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Andrew MacLean kickstarts a second helping of ‘Head Lopper’

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If Andrew MacLean has his way — and your help — heads will lop once again.

Earlier this year MacLean self-published Head Lopper #1, an action-filled tale of one viking’s quest to decapitate monsters, and the annoying severed witch head that he drags along with him. It was a great introduction, but not near long enough … which is something MacLean hopes to remedy. He’s currently running a Kickstarter so he can publish issue #2, which promises more pages, more head-lopping and more of that evil witch head.

I spoke with MacLean about both issues of the series, as well as his tale in last Wednesday’s issue of Dark Horse Presents and much more. My thanks to Andrew for his time.

JK Parkin: For those who may not have heard of Head Lopper, can you give a few details on what it’s about and how it came about?

Andrew MacLean: Head Lopper follows nomadic Viking warrior Norgal and his companion, the severed heard of Agatha Blue Witch. When they aren’t bickering and torturing each other, they are traveling about beheading monsters or whatever or whomever might get in their way.

Head Lopper actually originated from a Brand New Nostalgia piece I did. The theme that the members had chosen for the week was “Viking” and I just had so much fun with it I just knew I had to run with it. So I redesigned that same character a little bit, including the severed head he was originally pictured with and started putting together some rather simple classic-feeling stories for the unlikely pair.

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Vito Delsante goes all in with ‘World War Mob,’ ‘Stray’

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In 2011, Vito Delsante left the relative comfort of a full-time job at Jim Hanley’s Universe to pursue a career in writing comics. While he’s no stranger to that side of the medium, having written titles like the self-published FCHS and DC’s Batman Adventures, this year could prove his most ambitious, as he has two projects in the works — World War Mob from New Paradigm Studios, with artist Giancarlo Caracuzzo, and Stray, currently up on Kickstarter, with artist Sean Izaakse.

I spoke with Vito about both projects, as well as his comic-reading history, what he learned as a retailer and more.

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Comics A.M. | Cumbria comic festival already looking to next year

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival

Conventions | Declaring this weekend’s inaugural Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal, Cumbria, England, a success, organizers have already announced the dates for next year’s event: Oct. 17-19. “Our first year has been everything we could have wished for,” said festival director Julie Tait. “There was a huge buzz right through Kendal – from The Brewery Arts Centre right to The Box on Wildman Street, as well as at the shopping centre and the library. The town has really got involved and there has been art work on every street. It feels like the weekend has involved everyone – from adults following their passion for Viz humour to kids learning how Peppa Pig was created.” This year’s festival featured guests ranging from Charlie Adlard and Ed Brubaker to David Lloyd and Trina Robbins. [Cumbria Live]

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What if a comics publisher partnered with Indiegogo or Kickstarter?

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Crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo have been a boon for independent comic creators, providing much-needed start-up cash to get their projects off the ground. Similar in scope to the rise of underground comix in the 1960s or the black-and-white boom of the 1980s, it’s changed the game for a number of creators. That’s why recent news that the massive video game publisher Square Enix is partnering with Indiegogo is so interesting.

To briefly summarize: Square Enix is one of the big players in the video-game market, especially in Japan, with titles such as Final Fantasy and Tomb Raider. In the partnership with Indiegogo, the two companies have essentially formed a think tank for independent developers outside of Square Enix to post video game proposals as Indiegogo campaigns. If they’re successful in the crowdfunding stage, they’ll receive marketing and development help from Square Enix to make the projects a reality. Going further, Square Enix even says there’s a possibility that video game developers could pitch projects based on the company’s immense back catalog.

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‘Molly Danger’ confronts a fierce foe: international shipping rates

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Jamal Igle’s 2012 Kickstarter campaign for Molly Danger, “the story of the world’s most powerful girl,” was a crowd-funding success story, surpassing its $45,000 goal by a little more than $5,000. He learned a lot from the effort, and shared that knowledge with other creators. However, there was something the veteran artist didn’t count on: the drastic rise of the United States Postal Service’s international shipping rates.

“I didn’t see this coming, and it’s really perplexing me as to how to handle this,” Igle wrote in an email to his Kickstarter backers. “As some of you may be aware, postage rates for international shipping have doubled in the last year. When i launched the campaign for Molly Danger over a year ago, I calculated my costs based on the old rates. Now I find myself in a quandary on shipping to the United Kingdom and Australia being far more expensive. At the moment, since I would like to give you your books and other incentives as promised. One would slow the roll out of delivery, since i would be making up the difference out of pocket. The other is asking those backers to send additional funds, but I don’t want to have a Sullivan’s Sluggers situation where people think I’m pulling a bait and switch.”

