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Comics A.M. | The competition for Comic-Con International

Comic-Con International

Comic-Con International

Conventions | With the long-planned expansion of the San Diego Convention Center stalled indefinitely, the Los Angeles Times offers an overview of efforts to keep Comic-Con International in the city past 2016, and what suitors like Los Angeles and Anaheim, California, have to offer. “The proposals we’ve received are pretty amazing,” says Comic-Con spokesman David Glanzer. “It’s not an easy decision.” However, the San Diego Tourism Authority remains confident that convention organizers will sign a deal — possibly with a month — to remain in the city through 2018, based on an agreement for nearby hotels to offer their meeting space for Comic-Con programming. (The Tourism Authority has already asked hotels in the Comic-Con room block to freeze their rates at 2015 levels for the next two years.) [Los Angeles Times]

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‘Nocturnals’ Kickstarter surpasses $30,000 goal in just days

nocturnals-sinister path

Two decades after the debut of Nocturnals, the fan base for Dan Brereton’s pulpish horror-adventure shows little sign of dwindling.

Case in point: Within days of launching a Kickstarter campaign for Nocturnals: The Sinister Path, Brereton & Co. have surpassed their $30,000 goal by nearly $10,000.

The 64-page graphic novel, described as “the scariest, hard-boiled tale yet told in their saga,” will be released in three editions: a softcover that will also be sold in stores; a limited sketch cover; and a wraparound hardcover with additional content.

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Michael McDermott takes ‘Imaginary Drugs’ on a trip to IDW

imaginary drugs-coverImaginary Drugs is a bit of a success story, even before its release through IDW Publishing.

Edited by Michael McDermott, it began life in late 2013 as a modest (if eclectic) anthology of sci-fi and fantasy stories seeking funding through Kickstarter. But as interest and pledges increased — the campaign raised nearly triple its goal — so did the number of pages and indie creators, so that what began as a 56-page comic soon became a 160-page collection.

However, the growth didn’t stop there: When McDermott signed a deal to release Imaginary Drugs through IDW, even more creators were brought on board, bringing the edition that arrives Jan. 27 to a whopping 208 pages.

McDermott, who also wrote several of the stories in the anthology, spoke with ROBOT 6 about the genesis of Imaginary Drugs, how he went about recruiting contributors, lessons learned from the Kickstarter campaign, and the benefits of teaming with IDW.

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Cody Walker heads to ‘Everland’ with fantasy anthology

Art by Chris Yarbrough

Art by Chris Yarbrough

After successfully funding the first two issues of Noir City through Kickstarter, writer Cody Walker is back with a decidedly different project: Everland, a collection of four connected tales set in a dark fantasy world that will likely be familiar.

Walker has collaborated with a different artist on each of the stories: Chris Yarbrough on “Surviving Everland,” in which a fairy kidnaps a boy, who must survive in a jungle; Nate Peters on “The Boy-God Horror,” in which a terrified pirate fights the Boy-God; Ryan Wheaton on “Mermaid Love,” in which a shipwrecked pirate finds unlikely love; and Nathan Judah on “Monster Slayer,” in which an Iroquois girl seeks revenge against a giant crab for the death of her father.

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Comics A.M. | DMP gives Tezuka Kickstarter another try

Ludwig B

Ludwig B

Crowdfunding | Digital Manga Publishing’s recent Kickstarter campaign raised some questions as to the proper role of crowdfunding in publishing. When DMP acquired the rights to all of Osamu Tezuka’s manga that haven’t already been translated into English, CEO Hikaru Sasahara launched an ambitious Kickstarter effort to publish about 400 volumes in just a few years. The campaign raised eyebrows not only because of the large amount of money involved (with stretch goals, it would have been more than half a million dollars) but also because it went beyond the direct costs associated with single volumes to include travel and staffing. That campaign failed, but DMP immediately launched another one that’s closer to the usual model. I interviewed Sasahara and one of his most prominent critics to get both sides of the discussion. [Publishers Weekly]

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Comics A.M. | Indianapolis Star pulls cartoon after backlash

