Category Archives: ComicKick

ComicKick: Fallen, Flooded and Frozen

Columnist Joe Kontor of ComicKick reveals the ever-growing world of crowd funded comics, financed by the people and made for the people.

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ComicKick

This month we take a look at three very dark stories that are up right now on crowd funding pages. A fallen angel, a forgotten hero, and a frozen world are all seeking publication funds with your help.

Romulus + Remus

There are invisible lines that govern this world. Lines between hero and villain, mythology and history, old world and new. What would happen if the lines blurred and the sides become indistinguishable? Writer/artist Scott A. Ford asks this question with his new action/horror series Romulus + Remus. The series centers around the concrete angel named Roman who has been on the run ever since he fell to Earth. As his past catches up with him he discovers the demons he must fight are internal as well as external.

Romulus + Remus Issue 2

Romulus + Remus issue 2 by Scott A. Ford

Ford has been working on this series, his first, since 2009. “Early in the development process I became fascinated with Ancient Roman society and religion,” Ford said. “It was a huge creative revelation for me to see Ancient Rome as this incredible threshold between so many big ideas, namely: Greek mythology and Christianity, old world and modern society. I already knew that I wanted to deal with duality as the central concept, so the symbolism of ancient Rome fit in perfectly and helped expand on the idea.”

One of the key themes Ford plays with is ancient vs. modern. He goes on to talk about taking these old world concepts into the world of today. “Bringing it into a modern setting (perhaps ambiguously modern at first) was important to show that the ideas behind the symbols are not purely ancient and these thresholds can be said to still exist in a modern context; society and ideologies are constantly in a state of transition.”

The first issue of Romulus + Remus was published in a small run back in April 2012. One of the goals of his fundraiser is to do a reprinting of the first issue as well as printing the second issue.

Romulus + Remus has until June 10th to raise C$4,500 (Canadian Dollars).

Bloodthirsty - One Nation Under Water

Bloodthirsty: One Nation Under Water by Mark Landry and Ashley Marie Witter

Bloodthirsty: One Nation Under Water

In 2005 writer and Louisiana native Mark Landry watched as New Orleans was destroyed twice. Once by the natural disaster Hurricane Katrina, and then again by the bungled disaster response.  Having moved away he thought there was nothing he could do to help the people he saw on his television screen until he realized that as a writer there was one thing he could do: tell a story. Bloodthirsty: One Nation Under Water is that story. He teams with artist Ashley Marie Witter (Interview with the Vampire: Claudia’s Story) and project mentor Georges Jeanty (Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight) to give New Orleans a comic book hero of their own.

When we first meet former Coast Guard diver Virgil LaFleur he’s a broken man set to leave New Orleans forever. Before he can leave, his younger brother is murdered by a cabal of disaster capitalist who harvest the blood of the homeless to extend their own lives. “These vampires are not supernatural,” Landry explains. “They have a genetic anomaly, which provides extreme longevity, but they have to drink blood. In this particular society, they’re feeding off of those who can’t really do anything to stop them.”

Virgil dons what looks like a typical superhero costume but Landry wanted the costume to visually define Virgil’s quest for redemption and justice. “He is a walking statement against the evils affecting his city and his country,” Landry says. The cape is a tattered American flag left to him by his father and Landry goes on to say what meaning the flag has. “Virgil had the flag in a glass case, above which is a sign that reads, ‘In case of emergency, break glass.’ Suffice it to say that Virgil breaks the glass. When Vigil first puts it on, it’s pristine. It was his father’s military funeral flag. But as Virgil embarks upon his journey to fight the evils of the city, the flag takes its share of the hits”.

Virgil LaFleur

Virgil LaFleur sketch by Ashley Marie Witter

However unlike most heroes Virgil does not wear a mask and there was a reason behind that too. “Virgil is an economically disadvantaged veteran,” Landry explains. “So, to those who run the city, he is already invisible. He doesn’t need a secret identity. And by the time he starts fighting back, everyone knows his name. There’s no place for him to hide. All there is left for him is total commitment to his cause. He’s more like Robin Hood in that way.”

Even though the title may have you believe it’s in reference to the villains, Landry also says it applies to our hero as well. “Virgil is absolutely obsessed with taking these people down, so in a way, he is seeing red. Without giving away too many spoilers, let’s just say he’ll have to be careful to draw the line between himself and the real villains, or there could be some very negative consequences.”

Bloodthirsty: One Nation Under Water has until June 1st to raise $15,500 for the first four issues of this eight issue miniseries. If they can raise $33,900 they’ll have enough for all eight issues and if they get to $39,000 they’ll collect all eight issues into two volumes.