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Brian Augustyn goes hard-boiled with ghost story ‘Dead Ringer’

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Sometimes, you just want to leave your work at work. But in an upcoming graphic novel, Army investigator Kate Bailey is dragged back into the line of duty when a dream about her own murder begins to come true. Mixing ghost stories and police procedurals, veteran writer Brian Augustyn and artist John Derrick West are looking to step out on their with a new self-published, creator-owned graphic novel Dead Ringer.

Dead Ringer is a hard-boiled mystery/ghost story,” Augustyn writes on the Kickstarter page. “…. Kate Bailey [is an] an Army veteran and former JAG investigator, recently returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. She comes home to Chicago, where she struggles to fit back into civilian society. Plagued by nightmares of her time in Afghanistan, Kate sleeps fitfully as a rule. She is completely blown out of her bed one night, however, by a terrifying dream—of her own brutal murder at the hands of a monstrous psychopath.”

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Comics A.M. | Wimpy Kid author spearheads Okla. library benefit

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel

Creators | Jeff Kinney, author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, was traveling the day a tornado devastated Moore, Oklahoma, and he saw the damage on a news broadcast while waiting for a flight. The images stuck with him, so he rounded up fellow creators Lincoln Peirce (Big Nate), Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine, Timmy Failure) and Dav Pilkey (Captain Underpants), all of whom he describes as “novelists whose DNA is in comics,” to hold a benefit to rebuild the town’s school libraries. The quartet will meet in Norman, Oklahoma, for a panel discussion and will raffle off original art and sell autographed copies of their books this weekend, with all proceeds going to the Moore Public Schools Foundation, earmarked for the school libraries. [Oklahoma Gazette]

Creators | Joe Sacco, author of Palestine, Footnotes in Gaza and, most recently, The Great War, talks about his work day, his process and the places he’s been. [The Telegraph]

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Pluto’s not a planet? Plutonians strike back in ‘Forgotten Planet’!

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In 2006, Earth scientists revoked Pluto’s status as a planet — it’s now a “dwarf planet,” neither a planet nor a satellite — and in the process sealed all of our fates.

In the upcoming graphic novel Forgotten Planet, the Plutonians are coming to Earth with payback on their mind, and the only one standing between us and them is a salty former mercenary named Cale Beckett who’s trying to live out his last days in the Tanzanian outback. But as the Plutonians arrive, he must re-live his secret past a hired law officer on Pluto in the 1970s. His comrades from those days are being killed one by one, and so Beckett must return to the place he hoped to forget.

Forgotten Planet comes to you from Eagle-nominated writer Peter Rogers and artist Giancarlo Caracuzzo (Jonah Hex, Iron Man). The duo is using Kickstarter to help make this graphic novel a reality, hoping to raise £11,500 (roughly $15,500 American dollars). If successful, a majority of the money would go to the artist as a page rate, while the rest would go toward the book’s production; the creators have partnered with the indie publisher Scar Comics for printing and distribution.

Here’s a look at thew two covers for the graphic novel, as well as a sample of the interior work:

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Rick Geary alphabetizes Obama conspiracies on Kickstarter

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President Barack Obama is no stranger to comics, whether we’re talking about biographies, guest appearances in Archie or Amazing Spider-Man, fighting evil barbarian-style or even erotic manga.

Since Obama was first elected, it seems like the only thing the president has racked up more of than comic book appearances are conspiracy theories related to his life and beliefs — from the birther movement to that trip to Mars he took as a teenager. If you’re interested in either, or both, or just think Rick Geary is awesome (he is!), here’s the Kickstarter for you: Geary is putting together a 56-page hardcover collection of “far-fetched conspiracy theories that are floating around regarding President Barack Obama.”

Geary has a long list of credits over his 35-plus year career, with one of the many highlights being his Treasury of Murder series. In this book, he’ll be doing full-page illustrations of each conspiracy; for $25 you can get a copy of the book, while $300 gets you the original art from one of the pages. Check out a couple of them below.

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‘Cartozia Tales’ calls out to Kickstarter to fund anthology series

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Welcome to a new world in comics — the world of Cartozia. Created by a who’s who of indie cartoonists and up-and-comers, this world is being created, defined and explored in an epic 10-issue anthology series titled Cartozia Tales. Editor/cartoonist Isaac Cates has brought together an assortment of creators to act as the base of the series — among them, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Ming Doyle, Meredith Gran, James Kochalka, Dylan Horrocks, Jason Lutes, Maris Wicks, Kevin Cannon and Jon Lewis — to help map out this world in short comic stories. And now with the first issue available for order online, the Cartozia Tales crew is turning to Kickstarter to continue the journey.

