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