A Frozen World

A Frozen World by Nick Andors

A Frozen World

Irongates is not the world you know. It’s an endless urban maze that stretches beyond imagination and home to countless stories. Writer/artist Nick Andors invites you to visit Irongates in his first graphic novel A Frozen World. Four citizens of Irongates serve as your guides to this cold forgotten world within a world. Each of their stories stands alone and yet together unify into a complete vision of the true nature of this world.

“The inspiration behind Irongates comes from my upbringing in New York City,” Andors said about the genesis of this world. “I grew up on the Upper West Side. When I was a kid the neighborhood was very mixed. My father took part in a community garden in one of the rougher pockets in the area–which, other than the few remaining housing projects, has been completely gentrified. Anyway, the block I grew up on was just an avenue over, however, the neighborhood was totally different. It was peaceful and very quite. When I would go with my father to the community garden, I was always fascinated by how animated the area was. I was too young to understand the negative aspects of the area–drugs and so forth–it just seemed like a really lively place. However, when I got older I started to have these strange recurring nightmares about the housing projects that surrounded the garden. In my dreams, all the negative aspects where magnified, the buildings were much bigger and the area was much more dangerous. I’ve always been interested in the darker aspects of city life and the picture that was painted of this urban dystopia in my nightmares seemed like the perfect platform to let my imagination run wild. Irongates is my vision of the craziest urban landscape possible.”

During our trip to Irongates we meet a scavenger who runs across a grim encounter, a widower who gains closure though an otherworldly experience, a woman who preys upon fellow predators, and a man who’s unique vision allows him to see Irongates as no one else does. “I’ve re-written and refined the stories and the artwork numerous times,” Anders said. “I’ve been working on this project for almost 8 years now. The only real unifying theme is the backdrop, which is Irongates. The book is really a portrait of that world and the stories are tools used to render its features.”

A Frozen World has until May 23rd to raise $3,000.

Joe Kontor has been reading comics since before he could technically read. In April 2012 he started the Facebook page ComicKick as a place to spread the word and get people excited about comic book related projects on crowd funding sites. He also runs HorrorKick, a similar page for horror projects. He currently resides in Lincoln, NE where he reads comics, watches horror movies, and drinks coffee.

ComicKick: Cyborg super teams, repeat offending reptiles, and pubs that go bump in the night

Guest columnist Joe Kontor of ComicKick reveals the ever-growing world of crowd funded comics, financed by the people and made for the people.

ComicKick

ComicKick

Starting this month we’re going to start highlighting a handful of current projects on crowd funding sites. First we take a look at a group of friends who are keeping a promising young writer’s legacy alive. Next we have social satire that takes a look at the American penal system through the eyes of a velociraptor. Finally we have an anthology of unconventional horror stories from three authors all illustrated by the same artist.

Jason Coffee’s Warhawks
Jason Coffee was one of those remarkable people walking around with whole universes in his head, fully formed and populated with fantastic heroes and dastardly villains. Coffee studied television and film at Northwestern University, where he received the T. Stephen May Award for outstanding achievement in screenwriting. He was working his way up the Hollywood ranks as writer’s assistant on shows like Babylon 5 and Roswell while he was working on his own science fiction scripts. His life was tragically cut short when he suffered a seizure on Christmas Eve 2008 and passed away six days later after surgery to remove a tumor from his brain. He was only 33.

Jason Coffee

Jason Coffee

However this isn’t the end to Coffee’s stories. Several of his closest friends got together to fulfill his dying wish to make his voice heard. They read several of his screenplays and quickly came to the realization that producing these films was outside of their power. His scripts were the stuff of Hollywood summer blockbusters and any attempt to make low budget counterparts wouldn’t come close to the epic scope Coffee envisioned. So the decision was made to adapt one of his scripts to his other favorite medium: comics!

Warhawks

Warhawks

“The one we chose, Warhawks, stood out as the best example of the type of comic book we knew Jason loved,” said lead editor Doug Cohen. “It’s an ensemble superhero story. Jason’s walls were always plastered with superhero posters, and particularly X-Men. It also featured a multi-racial cast, which we knew was important to Jason. We also felt the universe he established in Warhawks was vast enough that it could live on forever.”

The team behind adapting the script into comic book form, brothers Todd and Wade Carney, were close friends with Coffee in college. According to Cohen, “They had both spent countless hours debating the latest blockbuster movies and comics with him. And while you could never know for sure what Jason would think about something, they knew him well enough that they could take an educated guess.”

Jason Coffee’s Warhawks has until April 18th to raise $21,000.

