its goal, and it seemed like a good time to ask him about what changed (and what didn’t).
Robot 6: First of all, can you briefly summarize why you cancelled and relaunched your Kickstarter for The Last West?
Evan Young: Good question. To make a long story short, we finalized a digital publishing deal with Peter Simeti over at Alterna Comics, which came smack in the middle of our first Kickstarter campaign. Which was fantastic for us! Unfortunately, it was not fantastic for our Kickstarter campaign at the time. Kickstarter rules don’t allow you to modify rewards in any way once someone has backed your project for that particular reward, so for that reason alone we were going to have to cancel it and reboot. The rewards we offered the first time around were not geared toward a published book (either digital or in print), they were not timed to coincide with our new Alterna schedule, etc. Just a bunch of problems for us that we weren’t going to be able to work out while at the same time staying fair to our backers.
So at the end of the day, we thought the most fair thing to do would be to cancel the campaign and relaunch it once we had all of our details sorted out — so that’s what we’ve done.
One of comics’ earliest and most spirited creator-owned heroes is aiming to return to comics — and he needs your help to do it.
The sci-fi swashbuckler Sabre, created in the mid-’70s by legendary Black Panther and Killraven writer Don McGregor, is aiming for a comeback with a new miniseries now seeking funding on Kickstarter. The series, titled Sabre: The Early Future Years, sees McGregor teaming with the revolutionary 1980s artist Trevor Von Eeden to tell the first new Sabre story in 30 years. On the Kickstarter page, McGregor promises everything from swordplay and flintlock lasers to robot stallions and nocturnal trackers.
Conventions | Retailers in the Boston area talk about the importance of Boston Comic Con to their bottom line. This year’s event will be held Saturday and Sunday. [The Boston Globe]
Creators | Nate Powell, who got his start distributing photocopied minicomics at punk-rock shows, talks to his hometown newspaper about working with Rep. John Lewis on March, drawing a Percy Jackson graphic novel, and life as a full-time comic artist: “There’s a whole lot of constant hustling as a cartoon artist, and really I credit DIY punk as far as shaping the way that I navigate the world to allow me to still tap into the constant hustling necessary to keep my head above water.” [Arkansas Times]
Jon Bogdanove was one of the big artists in the late 1980s and early 1990s, from his work on the X-titles and Power Pack at Marvel to the “Death of Superman” story arc at DC. But for the past decade or so, his name has been absent from comic shelves as he instead produces art for DC and Marvel’s licensing department. But news came out earlier this month that Bogdanove wants to return to comic, but he needs help.
The artist has turned to Kickstarter to raise funds to launch his first creator-owned comic, a 150-page graphic novel called Strongman. Going back to the circus roots of superheroes, this story follows “heroic 1920s circus strongman Bron Bellman, and his sideshow sidekicks.” Mixing pulp heroics with Teddy Roosevelt and even some Nikola Tesla, it’s described as an “anthology of legends” telling the story of Bellman and his adventures.
Shiftylook, Namco Bandai’s webcomics venture, has inked a deal with Homestuck creator Andrew Hussie to create a dating-sim game, Namco High, that will allow players to mix and match characters from the different Namco Bandai games in a high-school environment.
There’s a pleasing symmetry to this alliance: Homestuck is a webcomic designed to look like an old computer game, complete with a cheesy home page that would be right at home on Geocities, and Shiftylook is a webcomics site that commissions writer-artist teams to make webcomics about characters from vintage Namco Bandai games from the 1980s and 1990s. I talked to the Shiftylook brass about their strategy at New York Comic Con; basically the idea is to build up a following for the characters and then bring them into other media, such as games and music.
As it did last year, Shiftylook set up shop across the street from the San Diego Convention Center for Comic-Con and offered an arcade where visitors could play Namco Bandai games for free. There was also an Adventure Time booth, selling merchandise from the popular animated and comics series, and a Homestuck booth, where Hussie himself made an appearance to sign autographs.
More than a year after a Kickstarter campaign for a lighthearted Lovecraftian board game generated $122,000 in pledges, the project has been abruptly canceled, triggering accusations of fraud.
Erik Chevalier of The Forking Path Co. announced Tuesday to backers that The Doom That Came to Atlantic City! was simply “beyond my abilities.” “Every possible mistake was made, some due to my inexperience in board game publishing, others due to ego conflicts, legal issues and technical complications,” he wrote. “No matter the cause though these could all have been avoided by someone more experienced and I apparently was not that person.”
