SPIDER-MANDATE: The Lowe-down on "Secret Wars," Tie-Ins and Stacey Lee
Things appear to be going well for collaborators Evan Young and Lou Iovino: Not only are they in the final hours of a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the second volume of their alternate-history thriller The Last West, they’ve signed a deal with Outlier, whose founders’ producing credits include the Twilight and Percy Jackson film series.
The agreement gives Outlier to the exclusive rights to shop the property to film studios, television networks, financiers and the like.
“Lou and I are really ecstatic about working with Outlier and having them shopping the comic around Hollywood,” Young told ROBOT 6. “It’s clear that they think the basic premise of the story holds the potential to intrigue the masses. But even more important to us is that Outlier is right on board with the fact that The Last West isn’t totally whiz-bang. It’s a slower-burn, character-driven story to sink your teeth into — the way Lost was, for example. Outlier gets this 100 percent. So combine that with the fact that Outlier clearly knows their business, have a proven track record with some mega-hit movies behind them. … Man, we really can’t wait to see where it goes.”
If your standard comics-reading experience, whether in print or online, has gotten a bit humdrum, perhaps Modern Polaxis is the solution.
The brainchild of Australian artist Sutu, it’s the story of a paranoid time traveler, presented as his private journal, brought to life in an augmented reality comic book. Polaxis hides all of his secrets and conspiracy theories within its pages — in the “augmented reality layer” — which can be discovered by readers with an iPhone or an iPad and a free app (a beta version is available from the iTunes store).
Sutu has finished about 20 pages of illustrations and animation, and now he’s turning to Kickstarter to help complete the project.
The artist teamed with Luke Crane (The Burning Wheel, Mouse Guard Roleplaying Game) to develop a two-player strategy game based on the one from the comics. And now that it’s been play-tested, they’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to make Mouse Guard: Swords & Strongholds a reality.
“The game is played on a board with a grid,” Petersen explains on his blog. “Mouse pawns reside on the grid intersections (mostly) and are moved in conjunction with cards: Swords, Diplomacy, and Strongholds. Each card allows the mouse you are moving an ability beyond it’s normal movement. We came up with something that is a 2 player light strategy game that is pretty easy to learn and can scale in difficulty with the skill levels of the players.”
The Kickstarter set will feature a wooden board, eight plastic pawns, 30 cards (drawn by Petersen) and illustrated rules sheet, in a cardboard box. A deluxe set, produced by Skelton Crew Studios, will include an oversized board and box, both made of cherry wood, and eight plated pewter mouse pawns.A day into the campaign, and it’s already raised more than $7,900 of its $18,000 goal, which likely means the June Alley Inn will be filled with the sounds Swords & Strongholds before long. Pledge incentives include signed games, original card art, original box-cover art (already gone), and the deluxe version of the game.
What a difference seven years makes! When Todd Allen published the previous edition of his book, the title reflected the digital comics scene at the time: The Economics of Web Comics. Even more tellingly, he didn’t produce an eBook version — it was print -only.
The world of digital comics has spun around on its axis several times since then, and Allen, who writes about digital comics for The Beat and has taught e-business courses at Columbia College in Chicago, is now working on a major revision of his book, now titled The Economics of Digital Comics. And this time, he’s funding it through Kickstarter, another major force in the comics industry that didn’t exist seven years ago. We asked Allen how he constructed his Kickstarter, what his plans are for the book, and where he thinks digital comics are going.
Robot 6: First of all, congratulations on exceeding your goal! You started with a very modest goal of $500, and as of this writing your backers have almost tripled it. It doesn’t seem like a lot of money — what will you use it for?
Todd Allen: I definitely took the minimum-costs route on this. I need to set up a couple files with my print-on-demand provider. I may or may not upgrade some software — I’ll worry about that when I’ve got everything written and am ready to go into production. Could I have counted my labor for the book and time spent running a Kickstarter toward the cost and put the goal at something like $12,000? There’s a case to be made for it. I’m doing a Kickstarter Campaign Diary over at Publishers Weekly, and this week’s installment is about setting the pricing and goals.
Lark and Eagle are two down-on-their-luck heroes just looking for a break — and they find one in Hero Overhaul, a TV reality show that upgrades their powers and spruces up their public images. Now they have an opportunity to redeem themselves for a prime-time audience.
That’s the premise of Lark and Eagle, the superhero comic created and written by Steve Johnson, who’s launched a Kickstarter campaign to make the first issue a reality. He’s joined by Toro Diego (pencils), Mickey Clausen (inks), Matt Webb (colors), Ed Dukeshire (letters) and J.K. Woodward (cover).
Publishing | Comics archivist and publisher Rachel Richey will launch a Kickstarter campaign in September to fund a collection of Johnny Canuck comics. Created by Leo Bachie and published from 1941 to 1946 by Dime Comics, the character was a super-patriotic hero who once fought Hitler mano-a-mano. Richey was behind last year’s successful Kickstarter to revive another uniquely Canadian character, Nelvana of the North. [Global News]
Digital comics | Todd Allen chats with the Madefire folks about branching out to Windows 8; they launched a free five-issue Transformers motion comics on Windows 8 just last week. Madefire is also available on iOS and via DeviantArt. [Publishers Weekly]
[Editor’s note: Every Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss “The best in comics from the last seven days” — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]
While I am no master of the vertical pole, and while I’m sure that attempting something like “The Superman” would result in several slipped disks, a concussion, and a few suspicious bruises, I quite liked Leen Isabel’s webcomic Pole Dancing Adventures. It explored pole dancing from the point of view of someone who sees it as an athletic activity, breaking down popular perception that it’s something anyone should be ashamed about. It also provided some nifty tips and tricks — again, something I and my ungrateful 200-pound frame would never attempt. Still, an enjoyable peek into the finesse involved.