Dinosaur Who Gets Arrested – In Memoriam To Society
Dinosaur was dealt a bad hand right out of the gate. Born a velociraptor in the city of humans he was destined never to fit in. In a society built by, built for, and populated exclusively for humans what’s Dinosaur to do? Break the law, of course.

Dinosaur Who Gets Arrested

Dinosaur Who Gets Arrested

This modern day fable is the brain child of writer Patrick Quinn and artist Stephanie Dever (working together under the collective nom de plume Richard Magician). Originating as an inside joke between the two it was a metaphor for everything wrong with society. Dinosaur represents the ultimate outsider and no matter how hard he tries to fit in, the “America Dream” is just out of his reach. The frustration leads Dinosaur into a life of crime and substance abuse and ultimately jail.

So who’s to blame? Is society punishing Dinosaur for being different or is Dinosaur unwilling to conform to the rules of society? “A little bit of both,” said Richard Magician. “We see society as punishing Dinosaur for being different, with the process of being incarcerated not aiding but instead further damaging those who experience it. We see society as very dependent on its ability to sequester certain people away from the general population, when your whole world becomes rapists, murders, and arsonists, damage is done to your psyche. Dinosaur is a man who the people have decided to help destroy himself.”

The plan for Dinosaur Who Gets Arrested starts with their Kickstarter to publish the first issue of a six issue miniseries. They have a stretch goal in place to begin work on a Dinosaur Who Gets Arrested animated pilot. The pilot would be free to view to anyone on the internet as they shop it around to various networks.

Dinosaur Who Gets Arrested – In Memoriam To Society has until May 4th to raise $2,500.

Black Cloud
Over on Indiegogo, artist Charles Cutting is raising funds for an anthology he illustrated with three different writers. Black Cloud collects the stories “After The End”, “Two Little Boys”, and “The Bleeding Horse”. “All the stories are downbeat in their own way,” Cutting says of the anthology. “None of them are conventional horror stories but I describe them as psychological horror stories in my Indiegogo video because it seemed to be the easiest way to communicate the feel of the anthology to my potential audience. When I was reading a lot of horror stories, mainly from the old Pan Books of Horror Stories, it was the purely psychological ones that stayed with me, and I like stories that defy expectations. I’d like to think that Black Cloud is like a square peg in a round hole in that it doesn’t really lend itself to being neatly categorized.”

Black Cloud - After the End

Black Cloud – “After the End”

“After The End” is a science fiction story about a secret experiment that draws imagery from Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid. “Tauriq [Moosa], the writer, wanted to submit it to an anthology. It wasn’t accepted by the publisher but after showing the story to people in the pub I realized it was punchy and effective and I wanted to get it into print somehow. My wife acted as editor on it and we really enjoyed working with Tauriq to adapt his story so a lot of work went into it.”

Black Cloud - Two Little Boys

Black Cloud – “Two Little Boys”

“Two Little Boys” is about Adolf Hitler and philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein and an intriguing coincidence linking both their lives. “Christian [David] initially sent me a very short general script in the form of a paragraph of writing and I then provided a four page graphic treatment of the story. We would then meet in the pub and he would direct me on how he wanted the images to look. It was published in the most recent issue of The Illustrated Ape magazine in a black and white and red version which I was really happy about as the Ape is a great magazine with a fantastic pedigree. I want to publish it in full colour though as both I and the writer spent a lot of consideration over how the colours communicated the story to the reader.”

Black Cloud - The Bleeding Horse

Black Cloud – “The Bleeding House”

The final story in the collection, “The Bleeding Horse”, was taken from a collection of supernatural short stories by author Brian J. Showers. The story is about a haunted pub in Dublin where Showers lives. “I read his book after meeting him at the Friends of Arthur Machen AGM and I thought the title story could make a great little graphic short story. I read the story and came up with quite a loose adaptation which is about Brian researching his book. Brian (thankfully) liked my version and edited it, making the dialogue more accurate. He has written another story in the same collection called “The Blackberry Man” which is superb but I didn’t have time to do it justice so I chose “The Bleeding Horse” instead which turned out to be a good choice as I am really happy with the piece. ”

Black Cloud has until May 30th to raise $2,000.

Joe Kontor has been reading comics since before he could technically read. In April 2012 he started the Facebook page ComicKick as a place to spread the word and get people excited about comic book related projects on crowd funding sites. He also runs HorrorKick, a similar page for horror projects. He currently resides in Lincoln, NE where he reads comics, watches horror movies, and drinks coffee.

ComicKick: Secret Origin

Guest columnist Joe Kontor of ComicKick reveals the ever-growing world of crowd funded comics, financed by the people and made for the people.