Digital comics | Jason Snell uses Comic-Con International as an opportunity to take a snapshot of digital comics in “an era of experimentation,” and hones in on Madefire, the convention’s embrace of technology, comiXology and the growing popularity of the digital-first model. “Digital has made us rethink how we fulfill books into the [print] retail market,” Chris Ross, Top Shelf’s director of digital publishing, said during a panel. [TechHive]
Legal | The Attorney-Generals Chambers of Singapore has charged cartoonist Leslie Chew (the pen name of Chew Peng Ee) with contempt of court because of four cartoons posted on his Facebook page Demon-cratic Singapore. A hearing on the charges, which could result in jail time and fines, will be held on Aug. 12. Chew’s attorney M. Ravi said in a phone interview, “Our judiciary is not like fragile flowers to be offended easily by such criticism. We have full faith in the impartiality and independence of our judiciary.” [Bloomberg News]
There’s Monster University, Monster High and soon, with a little help from Kickstarter, Monster Elementary.
Written by Nicholas Doan, the graphic novel is an all-ages comedy adventure about five monster children — there’s a vampire, a werewolf, a laboratory-constructed girl, a mummy and a lagoon creature — who are forced to attend public school after their private monsters-only institution is raided by the FBI.
The 90-page book will feature short stories illustrated by the likes of Josh Gowdy, Canaan Grall, Lee-Roy Lahey, Bobby Timony, Daniele Serra, Cal Moray and Patty Variboa. You can read the first six issues for free by downloading Emanata to your iOS or Android device.
Doan is seeking $19,000 to cover production and printing, payments to artists, pledge rewards, etc. The campaign ends Aug. 7.
Just hours after launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund a companion “field guide” to Atomic Robo, creators Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener have already rocketed past their $7,500 pledge goal — by more than $16,000. The project was fully funded within two hours.
Tesladyne Field Guide isn’t a comic book, however: It’s a handbook for employees of the fictional Tesladyne Industries, founded by Atomic Robo, that tackles such topics as “How To Deal With Errant Dinosaurs,” “So You’ve Got An Evil Twin” and “Coping With Alternate Realities.”
While the book is certainly incentive enough for many Atomic Robo fans to donate, some of the pledge rewards may be a big draw. “We [...] figured if we were doing a Kickstarter, then we should throw in some crazy tiers and do stuff we would never do if we were just opening an online store,” Clevinger writes on the Kickstarter page. “So, we’re making campaign exclusive polos and lab coats and other goodies that we will likely NEVER MAKE outside the Kickstarter.”
The lower tiers feature prints, buttons, T-shirts and the like, but it’s when you get to the $250 level that things start to get fun: the “Junior Action Scientist Kit,” with lab coat and a Tesladyne polo shirt; the “Junior Doctor Dinosaur Kit,” with a lab coat (“slightly ruined), “Genuine Hollow Earth Crystals”; and so on (the rewards for the $500 tier and one of the $250 tiers are already gone). Clevinger also quickly added stretch goals, which the campaign has already surpassed.
“We’re choosing to err on the side of caution with regard to calling out our goals at this point,” Clevinger writes. “We’d rather not say or suggest or imply what we’re planning until we’re 100% certain we can make it a reality. ‘Cause otherwise we’re just jerkin’ your chains.”
The Kickstarter campaign ends Aug. 9.
Zak Sally’s announcement that his latest Sammy the Mouse book is ready for purchase also includes some commentary about his experience with publishing the first book himself:
printing it was a nightmare. at the end of that process, i had to face the fact that the 5 months of frustration and banging my head against the wall of the “steep learning curve of being an offset printer” was all time taken away from the primary goal, which is MAKING the COMICS. and it was too much; both the time and the frustration.
This volume will be published by Uncivilized Books, which spares Sally the hassle of getting it printed while allowing him to sell it directly to consumers, which is the part he likes about self-publishing.
It’s a point that anyone considering funding their next book through Kickstarter would do well to consider. It has always seemed illogical to me to have every creator handling their own print run of 5,000 books individually — for one thing, not everyone is good at it, as Sally can attest. Beyond that, though, one of the most valuable functions a publisher can serve is streamlining the less creative parts of the process. Book production is a tricky business, and publishers have experienced people who know how to navigate the fairly technical process; a creator taking a book to the printer for the first time is likely to make mistakes and waste a lot of time. What’s more, an individual creator is never going to be able to negotiate a better price than a publisher who sends a continuous stream of business to the printer.
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]