Retailing | A federal judge has lifted a temporary restraining order blocking the $21.4 million sale of retail chain Hastings Entertainment to Joel Weinshanker, president and sole shareholder of Wizkids parent National Entertainment Collectibles Association. Two Hastings shareholders had sued to stop the sale, insisting the price paid for the retailer is too low; however, U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson found, in part, that they failed to prove they would be irreparably harmed if the sale were completed before they could have their day in court (Texas law permits dissenting stockholders to seek monetary damages after a merger). Hastings, which operates 149 stores that sell books, comics, video games and more, has called a special shareholder meeting for July 15, during which the sale is expected to be approved. [Amarillo Globe-News, ICv2.com]
Comics, animation and video games, all on the same platform, all offered for free: That’s the vision Alex Simmons has for his new digital service, the Arthawk Entertainment Online Network (AEON). He’s running a Kickstarter campaign to get the service off the ground, and he already has plans to go beyond that.
Simmons is a veteran comics writer whose credits include Archie Comics (he won a Glyph Award for his story “The Cartoon Life of Chuck Clayton”), Scooby-Doo and his own creator-owned series, Blackjack. He writes in a variety of other formats as well, including creating interactive mystery stories for the Tiger Toys video game, and he runs the annual Kids’ Comic Con in the Bronx. A few years ago he put together an art exhibit, “The Color of Comics,” that traveled as far away as Senegal.
The AEON is an ambitious project. Artist Derrick A. Richardson, who has done work for DC and Marvel, is the CEO, and Simmons and Richardson have put together a team of animation, creative and technical consultants to build the platform. All this costs money, and they set the goal of the Kickstarter at $100,000. I talked with Simmons about the thinking behind the platform and what the next steps will be.
Creators | Stan Lee arrived at Sydney Airport for the Supanova Pop Culture Expo and was immediately presented with a “Captain Australia” shield, colored gold and green rather than red and blue. The Supanova Pop Culture Expo kicked off today, and continues through Sunday. [The Daily Telegraph]
Comics | Hussain Al-Shiblawi says he doesn’t usually mind the pamphlets he regularly receives from the local Bible Baptist Church in Roanoke, Virginia; even though he’s Muslim, he finds them inspirational. But he takes strong exception to the latest one, a Jack Chick tract titled Unforgiven, which claims that all Muslims are going to hell. The pastor, who declined to go on camera, says his church doesn’t create the pamphlets, it just distributes them, but he’s willing to meet with Al-Shiblawi to discuss the comic. [WDBJ News]
Seemingly every week a new Kickstarter project worthy of support attracts my attention. Last week, writer Travis Horseman made me aware of his campaign for Amiculus: A Secret History. Horseman, who characterizes himself as a incurable graphic novel junkie, clearly relished the opportunity to discuss his original, epic three-part graphic novel series telling a lost history of the fall of Rome.
At the beginning of the interview, I was curious to learn what Horseman meant by quasi-historical, and the discussion took off from there.
Manga | Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan has knocked longtime bestseller One Piece from the top of Japan’s manga charts. Market research firm Oricon reports that Attack on Titan, which has 13 volumes in print, sold 8,342,268 copies in the first half of the year, making it the bestselling series in Japan. One Piece, which has long held that title, sold 4,936,855 copies of 73 volumes, but it did top the charts for single-volume sales, with 2,825,339 copies sold of the latest volume. The numbers cover the period from mid-November to mid-May. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | DC Entertainment Co-Publisher Jim Lee talks about his history with Batman in advance of DC’s 75th-anniversary celebration for the character. [Asbury Park Press]
Publishing | Calvin Reid looks at how publishing is done on Kickstarter, and interviews Maris Kreizman, the general publishing manager, and Jamie Tanner, who oversees the comics category and is himself a comics creator. Comics campaigns have a success rate of nearly 50 percent, making them the fourth-highest category on Kickstarter (and way ahead of general publishing, which has a 32 percent success rate). Tanner sees the popularity of comics as an indication that people still like a print product, and, he pointed out, “setting up a [Kickstarter comics] project, offering rewards and a delivery date, is very much like any conventional comics publishing project.” [Publishers Weekly]
Conventions | Lance Fensterman, ReedPOP’s global senior vice president, talks about his company’s strategy of focusing on a few big shows, rather than a lot of smaller ones, and gives the numbers for last month’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo: Attendance was about 62,900, up 18 percent from last year, and the show floor grew by 15,000 square feet. Attendees are mostly in the 18-to-35 age group, and the majority are male, although the proportion of women at C2E2 has increased by 6 percent since 2011. Male or female, many of the folks on the floor seem to be “casual consumers” rather than “hardcore fans”: About 50 percent of attendees at New York Comic Con were there for the first time. “Depending on which exhibiting company you’re talking to, they either love it or they’re not sure what to do with it,” Fensterman said. “You’re delivering new readers and new potential consumers. We think it’s cool that you’re getting that fresh perspective, not quite so jaded (been there, done that).” [ICv2]
The husband-and-wife team of Fred Van Lente and Crystal Skillman have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund King Kirby, a play about the life of legendary comics creator Jack Kirby. Characterized as “a real-life Adventures of Kavalier & Klay,” the production is set to be staged at Brooklyn’s Brick Theater as part of the Comic Book Theater Festival on June 20, the day the campaign ends.
“King Kirby has been a long-term passion project of mine,” Van Lente, known for his work on such comics as Action Philosophers, Archer & Armstrong and The Incredible Hercules, said in a statement. “With Crystal’s help, it’s down on paper. Now, with your help, we’ll bring this crucial piece of comics history to life on stage.”