The original version of Gary Varvel's cartoon

The original version of Gary Varvel’s cartoon

Editorial cartoons | The Indianapolis Star first altered a cartoon by Gary Varvel and then removed it from its website after receiving an outpouring of protests from readers. The cartoon, a reaction to President Obama’s executive actions delaying deportations, showed a white family sitting around a Thanksgiving table, looking in horror as brown-skinned people, presumably immigrants, climbed in the window. The caption was “Thanks to the president’s immigration order, we’ll be having extra guests this Thanksgiving.” “Gary did not intend to be racially insensitive in his attempt to express his strong views about President Barack Obama’s decision to temporarily prevent the deportation of millions of immigrants living and working illegally in the United States,” Executive Editor Jeff Taylor said in a post explaining the removal of the cartoon. “But we erred in publishing it.” Tom Spurgeon offers some commentary. [Indianapolis Star]

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Comics A.M. | ‘The 99′ creator on death threats, political pressure

The 99

The 99

Creators | In a new profile of Naif Al-Mutawa, the creator of the Islamic superhero comic The 99 addresses the death threats made against him by ISIS and the fatwa issued against the animated adaptation in Saudi Arabia, and reveals he recently met with Kuwaiti police “to answer the charges of being a heretic.” Mutawa also blames pressure from “a handful of conservative bloggers” in the United States for The Hub not following through with plans to air the animated series. He said that after President Obama praised his work in 2010, attacks on him escalated in the United States, where he was painted as a jihadist “intent on radicalizing young kids to make them suicide bombers. And here [in the Gulf] I became an apostate Zionist. My mother told me growing up, be careful who your friends are because you end up inheriting their enemies. And that’s what happened: I don’t know President Obama. I’m very honored he called me out. But the hate became magnified after that.” [Al-Monitor]

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SLG Publishing launches its fourth crowdfunding effort

SLG Publishing has been a major part of the American comics industry, helping to usher in notable creators like Charles Soule, Jhonen Vasquez and Jim Rugg. But for the past few years the publisher has been struggling.

Founder Dan Vado has been public about the company’s financial status, turning to crowdfunding platforms for help in keeping the business afloat — but with little success. He organized two unsuccessful Kickstarter campaigns in 2012, and returned this year, first with a GoFundMe effort and now with Patreon.

While none of the campaigns have reached the stated goal, Vado remains hopeful. The comics industry has witnessed numerous successful crowdfunding campaigns (even on a publisher level, such as with Fantagraphics), but SLG’s plight underscores that, unfortunately, they don’t all work out that way. But what’s so different about SLG’s situation?

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‘Cannon Busters’ returns with Kickstarter for animated pilot


LeSean Thomas’ fabled fantasy Cannon Busters series may finally be returning, only this time in animated form.

The TV animation producer/director/artist has launched a $120,000 Kickstarter campaign to fund an eight- to 10-minute animated pilot for Cannon Busters: The Animated Series, featuring contributions from the likes of Joe Madureira, Thomas Romain and Tim Yoon.

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Comics A.M. | Alexis Deacon wins Observer/Cape/Comica prize

From "The River"

From “The River”

Awards | Alexis Deacon has won the 2014 Observer/Cape/Comica graphic short story prize for “The River,” “a luscious, tangled, whispering kind of story” that earned him £1,000 (about $1,611 U.S.). The runners-up were Fionnuala Doran’s “Countess Markievicz” and Beth Dawson’s “After Life.” The short-story competition has been held annually since 2007 by London’s Comica Festival, publisher Jonathan Cape and The Observer newspaper. [The Observer]

Publishing | Mark Peters spotlights Archie Comics’ recent transformation from staid to startling, with titles like Afterlife With Archie and the new Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. [Salon]

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DJs take center stage in dystopian ‘Future Prophecy’

future propehcy

Superheroes come from all walks of life: journalists, scientists, school teachers, lawyers, even fast-food workers. But what about a DJ? In The Future Prophecy, two DJ sisters take on a dystopian version of Toronto under the control of a mutant army. But they aren’t just any DJ sisters, they’re creators — and real-life DJs — Sara Simms and Melle Oh.