“Cartozia Tales is created collaboratively by a group of indie cartoonists working together to discover and invent the world of Cartozia and its secrets,” Cates writes on the project’s Kickstarter page. “We share the creation of the world of Cartozia by a process of chance, setting our stories in different parts of the map randomly with each issue. As the months progress, we trade characters and locations, picking up and expanding the stories started by our fellow contributors.”

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Let Craig Thompson pimp your longboard

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Grow Anthology sounds like it might be an indie-comics collective, but it’s actually a small company that makes skateboards out of recycled paper, layered and coated with resin to make it waterproof. That means its skateboards are eco-friendly and are even certified as such by the Rainforest Alliance. And Grow Anthology’s latest model, which is being funded through Kickstarter, features a Craig Thompson drawing, a cartoon of the characters Chunky Rice and Dandel from Goodbye Chunky Rice. (As Thompson explains on his blog, the guys who make the skateboards are friends of his brother — it always helps to have an in!)

Even if you don’t skate, it’s worth visiting the Kickstarter page to see Thompson’s preliminary designs for the board, as well as the finished product. The skateboards are being produced as a limited edition of 250, at a price of $300 for the complete board or $200 for the deck alone. If you’re not a skateboarder, don’t despair: There’s also a T-shirt featuring Thompson’s design that’s available for a $30 pledge, and his original art is available for a $5,000 pledge.

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Yeti Press releases new subscription service via Kickstarter

Panel from "Bird Witch Collection" by Kat Leyh

Panel from “Bird Witch Collection” by Kat Leyh

The small press publisher Yeti Press has launched a Kickstarter project asking contributors to help sustain the company’s growth over the next year. The company plans to release six comics and graphic novels over the next several months and is looking for early subscribers :

We have grown steadily over the last 2 years, but to take the next step towards where we want to be, we are asking for your help. A stellar lineup of books has been assembled, including brand new talent and Yeti Press favorites, that we’d like to release over the next year. Three of those books would be completed and shipped in the fall/winter months and another 3 would come to you in the spring/summertime. This Kickstarter effort will be a one time only deal, offering single issues, assorted goodies, and most importantly - a subscription service. 

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Ryan Sohmer on Kickstarting ‘The Gutters’

Gutters RisesThe Gutters is a thrice-weekly webcomic about the comics industry, with insider humor about the characters, both fictional and real life, that make up the world of the comics fan.

It’s also a great showcase for established and emerging artists: Ryan Sohmer writes the comic but he brings in different artists to illustrate each page, so the style of the comic varies quite a bit from day to day, depending on who is being skewered.

After three years, however, The Gutters isn’t turning a profit, so Sohmer, who is also the writer of the webcomics Least I Could Do and Looking for Group, has turned to Kickstarter to basically pre-fund the next year. As he explains on the Kickstarter page, he pays the artist an average of $300 per comic, which comes to $15,000 per year for a comic that updates once a week. The campaign reached its initial goal this week, and Sohmer will add another weekly update for each additional $15,000 raised. I asked him why he was taking this route, and why he is doing things the way he does.

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‘Gold Digger’s’ Fred Perry turns to Kickstarter for ‘LVL UP!’

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Fan comics might have a stigma in the United States, but in Japan they reach an audience that exceeds the entire American comics market. And now longtime American manga artist Fred Perry is looking to create his own.

Based on the popular MMORPG Final Fantasy 11, Fred Perry’s LVL UP! is a webcomic that follows the adventures of the cartoonist’s character Calcula Mihgo as she explores the video game world of Vana’diel. Perry has been producing LVL UP! since 2005, and is turning to Kickstarter this month to finance a print collection of the long-running series. As of this posting, Perry has raised roughly $6,500 of his $13,000 goal, and has until Oct. 2 to generate the rest.

Although Perry might be new to Kickstarter, he;s comics veteran who works in a subset of the industry many people overlook. Perry got his start in 1989 with a pin-up for the series Ninja High School and later worked on several manga imports before making a name for himself in 1993 with the launch of Gold Digger. Although Perry has done some moonlighting into the “mainstream” American comics world, Perry’s remained entrenched with Gold Digger and various other side projects, mostly through Antarctic Press.

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‘Superman Lives’ documentary debuts a teaser trailer

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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.”

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