ComicKick

ComicKick

In the last few years crowd funding sites have become a popular outlet for comic creators, both neophytes and industry veterans, to raise funds for all kinds of original projects. So how does crowd funding work? Rather than pitching a project to a major publisher, the creators are pitching directly to the public. In exchange for money upfront the creators promise to deliver rewards based on how much money the person pitches in. The idea is rather than getting money from one source, which then controls rights of the published material, the creator retains complete control of their own creation. Once the expensive costs of completing the comic and publishing are covered, the creators are then free to either self distribute or take the finished book to a publisher.

Pitch in a dollar and you get a shout out on Twitter. Ten bucks and you can get a hard copy of the completed graphic novel. Ad space in the book, original art, even get drawn into the book itself as a background or lead character. The only limit to the kinds of perks offered is the project runner’s imagination. Dollar by dollar, little by little the project becomes a reality. In a way it’s democratizing art far more than just picking up a book off a shelf.

Cthulhu Sketch

This original pencil sketch of Cthulhu by artist Juan Navarro was part of a $12 rewards package from Creature Entertainment Studios

Last year Kickstarter, the most popular of these kinds of sites, raised $9,242,233 for 592 successfully funded projects. Despite it’s popularity, launching a project on Kickstarter is no guarantee of success. Only 48% of the projects in the “Comics” category met their target goal. When a project fails to meet their goal, no money is collected from those who pledged, no rewards are given, and the artist goes back to the drawing board.

Looking at the list of active projects on these sites, you really don’t have to look long for a name you recognize. Jimmy Palmiotti, Gail Simone, Chuck Dixon, and Mike Ploog are just a handful of established industry veterans who have had projects on one crowd funding site or another. Creators aren’t the only ones to go the crowd funding route, publishers are getting into the act. Last year Top Cow Productions was able to give away the first five issues of their Cyber Force relaunch through a Kickstarter fundraiser. They raised over $117K to ensure that any person could walk into a comic shop and pick up these issues for free.

Sensory Distortion

Horror graphic novel Sensory Distortion, funded April 2012 though the support of 88 backers

However most of the projects you’ll find are from unknown talent who if they fail to raise the necessary funds will never see their passion projects see the light of day. In the last year Jesse Grillo successfully funded four different comic book projects through Kickstarter for his company Bleeding Ink Productions. “There is no way Bleeding Ink Productions would be around if it wasn’t for Kickstarter and the people that support our work,” he says. “I really feel like crowd funding sites like Kickstarter are going to create a serious change in the way the independent creator funds and markets their projects. Kickstarter is the platform that is helping to turn people’s dreams into reality and without it, the creation of Bleeding Ink Productions and the comics it produces would never be possible.” One of the projects Jesse funded last year was his horror graphic novel Sensory Distortion. In December it was announced that Sensory Distortion was picked up for distribution and retitled The Trip by Action Lab Entertainment for it’s new mature reader line called Action Lab: Danger Zone.

One of the more interesting projects on Kickstarter right now is an attempt to revive a long lost but still beloved title called The Justice Machine. From 1981 to 1992 The Justice Machine was published in a handful of mini and ongoing series across five different publishers. Writer Mark Ellis, who started writing the series with Innovation Comics’ 1989 miniseries The New Justice Machine, is looking to launch a new original graphic novel called The Justice Machine: Object of Power.

Justice Machine

1980s heroes The Justice Machine are looking to make a comeback through Kickstarter

Object of Power was initially conceived as a miniseries but was delayed multiple times due to financial issues with the publisher. Ellis decided to take his completed artwork for the series and raise the funds himself to finish the lettering and get it ready for the printer and publish it as a complete graphic novel. He has to raise $12,000 by March 17th or else the project doesn’t go forward. We’ve all read epic stories of superheroes escaping the grave through magic or time travel but rarely can we see heroes of old return through the real life magic of fan generosity.

It’s easy to see the concept and spirit of crowd funding sites take a permanent place in comic culture. We’re passionate and vocal about this medium and spread the word about what we love and hate on Facebook and Twitter as quickly as we read the books. But now we have the chance to truly decide what kinds of books get published in the future. Not by recommending what we’ve read but through discovering and encouraging new creators with unique voices.

If you have never perused the Comics section of a crowd funding page please do so immediately. You never know when you might discover your next favorite book that might never be published without your help.

Joe Kontor has been reading comics since before he could technically read. In April 2012 he started the Facebook page ComicKick as a place to spread the word and get people excited about comic book related projects on crowd funding sites. He also runs HorrorKick, a similar page for horror projects. He currently resides in Lincoln, NE where he reads comics, watches horror movies, and drinks coffee.