So far, Simms and Oh have self-published two issues of The Future Prophecy, but to produce four more they’ve turned to Kickstarter.

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Comics A.M. | ‘Guardians’ clings to September bookstore chart

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1

Graphic novels | Although BookScan’s September list of the bestselling graphic novels in bookstores is populated largely by old stalwarts — The Walking Dead, Attack on Titan, Saga, WatchmenGuardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1, the only Marvel title on the chart, clung to the Top 20 in its second month of release (although it slipped from No. 4. to No. 20). Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Seconds, meanwhile, climbed in its third month to No. 6. One new manga debuted at No. 12: Noragami, about a homeless god who does odd jobs as he tries to build up his reputation; the anime is already out, which probably gave it a boost. [ICv2]

Publishing | A television reporter pays a visit to the Last Gasp offices to talk about the Kickstarter recently launched by the longtime publisher of underground comics (and other quirky books). It’s worth a look just to see the owner’s amazing collection of oddities. [NBC Bay Area]

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Andres Salazar talks ‘Pariah Missouri,’ Westerns and Kickstarter

Pariah 2Writer Andres Salazar puts a cool spin on the supernatural Western genre in Pariah, Missouri: The town itself anchors the book — Salazar calls it the “main character” — and he uses it as a vantage point to watch the comings and goings of an amazingly varied cast of characters, some with supernatural powers. He and artist Jose Pescador lay out the territory in Book 1, and assemble a sort of 19th-century Mod Squad to fight the forces of evil.

Salazar crowdfunded the first volume of Pariah, Missouri, on Kickstarter, and Diamond Comic Distributors picked it up for July Previews — in fact, it was a Staff Pick—and it’s available in comic shops now. He’s running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the second volume.

Robot 6: What is it about this particular time and place that intrigued you?

Andres Salazar: I wanted something different than a traditional Western, which are post-Civil War stories, usually in the 1880s, after the trains crossed the plains. I wanted it to be in the 1850s, when slavery was still present. Missouri had a unique position in the country as having both slaves and free blacks, so I wanted to explore those social dynamics. I grew up in Arkansas and traveled to Missouri many times, and there’s something special about the Midwest that I wanted to explore. It was the frontier in the 1850s, and a hotbed of various religions and folk magic. Lastly, I’m a fan of Mark Twain and his stories on the steamboats, and I wanted Pariah to be that mysterious steamboat boomtown.

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80-year-old Art Deco artist primes for his comic debut

dd2641dccf3bc3ed0b03486cd90d525c_largePolish expat Andre Krayewski has had a long and interesting life. Born in 1933 in Stalinist Poland, de Krayeski dreamed of America and jazz music, and he expressed himself through art. With his Art Deco style, he became known in his home country for creating Polish movie posters, and he later moved to America, where he found success in the art scene. He’s best known for creating the 1997 Panasonic Jazz Festival poster, as well as paintings for the New York Film Academy.

The artist put pen to paper and wrote a-semi autobiographic novel titled Skyliner relating his jazz-loving youth in 1950s Poland. And now, at age 80, Krayewski is adapting that work for comics.

Described by his son Ed Krayewski as “a love letter to the American myth,” Skyliner is the story of a Polish teenager coming of age behind the Iron Curtain as the influence of American culture spread around the world. Krayewski adapted his story over the past two years with help from his son while undergoing dialysis treatments.

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Rafer Roberts bites into humor, horror with ‘Nightmare the Rat’


If you’ve ever had a recurring nightmare where your teeth fall out, you’re not alone. Rafer Roberts, creator of Plastic Farm, also has that same dream — and channeled it into the creation of the mischievous, tooth-stealing scamp, Nightmare the Rat.

While Nightmare the Rat, a somewhat-twisted homage to 1900s comic strips, has appeared in Magic Bullet and online, Roberts is looking to collect all the strips into one newspaper-sized collection. His Kickstarter for the project went live Tuesday and is already nearly halfway to its modest $999 goal. Rewards include the collection itself, commissions, original artwork and custom postcards from Nightmare himself.

I spoke with Roberts about the project, using Kickstarter and that recurring nightmare …

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